“How goes your Hajj prep?”
It was a week before my family and I left for our journey to the Holy Land. Although Hajj was not until the ninth of Dhul Hijjah, we had to get there a week in advance to perform umrah, visit Masjid Al-Nabi, and prep ourselves physically and spiritually. Hajj is a spiritual journey towards Allah (swt). On this path, we ask for forgiveness, pray, and make duas.
As the days to our departure approached, more and more people would come up to me and ask, “Maliha, are you ready for hajj?” At pre-hajj clinics or potlucks, group members would ask again, “Maliha, how is the hajj preparation coming along?” I was even added to a whatsapp group chat called “Hajj preparation group.” These were questions and phrases that would echo from my cochlea to my brain. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am passionate about telling stories, cracking lame jokes, and being very random. Side note: kind of like right now. Anyways, I was added to this group chat that had all the women in my hajj group in it. In any given situation, I felt the need to crack a joke or do something weird as mentioned above. I mean jokes make a great icebreaker and form bonds, well at least in my mind. I changed the hajj group chat name to “Hajj ft. CaMAL” and made the group icon a camel. This was a great first impression for the people who do not know me yet, right? Sure, I cracked a few jokes here and there, but deep down inside I was contemplating if I was actually ready to perform hajj or if I had even done enough preparation.
August 26 – the night of the day we left, the day of jummah, and the day I received a bunch of dua requests. This was the day when family friends came over to wish us safe travels and to say their goodbyes- for we knew the next time we would see these people, we would be hajjis.
The plane was about ready to take off. I sat in my seat and wondered how I got here and if I was ready for hajj. A week before we left, I remember my brother’s conversation with a close family friend. My brother was supposed to be a part of our hajj group, but due to medical school examinations, he had to be a part of another hajj group. He was talking about how Allah (swt) chooses who comes to his house, aka who comes for hajj. Allah (swt) opens and closes his door to people. “Allah (swt) closed his door on me when my medical exam conflicted with the first hajj group, but I just kept on knocking on the door. Like hello, can you please let me in?” His story set my attitude for my whole hajj journey. Patience. Perseverance. A lot of people from all around the world try every year to go to hajj; some people end up going and some are unable to due to conflicting reasons. You hear stories like travel agents disappearing and stealing people’s life worth of savings for hajj. I stopped contemplating and just said “Alhamdullilah.” It was in my naseeb, my destiny. Our plans for hajj were determined by which university I would be transferring to this year. If I had decided to go to a semester system school, I would not be able to go for hajj since school would start in August. However, if I decided on a quarter system school, then I would be able to go since school would not start until late September. This year, hajj fell in early September, so my choice of ucla worked out perfectly. Allah (swt) chose my destiny and this is where the story begins.