Memories of Hajj 2017

Salaams guys,

So recently with Hajj with AE, Shaykh Abu Eesa requested us to send across our memories as a reflection. Despite it being really personal and something close to my heart I thought I would share it with you. I hope you enjoy and I’ve hyperlinked my photographs to the corresponding words where appropriate so you can re-live the whole experience Insha’Allah.

BEST MOMENTS:

– First coming into Madinah and our hotel room being accidently mixed up, which was a blessing in disguise because without it, we most probably would have gone straight to our hotel room and crashed, instead it gave me the opportunity to leave the hotel and witness the downpour of rain that was happening and the joy on people’s faces because of it. Alhamdulilah ‘ala kulli Haal.

– Sharing oranges. This sounds like a strange one I know but bear with me. Every time anyone had an orange (esp in the Mina tents) they would always share it, breaking it into segments and everyone around them getting a couple of pieces each. Whether it was deliberate or subconsciously, I don’t think I ever saw a person have a whole orange by themselves. To me it just reflects the whole spirit of hajj, that yes you have the essential rituals but it’s also the little moments that really have an impact and build up the essential rituals to what they are meant to be.

– The first day in Makkah after our Umrah and being on the roof and just watching the thousands of people down below all circulating as one and being overcome with the feeling that it doesn’t matter who we are, our differences, where we come from, our pasts, our ethnicities – the only thing that matters is that we are all here for the exact same purpose and that is to worship Allah swt. The same feeling overcame me during the days of Hajj. In Arafat and walking to the Jamaarat, and the Sa’ee.

– I’m not sure if this can be included here as it’s not strictly a Hajj memory but the way my heart softens and I can’t help a smile come onto my face every time I hear Hajj being mentioned now, whether it’s directly, in passing or in a lecture or podcast. Subhan’Allah. How blessed we are to have had this opportunity.

PROUDEST MOMENTS:

– Alhamdulilah. The way I managed to document my whole experience, genuinely and authentically capturing the emotion embedded into all the rituals and actions (without taking away from my own Ibadah and in fact enhancing my own experience and awareness) and the way the group has been so appreciative of the effort I’ve put in, especially Shaykh. Multiple people have pressurised me to watermark my images and only then send them out, but it’s never been about recognition for me, but rather that feeling that it inspires in people and the connection to Islam and Allah swt through the images. Subhan’Allah, the impact has been that and even more than I could ever have thought. The feedback that has been trickling through social media, messages of people telling me how it’s inspired them not only to go Hajj but to make a concrete action plan, and start saving up, and of non-muslims saying that the pictures have made them cry and not even understanding why. May Allah swt continue to allow me to pursue photography and grow in it and grant me the ability to impact even more hearts in a beautiful way.

– Being able to complete our tawaf and Sa’ee on the friday, 10th of Dhul Hijjah, in accordance with the Sunnah and not just completing it but making the most of it. I remember before starting our Sa’ee, me and my brother Hamza were exhausted and we were probably going to shorten our du’aas and just get it done but more as a reminder to myself than anything, I told Hamza that we don’t know when we are ever going to get an opportunity like this again, to make 21 sets of pure heartfelt dua’a. And Alhamdulilah, I feel like I really made the most of it and the aching of my feet and body just made me even more connected to the same footsteps that Hajar made.

LOW MOMENTS:

– When I realised that that overwhelming, indescribable peace and tranquillity I had felt the last two times I was here in Madinah, wasn’t just reliant on the place, but also the time as both times I was fortunate enough to be there during Ramadan and I didn’t realise how blessed I was then and just took it for granted thinking that that feeling will be there every time I visit Madinah. It was ofc, but nowhere near the extent that it was in Ramadan and the thought that I didn’t appreciate those times for what it was made my constrict. Ya Rabb, grant us all the opportunity to experience Madinah in Ramadan!

– At the airport when we were putting our luggage forward as a group, and I asked a lady whose luggage trolley was in the way, as her line had been closed and she was trying to push into ours, if she could just move a little back so we could get our luggage done faster so subsequently she will also be able to get checked in faster as well and her reply was a straight “no”. She had plenty of space behind her but she had outright refused to even consider it. I probably should not have even asked and should have left it there but I tried to reason with her and it didn’t achieve anything except probably made everyone even more frustrated.

FUNNIEST MOMENTS:

– Everyone being amazed at the fact that I had an inflatable sleeping mat in Muzdalifah, blowing it up, for it only to pop and deflate as soon as a sat down on it. Everyone around me burst out laughing, and I’m blaming the fact that it probably got punctured by the stones underneath and not because I probably went a bit overboard with the waffles in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. >.<

“HEART IN MY MOUTH” MOMENTS:

– Walking back from Jabal al-Rahma after taking a break and wandering about and coming across this mother and child. My heart is still in mouth and I don’t have any words.

– The first time I touched the Yemeni corner. The way I found myself suddenly right next to the Kaaba and not even realising how and the surreal feeling of how calm it was. It still feels unbelievable every time I think about it. The emotion and desperation of the people when they were grasping onto the wall of the Kaaba really struck something inside of me.

– Witnessing so many elderly people performing Hajj and tawaaf, especially from the sub-continent and Africa and looking at their weathered faces full of stories and just imagining how long some of these people must have saved up in order to be here, how much suffering they’ve had in their lives, what stories they must have lived through to be here.

BEST SALAH:

– Maghrib Salaah after our Madinah Mosque Tour with Shaykh and the group. It was the first time I really got to talk to people from the group and couldn’t be more blessed that it was Safeena and Rafia. Subhan’Allah, that feeling of standing shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet with fellow sisters in Islam, the sky darkening above us, and the beautiful recitation. Such an incredible feeling that still makes my heart melt.

– Fajr Salaah on that friday in Madinah, knowing that that is the best prayer to pray in congregation, feeling so fortunate to have the opportunity to do so and then the time spent sitting in dhikr and morning supplications while waiting for the subsequent Ishraak prayer.

SADDEST/MOST EMOTIONAL MOMENTS:

That last tawaaf and that desperate feeling to make it last as long as possible not knowing when our next one will be. Ufff.

– After we completed the last du’aa of Hajj, after the middle jamaraat, before the large one and realising what an immense blessing it all has been and that sinking feeling that this blessing and experience has come to end and not wanting it to.

UNIQUE MOMENTS THAT ONLY I/YOU SAW:

– On the first floor doing tawaaf, a lady accidently pushes past me while trying to catch up to her group. As she goes past me, I smile at her (in a kinda tight lipped, half genuine, why you pushing into me sort of way) and she responds in such a way that I can still feel the effects of. She suddenly broke into such a wide smile, teeth showing and her face lit up with so much Noor Subhan’Allah. It was honestly the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. She reached for my hands and held them in both of hers until she got swept away by the crowd. The encounter probably only took about 10 secs, but it’s impact will be felt for a long time. Subhan’Allah. May Allah swt keep her always smiling and her face full of noor! Ameen!

Walking back from the Haram in Makkah one time, I have my camera out on the way to the hotel and there’s a group of African ladies that I’m subtly trying to get a picture of. I can’t quite get the composition right and as they pass me, one of the ladies asks “”ça va?”. I nod and smile. As she walks away, she turns, gestures to herself and says “mama, ok?” (Implying that if I need anything, I can come to her. She’s a mother to me.) So many moments and people that have touched my heart. May Allah swt bless her and reward her with the Highest Level of Jannah!

HAJJI OF 2017:

– Honourable mention and why:
One of the honourable mention goes to my brother Hamza. Really proud of how much he embraced the experience, and how prepared he was. We were often asking him questions that we had forgotten the answers too and he would always remember or look it up for us Masha’Allah. The way he helped throughout the trip, didn’t complain once that I can recall, did multiple tawaafs and made the most of every opportunity to do good. May Allah protect him and preserve him and keep him steadfast on the Deen. Ameen.

– Honourable mention and why:
All the other fellow photographers, and those capturing the experience including (but not limited to) Br Aqeel, Br Rehan and Br Musa (who’s purple sky pictures left me in awe) and Br Usman and the Shaykh who are going above and beyond and documenting the whole experience for our benefit.

– WINNER:
Same as Hamza, my winner has to go to my mother, May Allah be pleased with her, who is the one who sent us kids to Hajj with the money she has earnt from doing Hijama. Coming back and giving her a full debrief, she mentioned that she really wished she had come with us as well. May Allah swt bless her abundantly and grant her the opportunity to complete Hajj again and grant us the ability to repay her and be able to take her to Hajj in return.

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