Performing Hajj at a young age and for the first time is an amazing experience. Young Muslims are curious to know what it is like to perform Hajj. They want to know about the challenges and the special moments people experience while performing the Hajj rituals. We will know all these things and more through reading the story of a young married couple’s Hajj experience.
Sajid Alimohamed, an environmental engineer, and Arsheen Devjee, a student of world religions and Islamic studies, performed Hajj together in 2006. Born and raised in Canada they were encouraged to perform Hajj soon after they got married. Even though people usually wait to perform Hajj later in life, having the time and money they decided to perform Hajj in order to draw closer to Almighty Allah.
Alimohamed and Devjee expected a highly spiritual experience. They wanted to learn what Almighty Allah wants from them. They were hoping to return to Canada after Hajj with a more profound understanding of Islam, and they expected to be more entrenched in the type of Islam that was common around them.
They had seen other young people who perform the Hajj and return with a more serious take on religion. However, the type of reawakening experience that they had, drew them in a different direction.
Rather than become more traditionally orthodox, like in merely donning the hijab and growing a beard, they learnt to focus less on the rituals and more on the spirit of Islam.
Makkah and Madinah Experience!
They found Madinah to be a very peaceful place. At Fajr Prayer they found hundreds of people from all over the world going to the mosque to pray. They enjoyed meeting new people, and at this stage of the journey they were full of energy and excitement, getting little sleep and food. Thus, by the time they reached Makkah they were exhausted.
The excitement of entering Makkah started from the moment they put on their Ihraam as they heard the people around them shouting Takbir: 'O Allah we have no power, no energy, nothing without You. Help us'. They found Makkah large and busy. They had certain expectations about what it would feel like when they first saw the Ka`bah, but they were disappointed. However, the disappointment disappeared when they prayed in front of the Ka`bah for the very first time .
Difficulties and Lessons for Life
While performing Hajj, Alimohamed and Devjee learnt to be more patient. They realized that there is just not enough space for everyone to pray and that there are limited resources, so people need to be patient and understand that everyone needs to share these resources.
Hajj is not performed in isolation and people need to exist as a community, leaving petty differences aside and sticking together on the similarities between them.
To them this also meant that the luxury of lots of personal space no longer existed and they needed to incorporate Almighty Allah into every situation; every part of life during good and bad times, in while in a state of chaos or calmness.
Unexpected Experiences, Pleasant and Not so Pleasant
They were shocked at the poor behavior of the Muslims that they saw around them. At the time of Hajj many people become greedy and disregard the needs of their fellow Muslims. They found that when they were thirsty it is likely that all the people around them were also thirsty.
The most frightening moment during Hajj for Alimohamed was, when Devjee was ill during `Umrah, and he thought she would die due to a lack of food and being overexposed to the sun. Alimohamed was very worried and asked Almighty Allah that his wife would survive. They managed to replenish themselves with food after the first very overwhelming day in Makkah.
“During Hajj Almighty Allah puts obstacles in your way to test you through a lack of resources, energy, health or losing a dear one that you are dependent on even for a few minutes; so that you may grow closer to Him through these tests,” observed Alimohamed.
The funniest thing they saw was seventeen people hanging out all over a 4x4, from the trunk and on the roof. This was on their way back to Makkah after Mina. At that time, everyone scrambles for whatever form of transport they can find.
Hajj gives you the chance to apply the verse in the Quran (O Mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and mad you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you.) (Al-Hujurat 49: 13)
The most special moments they had were when they were alone with Almighty Allah. When on Arafat they managed to forget all that was around them and just focus on remembering Him.
Hajj is most definitely the journey of a lifetime. One comes to Makkah happy and full of energy. Then you leave Makkah, crawling back to Almighty Allah, having to give everything of yourself to His mercy.
Alimohamed and Devjee advise everyone to undertake the journey as soon as they can afford to do so, as it is most definitely the journey of a lifetime!
By Bilal Randeree