We interviewed Maryam who went on Hajj in 2012. This story about the Hajj pilgrimage is a compilation of her answers to our questions. Some parts of the article may have been edited for length and clarity.
Can you describe your experience when you first saw the Kaabah?
The first time I saw the Ka’abah was in high school when I went for Umrah with my family. As we were walking up to the actual Ka’abah, I was looking down and I could hear my parents crying but I didn't feel anything at all. And when my dad said to look up, I felt like someone had hit my heart; it was like my heart was dead and it suddenly came to life. I gasped for air because it truly felt like I was breathing for the first time Subhanallah. I was bawling uncontrollably and it felt like I didn't even know that I was dead until Allah brought me to life. Subhanallah that feeling of the presence of Allah SWT was something that not only changed my life at that moment but was the catalyst for me to start looking for Him in my life.
P.S. Read more about Hajj experiences of other Muslims here.
What was the most memorable/meaningful thing which happened to you during Hajj?
There were so many memorable experiences for me during Hajj, but there's one where there was a young woman who was going around and giving a number of items to clearly impoverished individuals.
A lot of people on Hajj sleep on the streets, maybe because they spent all of their life savings to be there, and that doesn’t mean that they can afford accommodation. And so, people would go around and would be giving things away.
There was this girl who had a bag and she went to these much much older ladies who were sitting on the floor and she gave them a bag and the bag had supplies in it but the ladies, one of them looked at her and said, “Is this a mushaf (a written copy of the Quran)? Is this a mushaf?” The sister was like, “No, this is not a Quran,” and the lady was like, “Please, please buy me a Quran”.
That really just speaks to you about Hajj; that you could be so impoverished, you could come with really nothing but you come for a lot. When I say impoverished, I don’t just mean financially. All of us go for Hajj and we are in some way in poverty. Obviously, we look at people struggling financially and we say they are deprived financially but maybe they are not deprived in the ways that we’re deprived if we’re financially stable.
Each person has different tests and coming for Hajj you see all of that. Even if someone has everything in the world but they don’t have Allah, they can go through Hajj and not experience anything. But someone else can come and they have really nothing tangible in terms of property, they can’t even afford a mushaf, a Quran and they ask for somebody to give them a mushaf. That’s a very powerful anecdote of how Hajj really levels us in front of Allah.
P.S. Interested to read more Hajj stories? Check out this story!
If I could sum up my Hajj experience...
I would say Hajj is jihad, especially for a woman. It’s actually from a Hadith and I didn’t realise the reality of a Hadith until I experienced it and I just kept thinking about that over and over again. Hajj is a huge physical, mental, spiritual, emotional challenge but it’s also one that helps you remove your shackles which attach you to this world and helps your soul transcend to the One who made it.
P.S. Check out what Hajj looks like in 2020 in this article!
Now that COVID-19 has affected the world and impacted Hajj and Umrah, how do you feel about it?
Honestly, I feel really lonely and sad. The people going for Hajj this year, I wonder what have they done in their lives to be so beloved to Allah that Allah would choose them for something so special and so honoured. Subhanallah, what special act have they been doing throughout their lives; maybe because of that Allah SWT has chosen them.
You can read more of Maryam's inspiring stories on her Instagram @themaryamamir
P.S. Want to share your tips and stories to help Muslims travel better? Click on this link to share your experience