“The reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing less than paradise.” – Prophet Muhammad PBUH
Sounds like the ultimate mission on Earth for every Muslim, right?
Hajj and its Significance
During the Hajj season, Mecca becomes one of the most densely populated places on Earth, bearing witness to over two million Muslims participating in this honourable journey.
In a vision of white, you’ll notice pilgrims from every corner of the globe coming together regardless of their skin colour, backgrounds or nationality. It is a chance for Muslims to recognise that they can be one ummah (community) on a global scale.
For Muslims who are able-bodied and are able to afford Hajj, it is highly encouraged for them to partake in one of the world’s largest religious gathering. Then again, unbeknownst to many, Hajj is better regarded as a special invitation for chosen ones to embark on a life-changing pilgrimage. You must be “invited” to witness the house of God during this righteous month.
When will you receive your “golden ticket”?
As a modern millennial who understands the fundamentals of Islam, sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be one of the “lucky” ones. How or rather when will you potentially receive this prized invitation? Everyone talks about performing Hajj at some point in their life. And I always question how does one decide when they’re actually ready for it. Can an imperfect human, full of flaws and sins, be deemed worthy enough to set foot on this sacred land which is full of purity?
“Verily, you (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are guided.” [28:56]
As I continued to ponder about this, a random verse from the Quran darted into my head and it answered my own question. I guess we can never be fully ready for such a holy deed but it boils down to intentions and sincerity. Whether you’re 28 or 82, you’re still eligible for Hajj as long as you have a genuine interest to fulfil one of Islam’s five pillars. For every step then that you take towards pleasing Him, He will ease your affairs.
“Whoever comes to me walking, I will come to him running.“ – Sahih Bukhari
What does it mean to be ready?
He chose you out of millions to traverse the globe and ask for forgiveness at His home on this Earth. He chose you to engage in one of the most illustrious acts of worship. Being physically, mentally and spiritually ready for Hajj involves a multitude of things.
While you can never fully prepare for the entire experience, you ought to educate yourself of the steps, procedures and rules to abide by. Before your departure, you prepare physically by packing your travel essentials, planning your travel, applying for visas, and arranging provisions for your loved ones while you’ll be away.
You prepare mentally for this journey of self-purification by shifting your focus and prioritising the importance of taqwa (God-consciousness). You constantly remind yourself not to succumb to temptations and distractions and remain set on your objectives.
As His guest, you’re aware of how precious time is and how important it is to make every minute count. This journey is a gift but doubles as a test and the way you respond to challenges along the way will speak volumes.
Spiritually, this sacred journey will challenge us in ways that we cannot imagine. Do you think those who died in the stampedes that took place years ago were prepared? The key is to always remain wary, especially of one’s speech and thoughts. There is no way Hajj is like a cruise ship or a luxe vacay where people are encouraged to indulge in buffets, endless free flow of beverages and have a merry good time.
The Prophet also cautioned us about how we use our tongues. He cautioned us against excessive or vain talk. Many tend to rattle away either complaining or engaging in idle talk about trivial matters. Vain talk deadens our hearts and distracts us from the true purpose behind our journey. Ideally, the only conversation you should engage in is the one with Him.
A spiritual retreat like no other
Preparing for the journey to the centre of the universe might leave you incredibly nervous. You might keep questioning yourself, whether this pilgrimage will be one that you can successfully complete. Rest easy in the fact that every person’s experience will be distinct and focus on the positives.
The Hajj is also a turning point for many and the beginning of the journey back to their faith. It doesn’t stop once you’ve returned. The journey continues as you return home and try to implement lessons in patience, physical sacrifice and really connecting with the essence of Islam.
This is no “Eat, Pray, Love” journey. This life-affirming spiritual retreat runs deeper than that and will evoke a whirlwind of emotions. As you ask yourself if you’re ready, tell yourself you will be for as long as you keep the faith, find your own pace, focus on what’s crucial and remain steadfast. As people say, “you will only go when Allah says it is time for you to go.”