For the many people I spoke to who went to Haj, they unanimously said that despite the intense heat, the Haj this year was smooth, trouble-free, extremely organized, and beautiful and enjoyable beyond words. What struck me the most this year and really shone through my entire pilgrimage was the kindness. Humanity, the love, and compassion that is alive in the hearts of the believing Muslims.
Before setting out on the pilgrimage. I was apprehensive, especially because my 15-year-old daughter would accompany me to perform her first Hajj. I was nervous. Did she terrify by the massive crowds? Would she appreciate that during her pilgrimage she would be walking in the footsteps of Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Ismail, Hajar, and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)?
However, as each hour went by, my worries melted away and we were touched by the kindness of pilgrims. The Saudi security forces, young volunteers, and the guides and teachers leading our group.
The first ritual to perform was visiting the Grand Mosque in Makkah. A security woman cloaked in black rushed towards us just as we were about to enter the Grand Mosque. At first, I thought I had done something wrong and she was going to reprimand me.
She said to us, “Welcome! Welcome! You are the guest of Allah!”
My daughter beamed with happiness; she was the guest of the Most Merciful.
We completed the tawaf, walking seven times around the Kabah. When we approached the area of Safa and Marwa which we were to walk seven laps back and forth from, my daughter took a step back at the sheer sight of the massive sea of people. A woman next to us noticed the frightened look on my daughter’s face and she called out to me, “You can go upstairs, the upper levels are not crowded!”
However, I insisted that we stay and walk on the ground floor and I explained to my daughter why. By staying on the ground and walking up the hill of Safa, and climbing up the hill of Marwa, I wanted to imagine Hajar, rushing between the two hills, searching for water for her baby son, Ismail. My daughter agreed, and slowly as we walked and supplicated to Allah and retold the story of Hajar, the crowds became less and less intimidating.
From the heat and physical exertion, I noticed the beads of sweat on my daughter’s forehead and her parched lips. We needed to stop for a drink of Zamzam water. Bunches of men were huddled around the station of Zamzam water, filling up water for their families. Too shy to get in line with the men, I stood aside, hoping the group of men would soon disperse. All of a sudden, an elderly man came to me with two cups of cold, refreshing water, filled to the brim. I thanked him profusely and he nodded his head.
Over the next few days, staying in the tents in Mina, all I could see was kindness everywhere. We made friends with the women staying at the same camp as us, women who had come from all over the world, seeking to complete the fifth pillar of Islam, women from Jordan, Egypt, Senegal, Malaysia, Pakistan, Lebanon, and women who were from various and different regions of Saudi Arabia. We ate together, talked together, drank tea together, prayed side by side, and we showed each other pictures of our little children who we had to leave at home. My daughter went around showing everyone pictures of her two beloved cats!
What kept our spirits high even through the most difficult times, was the kindness of our group leaders.
While standing in line in congested areas, security men carried large water pumps and sprayed water on us to keep us cool. Volunteers were distributing cold water bottles. Other officers reminded us to walk slowly and to keep chanting the talbiyah. “Here I am at Your Service O Allah, here I am. Here I am at Your service, You have no partner, here I am at Your service. You alone is All Praise and All Grace, and for You alone is The Sovereignty. You have no partner.”
I remember one afternoon we were on our way to throw the stones at the Jamarat. Then we saw a chain of security men, linking their arms together in a straight row alongside the path to the Jamarat. They made a human wall, under the scorching sun, to separate the mobs going to the Jamarat and those returning to their tents, to prevent the pilgrims from colliding with one another. I looked at the security men; they were smiling, greeting the pilgrims with, “May Allah accept your worship,” and “Congratulations!” and “Eid Mubarak!” We owe these men much thanks and gratitude, as we owe the janitors and sanitation workers.
Back at Mina on the first night of Eid, happiness spread throughout our tents. Women were going around with trays of dates, chocolates, and candy. We greeted one another with the honorable title of “Hajjah”, one who has performed the holy pilgrimage.
On the last day of our stay, while packing our bags, I looked over at my daughter sitting on the floor with an Egyptian girl she had befriended.
My daughters chocolate brown eyes locked with mine and she said, “I wish it wasn’t over. I wish I could come every year.”
She said to us, “Welcome! You are the guests of Ar-Rahman!”. My daughter beamed with happiness; she was the guest of the Most Merciful. Hajj and Umrah Specialist were always ready to serve the guests of our Ar-Rahman. It’s a great honor for Us. Our Cheapest Hajj and Umrah Packages are available from the UK.