As the days progressed and I was getting closer to my departure date, I was getting more and more excited. In fact, inside my heart, I was literally jumping up and down.
I was going to hajj!
I was going to see the House of Allah after 16 years!
I was going to travel for the first time in 16 years outside Qatar, the country where I am residing.
I was going to get a break from my work, which had really stressed me out, and could there have been a better escape than a hajj, where you get to spend your time in the sacred shrines of Makkah and Madinah?
I had every reason to be excited. My excitement was valid.
However, my hajj was initiated by my mother. She had long wished to perform hajj, and when the opportunity came, she wanted to take me as her mahram, as my father had already been to hajj before. I happily agreed.
A day or two before our departure, I was conversing with one of my colleagues about hajj, when suddenly a question popped into my mind, “Would I have been to hajj this year had my mother not initiated it for me?”
Most probably not.
The negative answer was an indication that, despite all my euphoria and excitement, I actually did not answer the profound question of why I was doing this hajj or what the purpose was of going to hajj.
Then I remembered the hadith described by Sayyidina Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضى الله عنه), who narrated the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying:
Deeds are [a result] only of the intentions [of the actor], and an individual is [rewarded] only according to that which he intends. Therefore, whosoever has emigrated for the sake of Allah and His messenger, then his emigration was for Allah and His messenger. Whosoever emigrated for the sake of worldly gain, or a woman [whom he desires] to marry, then his emigration is for the sake of that which [moved him] to emigrate. [Bukhari and Muslim]
I did not have a concrete intention. I was honestly excited, but my excitement obscured my intention. I was about to become an aimless hujjaj.
See, Shaitan always tries to fail you from the beginning. He starts his attack from the intention. Because he knows that if he can pollute your intention, his workload becomes much easier.
But alhamdulillah, Allah reminded me about my intention before I stepped into the journey of my life.
I prayed two rakah’s to Allah, and said the following prayer:
“O Allah! Irrespective of how my hajj has been initiated, it is indeed a mercy from You. You are hosting me. It is an opportunity from You. O Allah! Help me make the most of this opportunity and help me perform this hajj only for Your sake and only to earn Your pleasure. O Allah! Make this hajj a point of no return in my life, a point from where I will only tread the path of Your obedience.”
02. Leaving for hajj
A day before I was about to leave for hajj, all my excitement evaporated and a feeling of sadness overpowered me. This feeling of sadness grew from the fact that I have had to detach myself from everything that I loved. My father, my younger brothers, my car, the mosque where I used to pray—I had to leave out everyone and everything to which my heart was attached with before I left for hajj.
Going to hajj thus helped me to understand how it feels to truly go to Allah. It reminded me that no matter how much we are attached to this duniya, this attachment will one day come to an end. We came to this world alone, and we shall have to leave this place alone. When we go to Allah, we cannot take anything from it except our sincerity and good deeds. This feeling of going to Allah leaving out everything is truly a profound and unique feeling that I believe every hujjaj experiences, and it is a blessing of Allah that through hajj, we can experience a feeling that we will inevitably experience during our meeting with the angel of death.