Hajj has truly been the journey of a lifetime. It was a lesson in recognizing our own insignificance- our bodies physically exhausted and weakened- the perspective of being one among millions under the harsh heat of the Arabian sun, our hearts beating, hands lifted seeking His Mercy.
Together, we all prayed and cried for our families, for a stop to war and discord, for protection from every type of sickness, sadness and worldly trial. We prayed for Salvation. We stood in front of God, dusty and disheveled, bowed our heads, and poured out our hearts, begged for forgiveness, entrusted all our fears and worries to Him, and sought His Help for our innermost needs and hopes.
We removed ourselves momentarily from our worldly affairs, even as the storms of the world continued to swirl, as news of Harvey and Irma, of the Rohingya in Burma, of the pain of Dreamers and DACA and news of deaths of loved ones back home reached us. We surrendered to our Lord, our hearts reliant completely on Him. We circled the Ka’aba, counter clockwise, as if to turn back the ages of time, to shed our past and to seek His Guidance for our individual and collective future, recommitting ourselves to be servants in this world.
Hajj was humbling, but at every step of the journey, we were also deeply aware of our privilege. The world’s people were represented in Mecca, young and old, black, white, and every color in between. Humanity is beautiful, but the vast majority do not live like we do. Our moments of hunger, exhaustion, discomfort, sickness, even fear, were all relative. We would catch ourselves uttering a complaint and immediately become silent with just a glance around, our eyes wide open to the suffering of others around us, and their patience, strength, steadfastness, resilience in the face of struggles far greater than our own.
How could we not be only grateful?
Our feelings of gratitude only deepened upon arriving in Madinah, the city of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We entered the city with everyone on our bus singing in joy and praise of a man whose life of devotion and sacrifice has given us the best of examples. The peace and calm that is felt in Madinah is without comparison.
So, while we return home now eager to see our daughter, our parents and loved ones and to be back in the comforts of our home, we pray that God accepts our devotions- and we hope to keep these lessons with us: of reliance on God, of gratitude, of patience and of feeling ever more acutely and urgently the call to serve.