Alhamdulillah I had a beautiful Hajj experience this year. It was my first time ever going to the Holy Kaaba. My husband and I went with a Turkish American group called Diyanet Center of America.
On July 27 we met with our group at the Istanbul Airport. We got on the plane wearing Ihram (traditional clothing for the pilgrimage).
As we approached the miqat (a special boundary outside of Makkah), the heartwarming chanting of the Talbiyah reverberated throughout the plane:
Labayk Allahumma labbayk. Labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Innal Hamda, wa ni’mata, laka wal mulk. Laa shareeka lak.
I am at your service O Allah. I am at Your service. I am at Your service, and You have no partner. I am at your service. Indeed, all praise is for You, and every favor is from You, and all dominion is Yours. You have no partner.
I felt emotional as I looked at the map on the plane’s computer screen, showing our plane close to Makkah. My dream to perform Hajj was finally coming true.
We landed in Jeddah and cheerful workers greeted us with “Salam Alaikum.”. After the passport checks I was able to have wifi for only a few minutes. So I made dua to Allah to let us have good Wifi in our hotel. This was the first dua I made when I landed in Saudi Arabia! For good Wifi! I laughed to myself.
We had to wait 2 hours in a stationary bus while authorities checked our passports. Finally we started going to the hotel. I remembered the Hajj youTube videos I watched, all advising that the #1 thing to take to Hajj is Patience. Things will not always go as desired.
Another thing that didn’t go how I desired was the “fragrance-free” wetwipes and deodorant I bought from WalMart. In “Ihram” we aren’t allowed to use perfumes/fragrances. Unfortunately the supposedly fragrance-free items I bought definitely had a fragrance when I opened them. So to be on the safe side, I didn’t use them. Tip: Please buy products that say “Hajj-safe”.
Thankfully our imam / group leader was very upbeat. He reminded us to stay positive and that patience is beautiful.
We arrived at the hotel very tired. It felt surreal to be in Makkah. I remember staring at unbelief at my MuslimPro app that said “Next Prayer, Mecca”. I took a screen shot to remember that moment.
Some people did Umrah (an act of worship similar to Hajj) the very next day. I had to wait four days to do Umrah due to feminine reasons. Alhamdulillah we still had 11 days before Hajj time.
When I finally did Umrah, I was struck by how beautiful the Kaaba is.
It’s radiant. It has a magnetic attraction. I was blessed to do tawaf (walking around the Kaaba 7 times) on the same level as the Kaaba. It was not as crowded or scary as I feared. Muslims were nice! After I went home I felt in awe. I felt like I wanted to go back. The Kaaba was attracting me.
My husband helped me a lot to do the rites of Umrah. During my walk from Safa and Marwa (two hills that Hagar ® ran between to find water for baby Ismail), I read duas (prayers) from my phone for people on my dua list. I felt so happy and near to Allah (swt).
I was blessed to visit the Kaaba multiple times before Hajj. I did extra tawafs and prayers at the Kaaba. Did you know that one prayer at the Kaaba is equal to 100,000 prayers at any other masjid? It felt surreal to be praying with the Kaaba actually in front of me! For almost 30 years I have been praying in the direction of the Kaaba, and now I could actually see it!
I preferred doing tawaf on the same level as the Kaaba. Doing tawaf on the upper level was nice, but didn’t give the same spiritual feeling.
On the Friday before Hajj, I was blessed to perform Jumuah prayer at the Kaaba. I was also blessed to touch the Kaaba for the first time! I cried when I touched it. I had prayed to Allah to let me touch the Kaaba! It was a wonderful feeling. Alhamdulillah.
I definitely noticed positive changes in my health after drinking a lot of zam zam water (special well at the Kaaba that Hagar ® miraculously found). My skin looked better. The back pain and a toothache I had just went away.
Finally the day of Arafah (most important day of Hajj) arrived. We slept in a tent there the night before the big day. Unfortunately I had a bad cold, but I survived with Allah’s help and with some natural remedies. (I highly recommend bringing natural immune system boosters, such as Vitamin D3, Sambucus gummies, Zicam zinc lozenges, and Propolis. They helped me a lot.)
When I woke up, I thought I would have a caffeine withdrawal headache because I didn’t have coffee, but a dear sister gave me a coffee packet that I could shake in a water bottle. I was very thankful for that coffee packet! It gave me the energy I needed to read all of my duas on my dua list.
The Imam said such a heart-touching dua on Arafah Day that everyone was crying. We all hugged each other and it was beautiful. A few minutes later, it started to rain outside! It rained so heavily and everyone felt it was a sign of Allah’s mercy.
We stayed at Arafah until the evening. I had a constantly running nose, and the bathrooms were difficult to use, but Allah helped me. I remembered the hadith about Allah being proud of His “disheveled servants” on Arafah Day:
Verily Allah boasts of the people of ‘Arafah to the people of heaven (the angels) saying: “Look at my servants who have come to me dishevelled and dusty,” and He remains in that state until the sun sets. (Sahih Ahmad and others)
We went to Muzdalifah and then to Mina to stone the first Jamarat (stone pillar representing the devil). I had never walked so much in my life. I thought I couldn’t do it, but Allah gave me energy. While walking to the jamarat, one man wore a t-shirt that said it perfectly: “I CAN’T FEEL MY LEGS.”
I did Tawaf Ifadah (most important tawaf of Hajj) 2 days later because I was quite sick. I was able to touch the Kaaba in two places. It rained on that day, and seeing the rain falling on the Kaaba was so beautiful. I took a video of it.
My husband and I were able to stone the remaining jamarat during the next days. Then we performed the farewell Tawaf, Tawaf ul-Wadaa. On that day Allah blessed me to meet a beautiful friend of 4 years who was also doing Hajj. We had met online but I had never met her in person. Allah brought us together during Hajj, Alhamdulillah.
I felt sad to be leaving the beautiful Kaaba. I couldn’t believe that my Hajj was over. I hope that Allah accepts it.
After Hajj, my group went to Madinah. I was surprised at how stunningly beautiful Masjid Nabawi is. The outside is beautiful; the inside is so elegant. I took a video of the inside.
I am thankful that I got to visit the Rawdah/ area near the Prophet’s (pbuh) grave. I was able to pray there. I waited 3 hours but it was worth those few minutes to pray in what is considered a garden of Paradise. I said my salams to my Prophet (pbuh) and to Abu Bakr (r) and Umar ®.
We only spent 4 days in Madinah. I prayed as many prayers as I could in Masjid Nabawi. I also prayed 2 rakats in Masjid Quba, which equals the reward of Umrah. I am so thankful to Allah for giving us opportunities to earn such great rewards. Allah is so generous!
We visited the site of the Battle of Uhud. It made me sad to think of all the Muslims who died there. When I returned home, I felt so thankful and honored to have performed Hajj and to have visited Madinah.
Please feel free to ask me any questions about my experience or to leave comments about your own Hajj experience!