Tag Archives: travel

Day 21 – Fading Bliss

“The little worldly things are starting to settle back into the mind

11/11/11

Right. So my dad is really sick. He’s got a fever and a really sore throat. He’s havin a really tough time right now. We just got back to Aziziah. We went to the Haram to pray Jumu’ah. It was crazy packed. Like…stupid crazy packed. My dad really wanted to go do our tawaf al-wada’ today, the farewell tawaf. My mom & I were like, “um…you know it’s gonna be super busy on Friday, right?” He persisted, so we went. After seeing the rush firsthand, he decided he needed to get out. We grabbed a cab and came back, it’s like 2:45 pm right now.

Man-Made Sea

The jumu’ah was led by Sudais. You could tell it was him by his voice. I guess he only comes out on special occasions. I don’t see what the big deal is personally, I’m totally not a Sudais fan. I like most of the imams that lead prayer in the Haram though- even though I have no idea who they are. I wish there was a way to know who your imam was each time. Do they ever bring my man El-Afasy into the mix? He’s the only Qari I enjoy, mA. I know I prayed behind Shuraim as well, he’s good too. I don’t know who led the prayer yesterday, but it sounded familiar.

This morning was tough for me. I’ve totally returned back to my normal mental state. I barely prayed Fajr and was super tired. I had a hard time getting up to go out for jumu’ah. I’m really starting to miss home too. The comfort of being back in that familiar place is overriding my desire to be here slowly. If only there could be a masjid al-Haram in Washington D.C….maybe we could do like the Mormons & just make one up?

Yesterday was the first day, since being here, that I realized I haven’t driven in 3 weeks. I miss my car.  I don’t miss speeding tickets though. Crap! I should’ve made du’a for a clean driving record! See, the little worldly things are starting to settle back into the mind. Today, while sitting in the masjid, my mind started wandering to worldly problems I would have to deal with when I return. I had to be like, “blah! I’ll deal with that stuff when I get back, I need to focus, I’m still here- in the Masjid Al-Haram!” That’s just something I tend to do. I know I’m leaving soon, so I prepare myself mentally and act as if I’m already gone. So, whatever I miss is what I know to focus on before I actually leave. Even in doing that though, you have to disconnect with the current place and I don’t actually want to do that here.

I think I’ve had a hard time buying gifts and souvenirs for that reason. It’s a way of accepting that you’re leaving or that your time in this place is very limited. I bought some stuff, but I mostly just haven’t been motivated. All the stuff you find here is the same stuff everyone always brings back, you know everyone’s tired of it. Hopefully, the stuff I got won’t be too boring- I know I’ma end up leaving people out. Oh well, this was a spiritual journey, not a trip to the mall. I made du’a for most people I could think of. That’s far greater than a 2 riyal kufi and a cheap bottle of ‘itr, trust me.

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Just got our ZamZam to go, 10L each. We were assured by the shop-owners that they’re God-fearing and only use the real thing. Ok…if you say so.

I haven’t listened to music in a while, since I’ve been here actually. Sometimes, I miss the melodies, but my mind stays so much more clear. That’s so valuable. I actually have creative thoughts and insightful reflections, rather than blasting music and drowning out all brain activity. Too much of my time would get spent like that- putting off thinking and reflecting and just getting by in a mentally vegetated state. There needs to be a balance, I don’t want to cut it out altogether. This will be one of my challenges upon returning.

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It’s close to 6:30 pm, we just did some shopping and prayed Maghrib. I really need to learn how to count in Arabic, like at the very least, in addition to the other basic Arabic I need to learn. Counting to 100 is essential, shopping would be so much easier- so would haggling with cab drivers.

How cool would it be if organizations teamed up with the Hajj Ministry and worked on delivering aid, or providing education on health, hygiene, etc to Hajji’s, traveling to the Haram? I think that’d be a dope program and would reach millions of people each year- mostly new ones each time. It would also spread awareness about the organizations, in the heartland especially, and relieve some of the burden from the Saudi Ministry. Gives nonprofits a chance to do something right for alot of people, where there’s alot of room for complaint. Maybe something to help prevent people from getting sick too? Just a thought iA.

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Filed under Al-Masjid Al-Haram, Aziziah, Mecca, Reflections

Day 1 – Aspirations

Travel Companions

Everyday, they ask me if I’m ready, I have nothing to say.”

Book 1

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

10/22/11

We leave tomorrow. This will be my first time going on this journey, so it still hasn’t quite hit me yet. I was hoping to start documenting my thoughts & feelings earlier, finding the time has been difficult. I’m going to do my best to keep up this journal b/c I want this experience to be something completely memorable. Even now as I’m starting to write, there are so many thoughts racing in my mind & I want to capture them all. Breathe. Here goes iA (inshaAllah, God-Willing).

 I haven’t done anything in the way of getting prepared. My parents had bags packed, ready to go, seated beside the staircase 2 months ago. Everyday, they ask me if I’m ready, I have nothing to say. I still can’t believe I’m actually going. This is truly a blessing & indeed an invitation from Allah SWT (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, May He Be Glorified & Exalted). The entire process of planning this trip has been so smooth & easy. The cost almost didn’t even matter – after having paid for everything, I really don’t feel like anything was decreased from me, subhanAllah. Allah truly opens doors & is the best of planners. I was honestly skeptical about how real this was going to be until we got our passports & visas back. But even now, until my eyes look upon the ka’aba & I take that first breath of air inside the Haram, I won’t fully grasp it.

 I’m looking forward to it. I’m honestly not worried or concerned by what people say about it. People have stories about how dirty or difficult or intense it will be. I’m sure I can handle it. I’m just concerned for my parents – not sure how well they’ll be able to keep up, but I’m sure we’ll be able to get through it iA.

What I’m most looking forward to is making du’a (supplication). Over the past few months, du’a has become my favorite hobby & past-time. So, Hajj is especially exciting, it’s like the big leagues for du’a. The majors :)

There are so many things I ask for, but really I just want what’s best in this life & in the Hereafter. I also love to make du’a for others – especially my loved ones. I’m excited about the 6 page du’a list I’ve got with names & du’as from other people. Ya Allah, make me one whose du’as are answered. Ameen.

I’ve been contemplating this past year & I’m so thankful for how blessed I’ve been. Getting to go on Hajj, getting a good job, having a good relationship with family – meeting new family, seeing Ali (my younger brother) do well in school & set out in a good direction, being financially stable, being healthy, being free from major problems, being able to get active & creative with side projects again. So many great blessings Alhamdulillah wa Shukr.

I’m excited about following the footsteps of the Prophet. I want to visit the places where he was – I’m so hopeful for visiting the cave of Hira, where he would meditate & retreat from society, where the first revelation came to him. That must be a powerful place.
I hear Mecca is crazy busy & crowded – like a bustling NYC & I’m so interested to see that. It’s a major place where the primary focus of everyone there is Islam. I’ve never been in a place like that, we’re always a minority, or in places where there are Muslims, I’ve never been around that level of intensity and devotion.
I also have heard that Medina is completely tranquil & serene. It blows my mind when I hear about that. It’s amazing to hear it from everyone & to imagine the tranquility to be so overpowering & unmistakable. I’m so curious as to whether Medina was always this way, or b/c the Prophet lived there & prayed for it. He also loved Mecca, so it’s interesting & nice that a busy city was something he enjoyed – surely it was still busy back then, just relative to their scale. He loved the busy city, but would retreat every so often into the cave to find balance & remove himself so he could discover himself & understand this world & this life. Eventually, Medina held a special place in his heart, the tranquility must have been there then. I understand & relate to it so much. I just want to go & experience it myself, iA.

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Filed under Travel

Welcome to the Journey

Peace & Blessings,

I was recently blessed to be able to go on a very powerful and spiritual journey to Mecca to complete the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the 5 pillars of the Muslim faith. During my trip, I kept a travel journal to document my experiences, reflections, aspirations, and more. This is a transcript of those journal entries. I’ll also be including photos and videos along the way.

There are a total of 2 books. Each day’s posts will be broken up into smaller sections that will be released every few days, with different themes, until all 23 days are complete.

The journal progresses as the journey does, so be sure to keep reading to see how my perspectives evolved and matured throughout the trip.

Click Here to Start from Day 1. You can also scroll along the right sidebar to see posts from other days. There’s also an FAQ section you can visit, especially great for those of you making preparations to go to Hajj yourselves.

Please feel free to share with others and to post any comments/feedback. Hope you enjoy :)

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Filed under Reflections