This diary contains my notes about my experiences of Hajj. This is my first Hajj and it is being undertaken in company of my dear wife, Rasheeda. The Hajj (Arabic: حج Ḥajj) is the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia. It is currently the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah in the Arabic language). The pilgrimage occurs from the 8th to 12th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Islamic calendar.
Preparation and Departure
This note is being written on the eve of our departure. Numerous visitors came to our home this afternoon to express their good wishes for a successful and safe journey as well with their special requests for us to make supplication for them in the sacred places and times while in the holy land.
What on overflowing of goodwill we have experienced. My sister Yasmin and brother-in-law Kifayat have sent from Canada a lot of stuff for us, including my Ihram and Hijabs for Rasheeda upon hearing that we were going to perform Hajj. Rasheeda’s dear friend, Rabbiyah Mohammed-Ali had suddenly showed up at our home one afternoon with a drug store of medication and sincere wishes for an accepted Hajj . She had loads of encouragement and advice as well. Members of my staff at the Warrenville TIA School also expressed genuine sentiments on this undertaking. Secretary of the TIA, Mr. Rafeek Mohammed sent a parcel containing booklets with duas and zikr and even sent Rials, the currency of Saudi Arabia should an emergency happen to us early on the trip. My head grounds man, Nazim Mohammed, had showed up in my office one day with over 200 Rials and a phone to use in Saudi.
My brother Fareed and his family-wife Sherry and their children Arif and Farah were there for us to delegate responsibility for our children while we perform this sacred pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam. We are very grateful to my brother and his family for volunteering to take care of our children, Nabeela (Nabsie) and Ihsan (Ihsie). We have given Fareed certain instructions concerning our children. They pertain to do’s and don’ts for our children while we are away. There were also instructions and information should we not be allowed by Allah to return. May Allah bless them immensely. We are continuing packing our suitcases.
26th Nov. 2008
Tonight we leave for Makkah, Saudi Arabia. We are getting information that the flight, originally scheduled for 1.00am, 27th November is delayed and will now depart at 2.00 am. All of us are trying to act as normal as possible. It will not do us any good to become overly emotional. Our packing is more or less over.
Fareed my brother is driving us to the Piarco International Airport in his car. Ihsie and Nabsie, are with their cousins Arif (driver) and Farah, in my car. Mahdi, my daughter’s fiance, is driving his car in the airport caravan. On our way to the airport, my sister Yasmin and her husband, Kifayat phones from their home in Toronto. We exchange pleasantries and they wish us well. This reminds me of the tremendous outpouring of goodwill we have had from friends and relatives on hearing of our intention to perform Hajj . We arrive at the airport. There are so many people! My cousin Nadisha is waiting at the airport entrance.
Check in is a breeze. So many people are greeting us –some I don’t even know. Many are introducing themselves. Ihsie seems very contented. He is sipping a smoothie-a combination of chocolate and coffee. Some of the people who are bidding us farewell are-:Nazim and Nazneen, the husband and wife team from my school, Zalina, a member of my staff and her husband; Robert and Grace, my brother in law and his wife, their children Rehannah, Rienzi, his wife Fazeela, her parents, our Imam’s wife, Shaliza and their children.
Shaliza informed us that Munaf (her husband) and Imtiaz (her brother), had gone to Caracas to help resolve a visa crisis situation regarding Omar’s Hajj group. These are sixty odd pilgrims who have not yet received their visas. They had actually left days before and are now stranded in Caracas. At the time of writing this, the situation is still unresolved.
Rasheeda and I are interviewed by the local Islam Channel. Indeed, IBN owner/CEO Inshan Ishmael is at the airport and is greeting us. It is past 11.00 pm and our son Ihsie is looking sleepy. We hug him tenderly. He seems excited to sleep with Arif his cousin.
At 12.00 o’clock, our Amir, Sheriff is urging us to proceed to immigration. Soon we are in the departure lounge. We are there for about ten minutes when Rasheeda and I are invited by a friend, Sheldon, to wait in the lobby reserved for First Class passengers. It is much more comfortable here. We have access to snacks and drinks.
We are seeing on CNN a deadly series of terrorist attacks on Mumbai hotels. At the time of writing, 107 people have been killed and hundreds more injured. Dear God! Let it not be that Muslims are responsible for these attacks.