By Meru Hussain
For some, the journey to Allah may look like increasing the outward acts of ibaadah ( worship), for me it looked like the journey to Hajj, to travel to the land where my beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) was born, to travel to the city in which he spent the latter years of his life firmly establishing the message of Islam.
The journey of Hajj, the idea of being exclusively picked out amongst all of the Slaves of Allaah (swt) to perform the once in a lifetime obligation of Hajj (for those who can afford it), is a concept that I am completely besotted with.
In my mind, to be close to Allah was to be at His door glorifying Him, praising Him, seeking His pleasure and ultimately, His vast forgiveness.
Despite the fact that I did not have the financial means, all I wanted was to be amongst the pilgrims of Hajj. I longed for that opportunity so much so, that I totally disregarded the temporary separation from my children, which I could not imagine doing for any other reason.
As a child, if I wanted something, I would pester my father so much that in the end he would often give up, exasperated, and give in to my demands: I would compel him to rise from his warm bed to drop me to school because I didn’t want to take the bus, I would pick out everything I wanted from the shopping aisles when we went grocery shopping, and so on.
Once I grew up, this no longer worked and I had to find my own way, pay my own way and make my own decisions.
Isn’t it funny how we outgrow people and even ourselves, shifting skins and ages, constantly moving whilst staying still?
Here’s what you will never outgrow- your need for Allah….
Al Khaliq (The Creator)
Al Mujeeb (The Responder to Prayer)
Dhu al Jalal wa al Ikram (The Lord of Majesty and Bounty)
You see in the end, despite having no financial means and no itinerary planned or preparation I did go to Hajj because Al Khaliq created me and knew what my heart wanted. Al Mujeeb responded to the constant crying out of that child within me who sought peace in the land where it all began. Dhu al Jalal wa al Ikram granted me from His bounty what I asked of Him and so much more.
3:74 -يَخْتَصُّ بِرَحْمَتِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ
“He selects for His mercy whom He wills. And Allah is the possessor of great bounty”
I went to Hajj expecting a total transformation of myself when I returned, as if the physical movements would somehow expel all the sorrow and sadness within me.That did not happen.
Instead I returned with a heavy heart, self doubt and impostor syndrome whilst my fellow hajjis felt elated and in a highly spiritual state. Did that mean my Hajj was not accepted?
I was tormented and unwell, without spiritual elevation and unable to accept that this great honour was given to me. I wouldn’t talk about how I felt because I had never known anyone to come back from Hajj and not feel a sense of relief and elation.
2:153 -يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient“.
This ayah was what kept me going, calling out to Allah in desperation knowing that without patience one cannot perform the prayer. In the prayer is a beautiful lesson of patience, how one must perform each prayer at its appointed time, the actions in the correct order, aligning all your organs and limbs to humble themselves before The Most Generous Lord.
I started studying Islamic courses, eventually leading to writing. Eventually, through many tests and trials I realised that Al Khaliq was teaching me about the beauty of His creation. Teaching me that in understanding what was within me will show me the path to my pilgrimage to Him. The necessity to explore every emotion and vulnerability would ground me enough to stay rooted to La Illaha ilallah. He showed me that unless I completely trusted Him, peace would evade me like the day to the night.
Since my Hajj 4 years ago I have come to realise that, for me at least, my pilgrimage to Allah started when I returned from Makkah. It taught me to look deeper in the Quran and within myself:
13:11 -إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ ۗ
Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.
To perform Hajj is to throw yourself into the deep end of sabr, having complete trust that Allah will grant you the gems and jewels at the bed of the ocean. It prepares you for the making of you. Your heart will not remain in a state of fulfilment and happiness all the time because Allah is pleased with you, that is not for this world. It will twist this way and that and show you that the heart once filled with gratitude and faith can falter into jealousy and despair. Your journey must continue no matter how dark or heavy your heart feels. Your tests are a guarantee that Allah loves you.
Hajj for me was seeking my purpose, yet it has taken me this long to understand that whilst my body performed the physical worship in Makkah, my heart is still performing Hajj until it is returned to it’s Creator.
Journeys of the heart don’t get happy endings in this world because the happiness of this world lasts just for moments, whilst eternal bliss in the hereafter is everlasting.
My heart is as tumultuous as the earth for it was created from it, yet it is still journeying to Allah. I have no map, transport and superpowers but I have a Lord to whom belongs everything that is in the Heavens and the Earth. So, I take this ayah as my provision for the journey:
13:24 -سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُم بِمَا صَبَرْتُمْ ۚ فَنِعْمَ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ
Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home.
May your heart find peace on this journey with Allah alone, ameen.
About the author:
Meru is a mother of 2 with a background in IT currently working on her own personal development and is a community activist. She is pursuing a passion of writing and blogs on her Instagram page musingsofmeru.