Hajj And Other Journeys of the Heart: A Journey Towards Humility

By Romina Afghan

One of the things I have realised as I get older is that we all have blind spots – Those parts of ourselves that are hidden from view, from our own consciousness, until Allaah chooses to bless us with the right situation to bring these blind spots in to focus. We may have these “blind spots” about ourselves in our character, our habits, or our speech. We live with them, are comfortable in them and may even see them as a “part of us”, oblivious to the fact that a different way, a better way, may be just around the corner.

Perhaps this is the reason that Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said,May Allah have mercy on the one who shows me my faults.” (Source: Sunan al-Dārimī 649).

Perhaps a person who is arrogant does not think or even imagine for a moment they are arrogant; perhaps a person who is rude does not realise their mannerisms are offending the people around them and they are being seen as rude; perhaps a person is prone to anger and does not see their anger as a problem – and which of us has not gone through life without a moment where we expressed  these things, a moment ( if not more than that) where we felt angry and blamed someone else or felt that our anger was a rational and reasonable response? Which of us has not felt at times that we are right and other people have got the wrong way to do something, and that our way is better than their way?

We all feel these at times, and they are part of the test of controlling our nafs, our ego, in situations where we have interactions with other egos and other souls;  but what if they are more than passing moments that we seek forgiveness for? What if they are actually our ‘modus operandi’, and we are living in that space more than we are living out of it? What if we are so unaware that we are doing something, that we have never once sought forgiveness from Allaah or for the people around us for that particular thing…?

Being shown your faults, your blind spots, is the first step in growth – acknowledging where we need to improve is necessary before any improvement can begin. So when people tell you that you will be “tested” on Hajj, embrace it as the opportunity it is; for whatever we find difficult is the area that needs to be worked on and the area that will grow us to the next level.

And this may come to you in random moments during Hajj;  in a shop, queuing to buy some refreshing tea to lift your flagging spirit, or standing at the foot of mount Arafat, begging Allaah to free you and pleading for Him to love you as if it was your only chance before the day of Judgement…

For me, it was a moment before the Asr prayer in the blessed city of Madinah, a few days before the official days of Hajj were about to begin. The sun was hot, searing in its intensity, yet the cool breeze of Madinah could still be felt, carrying the scent of Mercy through the crowded streets. The Athaan- haunting, melodic, soul touching- had just finished and there was a last minute flurry of activity as the late comers all made their way to the masjid of our blessed Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam. From all directions in the city people hurried, walked, hobbled  their way in one direction alone – as if magnetically drawn , both unable and unwilling to resist the call. Even the birds above seemed to be drawn in, calling and tweeting their praises as they flew above the massive umbrellas in the courtyard of the masjid. Here, all of creation is at one in worshipping Allaah. All are humbled at His door.

Flushed and out of breath, I approached the massive wooden door to the masjid, waiting in line as the sisters at the door checked bags and ushered the worshippers in. Then as I began to enter, the sister at the door announced there was no more space inside. My heart sank. I wanted to pray inside, as close as I could to where the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam prayed. I wanted to be on the same ground, breathing the same air, imagining that I was in his ( sall Allaahu alayhi wa sallam’s) congregation. I edged forward only to be barred by an unrelenting gloved hand. Hot tears pricked my eyes. I should have left the hotel earlier. I hate being late. I …

I had no words left. I stood there, rooted to the spot, having thoughts about illegally moving past the guards and fooling them, before I stopped to notice that the sister let an older woman through into the masjid, just ahead of me. It was at that point that I realised it was not the sister who was deciding who was going to enter the masjid that day for the prayer- it was Allaah who decides who will enter and who will not. It is not my cleverness or my ability to befuddle the sister at the door that was going to get me in, it was only Allaah and  turning to Allaah that would help me. I closed my eyes for a moment, feeling my heart break as the thought that perhaps I was not destined to enter the masjid that day flitted through my mind, but then He guided me to make duaa to Him. Quietly, I pleaded to Him to let me be amongst those He allows to enter the masjid to pray. Tears fell. The heart cracked a little more. How was I more worthy of entering than anyone else who was standing at his door?

 I realised I had actually come to the masjid with a sense of entitlement. My blind spot. I thought I deserved to enter the masjid. I thought I was good enough, ‘practising enough’ to be able to get in whenever I wanted, just because I happened to be there. Yet He was showing me I could be standing at His Door, with no physical reason to not enter, yet if He had not decreed for me to enter, I was powerless to do anything about it. I had somehow thought that the friendliness of the sisters at the gate towards me prior to this was perhaps because they recognised me as  “one of them” since I was wearing the same khimar and abayah. Perhaps I had felt good about this, and perhaps I had fallen into feeling superior, as I had entered the doors undisturbed previously (may Allaah forgive me).

Now here I was, standing at His door, and an old aunty in a colourful shalwar kameez and mismatched long “dupatta” or shawl, wrapped and tied hastily around her tanned, weathered face, was entering ahead of me, taking her seat peacefully amongst those He had decreed would enter, whilst I was left standing, watching painfully, pushed to the side. Perhaps He loves her more than He loves me, I thought, and why not? How could I possibly think that I was in any way more deserving or better than people who had made untold sacrifices in their wealth and families to get here? Perhaps what she does for Allaah, out of love for Him, is based on everything that she knows and has access to in her life. Perhaps the proportion of what  I do compared to what I know (little as that may be) is less than what she does.

I felt a burning sense of my utter worthlessness in the sight of Allah at that moment, compared to the millions of people there, loving Him and giving up everything to come to His door. I was an undistinguished slave amongst millions standing there that day, yet I wanted to imagine myself inside  the masjid in the company of the sahaabah and the Prophet SallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam himself.

I had been deluded. I had been arrogant. I had been entitled and superior when I was nothing but a pebble in a sea of diamonds. I think it was when I acknowledged this point in my heart that the sister at the door took a look at me and pointed to a space inside – “bi-sor’ah” (quickly) she whispered, and in my heart it was as if Allaah had opened the sea for Musa (alayhis-salaam) as the utter gratitude and joy washed through me.

Oh Allaah, I acknowledge that I deserve nothing of the bounties you have and the limitless  bounties and blessings you have given me. Oh Allaah, I acknowledge you have many millions of slaves and lovers who love you better than me, who worship you and obey you better than me, yet You listen to me, You guide me and help me, You answer my duaas and You allow me to still know you and worship you despite my many shortcomings. Oh Allah I cannot ever deserve your love, but I ask it and I seek it because of Who You are, Al-Wadood. I ask you to save me from myself, from my weakness and inability, from any arrogance or pride, and I ask that you count us all amongst Your humble slaves who never presume…Ameen.

About the author:

Romina is a happy mother to four children, a Master NLP-practitioner in training, part-time teacher and passionate believer in unlocking the wonderful potential of each and every soul by connecting them to Allaah and His Book. She has been blessed to be a  part of Solace for some years now, and loves connecting with sisters everywhere, so if you happen to come to a Solace event where she is, come on over and introduce yourself!

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