Allah (ﷻ) answers the Dua of His servants
Allah descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the first part of the night is over and says: I am the Lord; I am the Lord: who is there to supplicate to Me so that I answer him? Who is there to beg of Me so that I grant him? Who is there to beg forgiveness from Me so that I forgive him? He continues like this till the day breaks.
Reported by Abu Huraira. Muslim
I had longed to perform Hajj since 1996 when I completed Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage) in the last ten days of Ramadan. I was a new Muslim back then with very little knowledge, but the experience was life changing, and it made me want to return to perform the Hajj one day. Even my family knew how important it was to me. Over the years I tried to save up money to go but it was never enough. Year upon year the prices would rise pushing my lifetime dream further out of reach. Despite this, I continued to make dua.
Twenty-seven years later my financial situation still hadn’t changed. But I realised I wasn’t getting any younger and my health wasn’t at its peak anymore. If I left it any longer, I feared I wouldn’t be fit or strong enough to perform this significant pillar of the Islamic faith. In 2022, the cost of performing Hajj doubled. It was near impossible to afford for someone in my position. But then I remembered that nothing is impossible with Allah’s help and that’s when my duas changed. They were noticeably different especially during the last ten nights of Ramadan. They were less of an ask and more a desperate plea. I cried with heart ache in my prayers and begged Allah (ﷻ) to invite me to His House. And the thought of not being invited felt worse than rejection. This gut wrenching feeling only intensified my love for Allah and intensified my pleading and tears. It was a strange yet humbling position.
As the Hajj season approached a new booking system was set up to replace the traditional Hajj tour operators. The number of Muslims to perform the pilgrimage had also been capped at a third its usual capacity from three million to one million. Only a fraction of that number would be allocated to Muslims from the UK. It was also the first time in three years that Hajj had operated since the covid pandemic, so the demand was exceptionally high. Dreams were being shattered on a daily basis as Muslims reported disappointments for failing to meet the application criteria under the new system. Securing a place was like ‘winning the lottery’ as the media described it.
Two weeks before the Hajj season I received a text asking me if I wanted the opportunity to perform the pilgrimage. I politely responded that I had been saving up, but I couldn’t afford it as the cost had risen to almost £10,000. After a few texts backwards and forwards, I was asked if I could pay some of the costs towards it, which I agreed as I had my life savings, but it was still a massive shortfall. A few more texts were exchanged and then silence. I worried that the money gap was too wide. I then received a phone call. I waited in dreaded fear to hear the disappointing news. Instead to my surprise I was told that the whole of my Hajj would be paid for! I was so excited, I screamed jubilantly in almost every room of my house. My duas had finally been answered. But it wasn’t straightforward. Now I had to see if I could meet the strict criteria under the new registration system. I had only two weeks to make sure my passport was up to date, get a visa, have my second covid vaccine (that I had been putting off) and a Meningitis vaccine, and buy all the necessary items I would need to take with me on my trip. I hadn’t even got a suitcase! All this while juggling family responsibilities and working two part time jobs. Could I even apply for two weeks annual leave from both my work organisations at such short notice? But I reminded myself that if it was written for me, I needed to keep making dua and put my full trust in Allah(ﷻ).
With every obstacle and hurdle the odds stacked against me, but I was no gambling woman! I was relying totally upon Allah(ﷻ). I ordered items on the internet praying they would arrive in time before I had to leave. I had to book appointments to the GP and a private clinic for my vaccines and make sure I could fit them around my hectic work and home life schedules. A few days before the flight I still hadn’t got my visa. The results of my covid test also hadn’t come back in time. I had to go in person to get another one. This time it was an emergency test and an additional expense, but Allah (ﷻ) sent a very kind soul who waivered half the fee for me once he found out I needed it for Hajj (Allah (ﷻ) reward him). Thankfully the test was negative, but it still wasn’t certain that I would be able to go. Muslims were reportedly being turned away at the airport due to booking errors with the new system. I made dua, booked my coach ticket to the airport and made a few last-minute preparations. It was only when I met the other sisters in my group and boarded the plane that it finally sunk in that I was on my way to perform the once in a lifetime Hajj pilgrimage.
I had been forewarned that Hajj was challenging and would test my patience and resolve. Indeed it was physically, mentally, and spiritually challenging but it was also highly rewarding. It was intensely hot and tiring but on a spiritual level, my connection with Allah had never been so finely attuned. All worldly distractions were put to one side, and I could concentrate fully on spiritual worship and devotion. There is no other place or time on earth where I have achieved such a deep connection with Allah (ﷻ). I had never cried so much in my life, but they were happy, wholesome tears. They were tears of remorse and hope for redemption, and a cleansing and opportunity for renewal. I witnessed amazing experiences during those two weeks with long lasting memories. Some were happy, some were sad, and some were truly mind blowing. Many experiences were personal to me or to those who were with me. Unfortunately I do not have their permission to share their stories but suffice to say Allah (ﷻ) does answer duas and He does guide His servants in unique and distinct and very obvious ways.
Even though many Muslims were not able to perform Hajj that year, Allah (ﷻ) blessed every Muslim with the opportunity to increase their reward through acts of worship in the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. While the pilgrims asked Allah (ﷻ) to forgive them on the plains of Arafat, non-pilgrims were given the opportunity to fast on the day of Arafat which expiates their past sins and the sins of the following year. What was even more amazing was the day of Arafat in 2022 fell on a Friday, so it was the most blessed of days to perform the most blessed acts of worship. I pray my Hajj was accepted along with all the other pilgrims who performed it with me, and I pray Allah(ﷻ) also accepted the fasting and good deeds of all the Muslims who were unable to go. I also ask Allah to accept the dua of every Muslim who sincerely yearn to be invited to His House. Ameen.
Here are some of the lessons I learned from my Hajj experience:
- Duas are powerful. Never stop asking Allah (ﷻ) even if it takes weeks, months, or years to be fulfilled. Allah will always answer your dua in this life, or the Hereafter or remove a calamity from you. So never give up.
- There was one dua that was a constant throughout my Hajj and no matter what I needed Allah(ﷻ) made it smooth and easy, subhanallah. This dua was:
‘Hasbun Allahu wa na’imal wakeel.’
“Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us).”
Surah Ali Imran 3:173
3. Rely upon Allah(ﷻ) for every uncertainty, obstacle, and hardship but also for every joy, triumph, and success. Leave your affairs in Allah’s Capable Hands. Since returning home from Hajj I have been including this dua regularly in my morning and evening routine:
Yā Ḥayyu yā Qayyūmu biraḥmatika astaghīth aṣlih lī sha’nī kullah wa lā takilnī ilā nafsī ṭarfata `ayn.
O Ever Living One, O Eternal One, by Your mercy I call on You to set right all my affairs. Do not place me in charge of my soul even for the blinking of an eye (i.e. a moment).
Al-Hakim (Fortress of a Muslim)
4. Duas are very rarely answered without some effort or action on our part. Keep taking steps forward even if they seem small and Allah(ﷻ)will guide and facilitate it for you. But know it won’t just fall in your lap. There has to be action of some kind and a strong element of trust.
5. If Allah (ﷻ) has written something for you nothing can prevent it, even when the odds appear stacked against you.
About the Author
Aliya Vaughan has been a Muslim for 28 years and lives in the UK. She is an award-winning author and her children’s stories ‘A Race to Prayer,’ ‘Turning back to Allah,’ and ‘Tides of Change’ are available from Kube Publishing. Her fourth title ‘Wrestling against anger’ is soon to be released this year (2023) in sha Allah. You can follow @aliya_vaughan on Instagram.