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This is a special series of Blogs which describes my time and experiences during Hajj this year.
Aziziya – Haram Shareef
Most people, if not all, had left Mina on 12 Zilhajj, yesterday.
All Manasik e Hajj were completed properly. Hajj was accomplished. Alhamdulillah.
Allah be praised. It is His Great Blessing that we were able to perform all Manasiks without difficulty.
We have a huge inner delight that by the Grand Grace of Allah, this great job was done. All our previous fears and premonitions were laid to rest.
We are extremely grateful that everything was done in ordained order and manner.
Acceptance of Hajj is the Prerogative and Privilege of Allah. We have no claim on it.
There is a little bit of void also growing inside somewhere. The Great Event has happened: now what?
Probably for this reason, people started becoming nostalgic about their homes and families. We still had three weeks here and suddenly that seemed very long time. Some people, in hushed tones, broached the topic of changing flights. The organizers had said in the beginning that it would not be possible to change to earlier flight. PIA document said that it would cost 650 Riyals to change flight, subject to availability of seats. These facts tempered the sentiment for seat change and the talk died down.
Generally, people started spending more time in the building lobby as it had free WIFI and TV running Pakistani channels. Ladies were also enthusiastically involved in this activity.
Before Hajj, the time to the event is filled with a pleasant excitement which increases with every passing day. There is a desire and effort to spend more time in Ibadat. The passion reaches the Zenith as the Hajj starts. The fears also keep lurking and gaining; fear that there may be some accident; fear that some disabling disease may catch; even fear that life may end before Hajj. An elderly, rural person was climbing the stairs of train station ahead of me and commented in Punjabi, “the biggest fear was that of life, that it may not end before Hajj”.
After such intense emotions and anxieties, when the event is over, the feeling of void is natural.
Bus service to Haram Shareef is still suspended. It will resume on 15 Zilhajj; still couple of days to go. Taxi is an option; but they are seriously overcharging; something like 10 times the usual charge. Many of us still managed to reach Haram Shareef every day. Alhamdulillah.
The allocation of flights and number of days are decided by the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) and the intending pilgrim has neither any say in it, nor any control on it.
Having said that, we still debate on which cycle is better; go early and come back immediately after Hajj or go near Hajj and come back late. Both cycles have pros and cons.
I was in the middle. I got three weeks before Hajj and three weeks after Hajj.
I believe that this time frame of 40-45 days is a once-in-a-life time, unique, and the greatest opportunity to disconnect from everyday hassles of life and spend time with our Lord. Five days of Hajj are part of this whole process, the Reason Being or Raison d’etre. However, the purposes of Hajj are Re-Orienting, Re-Modeling and Re-Directing our thoughts, character, dealings, and lives.
For this reason, it is important to spend time here, whatever the cycle may be. It should be possible to take out 40-45 days or slightly less number from a long adult life of 40-50 years. Leave all affairs behind, ask Allah to take care, while we go and do the greatest job of our life.
Some soul searching is in order.
Conspicuously, Pakistan Independence Day Celebrations were absent.