Wednesday 25 July 2018

A Heart Wrenching Farewell

Hi lovelies, 

We currently find ourselves in the midst of Hajj season and we have just emerged from a week where four very close family members, which include a brother, departed to perform their pilgrimage this year. Whilst it is a huge blessing to have this wonderful excitement, it is also overwhelming trying to spread oneself across all the homes. In addition, I also have a long list of friends and acquaintances who depart/have departed for pilgrimage. But of course, it is still with a sense of nostalgia that I navigate this special time.

It is so appropriate for me to end my #HajjSeries on the anniversary of the day I departed for Hajj last year, 25 July 2018. My journey, as you will have read, was an absolute life changing experience; one where I still uncover a little more everyday. Each day is a day where I am tasked with living my Hajj to the best of my ability. 

The last instalment covers how we spent the last few days in Makkah post-Hajj. We had a full week after Hajj before we would depart for home, and the first thing I needed to do to be fully free to do anything, was to complete my Tawaful Ifaldah and exit the state of ihraam. Once I had done this, hubby and I decided to check ourselves back into our hotel a few meters away from the Haram, as I could not see myself spending my last few days in Makkah (in Azizziyah) so far from the Ka'bah. I wanted to get as much time in the Haram, without needing to be concerned with the logistics of travelling to and fro. I was also very aware that each and every minute was precious, and that as much as I planned to return, this is not always within my control. So the time that we were here, I'd make every second count! Many people say that post-Hajj one misses the kids, and home; this is true, but for me the magnetic pull of the Ka'bah superceded this. The constant buzz I was on just by being in central Makkah was exhilarating and a feeling I will never forget.

Apart from spending all my free time in the Haram, we decided to be typical tourists and explore Makkah and its surrounds on our own. One day we used the local mini-bus taxi and left to spend the day touring Jeddah. I wanted to perform a waqt at Masjid Al Rahma (also known as the floating mosque on the Red Sea), let the warm waves of the Red Sea wash over my feet and visit the spot where Gouwa (AS) was buried (this has now been flattened by the Saudi Government). We also visited the Mall of Arabia, where I did some shopping and even stumbled upon an Ocean Basket! Algamdulilah - My wish for sushi was granted in the last week of our journey!

Once back in Makkah and sightseeing done, we spent all our free time in the Haram, by the Ka'bah. As the days passed, the heavy feeling of farewell started setting in, and with it the sadness that this altered reality we were living in would soon end. I was looking forward to being reunited with my boys after 7 weeks away, and at the same time I was torn with my intense need to stay right there. Even though it was post-Hajj Makkah was still unbelievably full, and we were so fortunate to have had some moments of complete peace and momentary respite from the crowds. Our last Thuhr, we spent sitting on the mataaf, sun hidden behind the clouds and a practically non-existent tawaaf crowd. As I sat there, and the realisation dawned on me that this was my last Thuhr, the tears started flowing, as I knew this significant time was nearing its end. It was difficult to comprehend what life would be like without the constant draw of this captivating city.

We performed our Tawaaful Widaa just after Fajr on the Sunday morning before we flew out. The crowd was enormous and with each circumambulation we walked slower and slower, wanting this last tawaaf to last, needing to commit every single footstep to memory. The sight of the sunrise in the east as we performed tawaaf was a reminder that the day for our departure had dawned, the birds circling the mosque a reminder that life continues outside of this sacred city. Life back home which we would soon be re-joining. When we were done, I was practically sobbing as hubby made a final duah before we turned around and walked out King Fahd gate for the very last time on this journey. It is hard to articulate the heartbreak at that moment, the heart wrenching feeling of leaving your soul behind in this revered city. I remember filming every single moment of my walk out of the Holy Mosque, and returning to the hotel. Our sorrow was evident in the silent tears coursing down our cheeks, not talking and just walking side by side, and finally packing our things to return to Azizziah where the bus would collect us for the airport.

I believe this farewell to have been one of the most difficult moments of my journey, and even as I reminisce on it, I relive the desolation. The only light is my focus to return for umrah very soon InshaAllah ♥️
As we embarked on the bus to leave, I reflected that it has been an experience like no other, where I managed my trials with hardiness and grace. And I breathed a sigh of relief as we entered the highway en route to Jeddah airport. Little did I know that the journey is not done until you set foot back in your home. Our bus driver got horribly lost for about 2 hours, and a trip which was supposed to take us roughly hour and a half, took over 3 hours. In a dilapidated bus, the likes of which I had not even glanced during my entire trip, with dodgy aircon. About two hours into the journey, I needed to use the bathroom, and was unable to whilst we were driving in circles. After about 4 hours with a full bladder, I broke out into a cold sweat as my one semi-functioning kidney and bladder started aching. I am so grateful when we approach the airport and no additional buses were allowed into the airport, instead we would have to wait on the outskirts until some flights had taken off. At this point I felt faint, and could not find a ladies bathroom to use, so I grabbed hubby and used the men's loo which was the absolute worst experience of my entire trip! The moral of this story for me is that the journey is not over until you're back in your own home!
So the saying about taking bags of sabr (patience) along is not an underrated saying at all!

On this year milestone, I realise how much my perspective on life has changed. May all our 1439  Hujaaj be granted a Hajj Maqbool, and Hajj Mabroer InshaAllah, and may all their trials be accepted and managed with ease.

Performing Tawaaful Ifaldah

In Azizziyah Main Road 

Azizziyah Main Road  

In the mini-bus taxi

A suburb in Jeddah, Al Balad

Masjid Al Rahma where we performed Asr Salaah

All I wanted to do is sit with my feet in the Red Sea :-) 

Mall Of Arabia, Jeddah

Quran monument as you approach Makkah from Jeddah

Waltzing around in Azizziyah post-Hajj

The last sunrise, after our Tawaaful Widaa 

The empty mataaf after my last Thuhr

Touristy Selfie
This was such a treat for me, sushi, at long last!

The manager of Ocean Basket, Jeddah, treats all Saffas with a discount :-D
Exiting through King Fahd gate for the last time of my journey

Caio for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Friday 6 July 2018

We all suffer the same Struggles

 Welcome lovely readers!

This week has been filled with episodes, work things, holiday things and so much more! It feels as if I have been saying this since January, and now when I look back I realise it's already been 6 months, and we've entered the second half of the year! One thing I have learnt this year is that life doesn't stand still, like time, life will pass me by if I don't make the most of it. Life can only be richer if I embrace everything with enthusiasm (including the trials) because this will be the only way I can imagine living a grateful and fulfilled life.

Gratitude takes many shapes, it is the conscious "Thank you" for blessings, it is in the overwhelming feeling of love from loved ones, it is in accepting the body we have been blessed with and acknowledging it's strength; and it is in the conscious awareness of those less fortunate. Gratitude for me includes embracing my trials, as difficult as it may be, dealing with it and ultimately just taking it one step at a time to get through it. And by the time I have taken a few steps forward, trusting and with complete faith in my Creator, do I realise the blessing in the trial. I can regard it as a preparation for what still has to come, or as an experience meant to alert me to my shortcomings or a trial meant to strengthen character.

Earlier this week I attended the launch of Saffron, a book containing a collection of personal narratives by Muslim women. The conversation at the launch was inspiring, it highlighted the courage it took for these women to publish their deepest thoughts, trials and tribulations. And it also became obvious how this is frowned upon on our community, that women feel that they cannot freely express themselves for fear of judgement or retribution. Upon reflecting on the discussions of the evening, a few things became crystal clear:
1. These stories relate to any woman, Muslim or not, and yet it is necessary to reassure Muslim women that it can be done. I know that women, across cultures, would benefit from reading these stories, and when I listened to non-Muslim attendees at the launch speak, I realised that they too face the same criticism for sharing personal stories, and for sharing taboo topics.
2. Some of these stories could refer to any male. There would have been a male spouse, father, brother or son who would have been privy to the heartache, the tears and anguish of these women. And so in this way they too would have been affected by the individual's trauma and struggles.
3. As human beings we have the same make up, we are all the same and we all hurt in the same way. What makes us different is the way we react to situations, our individual disposition and our inherent character. 

It is our inherent character which determines how we choose to live, how we choose to deal with suffering, hurt and hardships. And how we manage these is determined on our own individual orientation to the world. So while these stories come from women all over the world, as humans we could all be victims of the same angst, dealing with the same issues. And while I am all for women empowerment, I will never advocate it at the expense of males. I cannot truly be an empowered woman if I fail to see the value that each human brings to the world, male and female alike. I know that empowered males exist, those who support their counterparts in marriage, as a parent, as a sibling and as friends. I believe that we should include all of the human race in empowering each other, I choose to believe that we can effect change as a unified power. The reality is that this is not always the case, even in my closest circles, as it is easier to to focus on what makes us different rather than what makes us the same. And this my dear readers, is where we find ourselves in the hot water of life... So I can only focus on my own contribution to society and trust that this is enough...

My motto in life is to live authentically as possible, to focus on what makes me tick, forgetting what the world may think of me and setting the best example I know how for my young charges. 

This outfit is the perfect representation of me, quirky, different and wholly unconcerned with what others think of it. I was comfortable, it reflected me and my mood for the day. This is important to me, to be able to just be and not to wear my clothing as armour, instead I will be uniquely me! ♥️

Outfit details:

Huemine Image tweed top (old)
Pleated skirt (old)
Stockings (old)
Vans leather sneakers
Sunglasses from Opulence
Forever New Scarf
French Connection leather bag
Scarf gifted

Caio for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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