Friday 26 July 2019

Hajj Lessons unpacked

 Aslm and hello lovely readers!

I know it's been a while since I've popped in over here, but I am slowly getting back on my feet after the past few insanely busy months. I was reflecting on how the first part of this year has literally sped by in a flash, and how much has actually happened! And before I knew it, Hajj season (yes it really feels like a season nowadays) was upon us and my heart and soul was catapulted into another reality. 

I always feel highly charged and emotional when people start departing for Hajj, and the overwhelming need to engage and share with them sets in. It's as if I would like to impart all the wonder from my own Hajj, I want to 'prepare' them for this most incredible journey they are about to embark on. And at the same time I am fully aware that no matter what I say (or write) about my absolutely magnificent pilgrimage, each individual will have their own unique experience. I am clear too that each person will have their own challenges as well as the most extraordinary blessings (both tailored just for them). Above all, I know that the experience is dependant on what the individual chooses to make of their Hajj; the concept of just embracing whatever you're presented with sets the tone for a spiritually fulfilled hajj.

This week marked the two year anniversary of our departure for Hajj, it was an emotional time for me as the day flashed in all its clarity through my mind. I felt as if I was reliving it all over again! I never really understood what previous Hujaaj was talking about when they said that Hajj is unlike any other travel, until I too was honoured to perform my pilgrimage. Having said that, even though the physical Hajj occurred two years ago, the impact, the lessons and insights continue every day and unfold in the conscious act of trying my utmost to live my Hajj. 

As more time passes, I understand this concept more clearly, as the lessons learnt during Hajj imbed themselves in my DNA. 
Some of the lessons I learnt during my journey of a lifetime, which is now becoming an instrinsic part of how I navigate the world and serve my Creator:
  1. Accepting the Grace, Mercy and Love of my Creator. This has to be the one lesson which was reinforced every single day during my Hajj. I could tangibly feel my connection and relationship with the Divine being strengthened with every moment I spent in supplication. Being cognisant of the fact that I was an esteemed guest in His place of worship, meant that I was chosen out of hundreds of thousands to be there during Hajj1438. And even being one of the masses, I still felt singled out and immensely blessed to be able to walk the streets of Madinah, to gain easy access to the Raudah and to enjoy close proximity to the Holy Ka'bah. I consciously aim to maintain the sincerity of those engagements and supplications with my Creator, it is a daily practice which I cannot function without.
  2. Understanding that we are all One. Every single pilgrim was on their own journey of a lifetime, each one from a corner of the globe, with very different circumstances; and yet standing on the same planes of Arafah, and performing the very same tawaaf and sa-ee. 
  3. Being tolerant of others. Since there are people from different countries, with different cultures and ways of doing things, one has to observe tolerance and understanding. Some travellers come from remote rural villages, others may be bedouins who live in the desert and you'll even find pilgrims who have entered the Kingdom on foot without any form of pre-planned accommodation (which we're so lucky to enjoy). In the same way back home, it is essential to drop judgements (and to be aware of it as an impulsive reaction) and find the place of understanding that someone else's behaviour is purely from their own orientation in the world. This creates a platform for authentic connection with others.
  4. When you're on Hajj and in the state of ihraam, everyone is equal, there is no class distinction, no overt display of wealth nor focus on worldly things. It becomes very clear that we're all equal as humans in the eyes of our Lord, Subgaanallah.
  5. Practice patience. For me this was something I had to train myself to exercise before leaving. I had no clue what I'd be faced with in Saudi, and had to learn to practice patience in every single aspect of my journey. From waiting on the bus, to walking at someone else's pace in soaring temperatures; from being ignored to being locked out of our hotel room, and then not being understood as we tried to remedy a situation. 
  6. Forgiveness. This was the biggest lesson learnt, and started with forgiveness of, and being gentle with myself first. Forgiveness is something we pray and yearn for from our Creator, and yet in our daily lives we feel entitled to withhold forgiveness based on how badly we feel we've been wronged. I have come to realise that forgiving means being sincere from the heart, making a pledge with the self to no longer hold onto the hurt and actual occurence, and to always be mindful of how I would like to be forgiven. And then to model that behaviour towards others.
  7. Surrender to Faith. Another important element of my Hajj; while I was able to plan certain things, the realisation that I do not control anything was never more evident than on my pilgrimage. My decision to have the best experience meant that I would need to surrender and allow faith to carry me through, even when it was difficult. And when I engaged this mode, it literally transformed my entire perception, and the difficulties turned into valuable insights for myself.
Be an ambassador for Hajj. 
Whilst this may not be a lesson, it was an intention I made when I completed my pilgrimage. I made a heartfelt undertaking to inspire others and to advocate the impact that Hajj has made in my life. There have been many trying times since my journey of a lifetime, and the way I deal with these trials and embrace what life presents has been a learned mechanism activated through my Hajj. My inclination now, is to first look at a situation from the perspective of truth, and what would please my Allah (SWT),  and then navigate my way to a solution from there. It is not always easy nor the popular way of dealing with things, but it is more important for me to know my heart is clean, my intention only to please the Divine, then I know i'm on the right path.

I have been pensive and introspective, and have had many aha moments since my Hajj, it has contributed to my own personal and spiritual growth and keeps bringing me back to path of serving the Almighty and my fellow human ♥️

Since it's been freezing, I have been layering to keep warm. This look is typical officewear, with a trench thrown over for those days I need to brave the cold walking to meetings.
All pieces are existing pieces from my wardrobe, and the trench is around 8 years old, when Trenery was still a new label.

Outfit details:
Trenery Trench Coat
Zara embellished knit
Soviet coated denim jeans
Scarfstop scarf
Aldo boots
Michael Kors Bag

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