HAJJ THE BUILD UP
Assalamalaikum, I am sis Noeleen,
my Muslim name is Feroza.
I am a revert of Maori ancestry, Aotearoa New Zealand.
In 2014 I was co founder and CEO of the Fatimah Foundation in Auckland New Zealand. My colleague and friend worked with me. One day, she randomly approached me four months prior to hajj, “let's go to hajj” she said!.
I said that,ll be nice and I dropped the topic and continued with my work. She asked again one month later and insisted we go and that she’ll pay for half as her father had left her some inheritance, I said “thank you but no! I can’t take your money because I’m financially stable.”
Then she gave me the form to fill in and said submit it and leave the rest to Allah. How much is it I asked? About $7500 to 9000 is the estimated total she said, I nearly died.
I went home to discuss it with my family.
My friend was awesome, she organised everything, mashallah and put everything in motion. When I got my passport to go to Hajj, I posted it on Facebook that I was going to Hajj.
One response was "how come she's going?"
I pondered on those words and In response to that.
1) Alhumdulliah, I had the funds, I was not given a free ticket. Everything is from Allah.
2) My worthiness is up to Allah swt to decide as I had made my intention to go in the 1980’s, so Allah swt sent the invitation and my friend's persistence and organisation skills helped make it happen in the short window that we had.
I got all my injections and brought $200 worth of medicine and health care products to keep away any undesirable illnesses I may pick up on the way.
We went with the Labaik group which consisted of two Sheikhs, and young guides who were under their mentorship. I was impressed with the Sheikhs leadership skills with the guides and we all benefited immensely from their wisdom.
The airports were a buzz with pilgrims gathering in anticipation in their different groups.
Once on the plane I caught up on much needed sleep as I worked right up to leaving for the airport.
MY REACTION SEEING THE KAABA
When I saw the Kaaba a few metres away I cried, I felt insignificant. I made the intention twenty years ago to come to Hajj and here I am with my friend standing before the Kaaba with all the millions of pilgrims around us and we were crying together. I was overwhelmed with the realisation of where we were.
When we did Tawaf we were on the further outskirts of the circuit and somehow we managed to be an arms length away from the Kaaba, “look!"said Zaidah. I was busy looking at my feet making sure I dont trip as I didn't want to fall and be trampled. She grabbed my hand and placed it on the Kaaba. I then grabbed her hand with my free hand and placed it on the Kaaba also. There was a sea of hands, subhanallah and we both made dua.
Jamarat-I managed to walk the 23 km to Jamarat (the stone throwing ritual), I was quite impressed with myself as I hadn't exercised in preparation prior. Then I had to walk back, that was definitely a lot harder.
Mount Arafat- Our Labaik group booked a spot on Mount Arafat and other people had filled our spot so we dispersed and I got separated. I finally found a spot, I became surrounded by people. So here's little old me stuck with my knees hugged up to my chest feeling very awkward.
No segregation here, that's for sure.
Everyone was exhausted and in their own heads making dua. We left there after midnight.
From Arafat we walked to Mina as Muzdalifah was over crowded.
I felt that the essence of Safa and Marwa had been taken away as everything is now tiled. Safa and Marwa are worn down due to the billions of pilgrims over the years, so now these small mountains are protected by perspect shields and a resin cover.
WHAT EMOTIONS I ENCOUNTERED
Conflicted-l saw child beggars coming out from the deserts and our agents told us not to give money as they are professional beggars. So I was conflicted and found it very difficult not to give them anything.
Frustrated-The tests were there everywhere. I had to put my frustrations to rest and be patient and remember my purpose of being there.
Overwhelmed- when I saw the Kaaba.
-The prophet's pbh Mosque, al Masjid an Nabawi and how big it seemed to be. As big as a football field I thought.
-Putting our hands on the Kaaba.
-Eye contact with the Kaaba and millions of people before me.
Our trip was three weeks long and I believe I learnt more about Islam in those three weeks from the two Sheikhs and my experiential spiritual moments than I had all in the years of being a Muslim.
The key essence I took from them was the simple message of the Mercy of Allah.
I would love to go again and focus on the rituals and the spiritual side again.
Go with the remembrance of Allah swt all the time.