The build up to Hajj
I was nominated to attend Hajj 3 days before departing Auckland, I was at work and was contacted by Sheikh Rafat over the phone "Asalamu aleikm Tairek I have very good news and im very excited to present you with this news, You have been selected to attend hajj Inshaallah" I sat back humbly overwhelmed and nearly cried reflecting on my past few years navigating through this converts space, I felt a sense of sadness too as I always hoped my first hajj experience was going to be with my wife as well, my team of boys who all embraced Islam with me around the time I converted. (We used to visualize and imagine that we were doing hajj arm in arm, locked shoulder to shoulder during Tahwaf).
Sheikh Rafat said "sort out your Passport and those requirements needed for your Visa" but I wasn't too sure what requirements is needed so contacted the Canberra embassy.
I also checked online and found old conversations about previous applicants experiences attending the hajj and the process they did.
This helped me understand what I'm up for.
I called Umar Taka who is a maori Muslim convert from Auckland, he went the year prior and I picked his brain on what should I do and what do I need, he assured me with awesome valuable tips and what is a critical necessity eg vaccine shots for my medical passport etc.
At work I asked my Employer if I could have 3 weeks off work? My boss said "sorry boy unfortunately nope due to not enough staff to cover", so I stepped back and smiled "thank you for putting up with a lot of my hoha-ness (annoying ness) here at work, I know I use to piss you off a lot when I pulled sickies and drama issues." I thanked him for being a good boss over the last 8-9 yrs and he acknowledged the change he saw in my attitude from being this young man who loved to come to work a bit hungover most times to converting to Islam and not touching a drop, seeing a 360 degree flip in my behaviour and he even said you turned out alright, acknowledging how my religion had rubbed off on me pretty well but also many other work colleagues had similar reactions to me on my departing. I handed my boss my notice and left.
The journey to Hajj
One day before I left NZ I had to find my own way up to Auckland from Christchurch due to all flights being fully booked here in Christchurch, I had to come in the next morning and pray someone won't come in, so I could get their seat in which alhumadulilah I did.
I arrived in Auckland at 3.20 pm so I had 40 mins to make it to Auckland embassy on Queens st, I had my bro Umar Taka waiting for me at the airport and ready to drive 100 mph to the embassy on the back streets.
Made it to the bottom of the building at 3.56 pm 4 mins before closing and "booomm" made it just when the security guard was locking the door. I yelled out to Ali Hussein the secretary at the time "Asalamu aleykim Ali its Tairek the Maori" he responded back, very stoked that I made it and got my passport stamped. Unfortunately there were suppose to be more coming but they missed the cut off time.
My reaction on seeing the Kaaba?
I was hoping for a spiritual overwhelming feeling to encompass my body and elevate my consciousness to a euphoric state but...... I absolutely felt nothing I tried to cry but couldn't, then thought to myself, should I have closed my eyes and made dua before I saw the kaaba or should I have tried something else? but there wasn't anything that could of changed my state so I accepted it and started observing every aspect of the Kaaba, the hadiths the stories and the teaching of learning about hajj pilgrimage through Nawawi center in the early years of my conversion.
I marveled at seeing the interior of the masjid and the multiculturalism and the many dynamics within Masjid al-Haram environment at the time.
What emotions did I encounter?
During hajj pilgrimage I encounterd many familiar emotions I recognized later on in life, but on a personal level I expressed a lot of ingratitude outwardly unfortunately eg: Angrily yelling at my hajj friend why he wasn't understanding why we were in stressful situations during Hajj, Why the cab guy hustled me out of my $100 US to go up the road which normally is $8, why my feet hurt in these cheap Saudi brought but made in china crooks, why I got shafting between my legs, why the logistics and wardens facilitating hajj were incompetent, why have I got food poisoning and a sore tummy from eating fast food here, or why does my KFC burger have no lettuce in it....so due to my own shortcoming's /faults I started to blame everyone and anything apart from myself, even tho I thought I had patience.....Allah put me in my place and due to my option taking this was for me a direct reflection and state of my heart.
Standing and reflecting in Arafat I felt really spiritual but then we were in our own enclosed compound with armed guards holding automatic guns and all the fences were covered so no one could look in or out.
We had personalized tents that were air conditioned had our own fridge with unlimited drinks, fruits and food and had our own beds to lie down in but note it was only our day stay we weren't staying over night.
Our lunch was in this massive tend and we were given the 10 star feed that was so plentiful that once everyone went back to their quarters or to our compound mosque I holla at the bro Hasan from Auckland "cuz lets pass all this leftover kai (food)over the fence to all the pilgrims on the outside big rewards $$$ in Jennah G.
Sheikh Yusuf Al Oadri, Sheikh Ekrima Sa'id Sabri of Al-Aqsa, All the Shiekh of sheikhs (who were part of our delegation) got in on the action. I had Hassan standing on top of a container so he could see and communicate to Muslims outside the compound and we passed the food under parts of the fence that were opened and could pass through.
The road we travelled on was the diplomat route which is strictly only for the delegations King Abdul Aziz allowed.
How did I feel when I completed Hajj?
Relieved and very very confident on knowing how to make ones hajj trip beautiful, fulfilling and even spiritually enhanced. Im glad I experienced all the unique dynamics of the hajj environment because today I can say how to avoid those moments where your Hajj trip becomes hard trip also assuring a smoother journey for my Wife, whanau, community and friends needing any tips.
Looking back I'm very thankful to our Creator who elevates the spaces I find myself in, Allah Subhanahu wa ta'ala the perfectionist in all things who gave me the best and still blesses me and my family with blessing.
Sometimes I wonder maybe its not because I deserve it but somewhere I've cross paths with a Waleed of Allah and that person made dua, or maybe my wife made dua and it was answered. but whatever reason I learn reflect and try always to be grateful.
Now passing my story to you,
May Allah make you that special person who's going to step up and lead in those spaces where they are needed.
Allahu Alim Allah knows best.
Labbayka Allahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-hamd wa’l-ni’mata laka wa’l-mulk, laa shareeka lak (Here I am, O Allah, here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty, You have no partner.