They say that there is no easy way to say goodbye. And it's true Saying goodbye to loved ones, even if for a short while comes with a heavy burden often with a mix of emotional and physical symptoms. When good byes are said, the throat suddenly dries, the heart tightens and you might even feel your eyes swell. Goodbyes cause heartache; curable only by the joy of a happy reunion. For those who had the good fortune of saying goodbye to loved ones going off on hajj, the pain of parting could only have been soothed by the knowledge of how important that great journey is and the sweetness of being together again.
Dear friend, we count you both lucky and blessed to have been able to abandon the comfort of your home, the warmth of your family, even the familiar stresses of your environment to spend time in the unfamiliar lands of Saudi Arabia. We were happy to see you go off on this journey that many only dream of, a journey of renewal, a quest for rebirth. Of course, our hearts ached as you departed. Being human, we wished at once that you be back in a moment and that we could go with you. We are thankful that a return trip for hajj often takes less than one month grandfathers say it used to take over a year! But, truth be told, we were also afraid for your safety, especially as you were flying through Nigerian airspace.
In these days when air crashes seem to be in vogue, and when people (who even call themselves Muslims) do not seem to require more than just a woolly-headed conviction to blow up innocents in planes and other public transport, we were justly afraid. But we hoped and prayed, if nothing else, we trusted that Allaah would keep you; we prayed that the pilot would not ignore the control tower that there would be no cows on the runway, that there would be no high or low explosives on board. and indeed that the officials would not forget your travel papers. We even prayed that the authorities would not entrust the airlift of pilgrims to carpenters and grass cutters as before, and that you would depart and arrive on schedule, not having to spend days on the cold floors of strange airports.
Dear friend, we knew that once you arrived at Jeddah airport, you would be in good hands. Werent the Saudis such wonderful hosts? You must have seen that the custodians of the two holy mosques would do anything to make you feel at home even at great personal and social costs to themselves (since they consider you as guests of Allaah and feel honoured to entertain you). So, how was the experience? Were you comfortable with the unfamiliar weather? Some say that the biting cold of Madinah contrasted sharply with the desiccating heat of Makkah. Did you also find the food strange and sometimes unappealing? Every journey has its inconveniences. No doubt some of your co-pilgrims sorely tasked your patience (intentions do not often coincide).
You might also have felt frustrated with your inability to communicate with the other millions of pilgrims, many of who seemed so eager to be your friend. Were you not bewildered by the fact that funeral prayers were said almost after every Salaat? Were your feet sore from walking unfamiliar roads, getting lost, looking for bargain gifts (for us)? Didnt your muscles ache terribly from moving through all those crowds? And did your health suffer from exposure to different strains of bacteria from different continents. Surely you felt homesick, occasionally bored, often tired. But when you saw the Kaabah for the first time!!! They say that laying eyes on that structure is about the most sublime experience any human can hope for in this world. They say that in that instant. you immediatety forget all worldly cares.
They say that you even forget your very existence as you go round and round the "cube". Humbled and dazed at the same time. To say the truth, dear friend; we envied you that great release, we envied you the fact that your spiritual preoccupations spared you the daily grim news from Iraq (of cold-hearted slaughter of Muslims in the name of civil war and insurrection). the looming civilwar in Lebanon. the state-sanctionedmmurders in Palestine by both the Israeli army and rival militias; the bloody deadlock in Afghanistan and Chechnya. etc, etc. Certainly. all of these were far removed from your consciousness in those pious moments. You were even spared the charade of beer parlour impeachments of governors and the dim-witted intrigues of your countrys politicians! Again, to say the truth dear friend, we envied you.
We envied you the sanctity of the Ihraam, what can compare with the peace in your soul when you stood on the plains of Arafah, hands raised,eyes lifted, soul purged? We envied you the sweat of running between the crowded hills of Safa and Marwa; who can describe the unmatched serenity you must feel each time you prayed at the Haraam? We envied you those sublime moments dear friend, when you gave your full attention to the divine call you heeded. And we, your brethren Muslims, all over the world, mired in all manner of contemporary challenges, some self-inflicted, others imposed; many personal, most communal looked forward to the gifts you brought, and to the day when your prayers for us would be answered. Welcome dear friend, you did remember to pray for us, did you? Surely you didnt forget?
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited