Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 14 - Last Day of Tashreeq (13th of Dhul Hijjah)

Unlike the other days of Tashreeq, the Jamaraat would be after Dhuhr today, not Asr. The fear of the heat is palpable. A few short hours are the only difference between Dhuhr and Asr, but the difference in temperature, now that's another story. During our days in Mina, we've spent time worshipping Allah and increasing our sisterhood with our Hajj companions, but we've also spent time figuring out how to stay cool, retain energy, minimize washroom time, etc. But now, despite the worry about the heat, there is a bittersweet moment as this will be our last official act of Hajj. After all the years of wondering if this was even possible, all the months of preparation, the countless moments of anticipation and of course, the journey itself, the pilgrimage of our lifetime will end today.

After our last Jamaraat, we return to the Hajj building at Shisha. Faces are weary during the short trek back through the tunnel, but after a quick shower and a change of clothes, the atmosphere is almost electric. I'm not sure if the expressions are relief, accomplishment, excitement or a combination of all 3, but the dinner room is celebratory and jovial. Each round table is nearly encompassed by the largest platter of meat and rice I think I've ever seen in my life and small groups form to sit around each table and share this enormous meal.

I think about the many meals and moments I've shared with my new companions in these past weeks. The bonds that are formed during Hajj feel unbreakable. There was Sr Najma and Sr Rabia, from Regina, who gave the best and most sincere advice at the time I needed it the most. And Sr Sarah from London, our roommate in Shisha with a spirit and smile that was contagious, who made you feel like you were her best friend, even though you just met. Of course, the lovely Sr Aneesa from Markham, felt like we had known each other forever when she shared her stories of her family back in Canada. And then the many Libyan doctors/wives from all over Canada. Each time you encountered one, they were better than the last! The tight knit group welcomed us and loved us with open arms and they made us feel like family, subhan Allah. And this is just to name a few...

The quick companionship and the sisterhood that was built on loving each other for the sake of Allah, penetrates the heart and is reminder of the companionship that the Prophet (saws) must have shared with the sahaba. We know the stories of their sacrifice and love for each other and we know how each companion felt that they were the one who was closest to the Prophet. The hardships they endured together, the poverty, the difficulties, the boycotts, the way they would be slandered, the fear-mongering against them, all of this didn't break them, it unified them and increased their love for each other and for all of humanity.

As we end our last day in Shisha, Sh Riad provides us with some practical advice about how to maintain our steadfastness after Hajj when we return back to our day to day lives. His words are heartening and meaningful. Focus on salah, the root of our relationship with Allah. Keep up with voluntary fasts on the Mondays, Thursdays and 3 middle days of the month. Develop a relationship with the Quran, read 1 Juz a day, so that you complete 1 recitation per month. Busy yourself with dhikr and add baraqah to your rizq by increasing your istighfar. Make lots of tawbah so that Allah will hide your faults and wipe them from your records. But his very first piece of advice? Check your friends. These are the ones you will be raised with on the day of Judgement.

And insha Allah, if we are raised with the likes of sisters such Najma, Rabia, Sarah, Aneesa and the countless others, then insha Allah we will also sit by the stream of AlKauthar with the Prophet (saws) and his companions. Ya Rabb, you are Ar-Razzaq, so provide us with righteous companionship in this life so that we can meet each other in Jannah, with no account. Ameen.

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