Hajj Journey 2022: Practicing the Hajj Smileby Mashal Irfan
The Hajj Smile
Being physically exhausted, things would go wrong, buses would be late, and people would get on our nerves and through all of that, my husband and I decided to practice something from day one; the ‘Hajj Smile’. No matter what happened or how tired we were, the Hajj smile would always stay on our faces.
When we set off from Lahore, we had prepped ourselves with lots of seminars and lectures by various scholars, noting important tips from each of them. One thing all the scholars were unanimous about was that Hajj would be the utmost test of our patience.
Humbling. That would be the one word that could really capture the essence of this entire spiritual and physical experience.
Every time someone would shove us or cut a line, we would remind each other to put on our ‘Hajj smile’. We made some amazing friends along the way and encouraged them to do the same. Alhamdolillah, that is something I wish to carry on through all seasons of life.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الدِّمَشْقِيُّ، وَهَارُونُ بْنُ إِسْحَاقَ، قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ أَبِي فُدَيْكٍ، عَنْ سَلَمَةَ بْنِ وَرْدَانَ، عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ “ مَنْ تَرَكَ الْكَذِبَ وَهُوَ بَاطِلٌ بُنِيَ لَهُ قَصْرٌ فِي رَبَضِ الْجَنَّةِ وَمَنْ تَرَكَ الْمِرَاءَ وَهُوَ مُحِقٌّ بُنِيَ لَهُ فِي وَسَطِهَا وَمَنْ حَسَّنَ خُلُقَهُ بُنِيَ لَهُ فِي أَعْلاَهَا ” .
It was narrated that Ans bin Malik said:
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Whoever gives up telling lies in support of a false claim, a palace will be built for him in the outskirts of Paradise. Whoever gives up argument when he is in the right, a palace will be built from him in the middle (of Paradise). And whoever had good behavior, a palace will be built for him in the highest reaches (of Paradise).'”
[Sunan Ibn Majah 51]
And if we can follow his teachings with a smile, what can be better than that? In sha Allah!
Preparing For The Pilgrimage
When the Hajj season began, some of our relatives applied for the Government Hajj packages and immediately received approval. SubhanAllah, truly reminded us that whoever Allah wishes to invite to His house, their journey is expedited in the most miraculous way. We, on the other hand, kept waiting for the other Hajj packages to come up.
Once we decided on a deal and made the payments, we went for our biometrics. It still seemed surreal. There was this weird feeling hanging over my head,
“What if our visas don’t come on time?”.
When the visas finally did come two days before our flight, I have to admit that is when the real excitement began and I started packing. It was like a huge breath of fresh air and we couldn’t believe we had been chosen by Allah for this auspicious journey.
The journey of Hajj itself was the most physically taxing and spiritually rewarding experience ever. When we reached our tent in Mina and saw 33 slender mattresses crammed together in a small space, we realized that no amount of legwork could have prepared us for what was to come. Ours being one of the basic packages, it included three meals a day. Really made one appreciate how we lived like royalty in our homes, fridges, and pantries fully stocked. And even then, at times we choose to eat out. Those were just five days and nights we spent in these humble environments, but our everyday lives are filled with such luxuries.
The tents of Mina as seen from our train.
I prayed to Allah to make us more appreciative and grateful for all our blessings.
The day of Arafat was spent in prayer. Because it was such a hot day, the heat was emanating from the ground up through the carpet. However, as Asr came, with it an army of clouds followed, and the weather became so pleasant. We all went out to stand and make dua after Asr. It was as if Allah had specially sent the clouds to shade all the Hajis from the scorching heat while they made dua. Truly a miracle on the day of Hajj.
As I mentioned before, Hajj is captured in the word Humbling.
First, we were in Shokia, in a 2-star hotel where we were served buffets three times a day. Next came Mina where we slept in a tent, our feet sticking out of the slender mattresses. The long lines and water shortage in the nearby bathrooms led us to hunt for lesser used washrooms, a kilometer away. On the day of Arafat, we spent the entire day in a tent, a simple carpet on the sandy rocky ground.
Simple Abode at Arafat
And then finally, the night at Muzdalifah, merely us between the sky and the ground. That night as we lay down and stared at the night sky, the clock towers lights shining in the distance. We tried to contemplate what Allah was asking of us and trying to teach us. We have so much duniya in our hearts. And Allah has brought us, step by step, to this ground to really ask for Allah’s forgiveness and to ask Him to remove the love of this world from our hearts and fill it instead with the love of obeying Allah and His Rasool ﷺ.
The Clock Tower view on a cloudy night from our spot at Muzdalifah
I write this now, after returning from Hajj. In my own home surrounded by all my loved ones. When I slept in my bed after such a long time, my 4-year-old hopped in, in the middle of the night, as she usually does. She always takes up most of my pillow and I end up with my head on the flatbed. I was immediately transported to the night in Muzdalifah when we lay down to rest on a mere carpet on the pebble-strewn ground. Not having a pillow was very uncomfortable so I rolled up my husband’s spare ehraam sheet into a ball and rest my head on it.
The Humbling and Fulfilling Journey of Hajj
I think all these little inconveniences in life just remind us now of this journey we took and the hardships we faced there. And then they seem so minuscule and meaningless in retrospect. I hope that we can go through life now with renewed and energized faith, and always face any ordeals with our ‘Hajj smile’.
About the Author:
Mashal Irfan, 32, owns an illustration/graphic design business. She spent her growing years in Oman. She is settled with her family in Lahore, Pakistan. Apart from caring for her 4 year old daughter and managing her enterprise she enjoys taking small breaks to travel and visit her parents in Islamabad, Pakistan.