They say that Hajj is supposed to be a life changing experience, but I didn’t think that would be the case for me. I certainly didn’t expect to come out of it as a different person. That’s because I’ve never considered myself as an especially good Muslim. On a scale, I’d weigh myself as average- average at praying, fasting, having manners- just your standard, average Muslim. It wasn’t until hajj that I realised that what I understood as “average” was probably the worst, most ignorant thing I’ve ever made myself believe.
You know who wasn’t average? Prophet Ibrahim AS. He was so unbelievably above average there’s no standard I could measure him on. Why? Because Allah commanded him to sacrifice things that we would find almost impossible to let go of. Yet he obeyed Allah’s orders. In turn, he was rewarded by Allah in ways you and I would envy. Last year, I, along with 3 million other Muslims, had the privilege of following the arduous journey of his trials in the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The Hajj forced us to recognise the hardships that Ibrahim AS and his family endured, and allowed us to experience the the fruits of those sacrifices.
The spring of zam zam provided for Ibrahim’s wife Hajar and their infant son Ismail. It gave life to a once uninhabitable hot desert that would transform over centuries into the holiest place on Earth- Makkah. It continues to provide for millions of people till now. But like Rome, Makkah was not built in a day. None of this occurred until a series of trials were passed by Ibrahim and his family. He was commanded by Allah to leave his most cherished possessions, his wife and child, in the middle of the desert with no help in sight. Ibrahim obeyed and Hajar accepted the command. She set out looking for help, running between the mountain tops of Safa and Marwa. She had an unwavering hope in Allah, and it wasn’t until the 7th run that Allah caused the spring of zamzam burst from under the feet of Ismail.¹
Ibrahim was spared from sacrificing his son and was given a lamb in Ismail’s place. This would also preserve Ibrahim’s progeny to one day bring Muhammad PBUH into the world. But Allah saved Ismail’s life only AFTER Ibrahim accepted His command to sacrifice his beloved son. He fought his own sadness, and fought the whisperings of shaytan that tried to plant doubts in his head. He did all this just to submit to his Lord.
Where is Ibrahim AS now, after all the struggles and pain he endured? He is in the highest level of Jannah at Baitul Ma’mur, the ka’bah of the heavens in which 70,000 angels enter each day to make tawaf and never leave.² But Ibrahim AS was only granted this lofty status AFTER he built the ka’bah of this world as instructed by Allah. Once it was complete, Allah told him to go to the top of the hill and call people to make the Hajj- even though there was not a single person in sight.³ Centuries later, Muslims from every corner of the world answer the call of Ibrahim.
Hajj taught me a vital lesson that every believer needs to understand and implement. That is- in order for us Muslims to not only survive this life, but thrive in the next, we need to sacrifice everything for Allah, the way Ibrahim and his family did. Whatever you do in this life must be tied to the seeking of Allah’s nearness and rewards. Being average is not enough in this world if you want to achieve greatness in the next.
Following the footsteps of Ibrahim AS and his family in Hajj is the physical link to your past. It makes you look back at the Muslims who came before you and realise that the legacy of sacrifice, submission and perseverance in the path to Allah is YOUR legacy too. For those few days, as you make tawaf, perform the sa’ee, make dua on the plains of Arafat, and throw the stones in jamarat, your whole being is rebuilt to serve its core purpose of worshipping Allah. It is an intense exercise of your mind, body and soul that will prepare you for a life of sacrifice needed for success in the afterlife.
I imagine the security, peace and eternal happiness Ibrahim AS is in, and I desperately want a piece of that. When Prophet Muhammad PBUH met Prophet Ibrahim AS in his ascent to the heavens on the night of Isra wa Mir’aj, Ibrahim AS told the Prophet that the soil of Paradise was fertile and the land was plentiful.(4) As I made tawaf around the walls of the ka’bah that Prophet Ibrahim AS once built, I awakened from my slumber of being comfortable in my averageness, and asked Allah for a faith like Ibrahim AS, so that one day I could be his neighbour, dwelling in one of those empty lots with my name on it.
If you haven’t been on hajj yet, I hope this little piece inspires you to do so. It really is a transformative experience.
– your sis Nis
This article was originally published in Podium Magazine, edition 5. The magazine amplifies the voices of Muslim youth, and you can subscribe to it here.
1 Al-Bukhari 3364
2 Qur’an 52:3
3 Qur’an 22:27
4 Al-Bukhari 228