Tears are flowing down the faces of South African hujjaj as the intense journey of atonement begins – the Day of Wuqoof. In what many regard as a life-changing experience, hujjaj are gathering on the plains of Arafat on Sunday for the apex of the pilgrimage, where pilgrims will engage in complete devotion to Allah Almighty, pleading for forgiveness and redemption from all sins.
On Sunday morning, spirits were high amongst South African hujjaj, who arrived in Arafat by 7.30am ready for the waqt of Wuqoof. Hujjaj are contending with heat of 43 degrees, but this has not deterred them in their resolve to fulfil the most important rite of hajj.
Speaking to VOC hours before Arafat began, some hujjaj from Cape Town had mixed emotions.
“We feel humble and we ask Allah swt to keep us in this state on the Day of Arafat. We will make dua for all Muslims and we pray for forgiveness if we have hurt anyone, likewise we have forgiven them. With this forgiveness, we are going on to the path of our Creator and ‘tawakal Allah’,” said 27 year old Hajji Maymoena Abrahams from Surrey Estate.
For 62 year old Hajja Aseeya Ryklif from Woodlands in Mitchell’s Plain, the journey of hajj reinforces the important values of brotherhood in Islam.
“We are one big family, what the one feels the other one feels. I can only shukr the Almighty for the good people Allah has put in our lives,” said Ryliff.
Hajja Asa Jasmine from Portlands in Mitchell’s Plain said hajj has elevated her spirituality to new heights.
“It’s very emotional because we have never experienced hajj before. It’s really indescribable,” related Jasmine.
“We have a shaykh that uplifts our spirits so much. I can’t thank Allah enough for Shaykh Kashif Damon.”
As the day of Arafat beckons, most hujjaj are anxious.
“We don’t know what to expect. We are trying to prepare ourselves on our own now, reciting and doing athkaar to build ourselves spiritually,” Jasmine added.
Another first time pilgrim, Hajji Abdul Hanan Ryklif said being on hajj has been a life-long dream.
“It’s so exciting to be able to fulfil what I’ve always learnt as a child and seen on pictures. Now you see it upfront and feel the adrenalin rush through you. To experience this, what my parents experienced 50 years ago, it’s such an honour. It’s amazing…”
Most hujjaj have a special affinity to the ‘Prophet’s city’, the beautiful and tranquil Madina. However, many hujjaj agree that seeing the Holy Kaaba for the first time is “surreal”.
“It was something that didn’t feel real. For myself as a young individual, I still feel like there is nothing I have done to deserve this opportunity. All I can do is just shukr Allah (swt) for granting me this experience,” said Abrahams.
“When you see the Kaaba, its electrifying…you want to see it more. As hujjaj have told us before, your heart feels content and Allah has really showered us in blessings, Alhamdulilah.”
The plains of Arafat have a profound historical significance in Islam, as it is where the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) delivered his last sermon, as a reminder to the followers of Islam. The meanings found in this sermon are astounding, touching upon some of the most important rights God has over humanity, and humanity has over each other.
On Sunday, the following this prophetic tradition, the great plains were awash with a sea of white, as pilgrims from all corners of the globe donned their ihram, a symbol of total equality amongst human beings, regardless of their backgrounds or status in life. Before Allah, differences of race, age, nationality, class and culture do not exist. The state of ihram is also a metaphor for how Muslims will present themselves to their Creator on the Day of Judgment.
Arafat is considered a manifestation of the universal brotherhood of the Muslim ummah. The journey, often faced with immense physical and mental tests, is considered the best training grounds for the revival of one’s faith and purity of character. VOC