As South African Hujjaj settle back into the routine of their day to day life back home, many will remember a journey that has shaped their perspective on life forever. Three couples joined VOC to relay their first experiences on the Hajj pilgrimage and all three shared the sentiment that no words could adequately describe the wonders of the journey.
One of the women, Fatima Baderoen made her niyaat (intention) to go on Hajj at a younger age than usual and encourages all youth to perform their pilgrimage while young.
“At the time I made my niyaat I was 24 years old and I had a lot of pressures and stresses,” she said.
“At that age, you’re thinking about buying a house, cars and about having kids. So, naturally Hajj wasn’t at the top of the list but we [her husband and herself] were guided by our parents Alhamdulillah and we made our niyaat.”
Similarly, Farnaaz Kenny told VOC that her in-laws inspired her and her husband after her husband’s parents went on Hajj.
“My in-laws went in 2015 and when they were speaking about Hajj it made us so psyched – they encouraged us to register,” said Kenny.
“From there, it motivated us to put our names on the list and we made our 2 rakats for guidance from Allah SWT.”
While it is always a blessing to have parents who guide and inspire you to perform your Hajj, an older couple spoke about their Hajj journey from an alternative perspective.
Abdul Gakiem Philander and Mymoena Philander were the ones who spoke to their children about the importance of pilgrimage in this instance, as opposed to being guided to go by their elders. However, both Abdul Gakiem and Mymoena acknowledged that several Hujjaj in the family “spoke as true ambassadors of the Hajj” and served as an additional source of inspiration.
The Philanders made their niyaat as long ago as 1993 and were finally chosen by Allah SWT to perform Hajj this year.
“I spoke to my children [about going on Hajj and the importance thereof] and we had Hujjaj in the families who spoke as true ambassadors and who encouraged us so much,” said Abdul Gakiem.
“We made our niyaat to perform Hajj in 1993 and registered in September 2014 …We were yearning to go, waiting on the call – and the call finally came.”
Fatima, Farnaaz, Abdul Gakiem and Mymoena all struggled to aptly articulate the wonders of Hajj and the feelings they experienced during their journey.
“I feel like the perfect explanation [of the Hajj experience] is that it’s a lifechanging one – words like amazing and so forth just don’t fit or do it justice…the Rawdah was such a beautiful experience, Alhamdulillah. There were thousands of ladies from different cultures wanting to go through the same door…they all just want to be close to the Nabi SAW.
What makes the journey so beautiful is that nobody knows anyone’s status and everyone is there for the same purpose…nobody cared about your surname, car, where you’re from or what area you stay in…we were all equal,” said Fatima.
“The experience was truly amazing for me, sitting in the Haram, because that’s where we all get together and come together for one purpose – being near our creator. You sit in the Haram and meet all these wonderful women and you’re amazed to think they’re all here and just want to be present. We all just want Allah’s favours, Allahu akbar,” said Mymoena.
“It was amazing to see everybody just go to the Haram when the azaan (call to prayer) goes off. There are different nationalities but we all batcha (recite) the same things subhanAllah – regardless of nationality and the difference in languages,” said Farnaaz emotionally.
Despite the joy of being so close to Allah SWT, the Capetonian hajjis faced some interesting challenges.
“The heat and the type of food there don’t go together,” said Fatima as she laughed.
She jokingly added that for the first two weeks away from home she was relieved at not having to cook. However, shortly after, she began to miss the traditional Cape-Malay dishes that many Capetonians have grown accustomed to and love.
Farnaaz, however, highlighted a completely different challenge.
“I struggled to get used to the traffic in different directions and the way some Arabs drive subhanAllah…yoh,” she said jokingly.
“But Alhamdulillah, their accident rate is very low, so we just put our trust in Allah that we’d get to our destination.”
South Africans are always warned of the heat during the Hajj pilgrimage and many struggle, due to the scorching sun and the unforgiving temperatures – Hajj is not always easy.
With this considered, to the delight of millions of Hujjaj this year, the blessings of Allah quite literally showered down onto Hujjaj in the form of rain.
Most Hujjaj, if not all, were ecstatic and took the time to absorb the moment in its full glory.
“Two days before we left for Arafat, Sahuc visited us and begged us not to do the walking Hajj because it was going to be the hottest day. When we were at Arafat and everyone was making their own duahs, my husband and I went outside…he then sent me back inside to fetch my umbrella because of how hot it was,” said Fatima.
“Then, as soon as we said Ameen, clouds came out of nowhere – it just started pouring out of nowhere! When it started raining, nobody ran inside. Millions of people came out of their tents, all wearing white. It was so beautiful…Millions of people were standing but you couldn’t hear a sound. It was quiet and people were just lifting their hands and enjoying feeling Allah’s blessings falling upon us.”
Abdul Gakiem expressed gratitude at being able to experience the rain on Hajj.
“SubhanAllah, I saw a few clips years ago of the floods in Makka,” he said.
“The morning of Arafat, before Fajr, I told one of my friends that it would be lekker to experience the rain and subhanAllah we got it.”
When asked what their plans are for the future and what they each took away from their Hajj experience, each Hajji was evidently inspired by the Hajj pilgrimage and each had a different goal and plan.
“I now want to learn to read the Quran with understanding inshaa Allah. The one thing I also told myself I’d take with me is that I hope I can bring the message across to our youth that they must go on Hajj when they’re young,” said Fatima.
Farnaaz explained that she simply cannot wait to return to the Holy lands on pilgrimage and that she longs to take her children with her next time, inshaa Allah.
Abdul Gakiem indicated that he only wants to find a spot where he can make salaah and “plug in” to the connection he felt while on Hajj.
“I could feel Allah’s presence and I could feel that Allah accepted all my duahs, Alhamdullillah,” said Farnaaz.