From the news desk

Labbayk newsletter gives a voice to hujjaj

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By Rukaya Mosavel

With an astounding number of South Africans leaving for hajj in the upcoming days, a group of Capetonians who completed their fard (mandatory) hajj last year was inspired to initiate an online resource for hujaaj. Fittingly called Labbayk, the newsletter is aimed at assisting new hujaaj with useful facts and frequently asked questions (FAQ) about hajj.

One of the editors of the Labbayk newsletter, Rushdy Parker said they were inspired by their magnificent hajj journey and wanted to continue this path when they returned home. They realised that many hujaaj ask common questions and have certain concerns that are not necessarily answered in hajj classes.

“What we tried to do is coalesce all of those questions and the answers that we’ve discovered into a newsletter that we could share with people,” Parker said.

“There are a lot of resources out there, alhamdulillah. There were many classes that we attended. I think some of the questions are more from a lay man’s perspective and practical things. What this initiative is about is about hujaaj speaking to other hujaaj about their journeys,” Parker added.

The content of the newsletter is geared towards answering the practical questions that are not necessarily spiritual in nature. Concerns about hujaaj encompass a wide variety of things, such as finances, accreditation, travelling for the first time, preparation for hajj, health related matters, things to pack for hajj etc.

Another editor of the Labbayk newsletter, Whadi-ah Parker, said the newsletter incorporates the advice and perspective of many different hujaaj and not only the editorial team.

“What we’ve got is the perspectives of many different hujaaj in our group. What works for me may not work for someone else. So we’re giving people options. There’s not just one right or wrong way of doing things. These are the things that worked for various people,” said Whadi-ah.
Parker said one of the most common questions is the readiness and preparation for hajj.

“Hajj is a journey that prepares you to meet Allah. It’s about our judgment day. Hajj is a journey that prepares you for being ready for life. If you ask yourselves if you’re ready, of course you are, even if you don’t feel it necessarily. That niyyah (intention) just has to be there. And then bismillah started to it,” said Parker.

The newsletter has launched two additions thus far. The team is in the process of doing the third addition that will be focused on the post-hajj experience. The post-hajj is seen as challenging by many who hold the opinion that after hajj one needs to be a completely different person and be more conscious of morals, values and obedience to Allah. Another editor, Mariam Haldy said that the post-hajj experience is particularly grim.

“We found that upon our return we felt very lost. Coming from a totally different world being on hajj and falling back into this life was very difficult for most of us. So InshaAllah our niyyat is to capture what each of us had gone through and also what other hujaaj experienced upon their return. And then most importantly, how to continue having a hajj mabroor. How to continue with this journey… going forward and trying to give back to those around us. Our call would be for the new hajj of 1440 to bring back information that we could capture within this newsletter,” said Halday.

The newsletter is free and available on the Facebook page Labbayk. Hard copies are also distributed to certain masjids, especially aimed at those that host hajj classes. The team encourages the public to share and help to distribute the newsletters so that it could reach and benefit someone.

“When it comes to support, we could do with some. Financially, it is a challenge printing and the graphics design. In terms of distribution, we sometimes struggle to get the hardcopies out there. We think the hard copies are very important for the average hujaaj,” said Parker.

The team has called on the public for support in the making and distribution of these newsletters because not all hujaaj would be able to access it on an online platform.

“The intent is to help as many people as possible. There isn’t any copyright on any of it. We want to invite people to use and share the information as widely as possible. And then also to contribute. If there is something perhaps a salient point that we’ve missed, we’ll love to find out about that and we can share those perspectives with more hujaaj,” said Parker.



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