The reluctant Guest - A Hajj Travelogue

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Chapter 1 : By His Will

All Praises and gratitude be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds and prayers and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., to his family, his companions and all those who follow him.

Alhamdulillah, my husband and myself are safely back in Johor Bahru, Malaysia on Saturday, 27th November 2010. The eight hours flight home was most uneventful and I could not sleep out of sheer anxiousness and excitement to meet my children and family. Thirty minutes to landing, after the pilot announced that the landing process was commencing, I thought the air suddenly became still - as though the engines have been switched off. The feeling then was that the plane was gliding - and I could feel pressure up my ears. At that moment, my husband who was asleep, woke up and true enough, he wondered aloud why it was quiet and the plane felt like not moving. When the pressure seemed unbeareable, the engines started again, and cool air flowed in. The landing was smooth, but the change in air pressure was too much for some - one old lady exclaimed she had a terrible headache, a few were cupping their ears and I was furiously chewing Strepsils. I was so excited, but had to contain the excitement as we were all ushered to the second floor of the Senai Airport. Oh! There was expectance in the air, and the ladies hurried to the bathroom for last minute touch-ups. I craned my neck at the visitors' section, but could not make out any familiar faces. I couldn't believe that our luggage were the first to clear the customs, so there we were, my husband and I, finally able to collect our belongings and make our way down to the waiting area. When I finally saw my father, then Nina, then Halim, Hadi, Hafiz and Haziq, my mother, sis and her husband, I finally broke down. All the pent up emotions gave way. It was such a relief! Alhamdulillah! Allah has protected my family and has reunited us after 44 days of separation.(Halim, my eldest son,  told me later that he had just learned what I experienced just now in the plane is a procedure followed by a pilot when he wanted to lose the plane's height quickly - that is, by switching off all engines and truly let the plane 'glide' down...)

The whole hajj experience has been truly most inspiring and unforgettable. It is not easily describable either, but I want to try and share that experience for I want to give glad tidings for those who are despairing, that Allah's Will overcome everything else and nothing happens without that Will and since He is Most Merciful and Beneficient, then everything that happened to us is everything that we need.

You see, I was a reluctant hujjaz. I never took seriously my husband's announcement that we were going for hajj that year. I worried over who would look after the children, especially Nina. I worried on where to look for a temporary maid. I worried about my dear Secondary 5 Cordova girls and my Art students. I worried about my Secondary 4 and Secondary 2 exam papers. In short, I worried over my worldly affairs. I never really could concentrate 100% when we went for the hajj course at the mosque every Sunday - Nina would sit quietly for like ten minutes, then I have to cater to her tantrums for the next one hour or so. It was my husband who went out of his way - calling his contacts in Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur to ensure that I could go with him. When we finally surrendered my passport (on the fourth day of Hari Raya) it dawned on me that I was lacking and unsure of the rites of hajj. So I went on a self-study streak. Ustazah Muayanah was my point of reference and dear Cikgu Zul opened up a 'talian haji' (hajj hotline) - he was most helpful in giving me a crash course on hajj. Even then, I was holding on to Tabung Haji's letter that my flight would be the last one, on 10.11.2010. For one whole week, I couldn't enter JB because I had no passport. On Wednesday, 14th October 2010, I was to get my temporary passport. The 'bomb' was dropped at about 11.00 a.m. - my husband called to say that our flight was Thursday, 15th October at 7.30 am. via SEnai Airport. Less than 24 hours notice! It was madness - but true! Frantically passing to dear Mr Esmadi my papers, quick goodbyes and bewildered looks from my colleagues - Cikgu Zul again was most comforting.Miss Amnah and the rest of the Management team were most reassuring. I am deeply touched and forever indebted to them. Furious smses to my girls and Ammar. Allah help them all in their exams. I went straight to get my temporary passport - still calling up TH to try and delay my flight. My husband was even 'threatening' me that he would go for Hajj alone even if I refused. I called TH in KL, nontheless. No can do. If I missed the flight, I woud have to pay RM$4,000 as compensation. I am ashamed to say that I actually toyed with the idea of paying up...astargfirullah...(Allah forgive me!)