At the beginning of every New Year, I plan a trip for vacations but peculiarly this year began without any plan.

There was not even a glimpse of idea on my mind that I will be going for Hajj until my elder sister suggested that we both should plan for hajj, just 4 months ago. I agreed thinking on my mind that it would be possible definitely for the next year i.e. 2018.  We both thought about a “Mahram” who could accompany us there. Our brother Arif first came on our mind. (By the grace of God we had six remaining options!) So we both went to his house one evening. When we reached their home, Arif and his wife were about to leave to our house to see us. We caught them right at the door. To our utmost surprise they told us that they were thinking to go for Hajj and wanted to ask me and baji to go along!

I would say this miraculous coincidence made a smooth way to accomplish our goal! Arif then acquired all the information regarding Hajj groups. The most astonishing news was that we could go this year as the time was so accurately coincided with Hajj policy announcement from the Government the same time. After that private Hajj groups were announced, we selected “Tarbiyyat-ul-Hujjaj” as our traveling group. They arranged three pre Hajj classes once every week and we got prepared for Hajj.

I had once performed “Umrah” two years back but I didn’t know accurately about “Arkaans” of Hajj in detail. I bought guidebooks to learn about it and memorized different “Aayats”. I met all my relatives one by one and noted down their special duas in my notebook to pray for them there. Gradually my notebook was filled with “duas”!

There are five days of Hajj (8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Zil-Hajj) during which each haji has to carry out ten tasks, each on the specific days and time. On 8th Zil-Hajj, all have to leave for Mina and stay in tents collectively depending upon the traveling group of each country. On 9th Zil-Hajj, all have to go to Arafat and spend time since morning till evening and pray. Same night every one has to leave for Muzdalifah to spend night under the open sky and pray. On 10th Zil-Hajj everyone comes back to Mina to stone shaitan and later for Tawaf-e-Ziarat, Tawaf-Wida and Sa’ee. Out of these ten tasks, 3 are “Farz” and rest of the seven are “Wajib”.

Farz: 1- Ahraam

           2- Wafooq-e-Arafaa’t (Rukun-e-Azam)

           3- Tawaf-e-Ziarat  (Rukun-e-Azam) (Starts from dawn of 10th Zil Hajj and lasts till “Maghrib of 12th Zil Hajj)

Wajib: 1- Waqoof-e-Muzdalifah (where Maghrib & Isha prayers are offered together)

                 2- Rami (to stone big Jamra’at shaitan by seven stones, one by one and pray) (Time starts from dawn till the dawn of following day) Second and third day, all three Jamra’at have to be hit seven times by seven stones each).

               3- Qurbani

               4- Halaq-o-Qasar (cutting of scalp hair, whole for men and one pore of a finger length, for women)

              5- Organization in sequence: First Rami, then Qurbani and finally Halaq-o-Qasar

             6- Sa’ee of Hajj (Run seven times between Safah and Marwah)

             7- Tawaf-e-Wida (It can be performed together with Tawaf-e-Ziarat or separately later)

Our pre Hajj vaccination was done at “Haji camp” very smoothly and we flew to Jeddah for twenty days trip.

Before embarking there, I prayed that Allah gives me tolerance and patience for not getting angry on anything that happens there, as anger is the most cunning weapon that shaitan uses on humans during Hajj!

With Allah’s blessings I came out of the Jeddah airport after 5 hours smilingly! I had an opportunity to treat an old lady who was collapsing at the airport lounge due to choking with a bout of cough. Her attendants were so desperate but by the grace of God, I attempted Heimlich maneuver and it made her calm! I cannot forget whole family’s grateful eyes.

Enormous crowd of people, long queues (for even to use bath rooms at Mina), traffic jams, crowded lifts in hotels are just norms of Hajj! So no need to get angry on these trivial things and one should concentrate on the huge task of Hajj that God has bestows on some lucky people! All Hajj tasks are to please Allah and one should always remember that!

My most amazing time was spent in Arafat when all pilgrims have to reach there in the morning and have to spend time after “Zawaal” till “Maghrib”. This time is said to be of acceptance of all the prayers that one asks to Allah!

Arafat became special to me, as there was an announcement in my huge tent that a woman is very sick and if there is any lady doctor, to come under the Neem tree. I had all my first aid kit, blood pressure apparatus, stethoscope and medicines in my backpack. So I approached there and found a young lady being dehydrated. As I started examining her, a huge crowd of women gathered around me requesting me to examine them too as everyone had some complaint. I am so thankful to God that I was able to listen to them one by one and got appropriate medicines for each of them including painkillers, antibiotics, ORS sachets etc. I had put all these for my family members but luckily no one got sick there! I cannot forget patients’ grateful eyes! I am thankful to Allah for giving me this great opportunity to serve people at Arafat!

At sunset, after Maghrib (without praying there), all pilgrims have to leave Arafat for Muzdalifah where Maghrib and Isha prayers are offered together. I reached there at 10:30 p.m. by bus. It was the only one place where I could see human beings on every inch of earth as my eyes could catch the glimpse in my field of vision. This huge crowed was sitting or lying in open space covered with small stones. People had their rugs or Jae namaz over that stony area or main roads. At first we could not find any place to sit even but at last, a couple lying there on the road, squeezed enough to let us spread our Jae namaz to lie over it! This place was just beside the wheels of our bus!

In Muzdalifah, all pilgrims have to rest and pray till dawn. When I reached there I was so exhausted that I lied over my rug, set my alarm for 3 a.m. and went to sleep over the rocky floor. I declare that it was the most sound and peaceful sleep that I had ever experienced right under the open sky! I woke up at 3 a.m. and prayed till sunrise and after “fajir” prayers our buses took us back to Mina.  When I got down from the bus, it was a huge struggle to reach to my tent in a vast crowed at Mina. Temperature rose to 44 degrees centigrade that day! There were Saudi scouts spraying cool water from sprinkler bottles on faces of hajis standing at many places. There were continuous sprinkling of cool water from sprinklers fixed at poles here and there. At Jamrat, after stoning of “shaitan”, I returned to my tent at Mina.

Same night we planned for “Tawaf-e-Ziarat” as well as “Tawaf-e-Wida”, as possibility to go to Haram again for that was bleak due to enormous crowed!

So we chose to be at Kaa’ba at 1:30 a.m. and set our alarm at 9 pm after dinner. We took a taxi from Azizyah and reach Haram at 2 a.m. Luckily we found place for Tawaf around Kaa’ba and it came out to be much easier than the Tawaf that I did during “Umrah” 2 years back! I count myself as fortunate enough to be there at the time of “Tahajjud” prayer right in front of Kaa’ba and I experienced dawn breaking and the birds singing while flying around Kaa’ba. The birds’ sounds were very different from what I hear during my morning walk at Karachi! It was so melodious!!

We all had seven rounds around Kaa’ba for “Tawaf-e-Ziarat” and seven rounds again for “Tawaf-e-Wida and seven rounds of “Sa’ee between “Safah” and “Marwah”. We accomplished it and after “Fajir” prayer, we returned to Azizyah hotel by taxi. Thank God that Arif had a handy electric massager that soothed our legs and helped us to stand up again after we fell on our beds!

Next two days we had only one “Rukun” to perform that was to stone all three “shaitan” together. I was advised to pick stones equal to the size of chic peas from Muzdalifah but I chose a little bigger to quench my thirst of throwing forcefully to aim properly at my target!  I felt fear while stoning to “shaitan” as it will be a continuous reminder of that symbolic stoning in rest of my life if I do any (God forbid) wrong doing ever. I prayed that it never occurs and to always keep it on my memory lane, what I did to be forbidden!

The most praiseworthy was the arrangement by our Hajj group, of “Dars” and “Bayan” by Mufti Zulfiqar Ahmed Naqshbandi and Muft Shafiq-ur-Rehman and “Naat khawan Anas Younus who accompanied our group of “Tarbiyyat-ul-Hujjaj” and kept our spirits perked up throughout the journey and gave clarity of all the tasks that I was performing!

One thing that I didn’t know was about “Qurbani” (sacrifice of animal during Hajj). When I was in Karachi I thought my Qurbani will be on Hajj and I don’t have to do it here. But my brother told me that Hajj Qurbani is separate. So I gave money for Qurbani in Karachi. Later Mufti Shafiq-ur-Rehman opened my eyes by saying in his “Bayan” that sacrifice of animal during Hajj is not “Sunnat-e-Ibrahimi” but rather it is symbolic and equivalent to cut the throat of one’s “Nafs”! I was deeply touched by that and prayed to Allah to let me be on the right path always and to grant me power to restrain myself from all sins and wrongdoings and at the same time give me power to do right things always in the rest of my life till I take my last breath!

When I returned from Hajj, I remained so confused for many days as how I should change and lead my life that is better from the life that I have spent previously. People expect drastic transformation mostly on the appearance of the individual after Hajj. But I prayed to change to overcome my weaknesses like anger and impatience and to concentrate and focus on prayers and meanings of Quran.

By being humble to the fellow beings, helping them at the time of need, respecting parents, elders and relatives by understanding the way of life as portrayed by “Hozoor-e-Akram Salallaho-Alahe-Wasallam” taught by Allah in Quran, we could always be better! It is so important to understand and love our Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)!

Allah is pleased when humanity is helped so let it be the way of transformation in life………to please Allah and Allah only!

Dr. Zeba Hisam, 2nd December 2017