“Yallah Hajji!”One of the many popular phrases that our dear hajjis bring back as memories of their holy pilgrimage.
But there is much more than new Arabic words and some classic halal fast-food to keep as memories from this spiritual journey; although both of those are pluses!
Although I personally have not gone to Hajj before; I have family and friends who have. I have been also been blessed to have done Umrah and there are so many wonderful things about the experience.
In Islam it is encouraged to go as soon as possible, and also obligatory, if you have the means, and are of age. Many times we hear our young Muslim brothers and sisters saying they will go when they are married, or when they are older, and that they are not “ready” yet. It seems almost as if we have made a Hajj a task, like taking a standardized test. We have heard how hard it is, to plow through the crowds of people, how the heat (when the month is during the summer) is unbearable, and even how complicated and full of do's and don'ts the pilgrimage is.
We need to take a minute and think back to why Allah (swt) has made this act obligatory on us. Why does He want us to, once in our life, go and take this trip, and make circles around the Holy Kaaba? And if I am 23 or so, why would I have to go on my own if I'm able, shouldn't I go when I get married? Or when will I have a better job? Let's think about all the beautiful acts of Hajj and ask why they are so important to experience as soon as possible, yes, even as a youth.
During Hajj, we wear the Ehraam, and are dressed in simple white cloth in order to resemble our death clothes. Ehraam allows us to be equal with the millionaire next to us, or the poor family in front of us. It represents true Islamic values of equality and simplicity. Many youth today are busy running around making money so they can buy brand names, drive expensive cars, and just be better than the next person. This experience is to take your mind to levels where it belongs. To think in terms of simplicity and equality, that each person is not judged, and will not be judged on the Day of Judgment, by their brand names, but by the level of their faith. Were they at the level that they took upon the commands of going on Hajj as soon as possible? Or were they too busy saving for materialistic things and waiting to do it on the tomorrow that is not guaranteed to even come?
Another act that one is required to complete on this spiritual journey is throwing the stones at the (Devil) “shaytaan.” Instead of us throwing stones at our parents, and our life trials; we need to see the real shayateen (Devils) that are holding us back from being the justice-loving, and forgiving people that our Creator has made us. We need to begin throwing stones at our desires, our jobs that take away time from our families and communities, our hate for our brothers and sisters, and the list goes on and on.
Many times we see youth who do embark on this spiritual journey, and come back with a fresh new mindset and goal as to how to live their life, dedicated to Islam and to becoming more pious. Many times we see youth who go and become so engrossed in the literal aspects of Hajj, that they tend to forget about the symbolism. The fact that it is the one time, where all Muslims are gathered, together, at their Creator's home, meeting new people, discussing issues that pertain to them, and helping each other through personal struggles, is a great thing. Many youth are too involved in finding a way to touch Hajar-e-aswad, which is fine, and it might mean a big deal, but what about touching your fellow brother or sister's heart. What about helping an old lady or man to do their Tawaafs? Which, in your mind, is more important under the banner of hajj? This is only food for thought, not a fact.
Youth, who love socializing, should take the opportunity, if able, to go on hajj as soon as possible. Aside from studying the process, and the Fiqh rules, there is no way to prepare for this pilgrimage. Do we think that those who died in the stampedes that took place a few years ago were prepared? Do you think they were not worried about their jobs, or money? Of course, but Hajj is a spiritual journey, for when one is feeling lost and confused, as they study and realize each action they perform in those few days, and if they truly and sincerely ponder on it, they will only be filled with awe.
Many youth have been blessed to go at a young age, and return feeling inspired, and required, to become better Muslims. Everyone is obligated to know more about their religion, so they may better their lives, and in return teach others about Islam. Many young girls who do not practice wearing the Hijaab, have returned and naturally felt the desire to wear the Hijaab. Many young people have gone, and poured their hearts out to Allah (swt) and returned to nothing but the answer to their prayers. Who would want to pass up the opportunity of having a clean slate?
For those youth who are unsure of why Allah (swt) has commanded us to this ritualistic act, go for yourself, experience it, and find out why. We cannot question and think and take no action to find our answers. For when you see the Holy Kaaba for the first time, it is an unbelievable and heavy feeling in your heart. And as you circle around this holy structure, this unexplainable feeling of confidence and love for your religion will flow into your heart.
May Allah (swt) bless each Muslim with the chance to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, this year, and every year!