That Post-Hajj High

I realize the word “high” and pairing it with anything Islamic is kind of contradictory. Getting high is kind of completely antithetical to Islam. Ecstasy is no better. Maybe spiritual elevation? I don’t know. It’s not succinct though. And as a writer, I like my titles to be as succinct as possible. Although most of the time, I fail miserably with that.

Anyhoo.

It’s been a full week since returning from Hajj. I feel like the next couple of posts will start with the same opening. Maybe I should continue the trend and make it a blog thing? “It’s been 7 years since I returned from Hajj.”

It may sound silly, but really it’s not. Hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime deal for most Muslims. There are people who perform it multiple times (like scholars and guides and oddly enough, my brother who went twice). But, as I learned, the majority of Muslims will never perform Hajj in their lifetimes. So, this is a huge deal. You can read all about it in my just-arrived-from-Hajj, hot-off-Rafia’s-mind reflection here if you missed it.

I used to think in terms of Fat Rafia and No-longer-fat Rafia in thinking about shifts and personal transformations. I even sometimes refer to my life as pre-hijab and post-hijab. But both of those pale in comparison to pre-Hajj Rafia and post-Hajj Rafia. At least I hope and pray.

The thing is, as I fully know now, you don’t come back being a completely changed person. Like I can’t expect to go in thinking about my weight and come back and be la-dee-da about how much weight I gained after all that halal fast food I ate (I’ve never had so many fried chicken sandwiches in my life! But if I had to compare McDonald’s, Hardee’s, Al-Baik, Burger King, and KFC, I gotta say Colonel Sanders knows what he is talking aboot).

So yeah, I am clearly still me.

And yet, I do feel different.

I am less enthused with the world. I mean, I already was before my trip. But now, even less so. I am not as frustrated with the world as I was before. I think I am better with telling my ego to shut up. I’ve been worrying a bit less than I normally do. May it continue.

I mean, when a Muslim goes to the two holiest cities on earth, how can you not be changed by that experience? Even if it was not an automatic change, there’s a mental shift going on, where you think, “None of this is important. Why am I doing this?”

Of course, being back home comes with its challenges. You can’t renounce the world completely, even if you harbour those thoughts for a time. Because you have to live in this world for as however long you are destined to live in it. Islam is purposely not an ascetic religion. Those who retreat from the world permanently are not guaranteed salvation. They are not of a higher class. In fact, as the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) shows, living in this world and yet holding true to the tenets of the faith is what we are asked to do. If we can manage to do that in right order, that is what is most pleasing to God. God put us on this earth, so we have to live in it.

But we don’t have to become entrenched in it. In fact, we should not.

So that’s what I’ll be spending the rest of my life trying to figure out, that fine balance. Not retreating completely. But also, not forgetting what I have just been through and what I felt in Makkah and Madinah.

And if I was not already convinced before, Post-Hajj Rafia knows for sure that she will be writing along the way. More on that later, God-willing! :)

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