How to know if your Hajj has been accepted is to see how your life is a year later.
So said one of our Hajj teachers.
It’s been nearly a year since Mr. Rafia and I embarked on that journey of a lifetime.
There have been ebbs and flows, I will not lie.
Going to Target for the first time after returning from Hajj was a bit of a jarring experience. I had not heard music in over three weeks. It felt so unnecessary.
But I haven’t stopped listening to music completely.
Ramadan, in many ways, was a good time to reboot. Since then, I’ve become more restrictive about what I listen to. I’ve also stopped running in April, so it has not been that difficult (as much as I dislike this whole Beyonce-worship craze that has permeated into popular culture, her music is great to run to). I think most of the lasting positive changes I have made have been since Ramadan. I haven’t been able to keep up with a juz a day, but I’m doing my best to do more than I did before. And if it weren’t for Hajj, I don’t know if I would have felt that compulsion.
In December, we started seeing advertisements to go for umrah. At that time, we weren’t sure if we were ready to go back again so soon. But as of today, I can say that I am ready. I would love to go back to Mecca and Madina. To be able to pray in the haram more than I did during Hajj. I think the tremendous weight of Hajj had really gotten to me. I felt so weak and spiritually depleted the days before, so I didn’t make the best of my time in Mecca. Although in hindsight, perhaps it was for the best, because my actual Hajj experienced ended up making up for it. My days in Madina felt like a culmination of being a Muslim. A real, tangible physical locale to which to pin my heretofore intellectual and ritualistic commitment. I would love to go inside the Rowdah one more time.
But I don’t know. It’s hard to assess how I am as a person. I know I have changed. But have I changed for the better? I can still be a recluse. I still struggle with praying with khushoo (full concentration). I still worry.
And yet, at the same time, I feel like I have become more confident in my faith. Not that it was tentative before. But I feel more at peace with saying No to things that make me uncomfortable or to things that frankly don’t interest me. My interests have certainly changed. And I feel less compunction about not wanting to justify why.
And subhan’Allah, some duas I have made have come to pass, way quicker than I was expecting. Others will require continued patience and reliance on my part. I call to mind the concept some academics would render “magical thinking,” but I feel confident in its provenance.
Having faith is not easy. And yet, I cannot imagine my life without it. When I feel low, Hajj is a reservoir to which I can go back to replenish myself. And what a gift that is!