The family returned from the Hajj on the 29th of December 2008. Last year That was on Monday and today is Friday. But we arrived with the usual Hajji cough, cold, flu, allergies, tiredness from 3 days of travel, good cheer from the completion of the Hajj and the communion with 4 million people from all over the world…everything but our luggage. Four of us, and the only luggage we got was our little 2-gallon container of Zam Zam water!
Alhamdulillah, we got our luggage yesterday. Of course, passage through and long stay in Caracas meant that 4 were opened and a couple things snagged from 2 of them, but nothing overly important or valuable (i.e. all my new hijabs are intact).
Lilandra walked with a copybook and had the great idea for us to journal (by HAND) so that we could at least have some notes for blogging later. We did pretty well on the trip TO Saudi Arabia, even having comments (in the margins) and guest commentary and musings from the parents. That never made it past the plane to Jeddah though. Once we got into Saudi we were in full Hajj mode and that just took up all our concentration and attention.
The experience of the Hajj is difficult to explain briefly. On one level, it is intensely personal, a completion of an individual religious obligation (if you can afford it) and an opportunity for forgiveness and personal prayer and supplication. During the Hajj, you try to do as much as you can to maximise the benefits of the experience. On the other hand, it’s a massive community exercise, with millions of Muslims from all over the world descending on the same location to do the same things for a few days. Oh, the languages, and the peoples, and the crowds. It’s all just amazing to be part of that, part of such a huge celebration and really feel like one of an Ummah (nation).
Lilandra and I will nonetheless try to chronicle our journey at our Hajj blog for posterity, and maybe for the benefit of any future hujaaj*. There are some really funny stories – especially the ones that were not so funny to us at the time. Wily old ladies and the unspoken battle for sleeping ground. The shock of the stooping toilets. Flat tyres and deserts. Saudi seasoning = salt, salt, and salt on the table.
I’ll link to them as we post, maybe cross-post a bit. But we’re back safely, and more or less healthy depending on when you ask us. As for photos, well, they technically don’t allow photographs in the Masjid-al-Haram (mosque around the Kaabah) and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, but I managed it in Makkah (hence the pictures of the Kaabah and more to follow). In Madinah they’re much much stricter, but I do have some courtyard photos to share 😀
Hujaaj is the plural term for a pligrim, singular is Hajji or Hajja
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