My Haj Diary: Pure joy as I complete an experience of a lifetime

Here are some incredible scenes at the holy city of Makkah, captured in photos and videos


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Thu 29 Jun 2023, 4:45 PM

Last updated: Thu 29 Jun 2023, 11:35 PM

As Hajj slowly draws to end, I feel like I have made memories that will last me a lifetime and that henceforth every year during this time, my heart will yearn for the holy city of Makkah.

The experience of Hajj in Saudi Arabia — a ritual that is compulsory on every able Muslim once in their lifetime — has been one of the most profound. I met people who had never gone outside their own cities, travelling halfway across the world to come to the holy city of Makkah. Some had come from New Zealand, travelling over 15,000km, while others had come from regions I had never heard of. I met a gentleman who came from Tatarstan. I also came across people who went out of their way to help ease the lives of pilgrims. While some distributed food and drinks, others stood in the way the pilgrims walked and sprayed mist to ease the scorching heat. At one point as we paused walking out of exhaustion, a security guard gave us water, reminded us that Allah would reward us and encouraged us to keep going. It was truly a heartwarming experience.

Final rituals

Piety, belief and remembrance are at the core of some of the final rituals of Haj that I partook in over the last 24 hours.

On Wednesday afternoon, I headed along with my group to the Jamaraat where I pelted the biggest pillar of three with 7 pebbles I had collected from Muzdalifah.

Here's a clip of the ritual:

It was a symbolic reminder that Satan was persistent in his efforts to misguide us and that we had to hold on to piety to fight it. With this act, we were free to partially exit our ihram — the state of purity that we entered into three days prior to that.

Our Haj becomes complete only when we follow four compulsory acts: Enter into ihram; pray in Arafat on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah between afternoon and sunset; perform the Tawaf al Ifaadah; and then proceed to the final Saee.

At 3am on Thursday — Dhul Hijjah 11— my group mates and I made our way to perform the Tawaf al Ifaadah around the Kabah.

Ifaadah translates into pouring forth and symbolises how millions pour into the Masjid Al Haram — the largest mosque in the world for this ritual. The Tawaf — circumambulating the Kaabah 7 times — is considered a sacred form of worship.

Afterwards, we performed our Saee — the running between the mountains of Safa and Marwah. It is in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim’s wife Hajra, who was abandoned at the mountain along with her baby son as per the instructions of God. When the baby began to cry, she ran up and down the two hills seven times looking for some water before Allah blessed her with the well of Zamzam, which continues to give water to millions throughout the year.

Once we completed the Saee, we stepped outside and congratulated each other on completing our Hajj.

Pure exhilaration and joy overshadowed days of sleeplessness and exhaustion. That is because the belief is that Haj cleanses your past sins and the person is left sin-free like the day they were born and the reward for an accepted Haj (Haj Mabroor) is paradise.

We have a few more rituals to go to complete our pilgrimage. Hajjis and Hajjas must stone the three spots at the Jamaraat on 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah while staying in Mina. On the 13th, we will leave Mina as soon as we finish the stoning ritual. Before leaving the holy city of Makkah, we will do a final Tawaf called the Tawaf Al Wada or farewell tawaf.

The entire experience has been hard to capture in words. It has been spiritually rewarding in many ways as well as a test of physical and mental endurance. If someone had told me I would walk 15km in a day with just two hours of sleep, I would have said that it was impossible. But I did. Like millions of others before me of varying ages and capabilities. Undoubtedly, millions more will continue the traditions taught by Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) over 1,400 years ago following the footsteps of Prophet Ibrahim that transformed the landscape of the region permanently. Haj is prescribed for a Muslim once in his lifetime, and I can truly say, it has been an experience of a lifetime.


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