Monthly Archives: September 2016

You’ll Be Surprised Today

Throwback hajj 2015

Day Seven Diary:

 

“Allahu Akbaro Kabeera…

Wal Hamdulellah Katheera…

Wa Sobhan Allah bokratan wa aseela…”

The Eid chant has such a sensational vibe. We said it all the way to Mena where we are supposed to stay for three days. We heard about the hundreds of people who died in the Hajj stampede earlier, may God bless their souls, and I think deep down we are all worried about the coming three days of stoning satan.

May Allah make it easier for us all…

I miss Madina! Outside the Holy Ka’bah, life is a bit harsh. People here are more strict I guess. I was wearing a white abaya yesterday with a soft golden trim, and the mosque guard scolded me! He said women should only wear plain black abayas! What the…?

But Alhamduallah the tawaf was easier than we thought, and I made Duas for all of you at the Hijr of Ismail, 10 inches away from Ka’bah!

Zzzzzzzzzzz

Huh? What?

OMG I think I dozed off for a second! I’m so sorry! Please don’t fire me from the representative job!

Anyways, we still have three days to go and I’m honestly super exhausted. We all are! But we are taking care of each other. Women offer each other water, medicine, fever patches & and soothing hugs. It’s like we are all one family.  Aya, my sister in law said something that made so much sense:

“Look at the pillars of Islam, the intensity of physical effort increases with each pillar. Like the shahada is the least and the Hajj is the most physically tiring. But it works the other way with spirituality. It takes a huge amount of faith to say the shahada from the heart, then it gets easier and easier up until the Hajj. Every single Muslim here is  eager to perform the Hajj by the book and do everything right. The joy of faith and spirituality probably comes as a package with the journey. It’s the Great Lord’s gift to His guests…”

 

It’s that joy that makes the effort and jihad of Hajj worth every second! Yeah, I liked that reflection a lot!

Okay everyone, let’s give Aya a big round of applause!

Now it’s your guys’ turn to represent us in Eid! Go enjoy our beautiful Islamic holiday. Go have fun and do something amazing today. That’s the whole point of Eid… It’s to pause the worry, anxiety and any sadness you might feel, and go out in the sun with your families… Laugh and joke and play games. Be a cheerful you this Eid…

 

You never know what might happen tomorrow. The roads are closed here coz they’re still hauling out the martyrs’ bodies….

Their loved ones will never see them again. They’re not going back home with us, and some of their families and friends will never know how much time they’ve spent raising their hands and making Duas for them here…

So go kiss your parents’ hands. Buy your spouse some flowers and chocolates and let your kids paint your face! Go out and make someone else happy… Bring some smiles and joy to the world around you. Tell your loved ones how much you love them. Call up your estranged cousins and let go of anything that’s upsetting you. Open your heart and wrap your loved ones with your arms… You’ll be surprised at the huge number of people who pray to see you happy… And the number of loved ones who truly need your warm embrace…

 

Have a wonderful blessed Eid….

I’ll miss you all so much…

All my love…

Lilly S. Mohsen 

 

The ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Click!

Throwback Hajj journey 2015

 

Day Six Diary:

Tick tock tick tock

It’s 8:35am and we are all counting the minutes till dhuhr prayer, which is when the most beautiful and glorious day of the year starts right here on mount Arafah. This is what we came here for, and this is why I paid extra charges for overweight luggage since the thousands of hearts I took with me didn’t fit in my purple carry-on!

 

Today is the day people! You’ll all be transformed and reborn by Maghreb prayer inshAllah.

Oh my God! You know what sounds like so much fun?

A before and after picture!!

You know when you’re all pale and geeky then you get a fabulous makeover? And then the picture is photoshopped and ho-ho! You’re as beautiful as the sun and moon put together!

Except today’s makeover is of your inner souls… Your Merciful Great Lord will delete the sins of your past by sunset along with all its regrets and mistakes. There’s no tricks or technology involved. It’s purely you…glowing with peace and blessings… As innocent as a newborn baby, with a chance to start anew…

The Before Picture:

Do you think it’s safe to whine a little bit before Dhuhr prayer? Coz I so need to take it out of my “before” drama-queen-system.

Dhuhr is at noon so we’re good for a couple of hours!

Okay, so we finished Hajj rites at the Ka’bah yesterday and ran to the buses to spend the night at mount Arafa. It’s so not a sunnah actually, but with the traffic nightmare, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A couple of years ago, a group of pilgrims got stuck on the road, they arrived at Arafat AFTER Maghreb! Like hello? Too late! They missed Hajj completely and had to redo it the following year.

Anyways, Hajjis stay in tents, one for men and one for women. We walked in and looked at each other with confusion, seeing there wasn’t enough room for all hundred women to sleep in, we realized “Uhm we have a problem!” It was after midnight and this was the only chance to get some sleep for another two days. So the plan was to take turns. Yes, you heard that right! There was a line up for sleep, just like the one outside for the bathrooms (not a correct term though. It’s actually just a toilet and a tiny drain, and if you wanna shower, I guess you stand on top of the toilet and use the shower head)

I met my lovely cousins here too, and they were so sweet they managed to save one single bed for both my sister in law and I.  Both of us crammed in a tiny bunk bed it felt like that movie “Honey I Blew Up The Kids!” We laughed so hard. I mean  it’s 100 degrees outside, the lights are on, there’s 40 women around you engaging in bedtime gossip, loud noises of cars and sirens, and about 4000 Mosquitos distributed evenly amongst us! Plus the line up outside.

(I told you I was gonna whine lol)

But sobhan Allah, even with all that, we still got some peaceful sleep, and now we can’t wait for dhuhr!

“Click”

Sorry, that was my camera taking the “before” picture!

 

Shhhhhhhh The Great Lord is descending to the first heaven…

Talk to Him… tell Him what’s aching your heart…. He is the most benevolent and the most generous…

Now go talk to Allah, He’s listening

 

The After Picture:

It’s 6:56pm and with the sunset of Arafah day, we have been reborn…

And there are no words to describe this feeling…

Everyone is so quiet and calm… Even though we have a long way ahead to Muzdalafa, and we’re extremely exhausted, everyone is smiling and praising the Great Lord…

Thanking Him for the luxury we take for granted back home…

Comfy beds, clean bathrooms, warm meals, shower gels and lotions!

And most of all thanking Him for giving us the means to come here…

And then inviting us to be His guests…

And even though we have done so much wrong, He’s giving us the chance to start a new page…

No wonder we are all smiling…

“Click”

That’s the “After” picture…

You can hardly see the faces: they’re all emitting so much pure white light…

You’ve been given a second chance… Take the right path and enlighten our world with every step you take…

Or take a wrong turn and..

You know what? Let me hang this picture on your wall. It will remind you daily that when you’re on the right track, nothing can go wrong…

When you’re with Allah, you’re more beautiful than the sun and moon put together…

 

Have a wonderful amazing Eid guys! I’m off to stone the stupid devil. Wish me luck!

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Are You The One?

Throwback Hajj 2015
Published on On Islam

door kabah.jpg

Hajj Diary: Day Five

Turns out they weren’t kidding when they said we wouldn’t have time to breathe. After eight long hours in the bus, we finally arrived in Mecca in a state of Ihram. We chanted “Labayk Allahuma Labayk” the whole way! And it was SO nice!

We also stopped at a very primitive, hygiene-deficient, dungeon of a rest house to pray and use the bathrooms! But can we please not talk about this part? Call me spoiled but I think I’m scarred for life!

I’ll save you the gory details. Just know you guys are lucky to be heart-Hajjis when it comes to this part of the journey!

No I mean it, we are not gonna talk about it! End of story. (Hey! You! No debating in Hajj!)

Anyways, once we arrived at the hotel, someone pushed the fast-forward button on our journey, and the new catch phrase became: “Come on let’s go let’s go LET’S GO!”

We headed off to the haram to start the rites of Hajj and to be perfectly honest, walking into the Holy place and seeing the cranes, construction workers and annoying partitions, I suddenly felt a bit disappointed. I kept my head down as my brother miraculously infiltrated us through the huge crowd, and then when we finally reached the tawaf area, I felt like a soft invisible hand slowly lift my chin up… And my eyes were glued open…

I saw it…

The Ka’bah…

And the glorious magnificent sight of it pierced right through my heart with a million rays of shimmering light…

No matter how many times you’ve visited Mecca. Seeing the Ka’bah each time is exactly like seeing it the first time!

How can I explain this?

If Madina is peace and serenity, Mecca is…

Intense… Powerful… Awe-inspiring! Especially in these blessed days….

Even the imam welled up during Isha prayer and choked on his tears while reciting Quran out loud from the intensity of the soul-captivating energies emitting from the beautiful House of God…

(Wait, I’m not sure if that was a secret. But we all heard him, so that’s not gossiping right?)

A little bit later, amidst the heat waves of summer nights in Mecca, it started to rain…

I think even the sky is overwhelmed by the yearning hearts coming from all around the world to please Allah… The Most Merciful…

Sometimes I wonder if non-Muslims watch the rituals of Hajj on TV and think we are a bunch of cucko-heads dressed in white towels and doing ring-a-roses around a black box!

Let them think what they want…

Because what we feel now is worth a lifetime of bliss. What we see and do and say is done with love beyond measures…

What we believe in is what keeps us grounded, hopeful and at peace…

At this exact moment… Some people are off partying wildly somewhere. They’re living it up and chasing meaningless, temporary pleasure. But the minute they’re alone with their hearts, they cry out screams of despair. They feel empty inside… Running after a mirage with no goal or end in mind.

But here…

Once you’re done each ritual, oh the feeling you get… It’s surreal… It’s like drinking cold water on a hot sizzling day or finding a loved one safe after an earthquake….

There’s no emptiness here… Only joy and peace…

Close your eyes and feel the vibes of blessings coming down from the sky. Push the fast forward button on your busy life and tell me… How would you like your story to end?

Or rather where would you like your eternal life to begin…?

Being here in this Holy place gives us a new perspective… That man in wrinkled and torn clothes praying next to you, and that old woman sleeping on the floor coz she has no place to stay… All these people lifting their hands up to the Great Lord… I paused and eavesdropped on their prayers, knowing they probably have a lot to ask. But they’re not asking for fancy cars or money to buy a new laptop or designer purses. Sit here and listen to the whispers and feel their hot desperate tears…

They’re all asking for one thing… For Allah to love them…

That’s it…

For Allah to accept them as His salves…

I swear I feel so small and insignificant here…

And the only thing that keeps me hopeful is that I have all your hearts here with me…

Perhaps one of you is so beloved to Allah that for his or her sake, He will generously accept us all…

Maybe because of a sincere intention or a loving teardrop or even a kind word, Allah chose you amongst His beloved slaves…

Millions of prayers could be answered tonight because of one beloved heart…

Your heart…

So look inside it and tell me…

Are you the one…?

 

Your Hajj Representative
Lilly S. Mohsen

 

See you tomorrow in Arafat ishAllah. Don’t miss out on fasting on this beautiful blessed day…

Don’t Tempt Us!

Throwback hajj 2015
Published exclusively on On Islam

Hajj Diaries: Day Four

“Here’s a not-so hypothetical question!” I looked at my brother Mohamed with one eyebrow up. “You know, hundreds of pilgrims die cramped in the humongous crowd of Mena during the stoning ritual. If your wife and I fall, who will you save?”

“I guess that’s why God gave me two strong arms! So I can lift you both up at the same time!” He replied.

“Well played Mohamed….”

Other than understanding why women need a mehrem, evidently for situations like this one, I have learnt so much about the wisdom and blessings behind Hajj and umrah this year, and one of them is that it brings people closer. Up to five or six people a room, you spend day and night together and so a special bond is created that nothing and no one can break. Ask anyone about their Hajj companions and they’ll smile from ear to ear for half an hour first before replying!

I’m staying with my brother and sister-in-law, and at the airport I was delighted to meet a few of my dear cousins, too. We left our kids, families and loved ones behind… And in this beautiful place, after Allah, we have no one but each other…

So this is basically how the day goes: We pray Maghreb at the mosque and read Quran till Isha prayer then go back to hotel for dinner. We usually return to the Holy mosque again for some peaceful remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and come home exhausted, shower and sleep for two to three hours. We open our eyes with the sound of a VERY insistent alarm clock, all sleepy and groggy we debate and negotiate for a good twenty minutes on who should get up first to make wudu and give the other two a chance to sleep five minutes longer. We then head off to pray Fajr and stay in harram till sunrise to pray duha and go back to hotel for breakfast. This is when we sleep for another three to four hours and then go to the Holy mosque to pray Dhur then Asr prayer.

People are more connected with their inner beings here. They really and truly want to do everything right. The women at the mosque are very friendly and kind hearted.  While most of my loved ones have figured out how much of a cry baby I am by now, strangers still haven’t. So random women come up to me while I’m making duaa, offer me a tissue and ask if I was okay. I think I cried on half of the female Hajji population’s shoulders this year! There’s a unity of Islam during these days… The kind of unity that can make us the most powerful and respected ummah in the universe….

Anyways, now that my crying secret is our. Let me prepare you for the scary part of the journey, the stoning of satan, where millions of pebbles (and sometimes flip flops!) fly right over your head. Even though it still happens on the 10th of Dhul Hajjah, I thought we should talk about it now, you know, just in case some one misses the pillars and stones me! If that happens, know that I’ll miss you all and that my will is in the second drawer of my nightstand. Please tell my kids that I love them and that it was me who ate all the chocolates that day when I pretended they had gone missing!

Okay back to the “stoning of the devil” ritual. Pilgrims throw seven pebbles on three different pillars representing Satan for three consecutive days. Most of us know the story behind it, right? When Allah ordered Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail, and on their way to carry out the unbearable task, satan appeared three times in the same locations of today’s three pillars. Prophet Abraham stoned satan when he tried to convince him not to kill his own son! Until the third time, satan is knocked down like a silly idiot!

But did we ever think of the wisdom behind the story? I mean, we say it so casually!

Can I ask you something? Do you have a son or a daughter? One you’ve waited years for, and watched grow into an amazing, obedient loving boy or girl ? Do you have a beloved nephew or niece who bring so much joy to your heart? A dear child whose laughter is the only sound that keeps you going?

Would you be able to sharpen a knife and put it to your child’s throat? Would you be able to look in his or her eyes, knowing it would be the last time…

The last time to kiss them and hold them and breathe in their scent…?

And even more so, would you stone and curse the person who tries to stop you saying “Wait! How can you not have mercy on your own child? You must be hallucinating! God would never order you to end the life of an innocent pure boy!”

If God ordains it… Would you really kill your own flesh and blood, your mom or dad or offspring and then live with the grave memory forever?

I’ll give you a minute to think about it…. But I want you to be honest with yourself…

Coz this is what “Ram’y Al Jammarat” is all about… Sacrifice…

It’s about understanding the reason behind your existence … Submitting to the will of God no matter what it is… The mission is total submission… “Islam”

God won’t ask you to slaughter your own child to test your faith. But he might take something away from you. A loved one… Money… Health… A safe home…

We all have something missing or will face a great loss one way or another… And then the devil will come to counteract…

You might be poor, and satan will come in the form of unlawful wealth…

You might be single, and satan will come in the form of passion and love out of wedlock…

You might be lonely or insecure, and satan will come in the form of devious friends who live to drink and smoke up

You might be needing something and satan will intercede to offer it beautifully wrapped up. Unless you close the door in his face and swallow the key, temptation WILL overcome submission…

Prophet Abraham was willing to give up what he loves the most for the sake of Allah… He was willing to sacrifice his Ismail…

If you had to… And if the One who holds your life in His hands wills it, would you give up your desires, dreams, wealth, pleasures or loved ones…?

Would you sacrifice your Ismail…?

 

Your Hajj Representative

Lilly S. Mohsen