A purifier.

5 AM, and my body was already giving away. For the next hour, an endless bout of vomiting occured, the ones that I felt a few years back when suddenly, my body had the urge to go to the kitchen and then I puked my way like the waterfalls of Indonesia. The funny thing was, I almost came to a black out after exerting all the energy I had to buy coconut water to lessen the heat in my body.  I thought that was funny; you, being sick, and still had the chills to walk a few metres to the shop and get yourself a drink to alleviate the matter. I almost knocked out! Walking like a drunkard; I was in a stupor. But I came back home just in time to rest, and then laugh about it. You’re just weird, Hazrul.

I haven’t experienced such painful moments for a long time. We were supposed to make our way back to Singapore, but because of my situation, and of my father’s (apparently he got the fever too, must be something we ate) we spent the next few hours of the day sleeping, resting.

As much as I had little control over what was going on, by the grace of Allah, I managed to monitor my thoughts, and my eeman, how I’m reacting to this episode of fever. All the things that I didn’t want to think of, they came out and kept replaying in my mind. I then realised, how, what we see, hear and think about everyday will be exposed with clarity when you are down with a fever. I saw how my eeman was weak, not being able to utter words of remembrance of Allah most of the time, and then I began to rue the moments not remembering Allah, not doing enough to get closer to Him. I saw myself needing my mother most of the time to help me clean up the mess, because I was too weak to even wash those stains on the toilet floor (I couldn’t control as to where I would want to vomit. It was too painful, and I couldn’t think straight even at that point of time.) I did try to clean them, but the smell was too strong, and to avoid another bout of vomiting just by smelling it, I walked out from the bathroom and straightaway landed on my bed.

Health and free time. We’ve been told by our Prophet (peace be upon him) about it. We’ve also been told about how sickness is an expiation of sins, so I have good thoughts of my Rabb. More so to get this on the first day of Dhulhijjah, I am more optimistic of the fact that He wants to erase my sins and start afresh.

Why am I telling you this? Some of you may find it repulsive, the fact that I am telling you about my vomiting experience. But there are lessons we can all learn from this.

For me, many ahadith (prophetic sayings) come to mind. Of them being the prophetic saying of health and free time; how, on the day of judgment, the two feet of the son of Adam will not move until he is asked of 4/5 questions; how the affairs of the believer is good in all circumstances, and many more that I cannot recall.

It also made me realise how short life is, how we should say the things we want to say to our closed ones, doing good to parents; it is when we are sick that we reveal our true colours. It’s scary.

I am still unwell. My back still hurts, and I feel lethargic, but thankfully I have enough energy to muster and type away this episode in my life. I ask of those who read this to keep me in your dua’.

 

A quote from Haruki Murakami’s book,

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“La ba’sa, thohurun In sha Allah.” – Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)

 

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Episode 01

I had one month to prepare for the trip. Everything had to be done in a rush. The vaccine jab, the visa, and other administrative matters, including the checking of the expiry date for the passport. I have to admit, it was one of the nerve wrecking moments in my life; all of this happening in a flash? Yes!

Believe it or not, lessons were only done twice, fortnightly on Saturday nights. That meant I had to sacrifice my time to travel to the East side, and also one of the Saturdays away from Universal Studios, because at that point of time all NSFs and Regulars were given a special discount to a whole day entry to Universal Studios. But I knew leaving this to attend the class was much more important and crucial. Usually, classes on Hajj and ‘Umrah are done in a stretch of months end. I can understand why, because the ones who will perform this ritual are mostly adults, those who are aging and have saved up a lifetime’s worth of money just to go for the once in a lifetime trip. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn how,  in two lessons, all cramped up in a span of 4/5 hours per class, could make you realise that ‘Umrah is actually simple. Of course, it was draining. We were all so focused on the class, and we were oblivious to the time. We started at around 8 pm….and by the time I looked up to see the time on the wall, it was close to 1 am.

We received two luggages, a pair of ihram clothing. And what is ihram clothing? You’ll know it when you wear it; it’s the most humbling experience in my life to only have two clothes that cover me up without wearing any undergarments or t-shirts. My only fear though, was the thought of having my lower ihram being stepped and pulled over whilst wearing it. That anxiety did wear me out a bit. So I became a little bit conscious when trying it, making sure that it was tight enough to be wrapped around my waist.

 

…and I still find it funny though, the thought of having it being stepped on and it is left opened. May Allah protect us from humiliation!

I wanted to tell no one about this trip, but I knew I had to say my last words to a few closed ones. The thought of leaving and not coming back home made me drop my ego for a moment, and all I wanted was to travel to my Lord with a clean heart. So I did what I had to do. I texted them and told them I was leaving.

Departure day

I didn’t know how to feel that day. A tinge of sadness, a tinge of hope, a tinge of happiness, of the fact that I was finally flying off to the holiest place on Earth. Years of dreaming of it, of listening to the imams reciting the Qur’an, of making persistent dua’, and I was finally flying off to Makkah and Madinah? Alhamdulillah. It was one of the biggest blessings in my life. To the point where my late aunt commented on saying, “You are so fortunate to be going there at such a young age.” She passed away last April. I miss her now. May Allah have mercy on her.

 

My parents were there to send me, as with a few close friends – Shafiq and Uthman. Shafiq was elated for me, and he knew what I was going through. I don’t know but, he has always been that friend that brings on the good vibe with his Jim Carrey impersonations, the endless laughters, and the lame jokes that we both create out of thin air. I miss him now. But, he’s also the friend who’d always chide on me for not taking the opportunities that were presented in front of me. Although it hurts my ego, I feel it’s only because he cares for me, and I love him for that. I’m thankful that this friendship has lasted for the longest time possible. Friends; we should find people who care enough about our well being, both in this world and the next.

The moment came. We said our goodbyes, and off we went into the departure hall. Surprisingly, there were a lot of pilgrims going on the same day as us. But Alhamdulillah, it was a joyous occasion to experience, seeing each and everyone who passed through the departure hall, all going for one purpose, and that is to worship Allah alone. The moment my passport was chopped, I instantly made a new friend. He was to be my friend throughout my whole trip.

8 hour trip. Once we were ushered into the plane and to our seats the relief began pouring down. Everybody was made to seat accordingly. Seat belts on, the standard procedure of the cabin crews instructing us about the do’s and don’ts in the plane, and a few minutes later, we were ready to take off…

At around 3 in the afternoon, the plane took off, leaving everything behind on ground, and me, although still with a heavy heart, took off too just like the plane, slowly flying up into the altitude of peace and serenity, for peace and serenity. Finally, I was on my way to becoming one of His guests in the most beloved places to Him, Masjidil Haram…img_0150

 

To the Northwest, where I belong.

Episode 00.

Makkah & Madinah — two names that are not foreign to Muslims. The blessed lands that many long to visit. They have always been in my prayers ever since I had learned more about Islam. But one day, a heart was broken, a soul was lost, but a door was suddenly opened. It was as though Allah was telling me that this has been your hindrance to getting your dua’ from being accepted. “Now that you’ve let it go, I am giving you the wish you’ve been meaning to get,” as though Allah was saying that to me. Thinking good of Allah never disappoints the believing slave. Everything that has been decreed is and will always be good for the believer.

Right until then, I had a few countries in mind to travel; Indonesia, Australia, Japan. It was like an obligation for every men who served the nation to take that break from the mundane lifestyle we’ve built over the course of two years. We simply needed the break.

But one day the thought passed by — why not Makkah and Madinah?

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So I decided to enquire.

A month before I was released, my teacher had sent me a message, “UMRAH TRIP 2017.” It was a long and detailed message, but by the end of it, I had pushed it aside, away from my mind, away from my heart. Not now perhaps. the inner voice said. But, we don’t know of the future. Circumstances change us, it redirects our attention and motivation. It makes us react and respond accordingly to the events happening around us.

My heart was left broken.  It had always been for a long while. But one day came the penultimate moment. The ties we’ve made were cut, and it was deep. It shattered my hopes, and ambitions to live a good life. It affected me badly. For days I was left in daze, but slowly it made me realise how futile it had been all these years.

A friend once said,

“as with the seasons, people change too.”

That was profound, I thought. Because I was made to believe that people in your life would still be the same person even though you’ve not met him/her for the longest time possible. I became deluded by this belief.  Sometimes, the waiting is the one that gives us the pain, but in waiting there is wisdom Allah has put behind it. You may wait for a person for the longest time but you end up not being with him or her. That wait has caused you so much pain, so much weight for you to carry forward in life, but remember, with this pain, you turn yourself to Allah and complain of your ignorance, your incompetence to worship Him properly. I’m not saying you should follow this path of waiting, but learn from me — never wait, never hope from human beings. The second type of waiting, is the one you should do, and that is to patiently wait for Allah’s help. You do so by worshipping Him alone without any partners being associated to Him, follow His Messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and at the same time learn how to find the right one for you. What’s the underlying factor behind all this? Knowledge. Seek knowledge of the religion, understand what Allah loves and what Allah hates. Understand the purpose of your existence. We are made to know Him. That’s our primary reason for existence. What loses us is the fact that we have been made to learn about love the wrong way. You may say love is something that is subjective, but hey, for once, shouldn’t we look at love and life from God’s perspective? How does He define love? How do we love? What is love? The fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves time and time again.

Anyway, as with bad experiences in life, we learn from it. So what did I do with my broken heart?

I decided to complain it to Allah, and I did so by going for the ‘Umrah trip. I was extremely fortunate that when I enquired about it, there was only a seat left in the group. That day I learnt how fortunate I am to know that this was a blessing in disguise after all. The whisper in my heart that told me about the ‘Umrah trip again made all the difference, and like what Robert Frost says in his famous lines of poetry, The Road Not Taken,

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I decided to take the road less travelled, and that has made all the difference.

 

Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli haal…

 

To be continued, If Allah Wills…