I just got back from seeing my cousin and his wife off at the airport. I couldn't help but feel jealous when he told me he was going to perform umrah. My thoughts went back to the time when I performed umrah for the first time in 2002.
I was 13 years old and was sincerely studying for my board exams when my dad comes to me and says "Oh we are going for umrah".
"What????", I say having heard that word for the first time.
"umrah, its like a small a haj.."
And the only thought that goes through my then tiny brain was, "Yaaaay!!! I'm going in a plane!!!".
My father had planned the travel for my family exactly during my Half Yearly exams and I had to bunk my last exam with not so much regret although my principal, Mrs.Williams was all, "I'm not going to give you permission but if you want to go then go".
And I was so happy that I got to bunk an exam. English exam. But still, exam is exam no?
My mother went into a shopping frenzy and she got me the loosest, most tassel induced abaya you can ever find. The day we were leaving I was forced into a red, synthetic salwar kameez high on silver jigna and made to wear that oddly shaped abaya when all I really wanted to do was to snuggle into my jeans and read my Meg Cabot books.
Yes. I was extremely addicted to Meg Cabot. Don't ask me why.
Although my father had coached me on Makkah and what to do when I got there I was in seventh heaven just because I got to go in a plane. I was super excited to taste 'plane' food but what they gave us in Saudia was a tasteless dish of mac and chesse.
We reached Jeddah and took a car to Makkah. When we got there the driver went, "Look to your left thats the Haram Sheriff". And I was all, "Why is he calling this place HARAAM?? Isn't it supposed to be holy?!!"
I remember thinking "wow this looks so real", when I first saw the haram.
We were made to enter through this particular gate, I don't remember which one, such that we could see the Kaba with maximium effect. One look at the Kaba standing there looking so majestic in black, forming a beautiful contrast with the white marble I felt an instant connection. It felt like someone had tied a rope from my heart to the kaba and the rope was pulling me towards it.It is said that the Kaba is situated right under the heavens and I found that to be true.
Although my emaan was not up to standard at that time I felt something that I knew would stay with me.
Those 2 weeks in Saudi was when I got interested in the hijaab and realized that it was not just a cultural thing. Alhamdulillah ever since my return from unrah I started wearing the hijaab with the understanding of what it reallly is.
Alhamdulillah we finished our umrah peacefully by Allaah's grace. The proof of Allah's barakha was evident when we came back. It showed on our emaan which had increased by leaps and bounds, on our wealth which multiplied itself. After my umrah I have travelled every year. I have visited Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Bangkok. Never in a million years did my family ever think that we would have an international vacation. Ever.
But Allaah proved us wrong.
What I am today is all because of the wise decision my father made that day. This level of faith that I now have, the strength to believe, no matter what, I owe it all to Allaah who put that niyath in my fathers heart. I cannot thank my father enough for what he has done.
While I performed umrah I never realized the significance of what I was doing. But the impact of it I see even today.
Frankly I believe it is upto tje parents to introduce that small quotient of Islam into their children. Because after all your children and your wealth are a test from Allaah.
Don't you want to ace that test?