I got my calling 2 years prior to performing the Hajj in 2001. As for most folks, I had to save up money and leave days from work. It was my first time to visit Saudi Arabia and the holy cities, so going with my family who have been there before was a definite plus. There were eight of us, including my parents and siblings. The travel operator was nice enough to group us together in nearby rooms at each lodging we stayed in. My father was our main spiritual guide, having performed the Hajj several times prior. All in all, it took about a month to complete the rituals at a leisurely pace. Needless to say, every sight and sound were wonderous, and oozing with history and splendor of ages past. There were so many highlights during the Hajj, but the major ones personally were the visit to Prophet Mohammad (SAW)'s tomb, the site of Badr War, sighting the Kaaba for the first time, and visiting Jabal Rahmah. Performing the Hajj has transformed my life spiritually. I'm still not perfect, but the Hajj has changed my perspective on the temporal nature life, the universe, and everything else. It has taught me to be more patient and made me look at life with more patience, and widen my view to see a bigger picture of our existence. Ever since my Hajj trip, I've returned back to Saudi Arabia for subsequent minor Hajj (Umra) three times. Like they say, once youve been there, you'll keep coming back! My advice for intending pilgrims: keep fit physically, keep fit mentally with knowledge of the Hajj and a patient open mind and pure Niat (nawaitu), and leave worldy concerns behind (tawaqqal). Finally, my advice for folks who are still deciding or toying with the idea: just do it! Dont wait until youre too old and frail (its physically demanding), and with costs rising year after year, its better to do it sooner if you can. Jazak Allah Khayr for reading my story.
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