New Home Synchronize! (…and reflections on my Hajj trip)
Salam my dear readers!
I know I have been missing in action lately! And for that, I sincerely apologize. The last time I checked in was to let you know that I was taking a trip for Hajj (more about that below). After returning from Hajj, it took me some time to recover and get back in my daily routine. With my mom visiting (to take care of the kids while we were in Hajj), I wanted to spend some quality time with her before she returned back to Amman. Then I got busy fulfilling orders for Islamic calligraphy stencils, and experimenting with new stencil sizes (still working on that).
Then one day, my brother in law (and mentor) suggested the idea of selling Arabic style home accessories along with my Islamic calligraphy stencils & decals. I loved the idea! However, since Etsy would not allow me to sell products that are not vintage or handmade, I would have to open my own online shop! In order to do that, I would need a new design that would allow me to add a shop to the blog. I have been thinking about updating my blog for a while, and now I have an excuse. I took advantage of the winter break and worked on building a site that is simple,uncluttered, and easy to navigate. While I am still working on building my shop, I am happy (and proud) with the new Home Synchronize site and I hope you like it too!
What’s new in Home Synchronize?
Apart from the obvious color scheme and background pattern (which I adore), as you click through the different pages you will find an updated About page where I share a little about me, and the goal of this blog. You will also find a new Homepage where I utilize an image gallery to highlight the most popular posts on Home Synchronize. If you are interested in my decorating style, then you will enjoy browsing through my inspiration boards. Finally, you will find a link for the new Home Synchronize shop for Arabic & Islamic decor concepts. As I said earlier, I am still working on this, but feel free to glance through the different products. Should you have any questions, or you just want to tell me how much you like the new design, please contact me.
And now lets take up where we left off…
Reflections on my Hajj trip
Hajj was an amazing trip that is truly a once in a lifetime experience. May Allah accept it from us and grant anyone who wishes to perform Hajj the privilege of doing so. We booked an express trip because my husband did not want to take off work for a long time, and I did not want to stay away from the kids for a long time. I was blessed to have my mom, sister and brother take care of the kids while we were away.
Hajj was a wonderful experience! However, I feel that taking an express trip (10 days) did not allow us to have enough time to absorb what we were doing. After spending 5 days in Medina (in keeping with our group itinerary) we were rushing to perform Hajj with the rest of the Hajeej (people performing Hajj). As we landed in Mecca, we were one step behind the Hajeej (who were in Mina at the time), so that gave us the opportunity to perform Tawaf (going around the Ka’ba 7 times) on the ground floor. That was the only time we could even enter the ground floor!! Mashallah, about 2 million muslims doing the same rituals at almost the same time! There was very little sleep (2-3 hours a night), a lot of walking, and a lot of patience!! Seeing the Ka’ba was enough to boost my energy to keep going.
What I found fascinating about Hajj is something I learned in school but never truly understood until I saw it myself. We were among people who look different, speak different languages, have different customs, some were rich, others were not. Only one thing brought us all together -our love for Allah, and the hope in his forgiveness. We all looked similar during the days of Hajj-men in their white cloth (Ihram), and women in their Abayas. No one would dare show off their gold, wear expensive shoes, or carry expensive items, even ones IPhone had to be put away for fear of being STOLEN! Yes, thieves exist in every place, unfortunately Mecca and Madina are not immune. However, I found that this contributed to the overall simple look of the Hajjej , and how we should look and live our lives.
The challenge of Muzdalefa
Muzdalefa is a flat land that the Hajjej SHOULD spend some time in after leaving mount Arafat. We were told to use our time in Muzdalefa to remember Allah and reflect on our death and grave. We were advised to practice patience because this place lacks all means of comfort! We were told that it would be a challenge for all of us especially with one rest area that serves thousands of people. Spending the night in Muzdalefa is a must except for women, children, old, or sick people-then its a choice to stay or not. Before realizing what Muzdalefa is, I had decided to spend the night (I went camping several times with the family, this would be similar). So I thought!
As soon as we arrived, I knew it was going to be a challenge. Carpets were spread on the ground but you could not see them because people were everywhere. We were told to find a spot and sit! We were stepping over people sleeping, and others trying to eat. After we finally found a spot, we managed to pray Magrib and Isha before we turned in for the night. At this point, we were exhausted from lack of sleep, and desperate for some rest. I am surprised that I actually got an hour of sleep in that uncomfortable situation. I was wakened by a bag of chips that was meant to be for the person behind me!! (Patience…
At midnight, our group decided to leave Muzdalefa, and so did we. As we were leaving, I took one last look at where we were. It does look like a graveyard!! Bodies are scattered on the ground “sleeping” for now! It was scary to realize that when Allah wills it, with one blow of the horn, earth will look like this graveyard in Muzdalefa. May Allah have mercy on us.
It took 5 days of “work” to cleanse ourselves from all sins. As our beloved prophet Mohammad said:
Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any Rafath (obscenity) or Fusuq (transgression), he returns (free from sin) as the day his mother bore him” (Sahih Bukhari)
Alhamdulilah, I don’t consider our Hajj as hard as it was in the old days, or as hard as some of the people we saw over there. There were people with no hotels to rest in, or tents to protect them from the heat of the sun, or buses to carry them around. Compared to them, I felt spoiled! I wondered if I could perform Hajj that way? Would you?
Allah had a special way of showing me what really matters to him. The air-conditioning units in our tent in Arafat stopped working, and it was cooler outside (107 degrees Fahrenheit) than inside. The bus taking us from the hotel to Mina each night would not be allowed to enter Mina, and so we had to walk quite a distance- in the heat-to our camp in Mina. And finally, we had to adjust and practice patience in the uncomfortable open land of Muzdalefa. Allah was showing me that what really matters to him is my intention behind performing Hajj not the means that I took to perform it.
May Allah accept it from us all! Ameen