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The Inner Hajj by Eilaf Farajalla

Two years later and the white marble of the piazza in the heart of Makkah still lays bare against the harsh desert sun and, collectively as an Ummah or a Community, we do not know how to deal.

Last week, someone wise told me to pay attention to the Inner Hajj, that the religious ritual as a whole, grand and holy in its most magnificent and publicly displayed iteration was representative of a deeply embedded and spiritual longing. I have been paying attention to myself, paying attention to my deep and dark intentions. I find resistance, selfish, staunch and stubborn, very much insistent on getting its way even if the world has communicated clearly that is has other plans.

We get like this sometimes and me, I am coming to learn, more than others. I fall in love with a picture and I insist that my actual life should look like that picture. And when it doesn’t, like a toddler, I hold my breath until I turn blue. While sulking against your parents may work sometimes, they might cave, capitulate and finally give you the candy you wanted at the grocery aisle, from extensive personal experience, I can tell you that the Divine does not negotiate with emotional terrorists and things will not work out your way.

Giving up resistance to the way things are, versus the way you want them to be makes all the difference. Letting go of expectations and opening our hearts to the choices that Allah has made for us is infinitely more merciful to not just out future selves but also our present selves. I can proudly say that I have gotten good at repeating these concepts to myself but I am nowhere near good in applying them, and that has been my inner pilgrimage this year. And that’s enough for now.

Being chosen to go to Hajj to make a pilgrimage for God is every Muslim’s dream and what most people save up for, for years, for the release, the full surrender of worshipping in the Holiest Mosque. This year God said no visitors and I am sitting with what that means to me. If Islam literally translates to surrender then that means I have not been the best Muslim, that if anything, I am on a constant journey of surrendering, and more days than others, I do not.

I may not have been able to go to Makkah this year, but I still made a pilgrimage that I am proud of.

To listen to my recitation:

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