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Part 2

What It Feels Like to Be a Guest of God – Part 2

Part 1

Editor’s Note:

In this article, the author shares her reflections on the sacred journey in diary style, depicting the magnificent scenes of Hajj with all the hardships, peace, and serenity that come with it.

Muzdalifah to Jamaraat

Many women folk, the elderly, and children left muzdalifah shortly after midnight. I chose to stay until fajr as per the sunnah and because I was asleep.

After prayer and gathering up the hajjis from our camp site, we walked to the train station and waited for our turn to board the train to the jamaraat.

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Let me set up the scenario for you. It’s just after sunrise, in the middle of the desert. It’s hot. It’s humid, sweaty and sticky.

The crowds of hajjis are smelly and tired and we are all gathered up together in the same spaces standing for hours on end, waiting to board the trains to the jamaraat.

At this point, the hajji has a few options on how to proceed in this undoubtedly uncomfortable situation. The hajji can

A) Complain: complaining about absolutely no results or change to their status while simultaneously risking losing their Hajj.

B) Become angry and frustrated, lashing out at any hajji who crosses their path, and again, risk losing their Hajj.

C) Do dhikr and spend their idle time remembering Allah. This was my choice, and between us, it is one of my favorite acts of worship.

What It Feels Like to Be a Guest of God  -  Part 2 - About Islam

I figured I was going to be standing in line for hours, so I might as well make the most of it and do my morning and evening remembrance and pray that things move smoothly.

In my opinion, there is no better way to spend your idle time than by remembering Allah. Not only did this ease my burden and distract me from my physical discomfort, it caused a ripple effect and reminded other hajjis around me to do the same.

As I prayed for relief from my discomfort, other hajjis came to my aid.

Saudi police officers offered me water, cold sprits of water to my face (believe me, it does a lot to help cool you down in a sea of sweaty people), and snacks, fanned with cardboard and electric fans by other hajjis.

As soon as my discomfort was at a minimum, I was able to help another sister who was struggling in the sticky, hot, dehydrated crowds of people, and then I offered other sisters what I had to ease their physical discomfort.

Jamaraat – Eid Day

The sea of people walking to stone the jamaraat is unlike anything I have ever seen.

Hajjis walk for miles on end just to perform this ritual of the Hajj, and its symbolism is something worth reflecting on.

We gather stones in muzdalifa, carry them in our pockets or bags, and head towards the giant pillars representing the devil, our vices, or inhibitions and weaknesses.

As I cast my 7 stones at the giant concrete pillar, I thought of my sins.

I thought of the things I wanted to change in my life.

I imagined Shaytan running away with his tail tucked between his legs as I yelled “Allahu Akbar!—”God is greater, God is greater, God is greater, God is greater, God is greater, God is greater, God is greater.

Upon my return to Mina, I immediately cut my hair & took the best shower of my life.

I came out feeling refreshed. Feeling like a new creation. I napped and enjoyed the rest of my Eid day in the company of Allah’s honored guests.


Al-Baik is Saudi Arabia’s version of KFC on steroids.

People in Saudi go crazy for Al-Baik chicken and are willing to stand in lines that wrap around the restaurant just to sink their teeth into that deep-fried chicken leg.

My unsolicited advice is that if you are ever in Saudi that you try the Spicy Chicken nuggets or chicken breast and dip it in the garlic sauce and some ketchup, sandwich it all between the sesame seed bun, and wash it down with an ice-cold soda drink—Miranda lime is my go-to.

I don’t advocate for fast food and sugar-filled carbonated drinks, but when in Rome, do as the Romans say.

A group of hajjis and I decided that we would gather some money together and purchase Al-Baik meals and distribute them to the pilgrims who were sleeping on the street and enduring Hajj in less comfortable positions than ourselves.

Alhamdulillah, with the money we collected, we were able to purchase and distribute over 6 thousand Al-Baik meals and distribute them to the hajjis in Mina.

Giving aid and relief to someone is rewarding. That is even more rewarding than giving aid to a hajji who is an honored guest of the Almighty and praying that in giving them relief, Allah will give you relief.

Tawaaf al Ifadha & Wada’

There are many sisters who come to Hajj and feel like their menses are a burden to them while on their pilgrimages.

I reminded them that even the mother of the believers, Aisha (RA), was on her menses during the hajj and endured this hardship, so we have her as an example of how to proceed if we are indeed in the same situation.

We have to remember that Hajj is equivalent to jihad for women.

Allah, in His infinite mercy, has granted us equal reward in our Hajj as if we were fighting for His sake in jihad. Sure, Hajj comes with its bumps in the road, but staying steadfast and accepting Allah’s decree for us is part of the test.

In the time of the Prophet (PBUH) women who traveled to Hajj with their families had the luxury of staying in Makkah for months at a time.

Women had the opportunity to complete their menses, complete their Hajj, and return home with no fear of returning with an incomplete pilgrimage.

Today, our means of transport are much quicker, and we are only allotted a certain window of time to embark on the hajj due to visa restrictions.

So, because of this contemporary Fiqh issue, scholars have passed a fatwa for female pilgrims who are on their menses and will not complete their periods before their journeys back home.

Women who are on their menses are allowed to combine their intentions for tawaf al ifadha and tawaf al wada’ and can complete their 7 circumambulations around the Kaaba before their departure to their home countries in order to avoid staying in major ihram.

As I walked around the Kaaba and completed my circumambulations with my new friends, I couldn’t help but feel emotional as I bid farewell to Allah’s house.

What It Feels Like to Be a Guest of God  -  Part 2 - About Islam

The cocktail of emotions is hard to put into words: gratitude, humility, thanks, and heartbreak.

I didn’t want to leave but knew that my Hajj was complete and all I could do was pray and ask Allah to accept my acts of worship and invite me back to His house again and again.

I pray for all of you reading this.

If you have never been to Hajj or Umrah, I ask that Allah (azawajal) grant you the honor of being His invited guest.

I pray that you feel the comfort of being in the haramain, that you are able to immerse yourself in the worship of your creator in the most sacred place on earth.

I pray that you are given the opportunity to worship alongside your brothers and sisters from every corner of the earth and that you feel the community, brother/sisterhood and love that are felt only when being amongst the Muslim Ummah.

May Allah accept the Hajj of every pilgrim this year and every year it has been performed, ameen.


From the archives.

About Paulina Rivera
Ustadha Paulina Rivera is a Latin-American revert to Islam. She’s a teacher and mentor for Muslim converts in her community. She works as a female group leader for a well-known Muslim Travel Agency and assists pilgrims from North-America during their journeys on the Umrah and Hajj. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from California State University of Fullerton. She continued her education in Sharia and da’wa overseas and completed a certification in Muslim Chaplaincy from the Haram - Masjid An-Nabawi, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work and Psychotherapy from the University of Southern California (USC).