What It Feels Like to Be a Guest of God (Post-Hajj Reflections)

Editor’s Note:

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

In Route

I’m currently on my flight from LAX – Istanbul for the Hajj. The last 48 hours were awful, emotionally taxing and trying. I won’t bore you with the details but I missed my original flight and spent the last 36 hours scrambling to find another flight and after numerous phone calls to travel agents, my Muslim Travel agency and $2,400 USD later, I was able to board the plane and get on this flight. It’s true what they say about the trials of your Hajj beginning from home.

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Allah is testing your patience and resiliency. I hope I passed. Either way, I’m thankful for Allah’s invitation. I’m currently flying over Budapest in route to Istanbul. I’m anxious to arrive in Makkah. When I close my eyes all I can see is the Kaaba. I see pilgrims in white and children playing in the courtyards of the haramain. I see beautiful brown faces smiling from ear to ear and salutations of peace being spread amongst the believers.

There are 1.8 Billion Muslims on the planet and only 3 million of us are granted permission to make the major pilgrimage annually. I will say how incredibly grateful I am to be embark on this Hajj pilgrimage. Allah has truly honored me today.

In Route continued…

My husband and I have been traveling for almost 24 hours. We are exhausted. We flew from LAX to Istanbul. Then Istanbul to Amman. From Amman, Jordan and now in route to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. These flights are painfully long, but so is my longing to worship my creator.

The Jordanian airline did a wonderful job of reminding us to make our intention while in the air over the miqat. The pilgrims on this flight are all chanting in unison – labayk allahumma labayk. Some pilgrims are reading the Quran on their cell phones, while others struggle to stay awake.

We will be landing in Jeddah soon and I pray that Allah makes it easy for me, and all the pilgrims. Ameen.


We landed in Jeddah and went through customs in only 11 minutes. I suspect it had something to do with my blue American passport. The airline also lost one of my luggage pieces and I had to file a report with the airline. Either way, upon landing in Jeddah Allah made it smooth for us, alhamdulillah.


Alhamdulillah we finally made it to Makkah and it is as busy as it’s always been! Pilgrims are buzzing here and there. Street vendors are selling their goods and the pilgrims are happy to purchase gifts for their loved ones. There is an energy of excitement all around me as pilgrims enjoy worshipping in the Haram before setting off to Mina and beginning their pilgrimages.


We arrived at Mina and settled into our tents. The hujaj (pilgrims) all seemed excited to finally be beginning their Hajj and beginning this blessed journey. The energy has shifted a little though. I sense excitement mixed with anxiety and fear of the unknown.

Will I remember each pillar and will I do them well? Will I remember each sunnah? Have I overpacked? What if I lose my spouse, parent or loved one during the rituals of hajj? Will Allah accept my hajj?

I reassure the women around me in my tent that they have nothing to worry about. I remind them that they are the honored guests of the Almighty and if Allah didn’t want good for them, he wouldn’t have invited them. The women packed their bags for the big day tomorrow, said their prayers and went to sleep.

What It Feels Like to Be a Guest of God (Post-Hajj Reflections) - About Islam


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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).