Alhamdulillah, we completed our Hajj a couple of years ago. In our Hajj group, one of the most interesting men we met was a 65-year-old white American from Kentucky who had become Muslim about a decade ago. He was practicing regularly and prayed 5 times a day, but his heart desired more than anything to go to Makkah for Hajj. Unfortunately, he was living paycheck to paycheck as a school janitor, so saving up at least $6,000 for Hajj seemed pretty much impossible for him, but he knew that with Almighty Allah’s help there is always a way.
The man told us that he started doing small jobs outside of his janitorial work: mowing lawns, fixing up houses, that sort of thing. It took him several years of long work hours and very little sleep, but he finally managed to save up enough. He told me that the day he bought his ticket to Makkah was one of the happiest days of his life. Allah had given him an invitation to come visit His house. What a humbling and beautiful feeling!
We were deeply moved by his story and his struggle; many American Muslims we know don’t have to make these kinds of sacrifices to come to Makkah. This man’s Hajj was on another level. But he isn’t the only one with this sort of story. Some people in Indonesia, despite having the money, still have to wait 5 years on the waiting list before being able to go for Hajj. In that amount of time, many people finish college and even obtain a salaried job! Other people who don’t have the money for an expensive Hajj package just grab a bike and go. Two South African men biked for 9 months to Makkah! Others in Libya have the money, but because the Saudi government limits the number of Hajj visas per country, the Libyans have to put their name in a raffle drawing and are randomly chosen to go to Hajj. Some have yet to go despite having the money, as their names have not been picked.
Everyone has their unique struggle, and that struggle makes the Hajj experience even sweeter. Whosoever desires to meet Allah, Allah will desire to meet them. May Allah (swt) grant us all the ability to visit His home, and may He permit our hearts to find Him. Ameen.