A friend who owns a halal restaurant in London once told me this amazing story.
She said that every year she puts the names of all the workers into a hat and then draws out one name.
Whoever’s name comes out is given a free Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, paid for by the restaurant.
One particular year a worker’s name was drawn out of the hat. Let’s call him Murad. It was three months before Hajj.
“Congratulations, Murad!” the owner told him infront of all the other workers. “You’re going on Hajj!” All the workers began to hug Murad to congratulate him.
“B… but… I can’t go on Hajj,” stammered Murad, trying not to dampen the celebration. “I’m not ready yet. I don’t deserve to go on Hajj.”
“What do you mean you’re not ready yet?” the owner asked him.
“I mean, I am not a good Muslim,” Murad replied. “I don’t pray, I smoke, I live an un-Islamic lifestyle… Send someone else, someone who deserves it more than me.”
“Murad, who do you think chose your name?” the owner asked him. “Do you think it was us?”
Murad thought for a moment wondering what point the owner was trying to make. Then his face froze.
“Yes,” the owner smiled. “It wasn’t us who chose your name. Allah chose your name. He has invited you to come. Are you going to turn down His invitation?”
Murad’s face went white and he looked towards the floor in awe. He then walked away without saying another word.
The next morning Murad set his alarm for the Fajr dawn prayer. Then at lunchtime he prayed the lunchtime Zuhr prayer. Murad had begun to pray five times a day.
Over the following weeks, Murad gave up smoking and all of his other un-Islamic habits. He began to make major changes to his life.
By the time Murad got on the plane to travel to Makkah three months later, he had already turned his life around. After all, Allah had invited him to His House so how could Murad stand at Allah’s Door in an unfit state?
Murad went on Hajj and repented to Allah. He returned to a new life.
A common excuse many Muslims make for not doing Hajj is, “I’m not good enough to go on Hajj.”
Yet Hajj is not the ending, it’s the beginning. Only those whom Allah has invited to His House are able to go on Hajj.
This explains why some very wealthy, fit and well Muslims are unable to go on Hajj year after year after year despite having all the means to do so. One thing or another always turns up to hold them back.
In reality, it is Allah who has not invited them.
This also explains why some Muslims with no means to attend somehow go on Hajj. Like the muezzin (the one who calls to prayer) of my local mosque.
A simple, humble, elderly man of limited means who lives alone in an old people’s home, he is at the mosque for all five prayers. Last year he disappeared for a few weeks around the time of Hajj.
I knew that he could not afford to go on Hajj so I was worried and asked others about him. I thought that maybe he was sick or in hospital.
It turned out that he had indeed gone on Hajj, for the first time in his life. When I met him, I asked him how he managed to go on Hajj.
“Allah invited me and He made all the arrangements,” he smiled. “So I went.”
Many people who go on Hajj for the first time will tell you that during Hajj they wonder where they were for all these years.
It is not only an obligation, the fifth pillar of Islam and the journey of a lifetime. It is one of the few good deeds a person can do on Earth that guarantees him a place in Paradise.
“The reward for an accepted Hajj is nothing less than Paradise.”
As narrated from the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by Abu Hurayrah in Al-Bukhari (1773) and Muslim (1349).
So if you find yourself with health, wealth and the means to go on Hajj…
If you find you are able to buy a car, a house, travel the world… but somehow you are not able to go on Hajj, keep begging Allah to invite you and try your best to make it happen.
And what better time to make the intention to go on Hajj next year than during these blessed days?
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