Hajj, the Sacred Pilgrimage

My mother was always afraid to go on Pilgrimage. She was terrified of crowds, and the idea of spending days in the desert of Saudi Arabia surrounded by three million worshippers gave her panic attacks. Every year she would say: “Next year, insha-Allah.” If God wills. I always smiled indulgently at her words, knowing that God’s will was a convenient excuse for her own stubborn inaction. A pint-sized Pakistani firebrand who has lived in America for thirty years, my mother is a modern Muslim feminist. She cannot be coerced, threatened or cajoled, even by the call of the Divine. I accepted that she would never willingly go on the Hajj, the sacred Pilgrimage to the heart of Islam that is required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their lifetime. Unless, of course, it was “the will of God.”

And then, to my surprise, God willed it.

My mother had a dream in which she was summoned to Mecca. Never one to argue with the promptings of the spiritual world, my mother called me and said she was ready to go. Immediately. And as her son, I was duty bound to escort her on the voyage.

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