The Journey of Devotion

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Nowadays it takes just a few hours or so for Muslims around the globe to reach Mecca to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. But what about, for instance, 70 years ago? How would Muslims go through this journey of love? The answer is obvious: they went through long journeys with so many troubles and so much cost! But what about believers who couldn’t afford the costs? How could they reach the House of Allah? Here you can see and hear about one of the most intriguing and surprising stories ever happened in the history of such journeys. A completely different experience! Our documentary is about Ahmed, an African aged man whose destitution was by no means an obstacle to go to Mecca. He decided to cross the long distance on his feet and work in several places in order to meet his expenses. He started his three-year long journey with so much love and devotion. During his trip he describes various cultures of different cities on his way and recalls his memories and the jobs he did in addition to the problems he faced. Moreover, he eagerly talks about the divine tests he went through which helped him reach high levels of spirituality.

TIME CODE : 00:00_05:00

Narration:

Not many years ago, a number of mystics from Africa travelled on foot to Mecca, brimming with love and enthusiasm. They endured the hardships of their long journey to perform the rituals of the Hajj, the epitome of spirituality, to liberate themselves from the shackles of this enticing world. This documentary is to show this spiritual journey. We decided to go to Africa to meet some of those pilgrims. We found them calm and gentle and at the same time very hard-working. We decided to begin our story with the younger generation, a generation with their minds full of unanswered questions. Perhaps for this generation, everything is measured by logic, and the love for God is regarded as something strange or at least mysterious, but we are sure that the story of this journey will be interesting for everyone. Yousef, an art student is our researcher in this story, with his help we will find out about his grandfather’s long perilous journey.

Yousef:

Is everybody okay?

Mom:

They are all fine and say hello to you but …

Yousef:

But what?

Mom:

Your grandpa’s not okay. Can you come over?

Your grandpa wants to see you again. He misses you a lot.

Yousef:

I will do my best to come on the weekend. The semester is about to begin.

TIME CODE : 05:00_10:00

Narration:

Yousef’s school is very far from his grandfather’s, but he’s eager to visit him and sit by his bed to know more about his journey that is an eloquent reminder of t this verse in the holy Quran: : “O, you serene soul! Come back to your Lord well-pleased and well-pleasing.”

Grandfather:

I don’t know how long I’m going to cause your mom trouble.

I am embarrassed. She has been taking care of me since your father passed away.

She has been here in the absence of my children all the time.

I am pleased with what God wants.

Can you see Yousef, how much she helps me?

I always pray for her.

Thanks for all you do for me.

MOTHER:

Don’t mention it, dad.

It is an honor to be at your service.

I’m happy to do something for you.

What are you talking about?

It is the ultimate desire of every human being to serve the righteous servants of God.

FATHER:

I always pray for you my daughter.

I wish you eternal happiness and success.

MOTHER:

It is my honor to serve you.

FATHER:

Thank you.

YOUSEF:

Well, grandpa many years ago you promised me to tell the story of your journey to Mecca. It is now the time.

FATHER:

Of course, when I’m okay. I may be useful for others in the last days of my life.

MOTHER:

Such a good idea.

Dad has told me his story twice.

It’s such a riveting story that I’d like to listen to it again.

YOUSEF:

Wait dad! I’ll be back in a couple of minutes. I want to film what you say; it can be useful for my college project. I’m ready grandpa. Start your story grandpa … three, two, one.

FATHER:

From where to begin? It is better to tell you just from the start.

Just when my heart was filled with the love for Hajj; when the Hajjis were coming back from Mecca I felt like I was being pulled by the Kabba. I mean I wanted to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. I wanted to go in a way that it would be a sincere journey only for God, the Kabba’s owner.

My master used to tell me, “Remember Ahmad to make your soul ready for this holey journey whenever you decide to go in a way that every part of your body is enthusiastic about this journey. Enthusiastic to visit the one for whom you are going through this journey. You should make yourself free from all the worldly shackles and go to God the Glorious so that He accepts your pilgrimage. I hope you will not forget what I told you. The important thing is to have good intentions.”

Narration:

We had to find a person ready to endure all the difficulties of this divine journey; a person ready with all his body and soul to embark on the same journey the old man once had gone on. We went to many mosques and visited many Muslims to find that person. We finally met a young man called Mojahed, a student of religious sciences who agreed to play the role of the old man.

FATHER:

I have spent all my life in the pursuit of knowledge and I was the prayer leader of our neighborhood’s mosque but I decided to break the rules of my ordinary life and go through a new path; A lifestyle in which I could feel God beside me, because He was the only one who could grant me peace and confident throughout my journey.

On the other hand, I had disagreements with the clerics of my time.

TIME CODE : 10:00_15:00

I swore not to make a living from donations so I began to work on the farm to earn money. I decided not to spend any money earned for my family for this divine journey. But I couldn’t stop thinking about Mecca for a moment. I saw the Kabba wherever I looked and my heart was filled with the love of the journey. I had to make an important decision.

One day a friend of mine was talking about the life of a superior servant of God and how he’d began his Hajj pilgrimage on foot.

Have you heard of him?

YOUSEF:

Yes, I’ve heard.

Grandpa:

We were drinking coffee when he began talking to us about his Hajj journey on foot. Is it possible to go to the Hajj on foot?

Yousef:

Yes, I have heard. But I don’t know if it is possible or not.

It is a hard job to do, I suppose, and nobody can go to the Hajj on foot from here.

Grandpa:

That’s right. But I think God had granted him with special strength and he couldn’t do it without His blessing. He must have had pure divine intentions. That’s why he could go on the Hajj pilgrimage on foot from our country and do all the rituals.

Yousef:

So we are sure that Sheikh Omar has managed to do it. Certainly, all of these things have been done with the grace of God and are the result of melting in God and his trust.

Grandpa:

That night after night prayers I decided to go on the Hajj pilgrimage on foot. I had enough money to go on my journey by an animal or a vehicle but I wanted to fill my heart with love during the journey and to have a pure journey only for Glorious God and not to rely on my family. It was definitely going to be a hard journey and would last at least 3 years, so I had to get a job wherever I was going to stay on my way and I had to stay for a while to earn enough money to be able to continue my journey. I couldn’t overcome my feelings. At that night, I told your grandma about it.

Honey, I want to say goodbye to you. I am going on the Hajj pilgrimage. I’ve always wanted to visit the Kaaba. I have decided to go on foot for our financial problems. I know it is going to be a very hard and exhausting journey but I’m keen for this pilgrimage and my longing for it increases day by day. I have to cross jungles and seas and I will certainly face heat and cold and hunger and the journey will last about three or four years. I ask you to pray for me to go and come back safe and sound. I liked you to be with me but I don’t know what is going to happen. So I ask you to allow me to go alone because of the love that we share. I understand you. Our love for God is much greater than our love for each other. Nevertheless, it is a hard thing to do and I do it for the love of God. I know it is not going to be easy but I’m ready to do what it takes to earn His content.

Grandmother:

I know it is a hard thing to do, but I’m ready to do anything so that I gain His content. I only have one request. Think of me if possible and pray for me during the rituals of the Hajj. You have always been so forgiving and generous and I will never forget that you have always been kind and gentle to me as you are now. So how do you think it is possible to forget you?

Father (Grandpa):

That night I made up my final decision to go on the journey. After some nights, I clearly remember that it was October 10th. I said goodbye to all the people in the mosque. Then I talked to your grandma and my children and told them whatever needed because there was a possibility of not coming back. I said goodbye to all my family members and after the morning prayers and asking God for His help I began my journey.

All I had with me for the journey was some clothes, some water and food and a piece of cloth that I used to spread while I wanted to sit down or sleep on the ground.

When I was passing by the alleys and neighborhoods of our city, the devil was tempting me to stop going on the journey because I already missed my wife and children. Even the houses had never been so beautiful before but they all looked picturesque then.

TIME CODE : 15:00_20:00

Father (Grandpa):

I took a look back every now and then and felt the temptation of devil more and more. That was when I began to run a long way till all the traces of the city disappeared. It was then I felt relieved and I began to walk towards Sudan slowly. I had to pass many cities and villages to get to Sudan and I had to board a ship, one of the ships that were going to Jaddah and Mecca.

Father (Grandpa):

I will never forget the first noon prayers that I said far from my city. I said that prayer in a wilderness and under trees. It was a place where I was alone with my God. The first night of the journey was a hard one because I didn’t use to walk long distances. I felt like my feet were sore and painful. I said my evening prayers near a village which was 40 to 50 kilometers away from my city. I spent the night there when an old man came up to me. He was a villager and began to talk to me.

Old Man:

What are you doing here?

Grandpa:

I was saying my prayers and now trying to get some rest.

Old Man:

Where are you heading for?

GRANDPA- To the Hajj

Old Man:

Alone? The pilgrims usually travel together.

Grandpa:

I don’t have enough money so I decided to travel on foot. I’ve come a long way and I am exhausted now.

Old man:

I pray for you, man!

Grandpa:

Thanks!

Old man:

You’re welcome. Please pray for me when you get there.

GRANDPA:

I will not forget you, God willing. You pray for me too. I have a long way to go.

I fell asleep very soon that night as I was tired. When I woke up the next morning to say my morning prayers I found some bread and milk by my side. The old man had brought them to have a share in my journey. He fed a man who was on a pilgrimage to Mecca. I resumed my journey in the main road after the prayers. The sun’s rays were getting redder and redder. I began to travel and I was more determined than the day before to reach my goal.

Narration:

That was when the journey from Africa began; a journey far from being easy or free of hazards. It was hot and diseases and fierce animals could threaten us throughout the journey but we agreed to go on it to understand the problems our hero had gone through in his pilgrimage to Mecca.

Yousef :

I am ready now three, two, one.

Grandpa:

I’ve done various jobs during my journey in order to prepare my travel expenses. I clearly remember my first job. I was working for a carpenter near a village. I had to gather pieces of wood to make wooden products. I used to spend some hours a day looking for pieces of wood.

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

Grandpa:

Sometimes, I cut trees and brought them back to the carpentry workshop. I used an old, sick donkey to carry the woods. I had to walk long distances every day. I had to carry the timber on my shoulder. You should know that the pay was very low and my employer gave me little money, food and a place to stay. I had to be content because losing my job was inevitable. People of the village were poor and couldn’t hire anyone.

Narration:

Most people in Africa are poor. Their income is low and they are mainly active in farming or animal husbandry. These jobs are more popular among the residents of warm and dry areas. People of these regions can’t afford to hire workers so Ahmad had to do whatever he could to earn enough money to live and to travel.

Father (Grandfather):

I spent most of the days of my journey farming because the villagers are usually farmers. I worked for them and got food and a place to stay in return. The most difficult thing for me to do was plowing. I had to work beside the animals. Sometimes the owners were poor and didn’t even have animals for plowing.

Narration :

The African people have certain admirable characteristics rooted in their customs. One of these characteristics is living peacefully with each other. They also share their few properties with each other.

Grandpas and grandmas work along with their children and grandchildren; the youth take care of the elderly.

TIME CODE : 25:00_30:00

Grandpa:

The best job I had was at a hotel in a city on my way. It was a big city. That’s why you may find the story strange; the story of God’s grace to me because I could obtain the bulk of my travel expenses by what I had earned there. Most importantly, I could buy my Ihram clothing with some of that money.

Narration:

Islam is one of the main religions in Africa. Most of the Muslims there are Sunnis but Sufism is also widespread across this continent and you can find its many offshoots there. It must be noted that this diversity has not been a matter of enmity and division but a reason for unity and friendship.

Father (Grandfather) :

On my way, I reached that big city in the noon, tired and weak. The Muezzin was calling to prayer. There was a mosque in the area I arrived in. There was only one person saying his prayers. That meant all the others had completed their prayers and gone while the mosque was still neat and clean. I found out that my clothes were dusty and dirty so I decided not to enter the mosque. I spread the piece f cloth I had with me and began to say my prayers after the ablution. The man was wearing adorned clothes; he took a look at me while exiting the mosque and asked: why are you sitting here? And why didn’t you say your prayers inside the mosque?

Grandpa:

I wanted to keep the mosque clean because my clothes are dirty.

Man:

You seem to be a stranger. Where do you come from?

Grandpa :

I come from a distant place, from God’s grace.

Man:

How did you get here? You are very dusty.

Grandpa :

I came here on my foot.

MAN:

You have traveled all the way on your foot? Are you crazy?

Grandpa :

Yes, I’m crazy; His love has made me crazy.

Man:

You seem to be educated. Have you come all this way on foot?

Grandpa:

Yes, I’ve come here on foot.

Man:

When did you start your journey?

Grandpa :

I began to travel from one city to another about a year ago.

MAN:

Where are you heading for?

Grandpa :

I’m heading for my beloved.

Man:

Do you love her a lot?

Grandpa :

I’m ready to sacrifice myself for Him.

Man:

You are not talking about a woman or a girl, are you?

Grandpa :

No, I am not. I’m talking about the Unique God.

Man:

You are talking in a mysterious way. Where are you going?

Grandpa :

I’m going to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.

Man:

Are you going to travel all the way on foot?

Grandpa :

I will go all the way on foot if God wants me to.

Man:

How do you afford your travel costs?

Grandpa :

The Merciful God sends them to me. I work for others and get paid.

Man:

Would you like to work for me?

Grandpa :

Yes, of course, why not. What’s the job?

Man:

Come with and I will tell you about it.

TIME CODE : 30:00_35:00

Grandpa:

We passed some streets and reached a hotel entrance. I recognized that it was the same hotel the moment I entered it. It belongs to Abdulmalek. I began my work as a room cleaner there. He paid me well and also gave me a small room to stay. I sometimes noticed that Abdulmalek was looking at me while I was saying my prayers. I went to him the day I decided to leave the place.

I want to go if you agree.

MAN:

Where to?

Grandpa:

To continue my journey.

Man:

Are going to the Hajj Pilgrimage? May God accept it! I have also gone to theHajj but yours is very different from mine. I need a favor; ask the Almighty God to invite me to His home again.

Grandpa:

We hugged when I saw him crying. I felt my shoulders wet by his tears. I left him without taking another look at his face and began my journey again. Leaving the hotel I went straight to buy the Ihram clothing. I wrapped them in a piece of cloth to keep them clean and continued my journey. I felt like I had done half of the job already and I was appraoching my destination step by step. I reached a high place in the outskirts of the city. I waited for a while before I went on again to remember some of my sweet memories in Abdulmalek’s hotel.

Narration:

God opened the doors of light and insight for Ahmad as a result of his journey and helped him have a decent life. He would completely understand the meaning of Halal or legal income and its benefits as he would completely understand the meaning of the verse, “He feeds whoever He wants”. This journey purified his heart and soul and made him ready for the Hajj pilgrimage.

Father (Grandfather):

Sometime we don’t know the value of things we have until we lose them. That’s when we realize the importance of them. Like the water we drink. It is a unique gift but we are not aware of it.

Yousef:

Why did you raise this issue?

Grandpa:

I crossed many deserts and seen many cities and fields as days went by.

It was a year since I had begun my journey. I had seen lots of cities and villages and done various jobs for living on my way to Mecca.

Once I had to cross a desert where there was no water or plants. I had to continue my way in that desert. I had never been forced to sleep in the desert until then, because I had always found a place in villages on my way or even in cities but that time I had no way but to spend the whole night in the desert.

TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00

Narration:

Climate change in Africa has resulted in a variety of ecosystems and endless deserts in hot and dry areas. You can also find tropical forests with beautiful sceneries in areas with hot and humid climate. . People who live in the tropical areas can make a living without any major problems but those in hot and dry areas go through troubles to earn a livelihood.

Father (Grandfather):

Asking people about the desert, I found out that I could leave the desert behind after walking a day and a half. I left the village where I spent the last night before the dawn and went to the desert; a dry, empty desert with no water! I felt like the sun was exactly on my head. Although I was wearing a big hat to keep me safe from the sun’s rays, the heat reflected by the ground and carried by air was burning my face. At noon, I was very tired. I sat down under a bush to take a rest and pushed my stick into the soil vertically. I realized that the time had come for praying. I stood up facing Mecca for prayers andate some bread afterwards. I had some bread with me. Then I continued to walk until sunset. The intense heat had made me weak. At sunset I stood for the evening prayers. I asked the Glorious God to help me and grant me the honor of visiting the Kaaba safely. It was the first time I got frightened and felt lonely. I was weak and exhausted. I was very sleepy and couldn’t understand anything. I found the desert dark while I woke up. It was extremely quiet and I felt an intense fear in a way that I couldn’t move a finger. The howls of wolves were getting nearer and nearer. There was not a single tree or high place or even a cave to take shelter in. It was then I remembered all my life. It was in such a hard situation that I heard something as if someone was saying, “Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” It was then I told myself that the best thing to do was to remember God in my mind so I told it to myself again and again. But the wolves’ howls were getting closer and closer and I got scared more and more so I began to shout saying: “Oh! You help to the helpless”.

All of a sudden the wolves stopped howling and the desert became calm and quiet again. I felt a breath on my face.

I opened my eyes slowly and saw a wolf sitting right in front of me. I felt like I was dying out of fear. I was sitting motionless but still looking at it. It was when the wolf stood up and went away.

TIME CODE : 40:00_45:00

Father (Grandfather):

I began to cry afterwards not because I had not been hurt by the wolves but because of having such a beneficent and merciful God who will never leave his servant alone in any circumstances but stands by his side in difficulties and helps him. At those moments I felt my heart brightened. I felt secure. It was a light from God who had called his small servant to go to His House. It was at that moment that I shouted as loud as I could and thanked God. I continued my way after the morning prayers. I felt like there was no end to the desert as I was walking. I had a little amount of water so I just wetted my lip now and then but the water finished anyway and my jug was soon empty.

As the temperature in the desert got higher and higher I was not able to walk and my legs were sore. I couldn’t see the way well.

Father (Grandfather):

I felt that I would die sooner or later. Though the previous day’s events had doubled my hope to continue my journey, I felt like I was dying of thirst. I fell on the ground and could only see the sky and the sun, but I suddenly felt my lips getting wet and water was going through my mouth and throat. I was not able to open my eyes yet. Somebody was pouring water on me and I felt I was swimming in a river. After that I felt I was lying down in a tranquil shadow of a tree and there was no trace of the sun’s heat. A desert resident had found me and I was staying in a place separated from them because I was in a coma. It was a small hill. I was lying there unconscious for several days. I woke up and they got me a drink. I could hardly open my eyes three days after they had found me and I couldn’t recognize the people around me. My lips were dry and cracked and I felt my skin burning but the Eminent God had once again saved my life. I was not able to move for some days and they cured me till I recovered completely and could move again. The head of the tribe came to me and stood close to me. It was then I realized that they were not Muslim and God had chosen them to save me. I was so ill that I had completely forgotten about my clothes but I suddenly remembered my Ihram clothes and I asked the head of the tribe to bring them back to me and he did so.

Narration:

One of the problems Africa is suffering from is lack of water resources. People have to walk for hours to get some water. The water they have access to is not fresh but contaminated with various germs and salts. But they have no other options.

HEAD OF TRIBE- Instead of carrying these clothes it was better to carry some water not die of thirst.

GRANDFATHER- I travel for a specific reason. I’m a Muslim and I’m going to the hajj pilgrimage.

HEAD OF TRIBE- Are you going to Mecca?

GRANDFATHER: Yes, I’m heading for Mecca.

HEAD OF TRIBE- So why are you travelling alone?

GRANDFATHER: Because I don’t have enough money.

HEAD OF TRIBE- How do you afford your expenses?

GRANDFATHER: I work wherever I stay.

HEAD OF TRIBE- Is your home far from here?

GRANDFATHER: Yes, It is very far away. I will certainly never forget you.

TIME CODE: 45:00_50:00

Grandpa:

I told him the reason why I was going to the Hajj on foot. They took care of me for some days until I got my strength back and gave me enough food and water so that I could go to the next place. I was thinking about their help as I was leaving them. I remembered a verse from the Holy Quran that says: “Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light.”

And I continued my journey under the protection of God. I cherish this memory and enjoy telling it again and again.

Yousef:

Grandpa, you had a journey full of difficulties and you were walking in the desert all the time.

Grandpa:

Yes I’m going to explain how I used to prepare my meal. Do you know what the hardest thing to do for a traveler is? Preparing food and obtaining water!

Yousef:

Of course, so you are not going to tell anything about the desert?

Grandpa:

I always tried to have food for at least 2 or 3 meals and used to light a fire whenever I stopped to eat a simple meal. Sometimes I had salted-meat to eat and sometimes I would run out of food and eat whatever eatable I found.

Narration:

Climate change and global warming had turned some parts of the African continent into dry deserts while some other parts are green with mild weather.

But the significant point about Africa is its agricultural products. That’s why we can find the traditional markets full of agricultural products. The products are in proportion with the income of the African families. Salted-fish is the main food the African people eat during their short and long trips because it can be kept for a long time out of the fridge. There are also some vegetables that grow only in this area and can’t be found anywhere else.

Father (Grandfather):

I should mention that I ate some kinds of fruit a couple of times that made me sick and once I was about to die. It was because of eating a poisonous fruit. But a villager saved my life.

TIME CODE: 50:00_55:00

Grandfather:

Sometimes I hunted animals, certainly not big animals but some small birds.

I would prepare a net to catch them by pouring some seeds on it and hunted them whenever they sit on it to eat the seeds. I had to do whatever I could to be successful. It was hard to find water and food in the desert. There was enough food and water in agricultural areas; one of which was Nigeria. It was a beautiful country, full of fruit trees and rivers. It was the only place I could catch fish. You should be patient when you want to catch fish because fish are very alert and go away whenever they hear any voices. The result of being patient was delicious, especially when I was eating roast fish.

I passed through many forests and crossed many rivers. One day it was raining heavily so I couldn’t continue my journey. Some rivers were also flooding.

“And we have made from water every living thing.”

Narration:

Life without water isn’t imaginable. And it is with rain that God’s blessings come down to the thirsty earth. Animals traverse long distances to reach rivers. They may be killed by the rivers by hunters or hungry crocodiles.

Father (Grandfather) :

Once I was walking in a forest when I reached a river. I looked at the river through which I had to pass. The bridge on it was ruined and I saw a man by the river. His wife and child were sitting on the other side of the river. I could tell that the child was ill and his father had brought him some medicine but he couldn’t pass the river as the bridge was ruined and he was waiting on the other side.

Grandpa:

Hello there, how are you?

Man:

I’m fine, thanks.

Grandpa:

Why are you sitting here?

Man:

They told me my son is ill. I have brought some medicine for him. The river has flooded and the bridge ruined. I don’t know what to do.

Grandpa :

Can’t you pass the river?

Man:

It is very dangerous. The water flow is very fast and there are lots of crocodiles in the river.

Grandpa :

Isn’t there any other bridges nearby?

Man:

No, there isn’t.

Grandpa :

So how do you want to deliver the medicine to your son?

Man:

I have to go to the other side of the river but I don’t know how.

Grandpa :

Aren’t you frightened?

Man:

No, I’m not. My son is in pain.

And there is no other way. When you see your child suffering, you are ready to do anything for him.

TIME CODE: 55:00_01:00:00

Grandpa :

I sat by the river and took a look around. I looked at the depth of the river. I found out that the current of the river is not very speedy but it was not very easy to pass through it. It was then I saw the tree-trunks. The trees had been cut into pieces as a result of the river flood. Suddenly it occurred to me to make a raft, one that he could use to cross the river.

What is your idea about making a raft? I can help you cross the river and go to the other side.

Man :

Such a good idea!

Grandpa:

We managed to gather the tree-trunks. Thank God that he had a knife with him to cut the extra branches. We needed a rope to tie the trunks together.

The man told me that he had not had any ropes or even pieces of cloth. We had nothing but my Ihram clothes.

How can we tie the trunks together?

Grandpa:

I had kept the Ihram clothes until then and protected them like my own life.

I even lost them a couple of times and God helped me find them. To tell you the truth, I didn’t like to tear them at all. In addition, I was afraid not to be able to buy the Ihram clothes again. But we had nothing else. I tried not to even think about it but whenever I turned my head I saw them again. I opened the pack in which my clothes were. I took a look at them. Many thoughts crossed my mind at that moment. I felt that it was the devil tring to dissuade me from tearing those clothes. Then I told myself that whoever made it easy for me to get the clothes will pave the way for me to get another one. I didn’t doubt it even for a moment. I felt I was being free from the worldly affairs and I was throwing the last one of them away, the thing that I was attached to.

Man:

Thank you for what you have done for me. You helped me to get to the other side of the river. You can go now. May God protect you!

Narration:

Ahmad gave away the last thing that connected him to this world on the riverside. He found out that the Hajj pilgrimage begins with giving away the worldly properties and ends in partaking in divine practices.

Ahmad:

I experienced many new things during my travel. Facing problems and overcoming them had become a routine for me. It was easier for me as I relied on God.

I passed villages and cities one after another. I passed through lots of tribes and spent lots of time with them.

Many people of those tribes helped me a lot. They were very kind and hospitable.

I used to work for them to earn some money, the money that I needed for my travel.

Narration :

Africa is a land with many fields and natural forestsin which various animals live in and as new technology, the killer of nature and animals, has not been yet used in this continent widely, there are still lots of vast spaces for animals. We, human beings, are strange creatures. We destroy animals with our own hands or go to the zoo to watch them while we feel sorry for them as we see them in cages, or enjoy watching them on TV. Some of us who are rich may travel thousands of kilometers to jungles to see them from near.

Ahmad saw and passed bymany different animals during his journey and if they frightened him he would ask God to keep him safe from their harm.

“Whatever in the heavens and on the earth declares the glory of Allah.”

TIME CODE: 01:00:00_01:05:00

Ahmad:

One day on my way to a very big city I joined a business convoy. People of that convoy were riding horses and camels as I accompanied them on foot. I was going forward with them. It was after sunset and before the complete darkness when all of a sudden two highwaymen appeared in front of us. They were strong and had powerful physiques. We feared to death as soon as we saw them. They pointed their guns at us and asked us to lie down and give them whatever we had. Then they came on to our goods.

-Freeze!

- Sit down!

- Hush!

- Sit down!

- Quiet!

I had nothing but some water and I was not worried to lose it at all because it was very little. They began to laugh at me when they were searching my things and made fun of me, because I had nothing worthy with me.

Highwayman:

You have nothing worthy for us! It seems you are poorer than us.

Ahmad:

I just feed on Halal money and my own income. I don’t care.

Grandpa:

The highwayman looked at me. I could see anger in his face. He then hit my back with his stick. I was frightened to death.

Highwayman:

What do you want me to do with you? Something that can make you forget the way you talk.

Hashem:

Don’t be violent. Take whatever you want and go away, but don’t hurt us. This righteous servant of God is not with us. He is poor. Let him pick up his things.

Grandpa:

The head of the convoy approached me, took out a bag of money and put it in my clothes. I looked at him. He was sweating. I picked up my things and went off very quickly. I went until I felt I was far enough from them. I sat under a tree to take a rest. It was then when I opened my pack and noticed the bag of money that Hashim had put in my clothes. I opened it and realized that it was full of money. I got very happy when I saw the money. I don’t know how Hashim had trusted me to give that huge amount of money. I asked for the help of God against the devil’s temptation. You don’t know what kind of thoughts may come to your mind in such situation. And how much one should be strong to be able to face the temptation of the devil.

I always pray and ask God to test me, because it is hard to be tested. I am the one who has spent some years of his life walking to reach the House of God. . Such temptation can’t overcome me.

I let go of everything and stood to say my prayers and asked God to help me pass this hard test with success.

I waited for them for several hours, until I saw Hashim and his companions who were coming towards me. They had no goods or animals with them. Hashim was coming ahead and others were following him. I called them when they got closer. Hashim smiled and hugged me as soon as he saw me. I gave him back the money. He didn’t count it. He was staring at me.

Hashem:

You could have run off with the money. Why didn’t you go?

Grandpa:

Where to go? I couldn’t find any place far from God’s commands.

Hashem:

Good for you! You are a true believer.

Grandpa :

Thank you.

Hashem:

Trustworthiness is an attribute of the righteous servants of God. I ask you to accept the money. Although I know that I can’t value your act with money. I don’t need it. Where are you heading for?

Grandpa :

I’m going to our main prayer destination, the Kaaba. I want to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.

Grandpa:

On the moment of farewell Hashim gave me some of the money.

TIME CODE : 01:05:00_01:10:00

Grandpa:

I don’t want to accept the money while I have done nothing to earn it. Thanks a lot!

HASHEM- I give you the money for what you have done for me. I will be offended if you don’t accept it.

Narration:

Africa is also famous for its ritual and cultural diversity. Whoever visits the continent from the north to the south will find out that each area has its own rituals and customs. That said, there are also some multicultural communities like Zanzibar with a culture made up of Arabic, Iranian and African cultures.

The immigration of a group of Iranians from Shiraz to Tanzania and East Africa can be considered as one of the main organized migrations of Muslims to those regions. They still live on islands and shores from the south of Somalia to the north of Comoros Islands. Their immigration has played an important role in spreading Islam in East Africa, especially in the coastal areas. Since then, Islam has been spreading there and many mosques have been built in coastal cities, Zanzibar Island, Kenya and other countries. Nowadays the majority of people in these areas are Muslims.

Iranian and Arab Muslims emigrated to the eastern coasts of Africa more than 500 years ago. They have been active in business and politics as well as in spreading Islam among the residents of Kenya, Tanzania Uganda and other regions. Ibn Battuta, a famous Moroccan tourist has described in his travelogue, the Islamic atmosphere of the Islands and the surrounding coastal areas as he traveled to the eastern parts of Africa. He has also written about the large numbers of Islamic schools and mosques there. Although the Portuguese invaded East Africa and killed many Muslims and destroyed many mosques and Islamic schools, and limited the activities of Islamic missionaries, they were not successful in preventing Islam from spreading. After the Portuguese were expelled from East Africa in 1698, a new era of Islam began in the region.

Since the rein of Sultan Al-Said, the Omani Kings have had an important role in spreading Islam in East Africa and the remote regions of the coastal areas by sending Islamic missionaries and patronizing them.

Ahmad:

Hashim urged me to accept the money. I said goodbye to him and continued my way towards my destination. I bought some new Ihram clothing in the new city and continued my journey to the port. Then I remembered how worried I was for the Ihram clothing. Those I tore to help the man and how God the Almighty made it possible for me to buy new Ihram clothes. I am always grateful for the special grace God had for me.

Father (Grandfather) :

I will never forget the particular period of my lifetime since I bought the Ihram clothing from Khartoum until I arrived at the port. I felt like a runner who was approaching the finishing line and running faster to cross it sooner than others.

Ahmad (Grandfather) :

I walked the remaining distance with indescribable joy. I felt like I was not stepping on the ground but flying in the sky as I was passing by the villages one after another. I usually spent my nights praying and worshipping God and asked Him to give me more insight before reaching the Kaaba.

TIME CODE: 01:15:00_01:20:00

Ahmad ( Grandpa) :

The promised day had come. I felt the humidity was growing; I took a look around and saw the sea. When I saw the sea I felt that the Almighty God has granted me all the wealth of the world. I began to walk more quickly and even ran for a while until I arrived at Sudan’s port. I crossed the streets and went to the dock. On my way I saw some Hajj pilgrims who were going towards the port wearing their Ihram clothing. I found out that it was going to be the month of the Hajj and all the pilgrims were making themselves ready to arrive in Mecca. I went toward the port to buy the ticket to get on the ship. I stood in the line. It was my turn to buy the ticket. I looked at my money. It was not enough to buy the ticket. I felt like somebody poured some cold water on me. I was freezing. I made up my mind and left the place. The money I had was not enough to buy the ticket so I decided to find a job to earn some more money to afford buying a ticket.

Narration:

There was only sea between Ahmad and the Kaaba. The Kaaba was not far away but still very hard to reach. He couldn’t go on foot and had to buy a ticket to cross the sea. He was getting more excited day by day because he was about to arrive at his final destination after a long journey.

Ahmad (Grandpa) :

I decided to go to the city to find a job. So I went towards the port’s entrance. I finally realized that some passengers were getting off a vehicle. They were the Hajj pilgrims and were getting off far from the port. They had to walk a long way to the ship. I thought it might be hard for some of them to walk as they had lots of things with them.

Ahmad (Grandpa) :

There were some porters but not enough for all the passengers. I put my pack aside and went to a family who had put down their loads and were waiting for someone to carry them.

Grandpa:

Do you want me to carry your things?

“Yes”, they answered.

I put their things on my shoulder and we all went to the ship. I did it for some time that day and had to go a long way to carry the things for a couple of times. I decided to run the way to the port so I could gather a good amount of money. At sunset there were no passengers because the ship had departed for Jeddah. I sat near my pack and began to count the money I had earned that day. Meanwhile, I saw a group of people gathered around me. I looked up and saw two groups of people. There were two groups of porters who had surrounded me. I could see anger and rage in their faces. I felt like I had done something wrong.

Porter:

Do you think you are smart?

Grandpa:

I thought that was the way it was and everybody could do whatever he wanted.

Prandpa:

It was then I found out about the truth. Khalid hit me as soon as I wanted to begin talking. I fell on the ground and felt I was losing my consciousness. I was lying on the ground when the porters around me began to hit me until I heard someone shouted and asked them to stop. They stopped hitting me when they heard the voice. An old man came forward. He was the head of the porters. He came up to me and helped me get up. I was about to burst into tears at the time, not because I was beaten but because of what I had done to them, which was against my promise I had made to the Almighty God. I felt like I had wasted all my efforts to gain his satisfaction while I had grabbed their money.

TIME CODE: 01:20:00_01:25:00

Old Man:

Why did you do such a thing?

Grandpa:

I’m sorry. I don’t know why I did so. Wait a minute. I want to tell you something.

Old Man:

Let them go. Don’t look for trouble.

Grandpa:

I’m not looking for trouble. Tell them to wait for just a minute. This is all the money I have earned. Please take it and share among them.

I gave all the money to Khalid and asked him to forgive me. Then, I hugged them all and asked for their forgiveness. The last one was Abdulsamad. I kissed him. My clothes were ripped off and dirty as the result of what they had done to me. I went to the sea to wash my face. I cleaned my clothes and was about to cry. Then I remembered the story of Moses who was tempted by the devil to kill someone and repent then. I sat by the sea and asked the Almighty God to forgive me. As I was crying I understood that I had been doing wrong. I was going to the Hajj pilgrimage while the satisfaction of God and his servants is much more important than the Hajj pilgrimage. I was the reason they were deprived of their own rights as I wanted to go to the Hajj pilgrimage. I was thinking deeply when they surrounded me again. I was so ashamed that I couldn’t even look at them. Abdulsamad came to me and held my hand. He then put the money in my hand and asked: “Why did you do that?”

“I am going to the Hajj pilgrimage and I don’t want to cause any trouble for them.” I answered.

He hugged and kissed me and the others came towards me. Khalid was the first one. I thought to myself that how nice they were to me although I had caused trouble for them.

Men:

Pray for us in Mecca.

I bought a ticket the day after and got on the ship. The ship was floating on the waves to bring me to the shores of hope. All those on the ship were singing, “Praise be to You Allah”.

Narration:

Ahmad overcame all the obstacles on his way to the hajj and the Almighty God taught him lessons before visiting His House. He is now on board the ship that is heading for a land the House of God is located in. Ahmad and his companions are impatient to arrive in the land of faith and revelation. They are getting closer and closer. They are humming to themselves what they have to say in the Hajj ceremony. The waves hitting the vessel are the bringers of God’s message, “I am more eager to see you my servants. Come!”

The events of this journey were just part of the divine test. Ahmad should have known that in pursuit of God, one should search for the sublime morality and have the content of God’s servants, and honor their rights. Ahmad was already honored with the title of Hajji before doing the Hajj rituals because his heart was going around the Kaaba repeating “Praise be to You Allah”.

TIME CODE : 01:25:00_01:30:00

Ahmad (Grandpa) :

As I was getting closer to Jeddah, the land of inspiration, I was more convinced that those moments were not going to be repeated in the rest of my life. Sometimes we sang together, “Praise be to You Allah”.

Our hearts were filled with the love for God. I felt like my heart was going to stop beating. I couldn’t believe that after about four years of hard traveling and passing lots of countries, cities and villages I was on a ship that was heading for the holy land of Mecca.

Narration:

This holy land has its own ceremonies. Here, the pilgrims are in the presence of God. This land is somehow mysterious as it makes the pilgrims to start a new life after the Hajj pilgrimage. The first thing for them to do is to get rid of all worldly attachments. They have to wear the Ihram clothing as the clothing of piety and virtue.

When a pilgrim wears the Ihram clothing and goes toward the House of God, he remembers his past and ashamed of all his sins and wrongdoings he bends his head. As he continues his way towards the Kaaba he raises his head slowly. The more he raises his head the more he finds out about his insignificance. The walls of the Kaaba are covered with black cloth but still glows. The pilgrims circle round the Kaaba seven times. They should begin from the corner of the Black Stone and pass by the Stone of Ismail, the Corner of Syria and the Corner of Yemen. They shouldn’t forget the Meezab-i Rahmat or the golden rainwater spout, Mostajar or the wall of Yemeni Corner and Hatim. The pilgrims say their prayers behind the Station of Ibrahim. Then they go to Safa and Marva. They have to walk 7 times between them in remembrance of Hagar’s efforts. Then they shave their heads and take off their Ihram clothing. You can see the history of Islam around the Kaaba. Beside the Sacred Mosque there is a small building that is a library today. The Prophet Muhammad was born in this place. It is the only place preserved from Takfiri’s attacks. This building is a reminder of the Prophet Muhammad’s childhood. The tomb of Ali-ibn-Abitaleb reminds us of those who stood by the Prophet of God when he started his mission to invite people to Islam.

Lady Khadijeh and Abutalib along with other companions of the Prophet are buried there. This is the place where the allegiance to the Prophet is renewed. In a place not very far from Medina, we can see a group of people who endure all the hardships to be reminded of the hardships the Prophet of Islam went through. They do their best to reach the place of revelation. People, young and old, go the same way to reach the pick of the mountain. The Prophet used to walk the long road to reach here to be alone and worship God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, until he received the first verse of the Holy Quran, “Read, In the name of your Lord Who creates.”

Lady Khadijah once said, “At that night the Prophet was trembling because of the burden of the mission he had been obliged to carry.” Yes, this is the Cave of Hira which overlooks Mecca, a place where the Prophet used to be alone. Many people from different generations and races stand side by side to prove that racism has no place in Islam. The Prophet’s first muezzin or the reciter of adhan was, Bilal a black man with a harsh voice and the lowest social status as a freed slave. The Prophet wanted to tell others that “For Allah, the most honorable of the people is the most righteous.”

TIME CODE : 01:30:00_01:34:39

Arafat is a mysterious land, a land of meditation and thinking, a land where one should know himself before knowing his Lord. It is a place where one should know himself to understand the reason of his creation by the Almighty God. He should find out if he is the representative of God on the earth. When one stands on the pick of that small mountain and watches the white tents under which thousands of people are praying during the day of Arafah, he feels closer to God. God is always with us, but on Arafah one understands this fact heart and soul. One can feel God nearby on the day of Arafah. People stay the night in the plain of Arafat and get ready for the next day when they are going to be born again. The Hajjis go from Arafat to Mozdalifah and then to Mana, the last place to stay. With stoning of the Devil sacrificing sheep and shaving the head, the hajj rituals come to an end. Now the hajjis’ feelings change and they love God as if they have been close to him for a long time when they say and repeat, “Praise be to You Allah”.

Yousef:

Grandpa, the story of your journey was very interesting. I am so happy about your feelings towards the Hajj pilgrimage. Do you want me to bring anything for you?

Grandpa? Grandpa? Grandpa? Grandpa?

Mum, mum, mum, mum, grandpa!

Daddy, daddy, daddy!

   

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