Eid (Feast) was always special since we were little kids. The prayer, the family gatherings, playing with other kids, my dad’s slaughtering by himself when I was a kid and a lot of memories.
For some reasons, I find it hard to still remember a lot of my childhood. I just remember the main highlights. Yet, I always remember that Eid before 2008 is not like Eid after 2008.
I never had a better Eid than in 2008. And may be this is one of the few reasons, I forgot all my older Eids.
In 2008, I had a serious wake-up call. I consider it one of the best years in life, even though I am sure I wasn’t feeling that way when I was there. In it’s beginning I was gifted to go to Umrah, It was my first time. I was amazed!. I never thought Umrah is like this. I never thought Madinah is like this. Since I came back, my highest wish was to return. I was totally someone else before my first Umrah. And that was in the very beginning of the year, in January.
From January to Summer’s end, It was pretty long. It was my first time to do a lot of stuff. I had a very different life than before, a lot of losses and a lot of gains. I used to live by: “Whoever gives up something for the sake of Allah, Allah will substitute him with something better”. I wish I can apply this now again like I did before. So I used to leave a lot of stuff by plan, and always the substitute was to find new stuff to leave. I experienced almost all feelings in this year, also it was my first time to experience the death of a friend. Maryam died by 25th of September (It was 25th of Ramadan as well).
I remember by the end of this year, I was thinking about things I left for the sake of Allah, and I started to match everything with what I got in return at spot. then 1 thing wasn’t matching with anything after it. It was one of my latest changes, so as I was childish lol, I started to wonder about what the return would be.
It was my last year in highschool. It used to be considered as a very important year, as based on its scores, your field would be. Yet, the dream of going back to Mecca and Almadinah was there, I was wishing for a Umrah. It was mostly unrealistic dream, as I was just there in the beginning of the same year.
Haj was just after a month or two. I started to declare my wish to go. Yet, deep inside I knew it is just a dream. I knew it was quite impossible to take a long break inbetween my classes. Besides, it was kind of impossible to even go. I don’t know how, but suddenly my wish was taken seriously. Everything went magically smooth enough to know I can join Haj just by 2 weeks before it!.
Mostly, I was the happiest person in earth when I started to prepare for my Haj. Can you even believe that?!.
At this moment, I remembered the latest thing I left and couldn’t match a return for. I knew!, this was the return. I considered Haj as the best gift and encouraging reward I had on my changes through 2008!. It’s unbelievable.
Do you remember how much I loved Umrah? HAJ WAS EXTREMELY SOMETHING ELSE!. I was the happiest person over there as well. Once we joined, someone reminded us that whoever is here is considered ‘guest of Arrahman (the most merciful)’. So how would you communicate with his guests?! :).
Haj was very challenging, you want to be perfect in those days. You are a guest!. How a guest should act when he visits someone?..yes as noble as he can be. It was very crowd!. I have never been with as much people as I was there. Some people hated that, yet for me, it impressed me!. I just loved how it was crowd!. Everyone is here!.
We live in tents for a while. I tried to get a picture for it, as for me I never imagined how living in tents would be before that.
Sleeping in same tent with people I don’t know. I had issues before travelling is that I love to sleep in a very dark room and closed doors and if someone turned lights on while sleeping, this would be kind of a disaster. lol. So suddenly, I am not just sleeping while lights are on, also, some people are still awake around and may be talking or eating or whatever. Haj was the best temper tuner I had. I didn’t sleep much there, yet It didn’t bother me at all, which was a good new level.
I knew almost everyone in my own tent. I had the best memories with some of them. My own tent was full of Egyptians, yet neighbor tents got all other nationalities. As a 16-years-old-girl, I was always assigned to prepare tea and stuff a like for grown-ups. To do that, I needed to always go to a place that is common between all tents that got electricity to heat water and these stuff. So I used to walk everywhere and discover every corner in the tent. As kids lover, I couldn’t resist being the best baby sitter in this season lol. I knew a lot of kids, one of my favorite, whom I never forget was Summayah, she was 4 years old from UK.
Also, I experienced the power of the prayer over there. I remember in the middle of Haj, we wanted to go for Tawaf Al-ifada. Me and my best new friend, Miran were really annoyed that we were told that we can’t go as there is no buses to take us over there and that guys don’t want to go as well. And last that it is permissible to do it late with tawaf alwada’. I remember that night, everyone slept. I went to sleep in my tent and same to Miran. We were both disappointed. We are here once!. Why can’t we do some effort to use it all. I couldn’t sleep that night, till I went out at 2 am between the tents to walk around, After experiencing a lot of good stuff at this night between tents. I found Miran coming out too, and we decided to pray and in this prayer, we prayed we would go for tawaf Al-ifada.
Right after that, both of us went to ask them again about Ifada, and someone said: “why don’t we go walking?”. This was the best moment in my life. They all got ready by fajr and we went to tawaf. It was crowd, again, I enjoyed this.
Back to 2 am at that night, I remember another friend who was quite older than me, Iman. When Iman discovered I am awake, she called me in a whisper to join something I would love. It was a small circle of girls between tents, a teacher of Quran was leading the talk. She was from Aswan, Egypt. She was explainning Surat Al-Qasas. One of the best times I heard Prophet Musa’s story was from her.
Between the tents, you would find girls reading Quran, praying, or in circles like our circle. This place was full of tranquility I never experienced but there.
Another thing I remember was Day Arafa. In that day, I was amused. We went to different tents, so I met new people again. Actually, my first time to meet Summayah was in Arafat. Few of my Mina tent’s mates were old women who seemed to not be that spiritual or religious. You would never see them reading Quran in the corner or praying extra. So I was amused in Arafat, that everyone was extremely spiritual that day. I saw them crying. By maghrib before Arafat is over, I saw everyone raising his hands praying, and crying. At that point, I felt touched. Also, I felt there is no hope, others always are faster than me to Allah. This feeling gave me a great push to go and focus on prayers I want as well. It is also one of the feelings that keeps me dreaming to join Haj again. As I knew, I should have invested more in such a day.
We went back to our main tents after that. It was a habit of me and Miran to always smile. We noticed that people out of effort and travelling responsibilities lose their smile. So we had a sign by hand that meant ‘smile’, we used to remind everyone around when they lose their smile.
I remember when it was Eid (the day after Arafat), I asked mum aren’t we going to join Eid’s prayer?. My mum explained that we got no Eid, as we are at Haj. This was a disappointing moment. I wish to pray Eid with everyone at Mecca, lol.
When it was over, we cried. I couldn’t believe I will have to live normally again. I enjoyed the tents experience a lot, lol. Also, I was dramatically changed through just Haj’s days. I felt as a new person. I remember when it was last time to leave Summayah, we had a picture, I had secret prayers of meeting her again. It was sad to go.
When it was time to hug Miran to go, we both cried, then we did our smile symbols to each other :).
After I came back to Alexandria by few weeks, my mobile got stolen and I lost all photos I got with anyone over there. So all the memories were kept in heart, wishing I would meet them again one day here or at least in Heaven.
Did you get why Eid’s memories are not the same anymore?.
When its Eid now, I feel that Eid’s prayer that I was disappointed that I missed, is just a consolation for missing Haj. I still pray for another chance.