• A.S. from ELEVEN

A Journey, Not A Destination

Pilgrimage, or Umrah, is when Muslims whose health and finances permit it must make at least one visit to the holy city of Mecca. I am blessed to have gone for Umrah with my family in 2018. I was naive and did not know how this journey would affect me. To me, it was merely an instruction for me to follow. Something I had to do as a testament of my faith. Admittedly, I did not know if I truly am a believer for I had little knowledge of what Islam is. My initial thought to the news that I could go for Umrah was, “What am I supposed to do there?”. I did not feel like I was ready and I felt alone, seeing how my family seemed to know why they were going there.

I did not know it then,

How much I’ll miss this place.

All good things come to an end,

But this was not the case.

Layers and layers of sand dunes passed me by. I was surprised to see greenery grown on them, considering how warm and dry it was. Then, as though someone knew I was observing the sand dunes, the Ustaz accompanying my Umrah group recalled how the greenery that is seen on the sand dunes is a sign that the Judgement Day is nearing. He recalled that years ago, when he was travelling on the same road, he did not see any greenery on those same sand dunes. Earth’s landscape keeps changing, the world keeps spinning, and I wonder when it will stop. “Am I ready to leave if the Judgement Day is tomorrow?”, I thought to myself. It was a heavy thought indeed because I still did not know why I was on a travelling bus, wearing all white, with my wudhu' intact.

Time is truly a reminder,

Of change, growth and imminence.

It takes a second to ponder,

“Will I be forgiven for my deviance?”

I rested my eyes upon the Kaabah but I could not think of anything meaningful to wish for. I was calm and comforted by the present. Nothing mattered to me at that moment because I was there, at the holy place, Mecca. I could not think of anything to wish for because a wish I never asked for was granted to me at that moment and I felt it. I felt His love. I wished for His love. The immense crowd of fellow believers showed me that I was not alone. We were all practising our faith. We were all trying. He sees us trying. This holy place was where I knew, felt, and was assured that I was seen by Him. I realised that He was always there to witness my flaws and falls. I was trying not to feel as though I was unworthy to be there because it felt too easy for me to travel there. However, the fact that this opportunity and blessing was given to me so easily when I was not consciously praying for it just shows how He will grant me my rizq that has always been meant for me. He knew that I needed it and granted me so when I had not begun to imagine it. Indeed He is All-Loving. He loves me when I do not. He loves me when I do.

Remind yourself to rest easy,

Knowing He is with you,

Holding you so dearly,

Who is so precious like a dew.

This journey allowed me to breathe, knowing I am not searching for a destination but rather the journey itself. It reassured me that I am still a believer because I am trying. I am searching for ways to be better. Knowing that He sees me for who I am and knows what I am feeling. This led me to realise that I am always taken care of. When I left Mecca, I did not feel like I was alone anymore. I knew that my purpose was to keep trying and if I ever felt like I am unworthy and alone, He is with me, through it all.

Be grateful for every blessing,

No matter how big or small.

Know that in every testing,

He is with you, through it all.

Love, Sophea

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