As Hujjaj are making their way for this year’s Hajj, reflections of previous Hajj experiences cannot be forgotten. In the book ‘Journey of Discovery: A South African Hajj’, Naeem Jeena takes us on a journey back to the meaning of Hajj at a time of social reform in South Africa.
Speaking to Radio Islam, Jeena says the title of the book explains how Hajj is a personal experience for everyone even though Hujjaj are gathered at the same place.
“For us [Jeena & his wife], neither of us had performed Hajj before, the Hajj was really a journey in which we discovered many new things [like] a new relationship with Allah (S.W.T) but also new relationships between ourselves and so it opened up our understanding,” says Jeena.
Reflecting on his Hajj in 1997, he says when they performed Hajj, a fire destroyed most of the tents in Mina but stopped right before the South African tents. “For us, the fire wasn’t the defining experience of the Hajj because we had to evacuate the camps,” says Jeena.
At the time, Hujjaj did not have a system of waiting to get on the Hajj list. Jeena shares that he and his wife decided on a spur of the moment during Eid-ul-Fitr to go on Hajj that same year. “We didn’t have to wait for a turn [and] we didn’t have to find an agent, we literally just made the decision, family and friends helped us with money, we bought a ticket and ended up in Madinah and later Makkah and we walked around and looked for hotels,” he says.
Adding on he says the way the system for Hajj has changed over the years, Hajj has become a set of fixed rituals rather than a personal experience.
Jeena says through the book, he hoped to share experiences with people rather than give them a guide on how to perform Hajj.