British Museum blog

Altaf’s Hajj: Preparation

Altaf Abbas and his wife Rashida are going on Hajj this year. They will be blogging about their experience over the next two weeks. For information about the exhibition Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam

Altaf Abbas
We are a married couple, Altaf and Rashida Abbas with three children. We live in Leyton, East London very near the Olympics. We were both born in East London and have been married for 22 years. Both our parents are from Pakistan and came to the UK in search of work in the late 1950s. I work as a Construction Project Manager on the new extension of the British Museum which is currently underway and my wife Rashida works in the local Muslim school. We are going to Hajj on 30 Oct 2011 inshallah (God willing).

We have been planning to go for a number of years but became serious and made the commitment last year after speaking to some friends who had made the journey and described how it was such an amazing feeling. It is also one of the five pillars of Islam, the other four are believing in one god, fasting in Ramadan, paying charity and establishing regular prayer (five times a day). We are travelling on a package deal which includes flights, transfers, hotel and a trained guide.

I thought it was going to be a complicated process, however it was very easy. We just paid our deposit, got our vaccinations and posted our passports to the travel agent to get the visa. Three weeks later we paid the balance and collected our documents, at which point it became a reality that we were on our way.

Altaf buying fabric

Altaf buying fabric

The preparation that I have done is mainly background reading and lots of discussion with family and friends about their personal Hajj experiences to gain any tips about what to expect and things that I will need. The only real item that I needed to buy was the ihram which is the two unstitched white sheets that the men have to wear which signifies the shroud that Muslims are buried in, thus during the 10 days of Hajj everyone is equal.

Rashida Abbas
I have been told that I will need a huge dose of patience! I have watched lots of Hajj videos on YouTube and I am still not sure what to expect, but I think I will be in awe when I see the Ka’ba (black cloth covered building). My preparation has been to train my mind to be strong and be prepared for any hardship or difficult situation due to the huge crowds. Physically I have been walking two miles each day for the last four weeks as we will be walking a lot and I want to be fit and ready for it.

I have so many mixed emotions running through my mind. I’m excited, happy, scared and anxious as I am not sure what to expect on the day. But I do know it will be a spiritually uplifting experience.

Filed under: Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam, ,

5 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Having lived in Mecca for about three decades and performed Hajj & ‘Umrah many times I understand the feeling you’re going through. Make the best of it while you’re there – soak in as much as you can. Inn Sha’ Allah (God willing).
    Rahlah Saeedah wa Audah Hameedah.


  2. Natalie says:

    look forward to read more! Thanks for sharing.


  3. Nadeem Malik says:

    MashAllah what a great introduction. The scene is beautifully set now and I’m so looking forward to reading the next chapter of this amazing journey. I pray you and your wife have a safe journey and I am grateful that you’ll be sharing your experience of the ‘once in a lifetime trip’ InshaAllah.


  4. Omar says:

    You guys are so fortunate to have the opportunity to undertake this blessed journey. May God accept your Hajj and prayers!


  5. Sara Abbas says:

    May Allah accept your hajj and please remember to make dua for me :) sara


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These beautiful studies drawn from life are by artist Antoine Watteau, born #onthisday in 1684.
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