So we left on the 24th… snippets of my journey to Hussain AS, Arbaeen 2012/2013
I left in a rush. Trying to finish everything off before we left was such a tight squeeze. I had an essay to complete, packing to do and responsibilities to fulfill towards my family who were lookin forward to having me home. It was possibly one of the craziest weekends ever but the last 2 days of chaos before leaving were all worth it because I was focused on where I was headed.
There would be times when I was packing and I’d sit and wonder as to what it’ll actually be like to be back in Iraq again. I’d get lost in my own thoughts because of the fact that this journey that I had been looking forward to soo much was finally going to commence. Then I’d think to myself whether we’d actually get there.. Anything could have happened on the way. Sitting down typing this all up now that I’ve been and returned is really really weird.
But yes, Monday 24th January we boarded our flight. Then I figured I would only come to terms with it when I was closer. Our overall journey time to Najaf was ages (maybe like 20 hours or something) so it still felt far away.
On landing in Baghdad we prayed salaah as a group and it started to feel like we were on a journey together. Seeing so many lovers of the Ahululbayt from all corners of the world start to congregate for one purpose was a taster of what was yet to come.
We sat on the buses to head to Najaf and I felt an awakening from within. Until this point I was physically and mentally exhausted but it was like someone had flicked a switch inside. I had my phone and was switching between latmiyyah and lectures in final prep for where I was to be headed. 3 hours until we would be in the land of the Lion of Allah. Quite something.
As we drove into the outskirts of Najaf, we were passing other mosques and shrines, though I knew they weren’t the haram of my Imam it suddenly hit me that we were here. He had called us and we were minutes away from his door. The fact that we were driving on the lands upon which his blessed feet may have fallen was enough to unleash this subconscious build up of emotion. I had missed Najaf, but had not realised to what extent. I felt like I had come home. Before I knew it my hijaab was wet with tears and the view from the window had become a blur. I was home.
We were walking to our hotel. Knowing that on the street on the way it’s possible to catch a glimpse of his dome I wanted to just walk alone and walk to him. Walk and give my salaams, condolences, thanks… I wanted him to know I had missed him and the fact that he has called me after all the events that had taken place in the past year, the fact that everything slotted into place against all the odds. I knew he had invited us. I knew it was meant to be. I knew I was incredibly lucky.
I wanted to walk around the outskirts of his shrine before getting room keys, sorting luggage, eating anything I was restless to see my Imam. I told my brother who’s eyes lit up as he was thinking the same, my parents joined us too. We’d all felt that longing and walking towards him as a family was really beautiful. there were zaawaar sleeping on mats on the floor all around the haram. it was just them imam ali and the clear night sky. A sight I’ll never forget. Their dedication and ziyarah is nothing like ours. the comfort with which we slept and travelled is nothing compared to those who have so much less yet are prepared to give so much more.
We gave our salaams and you could feel the warmth in his welcome. These ears aren’t pure enough to hear a reply yet I will argue with anyone who denies they feel his majesty when in Najaf. A wonderful beginning to what would be a trip that has changed my life.