We have a number of friends and family going to hajj this year as well as one of my lovely neighbours, so we have been busy with seeing them off.
I love to listen to friends talking about their hajj preparations and all of their plans and hopes for this journey of a lifetime.
I send them off with a yearning to go with them and with requests for prayers including one that Allah (SWT) invite me back to his sacred house.
One thing I have noticed is that there are often some anxieties around hajj. I remember when I went ten years ago, we got to Heathrow airport only to be told my husbands paperwork was not quite right and we could not fly with our group. What followed was a week at home whilst we waited for his papers to be corrected and me crying my eyes out. I was convinced that Allah (SWT) was angry at me for some reason, that he actually didn't want me to come to his house.
Eventually the problem was resolved and we flew out and spent four weeks in Saudi Arabia and will now wish forever for the opportunity to go back. I have noticed though that others revert to a similar kind of thinking when they have problems with their hajj journey, and boy can you have problems: passports not coming back in time, visa's not being issued, flights not being arranged or caught on time and that's before you even get there. People start to question whether they deserve to go or whether Allah (SWT) is angry at them.
The thing is, they say that the meaning of hajj is sabr (patience). This is both in terms of what it teaches you and what you need lots of. the journey, the people you meet, the challenges you face, the time and effort it takes to get through all of the rituals of hajj require sabr. So does the preparation and journey to the haramain (scared places).
So all of the hurdles and blockades to getting to hajj and completing it, don't mean that Allah (SWT) is angry at you, it means that you are gearing up to learn that lesson about sabr: perserving and relying on Allah (SWT). If you are impatient and used to doing things a certain way or doing everything for yourself, then the lesson will be all the harder to accept.
It is only in accepting that things won't be perfect, that you will be tested, that you will have to let go of trying to control your life and accept and go along with Allah (SWT)'s plan for you that you will start to get the lesson of sabr and trusting in Allah (SWT) and will you really start to understand what hajj means for you.