Joy and gratitude as Indonesian pilgrims embark on this year’s Hajj

Joy and gratitude as Indonesian pilgrims embark on this year’s Hajj
Joy and gratitude as Indonesian pilgrims embark on this year’s Hajj

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JAKARTA: Fulfilling a lifelong dream to perform the Hajj, M. Andra Rachmanda was overcome with emotion the moment he arrived in Madinah at the beginning of June.

Rachmanda is one of 241,000 Indonesians this year performing the pilgrimage that is one of the five pillars of Islam.

“The first time I arrived in Saudi Arabia, I felt a mix of happiness, wonder and humility. The air here feels different, the atmosphere carries a deep spiritual aura,” Rachmanda told Arab News.

“When I finally visited holy sites like Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah and Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi in Madinah, I was so emotional and grateful. When I saw the Kaaba in person for the first time, I was moved, it felt like a dream come true.”

Although the Hajj is expected to start on June 14, pilgrims from Indonesia started to arrive in Saudi Arabia in mid-May, departing earlier to make the most of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fulfill their religious duty.

“I feel very grateful and honored to get this chance to perform Hajj pilgrimage this year. This is a lifelong dream I have been waiting for, and to be able to go on this trip is a tremendous blessing,” Rachmanda said.

He was also grateful for the services and hospitality he has received in the Kingdom.

“The officers in Saudi Arabia are friendly and ready to help. All the facilities are also very good, ensuring our comfort as Hajj pilgrims. This allows me to focus on a peaceful and solemn worship,” he added.

Through his journey, Rachmanda is hoping to deepen his understanding of Islam and strengthen his relations with fellow Muslims from around the world.

“I hope that this spiritual journey will bring a positive change in my life. I want to strengthen my faith and piety in God, and to become a better person when I return home,” he said. “I am praying that this journey will also bring many blessings for my family and closest ones.”

The spiritual journey has so far been deep and reflective for Paramita Mentari Kesuma, who arrived in Makkah on June 3.

She felt very welcome and met many other foreign pilgrims when visiting the mosques, where they exchanged knowledge, food and stories.

“I can meet with like-minded people when I go for i’tikaf or prayers at the mosque, which allows me to truly enjoy a solemn worshiping experience,” Kesuma told Arab News, referring to the practice of spiritual retreat in a mosque.

“One of the many blessings I experienced during this Hajj season is to receive many snacks from the Saudis, such as dates, bread, juices, for the people doing i’tikaf in Masjid Al-Haram … I hope God will return their kindness.”

Like many pilgrims, Kesuma has been documenting her reflections and experiences on social media to share with friends and loved ones, and also for her own keepsake.

She is filled with gratitude, especially after a long wait that was further delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m full of happy emotions for sure … May Allah grant us smoothness and ease in our intention to worship to fulfill His call,” Kesuma said.

“I feel truly grateful and happy to have gotten this opportunity, which we believe is a calling and invitation from God. Everything is thanks to God’s will.

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