Sarah with her girls and husband at a party celebrating their return from Hajj.

Sarah poses with her daughters and husband at a welcome home party after completing her Hajj.

I was happy the day I graduated university, realizing I fulfilled my parents dreams. I was happy when I got married, knowing my partner will always be there for me. I was happy the day I held my daughter for the first time in my arms, wishing her nothing but the best in both worlds. At least I thought I was, until I met him. I did not know him. I did not have to search for him. He was there all along, waiting. I moved forward towards him with all my might. My head hung in shame. And then I said salaam to him. Tears flowed from my eyes. Drip, drip, drip. And then I knew. I had found happiness. True happiness. Happiness which embraced every inch of my body. I sat down on the green carpet. The very same carpet which encompassed him. I was not worthy, yet I was there. I was at Prophet Mohammad’s final resting place, peace and blessing be upon him. I was with my happiness.

My husband and I were blessed with an invitation to the holy lands with the Sacred Hajj team in 2013. It was our first time performing hajj and we left our two daughters behind who were five and three at the time. Everyone told me not to worry and that I will forget my children once I am in the house of Allah. I thought that was the most bizarre thing I have ever heard in my life. What kind of mother forgets her children? Surely I did. For the first time in my life, I was only worried about myself. About the Day of Judgement. I was not a daughter, sister, wife, mother or a friend. I was a servant. A servant of Allah. A servant with many faults. A servant begging for forgiveness and mercy. It is an awful reality but it is who we are. We are selfish and it is in our human nature.

Since our days in Makkah and Medina were limited to three weeks, I knew I had to use my time wisely. Looking back in time, I realize I had made the right decision. The decision to leave my children behind. I felt more connected to Allah and away from worldly matters. In a way, being away from them made me realize even more the special place they hold in my heart. And so, I made dua. Duaas for my family and friends who had requested. Duaas for my children. To always guide them on the right path, to protect them from the evil eye and to save them from hell fire.

Of course, being a mother of two young girls, I had my share of anxieties about leaving them behind. What would I do, if they throw tantrums while I am away? What if they don’t eat properly? What if they get hurt playing in school or, God forbid, if they get sick? What if there is no internet connection and I cannot Skype with them? Last but not least and probably the scariest one of all, what if they forget about me? Is that even possible? And then a friend of mine told me something that till this day I am grateful for. She said, “You’re leaving your children in the hands of Allah. What more can you ask for?” It was true. I had nothing to be scared of. And so we left. Sure they had tantrums, were picky eaters at times, and gave their grandparents few rough days but thankfully it all worked out. Time flew by and before we knew it, three weeks were over and it was time to come home.

We were blessed with amazing group leaders that helped and guided us every step of our way. Our group consisted of many couples like ourselves with young kids. Knowing that they were having the same experiences as us, helped us get through our fears. Sometimes, a group of us would find ourselves sitting in the masjid, unintentionally talking about our kids. It was comforting to be around them. The group members held a special bond. A bond which is still strong till this day.

Sarah is an architect and mother to two girls, ages 8 and 5. She lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and children.


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