In our last installment of this Imancipation Umrah series, we talked about the feeling of fulfillment, and how participating in the Umrah experience can allow our constantly searching souls to feel complete.
The following is adapted from another Umrah journal reflection:
“During Maghrib time there was a woman (who spoke some English) who saw 2 other women praying separately and not in congregation. She began to question them about the reason they weren’t praying in congregation. Since I could speak the language of the other two women, I helped translate. It turns out that these two women are from a city where there is a lack of arrangements for women to pray in the Masjid. Therefore, these women didn’t know how to pray in congregation, had never been taught, and had never done it before. In their language, I provided them with a brief lesson on how to pray in congregation and they were willing to try it for the first time for Isha salah. They seemed so grateful that I had explained the method to them.
The woman who initially inquired about the reason they were praying separately felt that these women were purposefully not praying behind the Imam and so I provided some clarification. They just didn’t know how and had only prayed in their homes in their country. When I explained the misunderstanding to the 2 women, they were appalled at the notion that they would purposefully not pray in congregation. One of them explained “that’s why we spent all this money to come here.”
At that moment, it really hit me. There are literally people here completing Umrah from all walks of life and from all around the world. Some of these individuals may have spent their entire life savings, and some people simply were never taught or are unaware of certain parts of our deen that we regularly take for granted. It made me reflect: So truly, who are the sinners? Those of us who know but still disobey Allah (swt) or those who obey but may simply be unaware? At the same time, obtaining/seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim so it’s important to recognize that we all need to do our part when it comes to being knowledgeable about our deen.
And there’s more. At one point during this whole discussion the first woman told the other two women that they would be kicked out of haram if they were seen praying separately. That same woman had been so friendly and kind to me earlier, and we had engaged in a very positive exchange. So we have to remember, we always have more sides to us than one.”
Taking a look at the journal entry above, as Muslims we can learn the following lessons:
1. Always assume the best of your fellow Muslims and the first step should always be to offer advice with kindness and compassion. Often people simply just don’t know something and if we share the beautiful knowledge of our religion with our fellow brothers and sisters with wisdom and sincerity, we could support them to make transformative changes.
2. Be grateful for the opportunities Allah (swt) has provided you with. If you know how to pray, that’s a blessing in and of itself. Don’t take it for granted, rather, continue to take advantages of opportunities provided by Allah (swt). Join a halaqa, read more, study the Quran-always work towards growth and development because learning and improving in our practice as Muslims never stops.
3. As a community, society, and Ummah we need to work together to ensure that all members (men, women, and children) have access to Islamic education and the ability and space to comfortably worship in the Masjid.
4. Remember: All of us are multi-layered, complex individuals. A Muslim is not “all good” or “all bad.” In some situations, we are shining at our best and in other situations, we fall short by committing sins or by mistreating one another. When we talk about unity within our ummah, let’s start by taking the good with the bad and working hard to overlook each other’s faults and to advise each other towards good.
My dear brothers and sisters, Umrah is definitely about completing significant ritual acts of worship but it also an amazing opportunity to connect with diverse members of our Ummah, to learn more about Muslims from across the world, and to reflect on how we can be the best version of ourselves.