Monday, December 10, 2007

A Hajj Aspirant's Dream Comes True

A Dream Comes True: Siraj Abdul Hameed in his tiny shop

Malegaon: Siraj Abdul Hameed patiently deals with a flurry of potential customers in his Itehaad Cut-Piece Centre, a tiny 10×10 shop specializing in suiting and shirting.

He welcomes visitors adjusting his traditional skullcap. Growing stubble is in sight. "Symbols of Faith" – as he put it – have never been closer to this man of small-means and big ambitions.

"Every day I deal with plenty of customers in my shop but this year Allah has decided to deal with me in His House," he said.

Hameed is part of the last Indian hajj flight leaving Mumbai on Friday, December 14.

Hajj had been on his cards for quite sometime but could not happen because of the "continuous economic crises".

"It was only in July 2007 that my sons convinced me that hajj is not that expensive," recalls Hameed.

"Earlier I used to think that it costs a lot ranging from Rs. 200,000 to 300,000."

He has registered with the Indian Hajj Committee, a government-owned body which subsidizes pilgrims from India.

"It will cost me only Rs. 80,000."

A total of 157,000 Indian Muslims will be performing hajj this year.

"Out of which 110,000 will be going through the Hajj Committee and the remaining 47,000 will go through private tours," said Maulana Hussain Ahmad Milli, who has been conducting hajj training classes for 28 years.

India is home to 160 million Muslims, second largest Muslim population after Indonesia.

Hameed, who stays in a dingy chawl overlooking densely-populated Islampura, a Muslim locality, sees himself as lucky since not all human dreams come true.

"In August 2007, my name did not appear in the first round of Qura Andaazi (random selection) of the Hajj Committee," he recalls.

"Even they returned my first demand draft of Rs. 21,400."

Hameed was disappointed but not defeated. He tried it in the subsequent rounds of Qura Andaazi but could not succeed.

But good things come late. Hameed couldn’t believe himself when his name figured in the final round of the Qura Andaazi.
"I was on cloud nine when I came to know about it," he said cheerfully. "Out of the 178 hajj aspirants, only 55 were selected in the final round and I was one of them."

The good news didn’t end Hameed’s woes because he was asked to deposit the rest of the money within two days.

Hameed had to arrange for marriage ceremony of one of his relatives on November 5.

There was a deliberation in the household whether he should go for the hajj since impending marriage demanded money.

"Economic cyclones keep coming", he said, "but one must learn how to deal with them."
Finally good sense prevailed.

"It all depends upon your intention", he said, "since both marriage and hajj are important in Islam."

"We gave importance to the both. A little saving here, a little thrift there can do the unthinkable," Siraj said.

He intends to quench his spiritual thirst on his forthcoming hajj journey.

"My restless soul can’t wait to see the sacred Ka`bah."

Hameed is desperately counting his days up to December 14.

His desperation grows every moment.

"Have you ever felt like a caged bird waiting to fly?"

1 comment:

goggly said...

I read your blog with great interest. I like your focus and common theme that you espouse. In fact I mentioned this in one of my articles on blog.

There is one aspect of Haj that i need clarification. AsI understand,as per Quaran, Haj has to be performed by one's own means and capabilities( health and wealth). Wont the acceptance of subsidy or help go against the very tenet of this.

Just a curious question.

I shall keep in touch through your blog