Saturday, September 17, 2005

Arguing with Allah: How to go on Hajj -- with a little help from Google

"But...but...but...I CAN'T GO ON HAJJ!" There were so many obstacles. My job, money, my family needed me, fear of the unknown.... I kept arguing with God. "Head scarves give me headaches. Two weeks with a scarf on my head? Headaches!" And I was OLD. You could hear my knees creak when I climbed stairs. And all that bowing on wobbly knees? Out of the question. Like a child who is allowed to state its case before a benevolent parent, one is allowed to argue with Allah. I stated and re-stated my case.

"And why in the world would I want to go to the Middle East?"

And how much would it cost?

If God were to speak to me, what would He say? I bet He would argue right back. "If he or she is able, every Muslim must go on Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime. And no one knows what the future may bring. Look what happened to poor New Orleans. Stop arguing with me and get it over with, Jane!"

So. How does one go about finding out more information about the Hajj? Would Allah advise me to Google? Why not. This is what I found out:

Going on Hajj ISN'T just a round trip to Mecca with a stop-off for a few days in Cairo and/or New York. Hajj is a whole involved process. It involves camping out on a mountainside and walking through tunnels and throwing stones at the devil and circling the Ka'bah -- and sacrificing a sheep! The whole process takes over a week. And how much WOULD it cost?
I checked out, run by a very nice and helpful man who owns a bookstore in Philadelphia. "$3,695," he told me. That's two years' rent! Or, considering the greediness of the bumbling fools in the White House, maybe gas money for a couple of weeks.

King Tut Tours in California at had an interesting economy package for $2,995. That's do-able. Sort of. "But remember," cautioned my friend Bob, "you have to be debt-free to go on Hajj." Gulp. But I called them anyway and talked with a very nice woman named Anna.

At the same time, I found a group in New Jersey at that was also going. I Googled them too. Their price was $2,990. I could save five whole dollars! I debated whether to take Anna's offer -- she DID live in California -- or save the five dollars. Anna got sick and couldn't call me back but the Jersey group had their IMAM call me so I figured they were really trying hard and actually wanted me to go with them. That was a plus.

But. I STILL didn't want to go. It all just seemed like such a BIG PROJECT. I went back to arguing with Allah. "I just can't do this," I said. "I have to stay home and feed the cat!"

Bottom line? I'm going. I tried to weasel out of it but I JUST COULDN'T NOT GO. The presence of three million Pilgrims all praying for peace at one time and in one place was just too much of a temptation for me. Allah must have known that. It was the ultimate carrot. He must have known that I'm a sucker for world peace.

So. Are you also considering going on Hajj? NOW is the time to do it. NOW is the time to make your reservations -- before Allah gets on your case too