We often hear the saying ‘it is not the destination but the journey that matters’. I am a firm believer of this, well, until the umrah Ramadan trip. From then on, I was shown that to HIM, it is not about the journey. It is our final destination which matters to HIM. He made it clear that “My mercy is bigger than your sins”, and no matter what we have done, no matter how wrong we have been, if towards the end we make our most sincere and humble crawl back to HIM and ask for His Mercy and His Forgiveness, Him being Ar Rahim and At-Tawwab would never turn us away. That He promised us and He is the Ultimate Keeper of promises. I saw this manifested like a movie before my eyes in Makkah.
One night in my first week in Makkah, just after my sunnah tawaf, I was looking for a place to do my solat sunnah tawaf. It was not Ramadan yet so it was still quite alright and easy to find an empty spot. I found one behind the multazam (door of the Kaabah) area and quickly set out to do the 2 rakaat prayers. Somehow I couldn’t concentrate because a man was reading al Fatehah loudly and another man was repeating after him line by line. Not only alFatehah, the entire movement of the prayer–the first voice would read loudly, from the first takbir, to rukuk, sujud and till the end of the prayer. The second voice would then follow, line by line. Slowly, with great difficulty, sometimes unsure and with pronunciation which told me that he probably was reading this for the first time.
Curious, I looked for the source of the voices. I turned and they were right behind me. An old man, about in his 70s, in ihram, was standing on the sajadah. He was supposedly making his salah BUT, I realised that he didn’t even know how to read the alFatehah… Next to him, another man from a different nationality, different race and probably in his 30s, was reading each prayer line by line very slowly and patiently while the old man followed while praying. They couldn’t be father and son. I soon realised that the younger man was just another stranger in the crowd who realised that this old man, whatever his story was, was making his journey back to HIM, with zero knowledge on how to do it. And he had stepped up to assist him. Masya Allah.
I watched them throughout and after everything, the younger man told the old man that he had to go, made some prayers for him and walked away. Before that, the old man hugged him and thanked him profusely, tears in his eyes. I took a good look at the old man’s face and memorised it. Being a teacher, although I am bad with names, I remember faces very well. From then on, I always look out for that old man in the crowd. Miraculously, I found him a few times, always in ihram, which means he had gone to make umrah several times and with each passing day, he walked with gusto and the expression of glee on his face. He always had people helping him with his recitations but the last I saw him, he became more and more confident.
I have no idea what happened to him now or where is he right now. Maybe back in his country or has been called back to be with Him. The old man’s story opened my eyes to His promises that if we take one step towards HIM, He will take 10 steps towards us and if we come to HIM walking, He would run to us. That Hadith is figuratively speaking of course but the idea is that, despite all that had gone wrong in our journey, if we make HIM our final destination, He promised not to shun us. And somehow, He had made use of an old man and his young helper to illustrate this to me. Subhanallah.