Labbaika la shareeka laka labbaik. Innal hamda wal ni’matha laka wal mulk, laa shareeka lak.

This is the chant that all pilgrims going for hajj, going to visit God’s house in Mecca, make.

It means: Here I am, O Allah, at Your service; here I am at Your service. Here I am at Your service. You have no partner. All praise, all favours and all power are Yours alone. You have no partner.

I read somewhere that when Abraham (peace be upon him) and Ishmael (peace be upon him) were raising the foundations of the Kaaba,  Abraham wondered who would ever come to the middle of this barren valley to visit this house of God. Then all the souls that would ever make the Hajj cried out Labaik allahuma labaik! And mine must have been one of them!

Oh, I’ve waited ten years to go!

When my hubby left years ago with his mother and aunts to go for Hajj, my tears at the airport were not just because I would miss him, but because I so much wanted to go too, and now, finally, it’s my turn. I’ve been ‘invited’, for they say that you can’t go for hajj till God himself calls you.

To say I’m excited is an understatement!

My bags are almost packed–just have to put the last few essentials in there–like clothes–and I’ll be set for my trip of a lifetime.

I’ve got my list of people I’m going to pray for, and my list of duas, little prayers to make at crucial spots in the Hajj.

And yet I’ve had some good news on the professional front too.

And it will be weird leaving behind all thoughts of writing and publishing! In fact even as I was making my preparations, thoughts of what to do with the sequel and what to do with the animated series and the picture book popped unbidden into my mind.

I just pushed them aside thinking I’ll deal with all of that when I return, insha Allah, God willing.

And it’s sad that I’ll miss this big milestone. I mean getting reviewed in the New York Times is nothing to sneeze at, and yet I’ll be in Mecca when it comes out.

Please check the New York Times review column on Nov. 7th. I’ve heard that there’ll be a VERY nice surprise regarding one of my books in that issue.

But I won’t be thinking about that! I’ll just be focusing on performing this Hajj as best as I possibly can.

Again, if I’ve hurt anyone or offended anyone who may be reading this, please please please find it in your heart to forgive me!

I’ll be returning, God willing on Nov. 25th.

I hope to take notes, keep a kind of journal while there, and I’ll fill you all in as much as I can, when I get back.

But until Nov. 25th, peace out and good will to all!