On Saturday I drove out to Pearson Airport, to the Canada Customs agents in charge of luggage that comes in later, I guess, and finally got my luggage from my Hajj trip!


I feel like it’s closed the chapter on the whole experience.

One thing I really learned from this…make sure you get a receipt coming in from Canada customs saying that  you’ve got baggage coming in later, or else you could lose your personal exemption.

Each Canadian is allowed about $700 per person in buying gifts and stuff overseas when you’ve been gone a month, and by rights I shouldn’t have had to pay anything, but trying to convince the customs officer of that took some work.

She asked why I hadn’t declared anything coming in later, and I told her quite frankly that when I’d returned to Canada on Nov. 25th, with only my backpack containing my two abayas, one shalwar, two underwears and two pairs of socks, that I had no idea if I’d ever see my lost luggage again, so I didn’t declare it was coming later. 

Apparently that was a mistake.

We got into a discussion about Hajj. Our group leader and another lady who’d lost a piece, was there with me, and the custom’s officer was so interested she said, “Next time take me with you!”

Even now it makes me laugh.

I told her, “Sorry, it’s a Muslim thing.”

And she said how she was open to all kinds of faiths.

It was really cute!

But a little embarrassing when I blurted out that silly incident in Muzdalifa, and right there, in front of that customs agent, the tears started pouring out of my eyes.

I’m still not over the fact that I might have ruined my Hajj in that moment of thoughtlessness. The group leader assured me that it hadn’t nullified it and urged me to ask forgivness. I told him that I already had.

And then the group leader said how there were some people he’d taken for Hajj who’d sworn at him during the process. After witnessing that meeting at that hotel in Medina I’m actually not surprised.

After about an hour’s conversation, and seeing some back and forth emails on our group leader’s blackberry, the custom’s officer was finally convinced that we really were telling the truth and she released our luggage without charging us any duty!

I brought the bags home, searched them thoroughly for any bedbugs that might be hiding in the crevices of the seams, like I’d seen on Dr. Oz, and then unpacked. Despite the fact that there were no bedbugs in our hotel room in Medina and despite the fact that everything had been sent to the laundry in Medina and was clean, I washed everything in my suitcase, inspecting each article of clothing thoroughly for any apple-seed-size stowaways!

One thing surprised me.

On impulse I had bought these two little stuffed camels at Uhud. This kid was selling them and when you touched them the camel’s red beaded eyes lit up and an annoying little song played. At the time of course I didn’t think it was annoying but after a while, like most musical toys, it quickly became annoying.

When I had packed the large suitcase the camels often went off, and you could hear the annoying little song from inside. And yet when I brought the large suitcase into the house, not a peep!

I thought maybe the batteries had died or something, but when I finally opened the suitcase I saw six little batteries strewn in the midst and I didn’t know where they came from till I opened up the camels’ interiors.

Someone had opened my suitcase and taken the batteries out!

I got over the feeling of being violated when I put the batteries back in and the annoying song played! No wonder they’d gone in and disabled them!

This afternoon I had to call up a scholar about an issue of Islamic jurisprudence in the sequel for Wanting Mor that I’m writing, and while I was on the phone with him I told him what I did at Muzdalifa and asked him how I could make up for it.

He too urged me to ask forgiveness and he also said I should feed some poor people. I asked him if I should do a sacrifice of a sheep in Somalia (where the meat would be fed to the poor) and he said, no, that wasn’t necessary, but to give $10 each to a bunch of poor people and that would cover it.

I’ve been fasting the last five days. It’s helped me get back into a good routine writing wise but it’s played havoc with my dieting.

Then while speaking to one of my daughters, she told me that it had been the tenth of Muharram on Thursday and asked if I’d fasted.

I’ve been fasting since about Wednesday, trying to make up as many of my missed Ramadan fasts as I can while the days are so short.

Apparently the story goes that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) noticed the Jews of Medina fasting on the tenth of Muharram and he asked them why. They told him that it was the day that Moses (peace be upon him) had gotten victory over Pharoah (I think). She can correct me if I’m wrong.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) told the Jews that we had more right to Moses (peace be upon him) than they did, and ordered the Muslims to fast on this day too. But in order to differentiate ourselves we must fast either the day before or the day after as well. Well I was fasting both the day before and the day after, but I wish I had realized the significance of those days. They completely slipped my mind.

Apparently if you fast those days then all your previous year’s sins are forgiven. (Including my gaff at Muzdalifa, I hope!!!!)

And yet, actions are rewarded according to intentions and at the time my intention was not to fast for the 10th of Muharram, but just to make up for those missed in Ramadan. But I think I covered myself.

I prayed to God to make my intention retroactive, and give me the reward for fasting it anyway!

I’ll also give that charity, just to make sure I’m covered.

This Friday I plan to invite the kids and their families over for a pizza party.

Yup, a ‘Christmas eve’ pizza party where they’ll open the presents I brought them from Hajj.