LONDON: A British pilgrim has said she feels “very blessed” to be among the 1 million people performing Hajj this year.
Sarah Rana, a management consultant and chartered surveyor, is performing Hajj for the first time and said she feels “special and honored” to be part of the annual gathering.
This year’s Hajj will be the first post-pandemic pilgrimage open to foreign pilgrims, and 1 million people will perform it this year as people across the globe start traveling again.
Around 2.5 million people performed Hajj in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and approximately 1,000 and 60,000 people from within the Kingdom performed it in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
The chartered surveyor said that she started thinking about going to Hajj during the pandemic when she began reading the Qur’an more and learning about the life of the Prophet Muhammad.
Rana told Arab News that she has done “a lot of the emotional processing” and is now concentrating on preparing herself physically for the journey ahead which starts with her flight to the Kingdom on Friday.
“45 degrees is not going to be easy. That's going to be massive. If it goes over 30 degrees, my hands and feet start swelling,” Rana said.
She said that although she walked the London Marathon last year, walking in the heat “is going to be a very different experience. So I’m not not taking it lightly. I’m thinking it through.”
Rana added that her friends and family have been giving her Hajj tips and that she is “quite well prepared.”
“I’ve been buying clothes. I found that the stuff that was more expensive was more uncomfortable. So I’m just going to take my practical stuff,” Rana said.
Muslims believe that supplications that pilgrims make during Hajj, especially on the ninth day of Dhu Al-Hijjah, are definitely accepted.
Rana said she believes that God knows her needs and will give her what is best for her. She will be praying for her kids, that the remainder of her life is a good one and for financial independence.
She said performing Hajj represents a new start for her and will give her closure from any painful experiences in the past.
“As I turn 50 this year, I think it’s closure to a lot of stuff and genuinely about a new start, whatever that new start is. It’s very meaningful.”