Day 3 – Mecca

We seek to retreat to a place the Prophet used to retreat from. That’s how crazy our lives are? Or are we just not doing it right?”

10/24/11

It’s about submission. Tawaf is completely about submitting yourself to the Almighty & finding peace & bliss in that submission. Give yourself up to it & just go with the flow. Like a drop in the ocean, with the waves being controlled by The One.

We finally arrived at Mecca. Still haven’t gotten off the bus though, it’s about 11:30pm. We first went to a Pilgrim Welcome Area – where we were given boxes of crackers & Zam Zam water & free CD’s – “Hajj gifts” for pilgrims. Alhamdulillah, it’s cool I guess, we’re all fienin for some real food though & it looks like it’ll be a while before we’ll be getting any.

We then went to the receiving office for “Pilgrims of Turkey, Europe, America, & Australia”. Maktab (office) #39, whatever that means.We’re sitting in the bus still, some kids came on & handed out more boxes of crackers & water, haha. They also handed each of us elastic wristbands with our maktab number handwritten along with some other Arabic writing. I think we’ll get to go to the hotel soon iA.

The landscape around Mecca has been interesting. It’s all desert & mountains. Everything looks so unnatural in its appearance – the buildings I mean – the architecture, crazy lighting, grandiose scale. I’ve never been to Vegas, but I can totally see this being like Vegas. All this flashy development in the middle of nowhere. It’s kind of sad, but that’s human nature I suppose. Even a mile away from the Haram, people feel the need for worldly distractions & attractions – carnivals, restaurants with jungle themes, things made to look like they belong in other parts of the world. A place like this should focus on the attraction it has, rather than bring into it things it doesn’t have. That’s the real way to honor the Haram – preserve it, keep it as a place of worship.

The clock tower is enormous. I saw it from at least 10 miles out. Driving up to it feels just like approaching the Empire State Building. The “downtown” area, where the Haram is, is poppin. very alive & grand. Just driving through briefly has been cool. It’s just past midnight & we’re pulling up to our hotel now. Khair iA, let’s see what happens next.

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Chillin in the hotel lobby. Holding this cell phone my parents bought, with a TV blaring behind me & a guy on his iMac in front of me & I’m wondering how much of a retreat this will really be. It’s funny though, that we seek to retreat to a place the Prophet used to retreat from. That’s how crazy our lives are? Or are we just not doing it right? One thing came to mind, from Tariq Ramadan’s book, “In the Footsteps of the Prophet”, his emphasis on how connecting with Nature is critical in the advancement of Faith. We don’t need to retreat to a city, we have nature around us where we live – the Prophet used to retreat outside of the city. I’d like to start doing the same. Maybe one weekend a month, head out into some mountains or woods or something.

I saw signs for Ta’if & it reminded me of the history behind that place during the Year of Sadness. I kind of want to see it. I want to do a tour actually, of significant places from the Seerah (Life of the Prophet).

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Just completed ‘Umrah. It’s 7am, I’m finally getting to bed. I am exhausted – physically, mentally, even emotionally. Tonight was epic. I started writing a journal to capture times like what just transpired. I’m so overwhelmingly tired though that I don’t feel like writing anything – but I also don’t want to risk forgetting anything. I’ll try my best to get it all down before I pass out….zZzZz….

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