Monthly Archives: April 2012

Day 20 – Ascension

“These rocks have bore witness to the beginning of revelation and to the opening of something superbly magnificent.”

11/10/11

This entry is being written from inside the Cave of Hira. SubhanAllah, it’s a zoo, even up here. This is no place of retreat. I found a little nook in some shade right above the cave’s passageway, still inside, but above everyone. There’s such a nice, cool breeze blowing. It’s like 20 degrees cooler in here, even at 12:30pm, it’s comfortable. It’s got to be at least 90 degrees outside otherwise. My feet touched the mountain at 10:50am. It took an hour to reach the top, so many people, still so much trash. We have left nothing sacred. Everyone going up was either Desi, Afghan, Turkish, or Russian – lots of those mountain folk. There’s also no rocks left inside the cave. I thought I’d be slick and grab a few to give to people, pieces of the cave of Hira. I found a few in the entranceway, those will suffice, people jacked the rest.

I could totally chill up here for hours, especially since I’m out of the way. I can see how the Prophet would meditate here. If there were no one around, this place would be truly serene.

The view is sick too, you can see all around in every direction. You can’t really see the Ka’aba, but you can see the Haram, especially the minaret and towers. If there was less clutter, and smog, you could probably see better.

Mecca in the Distance

Who knows which part of the cave he would actually sit in, where he would face, where his blessed hands had touched. For once though, I’ve finally come to a place preserved from the Prophet’s life. These are original walls, these rocks have bore witness to the beginning of revelation and to the opening of something superbly magnificent.

This place has become a full-blown tourist spot though. You think, ok, I’m going to climb a mountain, this is going to be somewhat spiritual and enlightening. Instead, along the way, there are jammed routes of people, tea and juice stands, beggars, and chinese tasbih and kufi salesmen. Everyone and their mom is on their cell phone, climbing up. Seriously?

Winding Climbers

You know I even had a dude standing next to me at the Ka’aba, with his hand on the wall, during tawaf, calling someone! He was Desi and spoke in Urdu, so I understood. He was like, “Ah, yeah, ok, I’m here at the Ka’aba, any du’a you want me to make??” I’m like dude…smh.

Ok, I’ve been here for about half an hour, it’s still every bit as crazy. I’m going to pray Dhuhr on top of the mountain iA, that’ll be dope. Maybe, I’ll drop by the Haram afterwards iA.

The cave has graffiti all over. The mountain itself is completely defaced. Graffiti everywhere, people tagging their names, garbage all over the sides of the slopes.

Filthy Irony

The cave itself is just a passageway that goes through a covered area in a series of stacked boulders, to the Southern face of the mountain top. I think I’m actually technically on top of the cave of Hira, but it’s still covered by a canopy. I’m gonna just peek my head into the cave in a few minutes, then head back iA.

There’s no pollution up here at least, finally some clean air – just sand and dust. The cave itself is littered with empty water bottles and crushed juice boxes, subhanAllah. I still can’t get over that. People push, shove and fight each other to get up the mountain and into the cave but they don’t even give these places basic respect and dignity. Allah save us. Guide our hearts. Help me to benefit from my journey to this place and to these Holy Lands. Ameen.

Photogs Chillin

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Close to 2pm. I’m still on top of the mountain, away from the crowd finally, sitting out front, near the edge of the mountaintop. There is sakina finally. I didn’t actually step foot in the proper cave area – not really concerned actually. It’s all about the retreat and I’ve found that. Takes some time for it to settle in, but it’s here. I just prayed Dhuhr on top of Jabal An-Nur, right on top of Hira, subhanAllah. Everything around looks so small and more calm, finally. You can still hear some car horns, smh. Other than that, Mecca and its surrounding towns are put into perspective. The mountains are so much more prominent in the landscape now. The entire area is covered with mountain ranges – great big enormous fixtures. No wonder Allah makes reference to mountains so much in the Qur’an – they’re very much a part of everyday life here, for the ancients at least.

Praying on the Edge

There’s so much peace in climbing to the top of the mountain, facing the Qibla, and making salah. There’s a hadith about the excellence of this act at a time when the world will be so chaotic, such a retreat would better benefit man. Totally get it. Time to go iA, 2:05pm.

       The cave of Hira is located at the top of Jab Al-Nur, The Enlightened Mountain. It is located a few miles outside of downtown Mecca. Before receiving revelation, it was the habit of the Prophet, peace be upon him, to retreat to this cave for long periods of time. He would prepare food and supplies for many days and go to the cave to meditate and ponder on the nature of this life and our existence in this world.

       It was in this cave, at age 40, that the Prophet first received revelation. The Angel Jibril entered the cave and spoke to the Prophet, startling him, commanding him to “Read!” The Prophet, who was illiterate, responded to this mysterious voice that he was unable to read. The Angel squeezed him, nearly to the point of death, and released him, commanding again, “Read!” The Prophet again said he was not able to read, and was squeezed by the angel. After a third time, the Angel began to recite the beginning of revelation to the Prophet, “Read! In the Name of your Lord! Who created man from a single clot of blood. He taught by the pen, taught men what they did not know”

       This was the beginning of Prophethood, the beginning of revelation, the beginning of a great movement that would change the world forever. It all began in that quiet, humble little cave, at the top of this great mountain, overlooking the Sacred House.

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Day 19 – Brainstorming

“Mess with a man’s money and you’ll see what you’ve gotten yourself into.”

11/9/11

Shah Saab, the tableeqi Santa Claus, showed me how to open a bottle without a bottle opener today. Not drinking in college has left me handicapped in ways. My dad was like, go ask him to help you. I’m like, ”…are you serious? What’s he gonna do, throw a tasbih at it??” Dude did it, opened it on the latch of a door frame. Like a boss.

I implemented the newly discovered technique on my own later, when I cracked open a bottle of non-alcoholic pomegranate malt stuff. It just tasted like fizzly juice, but whatevs.

I was chillin for most of the day today, after I got back from McDonald’s. I was reading this book we got about Mecca’ history & milestones. It was cool, helped me to orient myself better to the larger history, based off what I saw. It confirmed my original theory that all of the original sites for things from the Prophet’s time have been wiped out. Seems like it happened way before the Saudi’s though. The masjid itself covers so much land that used to be the homes of Companions and old landmarks. In fact, what used to be the old city is actually now all encompassed by the Masjid Al-Haram and it’s surrounding courtyard, and they’re still continuing to expand it. In the decision between preservation and adaptation, they clearly chose adaptation. With a vengeance.

My dad’s been really sick since we got back to Aziziah, my mom too. I just have a little cough – I think my immune system’s been able to fend off most illnesses here, Alhamdulillah. Word up for never taking meds and letting your body deal on its own ;). I feel bad for them though. We only have 3 days left in our trip and they’re basically bed ridden now, at least they were all day today. We’ll see how they feel tomorrow, iA they’ll be better.

I wanted to write about a few things I made note of the other day. The first being this littering issue. This is horrible. There’s got to be some solution to this problem. Of course, in these parts of the world, law enforcement is always an issue, so what if a different approach is used? How about a litter eradication initiative – it could even be a program Islamic Relief does and receives funding for. What if people are provided free sanitary disposal kits that can store garbage and be disposed of in specific parts of cities. Wait, they have something similar already for toilet alternatives to prevent open field defecation, human waste kits like the Peepoo bags. They have chemicals inside these biodegradable bags that break down the waste and you can just toss them anywhere when you’re done. So perhaps that could be expanded to accommodate different types of trash? Another approach might be to support the development of improved infrastructure for waste management. You could buy garbage trucks and sell them to areas with waste accumulation issues for example. One of my high school teachers told me about a guy he knew that made his first million that way, sold a few garbage trucks somewhere in South America.

It’s something that needs serious attention, education would be good too. People’s habits would need to change. If there are stories in our Prophetic tradition about how Abu Lahab’s wife would throw her household garbage in the Prophet’s path when she’d see him walking past, and it’s regarded as something vile, then how is it people can litter, inside the Haram, while making tawaf?! Shouldn’t that be a clear sin? Maybe there should be some littering fatwas and some angry khutbahs on that topic throughout the world. Is there a fatwa press release network? That’d be useful. Like a pipeline for new juristic rulings, so everyone gets the memo. While we’re brainstorming some reformations, let’s throw in one of those too.

Alhamdulillah, my feet have gotten alot better. When my shoes were taken in Mina, I had to wear my backup flip-flops, which suck and gave me blisters. I switched up and bought some flip-flops similar to what I had, which saved me! Now I’m back to my New Balance kicks, can’t go wrong there.

Everyone’s been complaining so much these past few days about how much they’re getting ripped off. Especially taxi’s and buses – they’re charging like 10 times more than what they normally would to take people to and from the Haram. I was thinking, it’s interesting, and it makes sense why they would. They’re not going to see this much business for the rest of the year. They have to live off the income they make here for a very long time. It’s so similar to how the economy was for the Quraish, in the time of the Prophet. He was bringing a message which threatened to mess with the Pilgrimage, hence, messing with the money they’d make and live off for the whole year. Mess with a man’s money and you’ll see what you’ve gotten yourself into. For the most part, those opposing the Prophet weren’t against it entirely because of the religious implications, there were huge economic motivators too. Cash rules, nothing’s changed.

Seeing how people would fight to get their money now helps to wrap my mind around the image of the Quraish fighting the Prophet to keep him from stopping their cashflow. It’s a huge blessing from Allah that Hajj was preserved as a tradition in Islam, allowing Mecca to continue to flourish economically. Otherwise, who knows, Mecca could have collapsed. Sure, Saudi’s are paid now, after discovering oil in an industrial age, but even then, most of the people you interact with aren’t Saudi, they’re immigrants. People really do live off of the Pilgrims. The Haram is the economic engine that makes it possible for everyone to generate any income here. This land is blessed by Allah in many more ways than one.

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