Category Archives: Hajj

Day 15 – To My Heart’s Content

“Even if none of my du’as are answered, the blessing of hope is generous enough.”

11/5/11Hajj, Day 2

Arafah At Dawn

From 1pm until Maghrib (5:45pm), I did my best to continuously make du’a. For like, 2 ½ hours, I went non-stop, Alhamdulillah – making sure to stand in the sun for as long as I was making du’a. I walked out of our camp, wandered about a mile away, trying to find a secluded area to make du’a, but didn’t have much luck. I ended up standing on the side of one of the streets, where at least no one from my group would see me, so I could be more engulfed in my supplications without any distractions or judgments. Even then, people were continuously walking past and would stop and try talking to me, I guess seeing me standing there with my eyes closed and hands raised wasn’t enough of a sign. I’m finding it’s surprisingly difficult to find the solitude I’ve been yearning for while here.

There were some nice little interactions though. One guy saw me and gave me a bottle of water. Later, a woman walked up to me, carrying 3 cases of water and juice on her head. She was out of breath, speaking to me in Arabic. I froze, not knowing what she wanted, but luckily another man came and helped her get the cases off of her head. Ahh…oops… :/. She rested for a few minutes, then when she went to put the cases back on her head, I helped her prop them back up. She smiled and said, “Thank you”, in English, and walked off. Another guy walked up and stood like 5 or 6 paces away from me and stared at me while I was making du’a. I just ignored him, closed my eyes and kept going. After a little bit, I hear him talking really loud, I look and see him on his cell phone. There was space all around us…but he chose to stand right in front of me and have his conversation. Thankfully, he didn’t stick around long.

I went through my entire 6 page du’a list. Each name. Before I left for this trip, I emailed the majority of my contacts and asked them to send me any du’as they had. I copied and pasted them all into one document and just printed that out, along with the names of everyone that hadn’t sent me anything, so I could still remember to make du’a for them. Going through it, I would read each name, close my eyes, think of the person and try to ask from my heart for whatever good I wanted for them. I would get tired and want to stop, but trudged through, out of the love I have for these wonderful people, mA.

I’m pretty beat right now, even though I ain’t do nuffin else all day. I heard that it was best to be in the sun when making du’a on the Day of Arafah, to feel that heat and intensity, and to remember the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter. Standing out in the sun for that long was especially exhausting, but at least I got a little Arafah tan afterwards :P.

It was a huge blessing to be able to witness this day, Alhamdulillah. Even if none of my du’as are answered, the blessing of hope is generous enough. Allah owes us nothing, but Him giving us the opportunity to ask for whatever we want is truly Majestic. My Lord is Most Bountiful, Allahu Akbar.

Pilgrims Plead For Their Salvation At Arafah

We’re currently in Muzdalifah, it’s about 9:15pm. You’re supposed to delay Maghrib on the Day of Arafah until you get to Muzdalifah. I’m not sure how long you’re allowed to delay it for though, I feel like we waited way too long. Our bus took a while to show up at Arafah, so we didn’t get to Muzdalifah until like 9pm. I’m about to straight knock out though in a few minutes. We’re basically on a parking lot on the side of a street. It legit feels like a highway rest stop, with millions of people all around and buses constantly roaring past. There’s actually alot of pollution here, it’s not the open-air, fresh weather I was expecting when I first heard about Muzdalifah.

I’m gonna slam in my earplugs and drop on this eye shade and get me some good sleep iA. Tomorrow is Eid, it’s also going to be our longest day. We have to stone the Shaitan after Fajr, then wait for our qurbani’s, then we get to shave our heads- woop woop! We can change out of our ihrams too, but we still have to do one more tawaf and sa’iy in the Haram before we’re all clear. That’s alot for one day, but then we’re pretty much chillin. The last 2 days after that are much simpler, just stoning both days.

That’s all for now. Just pray my du’as are accepted. They’re good ones, I promise ;).

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Day 15 – Well, This Is Awkward…

“The first thoughts that came to mind were, “Crap! I’m in my ihram too…and it’s the Day of Arafah!”

11/5/11Hajj, Day 2

The tests have not stopped, they’ve only just started hitting much closer to home. I just got hit with a very personal test. It’s kinda funny really, though totally embarassing.

 So, I took a nap in our tent after sunrise, trying to kill time til Dhuhr, and get some rest. After Dhuhr is when I wanted to focus on making all of my du’as. It was a pretty good nap – restful, comfortable, peaceful. I started to dream. How do I say this…? The dream turned…saucy. That’s hilarious, I didn’t plan on using that word, but it works, I’m stickin with it.

The details of this saucy dream are a bit too personal even for this journal, though it wasn’t graphic or obscene. Ok, enough about that. I immediately woke myself up as soon as it was “happening”. The first thoughts that came to mind were, “Crap! I’m in my ihram too…and it’s the Day of Arafah!” The only day that really matters. So, I recoup, having also just woken up – rude awakening status. I went to the bathroom, trying not to walk awkwardly.

The plan I came up with on the spot was: get into a stall, make ghusl, switch my top ihram sheet to the bottom, wash the bottom sheet, and be out without anyone noticing what happened. Problem was, there were no showers in Arafah, those are only in Mina. Also, everything had to be done in this small toilet stall, where there’s also the infamous hole in the ground. Staying clean was a top priority.

Alhamdulillah, I got through it just fine, no worries. Allah makes it easy when you reach out to Him for help. I got lucky and had a clean stall, with no lines waiting to get in after me. There was also an unusually long water hose in the stall, normally they’re only half that length. There were no hooks though, so I took off my top sheet and slung it over the door, hung my money belt on the door knob, took off my bottom sheet and folded it up loosely. I didn’t have anywhere to set down my bottom sheet, so I took off my flip-flops and sat it on top. I used the super long hose to make ghusl, took my time and cleaned up. Worked out really well actually. I cleaned off the bottom sheet, draped it over my shoulders, wrapped my other sheet around my waist and walked out. Ten minutes tops. Now, I’m sitting in the sun to dry off. Not a single suspecting soul, Alhamdulillah.

Question: If I’m in ihram and there’s an ant crawling on me and I flick it to get it off and end up killing it, do I have to pay a penalty? That just happened…

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Day 15 – Arafah

“The hardships must always accompany the ease, such is the nature of our existence.”

11/5/11 – Hajj, Day 2

The Day of Arafah. Finally, we are here. It is a beautiful morning, maybe 65 deg, light breeze, clear skies. It’s 6:30am. After Fajr, I was planning on sleeping, but I stayed up to watch the sun rise over the mountains. It’s not as delicious as the sunsets, but it has its own majesty about it.

Minute by minute, the world around me is coming to life as the sky fades from dark to light, blue & black to orange & white. I’m sitting with my mother now. Hugs, kisses, asking about our night’s sleep. Waiting for the sun to break from behind the mountain – just a few more minutes now, iA. There’s sakinah (tranquility) and peace here. It’s so thick in the air, you can feel it in your bones. The Day of Mercy has begun.

Last night was more of a mess, none seemingly worth mentioning anymore – though I will briefly, for the sake of this journal. The hardships must always accompany the ease, such is the nature of our existence. My shoes were stolen, from inside the tent. Someone probably took them by accident and left theirs, which looked similar, but I can’t take those when they’re not mine. I’ve resorted to my backup flip-flops, no harm done. They’re terribly uncomfortable though, I don’t think they’ll be very useful if I walk alot.

We slept, packed in our tent, practically pressed against one another – 15 men in one small tent. We got dinner at least, Alhamdulillah. I took the HajjCoach’s advice and used earplugs and an eye shade to sleep and it worked beautifully, Alhamdulillah. I knocked out around 10pm and didn’t wake up until someone shook me at 3am to wake me. I took off my mask and it felt like I just entered the land of the living for the first time – sensory overload. Right back in the thick of it all over again. At least I got some rest, some time away Alhamdulillah, before everything came rushing back.

This morning, we had to leave before Fajr, which is against the sunnah of Mina, but we had to in order to catch our bus to Arafah. With millions of pilgrims traveling in such a short distance with limited resources, we don’t have much control over our situations. They said there were fatwas saying it’s ok to go to Arafah before Fajr, because of the sheer volume of people traveling at the same time. We were already going anyways, but that made the pill easier to swallow.

I got upset with my dad too, sort of lost my cool for a sec. He kept telling me to “stay together”, said it like 6 times. I would be standing no more than 5 or 6 paces away the entire time. I sort of snapped, and was like, “what are you talking about? I’m right here, where am I gonna go??” This was while we were gathering to board onto the bus to leave Mina this morning. I felt bad afterwards, he was trying to make sure everything would go smoothly, in his own way. So much virtue in keeping your mouth shut. I think I’ve saved myself alot of headaches on this trip by staying aloof and staying quiet. Yesterday was the first time I got involved in the drama – out of sheer curiosity and I regret it. It brought no benefit and just gave me a crucial migraine.

Alhamdulillah, it’s behind us now. We have finally been blessed with Arafah. After all of the tests, hardships and setbacks, Allah has allowed us this magnificent day. May He accept our prayers and make us amongst those whose prayers are answered. Ameen.

Here comes the sun…

Sun Rising Over Arafah

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Day 14 – Settling In

“If it ain’t hard, it ain’t Hajj.”

11/4/11 – Hajj, Day 1

I’m feeling so confident that my du’as may be heard tomorrow – very optimistic and hopeful at least. Especially the du’as that are of major concern to me, those relating to matters closest to my heart. Those are the ones I’m feeling good about. I so sincerely hope my Lord answers them and hears me. Allahu ‘Alam (Allah knows best), I may have to face even more tests and have to be patient with not receiving what I ask for. Such is the nature of my life in this world, I am at the whim of my Master. It is up to Him whether to preserve me or discard me – I have no right to demand either. I can only hope and pray for His Infinite & All-Encompassing Mercy. There is no deity save for The Most High, The Lord of the Worlds. May we see His Infinitely Bounteous Face and receive His Glad Tidings. Ameen.

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Somehow, we got wrapped up in a full-blown resistance movement. Ok, maybe not that serious, but definitely just as dramaticized. So, this lady from our Hajj company has been claiming that we didn’t pay for food & beds in our tents. She’s demanding that we show receipts if we say we’ve paid. Right. Let me just pull that right out of my sheet-suit. She’s basically just beefing with our tour guide. Apparently, he disrespected her when he first spoke to her this morning. We later find out that she said he beckoned her with his finger to come to him when he wanted to speak to her. Our group leader denied even having done this, but didn’t put up much of a fight to get us what we paid for either. All this mess because one man wagged his finger at the wrong woman. A group of men actually went to the Ministry of Hajj office and complained about the lady. Of course, this is a bureaucracy, where nothing is done by the people you approach. They suggested we call the cops, put in our claim for having been cheated. The guys were very hesitant though, they wanted to try reasoning with the lady one last time.

They caught up with her at the entrance to the camp and got in her face. 15 men, 1 woman. She wouldn’t budge, they all stayed soft. She basically said what we have is all we’re gonna get. Our current arrangement, with 15 men sleeping in one tiny tent, is the best she was going to do for us. I wanted to just blurt out, “Yo! We boutta call the cops, cuz you’s stealin from us right now!” Of course I didn’t, they were all talking in Arabic, so I had no clue what was actually going on at the time. So, here we are, in this small space, maybe 12’x12’, 15 men, sleeping on the floor, practically pressed up against one another.

I have a killer headache from all the excitement. It’s like 8pm & we’ve been caught up in this affair since we got off the bus this morning. Earlier, I was afraid Mina would be boring. I should know better, nothing is ever uneventful during Hajj ;). My dad was apologizing to me, for this day being so difficult. I reminded him that nothing has been easy so far, and that this is Hajj. It’s supposed to be difficult, that’s all part of the test. This is also the first official day, of course it’s going to be even harder than what we’ve been going through so far. Now, we’re being tested with our money, food, rest – things we have full rights to. No one ever has an easy Hajj – at least, they’re not supposed to. If it ain’t hard, it ain’t Hajj. Alhamdulillah, it’s been very manageable thus far.

Earlier today, I went around tent city a bit. Completely fascinating. I mostly stuck around the area with Western Hajji’s, and even that was enormous. I definitely didn’t even scratch the surface of Mina, there are so many people here, it’s just incredible. It’s very well organized and structured as well. Reminds me of disaster management and refugee sheltering, done so right. The shelters are sturdy, comfortable, efficient, and not to mention dignified. It’s a very impressive arrangement.

Pilgrims Settling Into Their Tents

Pilgrims Gathering In Mina For The Beginning of Hajj

Here Lies Tent City

I know some people in our group are really frustrated & upset. I’m just tired and hungry. I just want to get to Arafah tomorrow. After that, let whatever happens come iA.

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Day 14 – Moving Into Mina

“Patience training wheels…just remember to keep pedaling, junior”

11/4/11Hajj, Day 1

Today is the day. It’s the 8th of Dhul Hijjah, the first day of Hajj. It’s also a Friday – which apparently makes this is “Hajj Akbar” (“Greater Hajj”), supposedly worth 70 times more than a regular Hajj, inshaAllah. [After doing some research, I found that there actually is no such thing].

It’s 5:40am, just prayed Fajr in our room. We’ll be heading out on the buses soon to go to Mina & will have to get into our ihrams again, with the intention of Hajj. This is the moment we’ve been preparing for, for the past 8 months, and waiting for our entire lives. Once it starts, we’ll be in Mina, more or less, for the next 5 days, living out of tents. We’ll be spending one night in Muzdalifah, sleeping in the open, following the Day of Arafah. The rest of our time will be in Mina.

I’m very much looking forward to the Day of Arafah. I have a ton of du’as I’m hoping to make and to have heard iA. Someone I know told me all the du’as they made there were answered, subhanAllah. I intend to beseech the same Merciful & Generous Lord. Also, totally want to shave my head. This long hair is kind of driving me crazy. Well, not crazy, it’s just too much to worry about right now.

——————–

It’s 9:50am, the bus is finally here to take us to Mina. Not much goin on today, just sittin around, waiting. Lots of talbiyah, a little napping, trying to rest. I started feeling sick again this morning, like something was up with my stomach too. I definitely have a cough now also. None of it is serious, you just get accustomed to not being 100%.

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We’re in Mina. It’s 12:15pm, we’ve been sitting here for almost an hour, in the bus. The group chemistry has gotten alot better. There’s always nice, entertaining interactions between the Somali sub-group and the Punjabi sub-group. There’s actually a brother named Ahmed, Somali dude, who lives in Hyderabad, India – so he speaks Urdu. Makes for some great humor with the Desi uncles. Especially, when he gets into explaining the Indian bobble-head syndrome. He does a killer impression too, it’s dead on :). There’s another brother, Fiyyaz, who’s actually from Hyderabad. Watching them go back and forth is a riot, such good hearts mA. They make the whole environment much easier for everyone.

Sometimes, I envision my journal as a screenplay for a film. Cool idea – since there’s so many languages being spoken around me, it’d be interesting, visually, to only show subtitles for specific words that are understood, leaving the rest untranslated. This might illustrate how bewildering everything can be sometimes.

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We got into tents at around 2pm. There was a huge discrepancy with the lady…

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Sorry, got caught up. Things got heated in the tent and I got distracted. Basically, we showed up to Mina & had no tents, so we waited on our bus for 2 hours, where there was A/C. Then, the bus driver was complaining because he’d been up since 3am and had to leave, so we finally got off the bus to let the poor guy go. They still had no space for our whole group. The entire group had paid an extra $245 each, for a private, air-conditioned tent, with foam mattresses and 3 daily meals, for the entire duration of the stay in Mina, with the entire group being together. We showed up and they split up our group. The ladies got put in a room with women from another group. 5 of the men were split up and given spots in a few different tents, with other groups. The rest of us, 17 guys, were led to a small tent and told to stay there. The tent was tiny, smaller than a college dorm room, with 4 fold-up cushion beds, but no meals. We were like…um…ok…kept our heads down, and started to settle in.

We had all barely sat down when an unknown woman came into our tent, yelling and complaining in Arabic about our group leader, Muhammad Hirsy, saying he was ordering her around and being rude. We later found out she was the organizer from our Hajj group, through whom all of the local arrangements were made by the group leaders. She was complaining that he had not paid her any money for the upgraded tents and that she offered to extend some help to him out of her own generosity and kindness, but he was making too many demands and being overbearing, taking advantage of her hospitality. We were like, ok…chill…work it out, cuz WE definitely paid him. It all turned into a really big issue. All of the men in our group got together in our tent and had many meetings to try and figure out what to do. So, now there’s like 22 guys, all chillin in this tiny space – tired, hungry, frustrated, starting to lose their tempers. The lady came by again and dropped off 9 meals, as “gifts” to our group.

Most of the men were pissed at this point. They tried to take a stand to make a statement about how they were going to get what was owed to them, in full. No one had eaten all morning though…and those meals were just stacked high…in the middle of the tent. The men were so fired up about going to the Ministry of Hajj and complaining about not getting what they paid for, and getting ripped off…as they continued eyeing the hot food, untouched and unclaimed. Those boxes of biryani were calling out to us as we huddled around in a disjointed circle, meeting to strategize how best to make our stand. We couldn’t fight it any longer, the meals got passed around and split up – 2-3 people per box. Once we started eating, everyone calmed down and completely lost steam haha. Some guys went and talked to the lady again, to try reasoning with her. She said she would work things out for us, though it may take time. So, we’re all just hanging out in the tent, indefinitely.

Man Meeting, The Biryani Beckons

It’s funny though, everyone gets so fired up about the simplest things. Every registered Hajji is guaranteed a tent with carpet and water, that’s the basic provision. Even with just that, we woulda been chillin, no biggie. People already paid though, so I guess they have reason to be upset. My pops paid the upgrade for my whole family, so it’s not like I’m really feelin the pressure. He was up and at it though.

I think it’s also an American thing. We have so much less patience, it’s actually alarming. I was just making wudhu and there was a guy doing his wudhu outside of the drainage area, so he wouldn’t have to wait in line to use the faucet. There was another man there, stopping people from doing that exact thing because all of that water would run down into his tent. He told the man to stop and not make wudhu there, said it twice. The other man got so pissed, like “ok! I understood you the first time!!”. I’m like, dang…he just gave a simple admonishment. Peeps need more patience. That’s the biggest thing I’ve gotten out of this so far. Life, as well, is about being patient with your tests. It’s like enduring smaller tests here, in a controlled environment, to help you get practice at developing patience. Every hardship is resolved practically the same day, though it feels like forever til you get there. Patience training wheels :) Just remember to keep pedaling, junior :P

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