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Day 3 – These Sands

This place has a history. These sands have a legacy. We may contribute to it, but never can we be privileged enough to define it in a way more magnificent than what has already been done.”

10/24/11

Wow. Ok. So we’re here, it’s been a bit hectic. Mostly, cuz I wasn’t mindful of the fact that this is a straight 3rd world country. We got out of the airplane in Jeddah & just got hit right smack in the face by the thick desert heat. I actually didn’t mind it. To be honest, I’m enjoying the weather. Sure, myself & everyone else is gross, sweaty and sticky but it’s all love homie, we in the birth land of the Rasul!

A bunch of bureaucratic drama has been taking place at the airport. Something to do with having to pay to get our passports. I dunno, I’m chillin, waitin for it to all clear out. We’ve been at the airport for about…5 hours maybe? We have our bags & everything, just waiting until one office delivers our passports to another office 4 kiosks away, so we can pay them, pick up our passports & leave. Inefficient much? Totally. I guess that’s how bureaucracies go, especially in kingdoms.

This place reminds me a great deal of Pakistan, the way things are painted with tacky colors, the dry heat, the laid back attitudes of the people that work here. People just not on that America level :P

SubhanAllah though, I prayed Dhuhr & ‘Asr in the musallah at the airport, and it was such an amazing feeling. Something about praying in ihram, under the desert sun, with a cool breeze, in the land where the Nabi received revelation is profoundly powerful. I really felt baraka that was special, a connection that was greater than what I’m used to. Labbayk Allahuma Labbayk (I am responding to Your Call, O Allah, I am responding to Your Call).

People-watching here is so great too. With the locals, it’s like they prolly think they’re the ish cuz they work in Saudi. Then again…they kind of are the ish…cuz they work in Saudi. Even if they are just bag handlers at the airport, there’s something very special & majestic about this place. When you look out into the desert horizon, and all you see is a flat line off in the distance & a brown, dusty tint to the air that hangs above it, you feel the magnitude of being a in a place so much bigger than yourself – so much more significant than what’s made it important by your meager existence in these few days.

This place has a history. These sands have a legacy. We may contribute to it, but never can we be privileged enough to define it in a way more magnificent than what has already been done. We seek, instead, to merely be a part of this magnitude. To be lost in these deserts, under this never-ending sky, breathing air that encompasses every imaginable creature with its density & grace. We seek to be lost together, in circumambulation, moving with the crowd like a sea crashing rhythmically against the coast, no single drop free to move on its own. Go with the flow. Move with the current. Take off your shoes & swim good. Lose yourself in these rituals & connect with The One that brought you here. Find Him. He has brought you for that purpose. Seek out His Majesty & Glory. That is why you are here. That is how you will be transformed. Find Him. And remember what you have found. Carry it with you & share it with others. Lather, rinse, repeat. Others will follow in the same footsteps, you may return again & even join them. But, no journey can match the first invitation. Get the most out of this trip. You will never have the opportunity to go to Mecca for the first time ever again, for the rest of eternity. Ya Rab, please bless me to find what is best for me to find here. Guide me to what is best for me, here & Hereafter. Thank you for your invitation. I happily accept! Labbayk Allahuma Labbayk!

In other news, vaseline between the thighs? Genius! Muhammad Al-Shareef comin through all the way on that HajjCoach. Chafe free is how I be (iA) alllll dayyyy!

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Day 2 – Two Sheets

I donned my funeral shroud…I mean ihram.” 

10/23/11

I donned my funeral shroud…I mean ihram. Such a different feeling. Oddly refreshing & invigorating, while nerve-wracking & kind of scary at the same time. Probably b/c this is the first time I’ve ever been in the state of ihram. I’m trying to be super apprehensive about how I do everything now. See, I’m used to fasting, knowing what to avoid in that state & how to maneuver that – ihram is entirely foreign though. Hopefully, I won’t make any mistakes & have to pay a penalty or end up leaving the state of ihram.

On a side note, these uncles talked all night long. My mom & I got no sleep. I’m so tired – I’m concerned I’ll end up spending valuable ibadah (worship) time having to catch up on sleep now. There’s still more transit time til we get to Mecca though, maybe I can still catch some shuteye. We’re actually going to be flying into Medina first, then Jeddah. Our group is opting to wait til Medina before changing into their ihram. I decided that would be too hectic & just did it early – every single dude on the plane trying to change into their two sheets all at once, with only 4 bathrooms, that’s a problem. Most people on the plane started it after Fajr – which, by the way, came super early! We jumped so many time zones, I suppose that’s why. I’ve never actually done this, where I prayed on a plane, according to the prayer time for the area we’re flying over. It’s been so long since I’ve been on a trip overseas – last time I went, I didn’t care so much about praying. Alhamdulillah. Going to try sleeping a little iA. A lot more traveling still ahead.

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Day 2 – Liftoff

10/23/11

On the plane, we’ve lifted off & begun the flight. You can sense there’s alot of excitement, especially amidst our group – all the uncles are like, on a buddy trip, chillin wit they homies kinda vibe. I’m chillin with some earplugs in, finding bliss in tuning out the noise. I’m sitting next to my mom, which is funny b/c I was assigned a totally different seat. My mom had some guy next to her, who offered to switch with my dad, but he didn’t want to sit next to her! So funny. He didn’t want to deal with the nagging for 12 hours :). She was giving him a hard time for not switching next to her though, so he did it to avoid making a scene. He sat down next to her, 30 seconds later, he was at my seat asking to switch, haha! I happily switched. I’d much rather be close to her than with some randoms. I’m hoping to spend alot of time with her this trip, helping her however I can. I know she really wants it too, she’s saying my dad already said he’s not gonna stay with her during the rituals. These two are so funny, it’s cute. I’m looking forward to being there for her though, may Allah make it easier for us & reward me even more for helping them :) cha-ching!

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I’m reading Tariq Ramadan’s “In The Footsteps of the Prophet”, finding it to be so inspirational & beautiful. So well-written & perfectly contemplative mashaAllah. I hope that I’m able to take from it what would be best for me to know while I embark on this momentous journey. Speaking of which – I realize this trip has a magnitude greater than what I currently grasp. I’m attempting to capture as much as I can though, so that later, when it settles in, I can re-live & share the journey in a meaningful way. I also imagine there’s an opportunity for my future generations to interact with this text. If that ever happens, if I am to be so blessed, then, Salaam to you all :D (I actually smiled when I drew that, even though it’s hideous, geez cut me some slack, I’m your granddaddy for goodness sake!) j/k future kiddos, j/k :) (that means “just kidding” in 2011 talk). Who knows what you’ll be into when you’re time comes – where your interests will lie. I do solemnly pray & hope for your success, in the most true & everlasting sense of the word. May Allah preserve, guide, elevate, & honor my progeny & make me and my brother the elevated, guided, successful progeny of those who came before us.

The Hideous Smiley

On a less inspirational, yet equally inspired note, these Punjabi uncles seriously won’t stop yapping on the plane. AND they’re SO LOUD! It’s ridiculous. It’s like 11:30 pm and they’re still carrying on like we’re traveling to an international cab-drivers convention (they all actually are cab drivers). Can we please contemplate the journey afoot? Mentally prepare ourselves for one of the greatest experiences of our lives? Really hoping they don’t turn this Hajj into a bachelor party. I will not hesitate to bounce & do my own thing – I need to do this right & to have my du’as accepted – I need my sins forgiven, my heart cleansed, my self enlightened. Ya Rabb, I am in Your Care now, more than always, please sufficiently prepare & guide me. Ameen.

Word to the kiddos – don’t be loud, obnoxious Punjabis. Nobody thinks that mess is cute.

I’ve been reading & writing much of the way, I think I should sleep, we land in about 7 hours I believe, & it’s all action from there.

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