Tag Archives: desert

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 3 – First Impressions

No one makes mention, everyone looks away, continuing to chant remembrances of their Lord, The Most High.”

10/24/11

It’s interesting, so far, the overwhelming majority of the people I’ve seen (pilgrims), have been old. Not many young pilgrims, which is unfortunate. It has the capacity to be such a profound & impacting experience, one that’s touched the lives of trillions, and the majority of those that partake in it are those who don’t have much energy & life left in them to make a difference with the newfound experiences they pick up. We should do something about that – pay/subsidize for more young people to perform Hajj.
I also saw a delegation of Algerian pilgrims. It was so funny – each one had a different Dahman characteristic (my Algerian roommate in college). One wore his shoes the same way – with the back folded in, another had his body hair (tmi?), another had his beard style/afro & his body type. So Algerian :)

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So we finally got our passports back – 6:30pm. It’s been long for no reason, but relaxing. Been people-watching hardcore. The local Saudi’s that walk around in thobes & headgear act like they run the show. What’s funny is that they probably do run the show – I can’t take them seriously though, I know the outfits are supposed to be their equivalent of a suit – but, c’mon, really? It’s just not the same. It has it’s own elegance to it, I agree, but nothing is quite as boss as a pimp 3-piece suit.

There’s also a very identifiable attitude amongst the Saudi’s. They’re the ish maximus here, they know it. I remember Saudi’s at VCU would act the same way, except no one gave a dang over there. Here… people actually hafta pay attention. That sucks!

There’s sometimes a noticeable tension between the workers, who seem to be primarily immigrants, and their Saudi managers. Like they don’t respect them, but fear them b/c of their status & still act out sometimes, passive aggressively.

I actually saw an altercation between two Desi (Indian/Pakistani/Bengali) janitors. They argued, the first man broke a broomstick, the second broke the stick to the dustpan the first man was holding. A Saudi came by and, though they were upset, they restrained from saying anything to him. They only continued to argue & exchange heated words amongst themselves after the first man was seemingly told to leave by the Saudi. He was escorted away by a Saudi police officer. I don’t know. Seemed like they fought cuz one guy used the other’s broom? So, he got annoyed & broke that same broom, then the other guy broke his dustpan. Then, the 1st got mad & yelled at the 2nd for getting him in trouble. Seems like there is that seedy, cutthroat, backstabbing vibe in the underbelly of this machine.

Even when first landing at the airport, while shuttling to the terminal, you can literally see pockets of workers, dozens at a time, resting in covered entrances around the building – battered, exhausted, visibly drained, while kept mostly invisible. It’s something powerful to see, as you roll up in your fresh white sheets, ready to go. Suspicions creep into your mind of the injustices that may exist, under covers that no one dares to lift. No one makes mention, everyone looks away, continuing to chant remembrances of their Lord, The Most High.

So, it’s incredible to compare the disparities that are present, just in the airport. We’re all immigrants to this land. Some as pilgrims, searching for the salvation of our souls & success for the Hereafter. Others, as migrant workers, searching for a means of earning to better support themselves &/or families back home – in search of worldly success. The workers look beaten & worn, the pilgrims look excited but drained. I suppose the desert takes its toll on all, may Allah bring us all the best of successes in this life & in the Hereafter.

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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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