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Day 10 – Al-Baik, Take 2

It was intense. There was pure, raw, unadulterated venom in her gaze.

10/31/11

This morning at Fajr, I actually prayed next to the exact same guy I prayed ‘Isha next to last night. It was this large fella, wearing an “L.A.” shirt this time. I don’t know if he recognized me or not, I didn’t say anything. We just prayed, then I bounced. I have that habit, avoiding people. Don’t know why, it’s just something I do so I don’t end up having to talk, which I really don’t like doing. I’m so content just doing my own thing, living in obscurity, ignored & unnoticed by others. It’s only with certain people, close to me, that I want to interact with & feel noticed by. The rest of the world can remain a passive observer & I would be totally happy.

By the way, these thobes that I got are awesome! They keep me totally covered & breezy – so dope. I used to hate on thobes, but this is seriously the best way to be comfortable here. Highly recommended. Especially since I only got them for 10 riyals each, so cheap! Amazing :).

Also, really surprised I filled up this whole notebook pretty much & I’ve only been here a week, haven’t even done the actual Hajj yet. Good thing I have 2 more waiting to be filled – hopefully it’s all enough iA. We head back to Mecca tomorrow iA. I feel like I do more contemplative writing there. Hoping I can encounter more mind-opening thoughts & realizations that I’ll be able to transcribe and *maybe* share later iA :P.

This is so much better than tweeting, forreal. Tweeting has helped me be brief & terse in expressing myself. This gives me the opportunity to express so much more though. I actually really love journaling, I hope to keep it going after I go home. I haven’t gone back & read very much, I started to on the bus ride to Medina, got to like page 30, got bored, & fell asleep. It’s all too recent I think, just feels repetitive while it’s all so fresh. I need to go back and just review though, to fill in any gaps before I completely forget.

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Africans, specifically West Africans, have the dopest prayer beads. So Boss. I wish I could buy those from the bazaars here.

There’s been a janaza (funeral prayer) with every single prayer in the Haramain since I’ve been here. That’s so wild. That’s alot of people dying. I wonder how you get them to do your janaza here. 40 people praying your janaza is enough to have all of your sins forgiven, 200,000 – 400,000 people praying for you is straight Jannah (Paradise) iA. Apparently, if you pray janaza for someone, you get a reward the size of the mountain of Uhud. When I hear that now, it actually means something, with Uhud covering much of the horizon to the North of the city. Earlier, during the tour, someone mentioned that the Prophet said, “We love Uhud & Uhud loves us”. Oddly…I’m also developing feelings for this mountain. I never thought that would happen…

We’re going to Al-Baik now, iA. Just finished ‘Asr, 3:50pm. My parents and I set out on our own journey to find Al-Baik. Surprisingly, it’s been equally as arduous as the one I undertook in Mecca. We traveled the perimeter of the entire mosque, a huge distance, took at least an hour. My mom got to see Jannatul Baqi’ (The Holy Graveyard) finally, since the restaurant is at the end of the cemetery. Women aren’t allowed inside, but the walls have openings that allow you to see from the outside.

Mom & Baqi'

It took us an hour to get here, my parents both had to rest a few times, but we finally found it! You could literally smell the fried chicken from ¼ mile away. We walk in, take the long way to go through the family entrance, thinking we would have an easier time there. We show up to the entrance and there’s a guard posted at the door. He stops us outside and says, “it’s closed until after salah”, in Arabic. My mom cursed something in Punjabi. It’s only 5:15pm, Maghrib isn’t until 5:45pm. Allah SWT is seriously making it difficult for me to get this fried chicken, it’s just comical. Maybe, I’m meant to remember Him, even when I undertake these journeys. But, it’s just some fried chicken…

This better be worth it. Madd people hyped it up & we traveled alot to get here. It’s like its own hijr, for Al-Baik. smh. If they just put em closer to the hotels it wouldn’t have to be this way, I’m just sayin…

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That. Was. Insane…

7pm, we finally got our food. I just witnessed pure barbarity, over some fried chicken. It makes me ashamed. Even the taste of this pretty awesome food can’t make up for the total lawlessness and savagery that people displayed right in front of me. If I wasn’t so hungry, I would have lost my appetite entirely. I’m going to have that look of pure rage & seething hate in that niqabi’s eyes etched in my brain – forever associated with Al-Baik. Maybe this is why Allah SWT prevented me from visiting it for so long. Alhamdulillah wa Shukr (All Praise and Thanks belong to Allah). I don’t think I can really comprehend how this happens, may Allah forgive & guide us. Surely, we are a people in dire need of His Divine Intervention. And, I missed two prayers at the Haram, serves me right. Final verdict: not worth the trouble.

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Ok, so the chicken was good, not gonna lie. It messed up my throat though, cuz it was oily. I’m still shocked at how ridiculous people were behaving. My dad tried telling me this was nothing compared to how people normally are ‘back home’. That’s…comforting…so maybe it’s not a big deal, I guess? I just saw this perfectly decent group of young, Brit Desi’s nearly fight, like full-on throwdown, a group of Somali niqabi’s because they were pushing and *kicking* them to get to the register to order & pay for some chicken. When the guy pushed them back and tried reminding them that there was a “queue” (what a silly word), they started screaming & cursing at him and his family. Everyone got real pissed, real quick. I could literally see the Somali woman’s eyes bulging through her niqab’s peephole. It was intense. There was pure, raw, unadulterated venom in her gaze. The Brits pushed back, but really, they weren’t ready – not ready for what happened, nor ready to allow themselves to transgress the limits of sanity, just to stay in line for a few pieces of fried chicken. Luckily, they got their order quickly and peaced out. It shocks me how people can lose total sight of their humanity and feed the Nafs so heedlessly. It only becomes stronger and gains even more control. Please, don’t feed the animals.

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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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