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Day 16 – Path to Purity

“Maybe when we remove the dirty ihram, Allah removes with it the impurities in our hearts.”

11/6/11Hajj, Day 3

While we were coming back, I felt like we were on the path back to purity. I got my head shaved on the walk back, I went to a legit barber, who used a fresh new blade and just shaved my hair straight off. Didn’t trim it first or anything, worked out perfectly. It feels so incredibly refreshing, Alhamdulillah. I look so boss with a bald head and the beard :P. I might rock this look more, who knows.

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Finally showered, changed, prayed, ate a little. I can rest now, iA.

Coming back, I saw some men in ihram that had been to the slaughterhouse apparently. Their clothing was covered in blood splatter. The bottom of their ihrams were totally soaked red with blood. It was such a violent image, I actually cringed at the sight – white sheets, soiled with dark, dried blood. Then, I realized, if we follow the rituals as they’re prescribed, there’s no way the ihram would stay clean. You stand in the sun all day in Arafah, so you sweat, and it bakes into your clothing. You spend the night in Muzdalifah, out in the open, on the sand – so you’re exposed to dirt and dust all over. You walk more the next day and travel to the Jamarat and throw stones that you pick up along the way. Then, you go to the slaughterhouse and sacrifice animals and get their blood all over you. It’s actually not required for people to go slaughter their own animals now, you can have it arranged to be done on your behalf and you get a phone call when it’s complete, but traditionally, people would do it on their own.

Then, you cut your hair or shave your head, so you get hair all over your ihram. By the time you’re done, you’re bound to be filthy and disgusting. Thankfully, you’re supposed to take a shower and change, what a relief that brings. Maybe that’s part of the metaphor? You obey His demands for this pilgrimage, bear the toil on your body and clothing, and ultimately shed it all as a renewal and ‘rebirth’. Maybe when we remove the dirty ihram, Allah removes with it the impurities in our hearts. Maybe when we shower and cleanse our exterior, Allah polishes our hearts and purifies our interior. I wanted to be in such a state when I return to Mecca to make tawaf. I preferred to be in a pure state when visiting The Sacred House, ready to receive from the Lord of All, directly to the heart. That is the bounty I desire, and it is a state better befitting His Majesty. I do not regret today’s hardships. Ya Rabb, You alone are sufficient for me.

One of my dad’s friends, Tahir, has been puttin out some truly thoughtful insights this entire time. While I’m in the corner writing, they’re on the other side of the tent, in the midst of this deep conversation about raising kids as good Muslims and decent human beings in America. Seems to be a recurring concern/issue for the uncles in our group.

It started when my dad was complaining about how whack Saudi is compared to America, exclaiming, “America is the greatest country in the world!” He sincerely meant it. I agree with him. There’s just nothing that compares to the infrastructure, cleanliness and overall order in society. We honestly take for granted how civilized our environment is. In other parts of the world, even basic rules don’t apply. Traffic patterns, litter, pollution, personal space/boundaries, civility – it’s like nothing is as it’s “supposed” to be. Basic example, NO one stands in line. Ever. If you wait in line, you’re telling everyone around you that you do not want whatever the hell you’re standing in line for, and they can jump in front of you and shove you out of the way. That must be what it means, because that’s exactly what happens when I try waiting in line. I ain’t no fool though, I learned lines are for suckers. Even at restaurants! You order food, you have a number, you’re not going to be served until it’s your turn. Doesn’t matter, push, shove, fight to the counter, every time the attendant turns towards you, throw your receipt up into his face. That’s the only way you get what you want, it’s ridiculous. Adapt or starve.

They started talking about raising kids. I guess that’s one area in which they find America to be a problematic environment. Tahir said, parents, especially Desi’s, keep their eyes closed to their kids’ lives. He said, “Good parenting isn’t just making sure your kids pray when they’re at home, but raising them so when they’re out all day, they do what’s right.” I think he hit it right on the head. Too many Desi parents try to force religiosity on their kids, and not actual morality. Many times, it seems they lack the morals themselves to even be able to impart them upon their offspring. He made a dope comment about how Allah didn’t send this many prophets for no reason. Heavy. We are indeed a rebellious creation, wanting to transgress for personal convenience and gain.

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It’s funny, I’ve been encouraged by so many of my group members to publish a book of my journey. The old Iranian man I sat next to on the bus has been really supportive & sweet. I had a feeling that would happen when I was writing about him at the time. His name’s Zakaria. His cousin, Nabi, also in our group, is a really nice guy too mA. He wanted to take a picture with me yesterday, it was also the first time we spoke. I was like, um…ok. He said he had a brother-in-law that looked like me. Compliment for him, right? ;)

In general, my group has grown on me. Even some of the Desi uncles I was hating on are turning out to be real solid dudes mA. There’s Fiyyaz, who’s a G, from Hydro-bad, and his buddy Saleem, who’s also such a great man. Then, there’s the other Saleem, who’s been super considerate, taking care of me like family. He’s always asking if I need anything and offering to share in his meals whenever he sees me. Our group leader, though he’s good at getting things that he wants, usually serves himself, making him a d-bag. Sorry, not traveling with you again. The Somali crew are also good folk, great fun, but here for the right reasons. Alhamdulillah, they have a good time and manage to get focused when the time is right.

We got skipped when meals were being handed out at lunch and dinner. Either because everyone and their mom hates our trip leader, or cuz the workers keep asking for tips and we just dont care anymore. Seriously, do yall not get paid? Or you just hustlin right now cuz your in the American tents? Whatevs, I already ate – had my leftover Turkish joint. Time for bed, I’m beat…I don’t care if it’s only 8:30pm and it’s Eid [Eid Mubarak!].

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Day 16 – A Night In Muzdalifah

“With Allah’s Help, I think I’ve been protected. That’s what I’m telling myself to keep the paranoia away.”

11/6/11Hajj, Day 3

It’s Eid! Hajji’s don’t really do nothin with it though. We have more rituals to complete today, it’s not over yet.

We spent the night, last night, in Muzdalifah. It was out in the open, on a paved lot, under the street lights. It basically felt like being around millions, trying to sleep on a dusty Wal-Mart parking lot, with buses zooming past all night. I was out cold with some earplugs, a breathing mask and an eye shade. People around me were loud though, seemed like they talked all night. I kept waking up, didn’t sleep well at all. I also had a really freaky dream – I think some jinn was trying to mess with me, honestly.

I dreamt that I felt someone touch my lips, as I was laying in my place, asleep. They put their fingertips on my lips and then pulled out a few strands of hair from the front of my head, then I heard them walk away. So, still in my dream, thinking I’m awake now, I immediately thought there was some witchcraft goin on, so I touched my hair to feel if there were any knots. I found some of my hair tied in a knot on the back side of my head, on the left side. I untied the knot and looked around to see if I could find who had done it. Still dreaming, I talk to my mom, who was laying near me. I asked her if she saw anyone come near me while I was sleeping and she acted really weird. She responded, “Well, what about your wife?” I was like, “What?? What about my wife?!?!” and I got really, really pissed, and she backed off.

I woke up freaked out, not knowing how real it was. In my dream, I started reciting Ayatul Kursi and Surah Al-Falaq for protection, Alhamdulillah. Once awake, I started looking around, scouring the area around me for anything suspicious. When I went to sleep, I was completely surrounded by only my group members. When I woke up, there were two complete strangers lying right next to me, to my left. I eyed them suspiciously for a while, looking for any unusual activity. Never really found anything wrong. I tried to figure out if anyone had been messing with me, so I asked my mom if everyone had slept at the same time. I was trying to see if anyone would have been awake to see if anything happened to me. Seemed like there were a few people awake the whole night, with nothing to report.

I think, if it was real, there was a jinn that tried messing with me, maybe trying to put a spell on me involving a spouse. I think my untying the knot and resisting when they talked to me as my mom to find out about a wife, in addition to reciting the verses, may have helped to ward off any danger. With Allah’s Help, I think I’ve been protected. That’s what I’m telling myself to keep the paranoia away.

We’ll go to do Rami’ soon, where we’ll be stoning the Jamarat, the structures representing Satan. We got on a bus, which we waited an hour for. It took us another hour to get to Mina on the bus, due to all of the traffic. Some of our group, including my mom, chose not to wait for the bus and just walk, and their trip took them an hour. My dad and I were like nah, we’ll wait. Took us 2 hours to get back to our tent.

I feel grimy. My ihram is dirty, I need a shower, my hair needs shaving, and I got a vicious Arafah tan. Soon, habibi, soon, we’ll be done. Sabr, Hajji, sabr.

By the way, the bus was packedd! Fights almost broke out amongst all of us trying to get on. I had to force my way through to get on with my dad, I barely made it. We definitely couldn’t get seats, so we stood the whole way back. I had some dudes armpit in my face the whole time. Nice. Felt like catchin a ride in Pakistan. The bus ride was long, hot, sweaty, sticky. Yum…

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