Tag Archives: hajj

Day 4 – Rooftop Bliss

“I had only one desire – to get lost…amongst the mass. To become nameless & faceless…let me be lost to them in hopes of being present with Him.”

10/25/11

That burger was not good. Too expensive too (28 riyals, normal sandwiches are 5 riyals). Totally don’t see myself eating fast food again, I feel disgusting. I bought a big bottle, I plan to drink all the water & then keep it full of ZamZam daily, iA.

BK

I’m on the top floor again, with an awesome view of the Ka’aba & everyone making tawaf. It’s night, almost 10pm, so the weather is nicer – warm, but easy to bear.

I love how we’re all enamored by the crowd. I’m currently watching a man from Kyrgyzstan look completely blown as he’s looking at everyone making tawaf. The crowd itself is so profound. It’s a mass of people – you look at it and you don’t see faces or ethnicities or skin color – it’s just bodies. But when you actually look into it, you see individuals, you see faces, you hear languages – you realize they’re all real people. People are always real, as you know them – never a faceless mass. In reality, there never was such a thing. Everyone carries their customs & their baggage with them – I feel it’s important to stay mindful of that when interacting with them.

When I stepped out of the hotel, not too long ago, I had only one desire – to get lost. Not lost in a directional sense, but lost amongst the mass. To become nameless & faceless– in a place under the Supreme Care of Allah SWT. Let me be lost to them in hopes of being present with Him. I know Allah throws these little tests my way to keep me on my toes. For example, every time I sit down, I’m asked to move, or forced to move, just when I start to get comfortable. Almost without fail. Earlier, I had to move at least 3 times. Just now, I had to move again, someone pulled a wheelchair in front of me & just parked it. Don’t get comfortable? Keep it moving? Interesting.

Mmm…I’m getting tired…I wanna lay down on this top floor & rest, while I look out into the night sky & feel this cool breeze, with this hum of voices chattering in the background.

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That was even better than I’d imagined it would be. It was so comfortable & pleasant, I slept for like 45 mins. The squeegee train (workers with…squeegees, that wipe down the marble floors of the Masjid) is rolling through, so I couldn’t stay in my spot anymore. It’s quite a sight, really. I’m so impressed with how they keep this place so clean. The efficiency of it all is actually astounding – compared to how conditions are everywhere else I’ve seen. Well, no, by any standard, it’s impressive. They got that very right, mA.

[I recorded this from my spot on the roof, but I didn’t realize until watching it now that the workers were wiping their hands on the Yemeni corner. The Prophet said that wiping hands in this spot removes sins. Employee benefits, subhanAllah]

I felt so totally serene in my nap. Being on the roof at night is just so blissful, subhanAllah. Of my favoritest of places in the world, the roof of the haram is one of my favoritest spots at night – napping here is on the top of that list :)

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Day 3 – Blank Scars

“The simplest thing will take hours for no apparent reason. THAT is your Hajj, that is your teacher.”

10/24/11

It’s 8:30pm, we’re on the bus now finally, waiting to ride to Mecca. We’re going to go straight to the hotel & eat, rest & I’ll probably head to the Haram (the Sacred Place) to do my ‘Umrah (ritual of visiting the Sacred Place).It’s funny, Hajj is supposed to be a journey that teaches you patience. We often assume we have the chance to learn patience later, as things try us throughout the journey. We haven’t even gotten to the Haram yet & we’ve had to show so much patience. You never know where it’ll come from – the simplest thing will take hours for no apparent reason. THAT is your Hajj, that is your teacher. So far, I think I’ve been keeping up alright, iA I am actually considered patient by Allah & I can successfully endure what else we face.
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The waiting game is real. We’ve been playing since we got here, round after round, subhanAllah. It’s 9pm – still on the bus, waiting to leave, the driver finally got here. Now we’re just staring, hoping to pull out any second!
Sitting here, I looked down at my hands & saw this scar on my thumb & felt like it was so distant & foreign. I sat there, staring as I forced my way through my mind to recall the accident I had, sawing wood to build a float for a Homecoming Parade in high school, almost 11 years ago. It’s like I’m in a whole different world & everything before I got here is but a vague memory I can barely recall. This has become my reality, I almost don’t remember any life before this morning, before this plane ride. I was born when I put on this cloth – who was I before this? Was I before this? All seem completely valid questions right now. I am, or appear to be, a pilgrim, a Hajji, that is how I am called by others. That has become my identity. I have completely lost all other notions of my self. This is not an exaggeration, this is not me dramatizing my state. This is real. I try to remember others, my loved ones, & I can see their faces, but I feel nothing. All I feel is this yearning to reach my destination. I am coming! O My Lord, I am coming! Please accept me! Labbayk Allahuma Labbayk is all I know in my heart right now. Alas, we embark for Mecca, just after 9pm.

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I imagine tawaf gives the ultimate Axé. The concept from Capoeira is so captivating & intoxicating, I’m eager to see if this feeling will compare. Maybe the act of tawaf is the ultimate Roda. Maybe it is part of The Divine’s decree for His creation, for them to be so engrossed & lost in His Orbit. This is such an interesting topic that I have to contemplate further.

Axé (ah-shay) is a term used by the Brazilian martial arts form of Capoeira to describe a feeling of intensity that emerges from within, in the midst of a Roda (ho-da), or demonstration circle. It is the free flow of energy from the members of the circle to the fighters – a dizzying concoction of adrenaline, excitement, fear, ambition, and raw passion. Everyone in the circle claps and sings ancient songs that tell the history of their people and their beautiful art-form. Meanwhile, the fighters throw powerful movements, one after another, at each other – with an aim not to injure, but to flow seamlessly. The most beautiful Capoeira will have little if any physical contact, with fighters constantly moving through the space within the Roda, nearly crippling one another but never actually striking a blow. You could get seriously injured in any second, with fervent voices at your back, thrusting you forward. There is the excitement of overcoming yourself, while finding complete harmony with others at the same time. That rush is Axé.

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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 2 – Dulles

“It’s nice to have some relief before it gets heavy.”

10/23/11

We leave today – in a few minutes actually. I finished up my packing last night – it still hasn’t quite hit me that I’m going anywhere. HajjCoach.com was so helpful in giving a comprehensive rundown on the essentials – great for a procrastinator like me. Shopping lists, ritual guides and overall good advice in some quick little videos. Great site mA.

I made a late night Wal-Mart run to pick up a few essentials. InshaAllah, I’ll have everything I need. Don’t know if I’ll get sick either, I’ve been feeling a little sore throat & fever for the past few days – we’ll see if that gets better or worse.

Reading over guides last night for Hajj & ‘Umrah is when it hit me that this process was real – it helped me totally visualize it & see myself there, which made me tear up. This morning though, I woke up & felt like it was any other day, like nothing special. Felt nice actually – I imagine it’ll be all crazy from here on out, so it’s nice to have some relief before it gets heavy.

Must go now, we’re heading out the door – my uncle & aunt are here to take us to the airport
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We’re driving to the airport now. I’m looking outside & it’s beautiful. 65 deg, sunny, cool breeze – the leaves are changing color. Such a gorgeous time to be here. I wonder if I’ll miss out on autumn altogether by the time I get back. Apparently, it’s going to be 103-108 deg in Mecca during the day, 83 deg at night. That’s. Insane. And it’s a desert, that’ll be interesting…
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Got through security just fine. We’re seated at the gate now, waiting to board. We had enough time to get situated comfortably, grabbed a quick snack [tuna melt croissant from Dunkin – money :)] & we got to pray ‘Asr at the airport chapel. It’s amazing how tranquil & peaceful I felt after praying. SubhanAllah, each prayer feels so good now – past few years, salah has been so much more fruitful & beloved to me. I still haven’t grasped the connection, mentally, between praying towards the qibla & embarking on this journey in which I’ll be face-to-face with my qibla. The qibla has become a safe place in my heart – the direction has become one of comfort & tranquility. This trip will bring me the opportunity to discover the qibla anew. Something I put off thinking about b/c I don’t want to lose the peace I get from it as it is now in my heart. It’s the little things I suppose that bring comfort & peace to the heart.

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Welcome to the Journey

Peace & Blessings,

I was recently blessed to be able to go on a very powerful and spiritual journey to Mecca to complete the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the 5 pillars of the Muslim faith. During my trip, I kept a travel journal to document my experiences, reflections, aspirations, and more. This is a transcript of those journal entries. I’ll also be including photos and videos along the way.

There are a total of 2 books. Each day’s posts will be broken up into smaller sections that will be released every few days, with different themes, until all 23 days are complete.

The journal progresses as the journey does, so be sure to keep reading to see how my perspectives evolved and matured throughout the trip.

Click Here to Start from Day 1. You can also scroll along the right sidebar to see posts from other days. There’s also an FAQ section you can visit, especially great for those of you making preparations to go to Hajj yourselves.

Please feel free to share with others and to post any comments/feedback. Hope you enjoy :)

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