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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 – 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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Day 1 – Preparations

I’ve found that this preparation for going to Hajj is really a preparation for death.”

10/22/11

I’ve found that this preparation for going to Hajj is really a preparation for death. You settle all of your affairs, you seek forgiveness from everyone, prepare a will, say goodbye – don your funeral shroud, & head to the source of your origin.

I know Hajj is meant to be a metaphor for life – the life cycle, specifically. We re-focus ourselves around the most important thing – our connection to Allah. We leave behind everything to answer His Call. We assemble at the place we’ll all be resurrected. We try to grasp the magnitude & horror of that day & we beg for forgiveness. If Hajj is crazy, the Day of Judgment is yonkers. I pray that Allah, the Most Merciful, will see me enduring the Hajj & will forgive me & purify me & will make the DoJ easy for me as a result. Maybe I won’t have to face this twice, iA. May this Hajj, be that it is a lesser trial, suffice in testing me, so that on the DoJ, I will only be receiving the Good News. Ameen.

I also just haven’t been out of the country in 10 years (Canada doesn’t count). So I am a bit nervous about that. I’m not worried though, really, I think it will all be just fine, iA.

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Notes from HajjCoach.com:

“Sabr circle” – when feeling tried, know that it is a test & look at bigger picture, resolve issues w/thankfulness & mercy. Imagine a circle, inside of which are all things you are able to remain patient with. Anything outside of this circle is what will really test you – identify when situations are beyond your Sabr circle when they arise and deal apprehensively. Remember the spirit of Hajj.

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