Tag Archives: home

Day 23 – A Proper Sendoff

“Home. Feels as foreign as Jeddah did 3 weeks ago.”

11/13/11

Our journey, it seems, is never complete without some wholesome, hearty tests of patience. It’s 3:30 am. Our flight back to DC is at 8:25 am, in Jeddah, which is an hour and a half from Mecca. We’re still in Aziziah. We’ve been waiting for hours on the front stoop of our building, with no sign of our bus to take us to the airport. This whole day has been one long waiting game. The anticipation has been killer. The patience here is almost entirely run out, I feel like people in our group are on the verge of snapping. Some people – men and women – have actually broken down into tears out of anxiety about potentially missing their flights. I’m totally calm myself, accepting of the real fact that we may very well miss our flight. Our trip organizer is basically BSing us, saying the bus is coming. But, we’ve been hearing this for over 2 hours. I’ve winded down over the past 2 days. I’m ready to go, but there’s just nothing to do but let the mind wander. This is a test though, like all the others we overcame these past 3 weeks. Who knows what we’re meant to do? I’m going to continue sitting here and waiting patiently for My Host to reveal His Plan to return us home. Or, if we are meant to stay, we must accept our fate. Allah is the best of planners. La ilaaha illa hu.

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We waited from 1 am until 4 am, when our bus finally showed up. We actually stopped a large cargo truck that was passing by before our bus came, and decided to start packing the whole group’s luggage into it to save time in loading our bus, in anticipation of there not being enough space on our bus to hold all of our bags. The wait for the bus and the drive to the airport were both very nerve-wracking. Alot of people just couldn’t take it, the fear of missing the flight was too much. We’ve always been told to arrive at the airport here at least 12 hours early, to even have a chance of getting through to flights on time. Our bus arrived at the airport in Jeddah at 6 am. Our flight was scheduled for 8:25 am. SubhanAllah, by 6:40, we were all done checking in and just went straight onto the plane. We got there and the clerks were like hey! we’ve been expecting you guys. It was so smooth it’s not even funny. Allah is indeed the best of planners, that’s real. We had one final scare when even this bus driver didn’t know how to get to the airport. I mean, really? How all yall drive buses and don’t even know how to get to the major airport? That was it for some people. Luckily, the truck driver we hired to carry our luggage had our group leader with him, so he called us to guide our lost driver. Did I mention I unloaded this truck full of luggage single-handedly? 36 people, close to 70 pieces of luggage, all by myself ,with not so much as a thank you or look of acknowledgement. Alrighty then. That’s not why I did it, but just surprised at how quickly we forget patience and how seriously committed we are to self-service. I’m no exception. Truly blessed is he who, on that Day, will call out for his Ummah, while all will cry out only for themselves. May Allah guide us and bless us to be amongst those closest to Al Mustafa.

I’m on the plane now. I just set my watch to D.C. time :), we have about 10 hours left. I just watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes – pretty dope, 4 stars. Gonna keep watching these flicks till we show up, just killing time now. Alhamdulillah fil kulli hal. Allahu Akbar!

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2 hours left til landing. Everything’s nice and smooth Alhamdulillah. Also watched Super 8 – 3.5 stars, and Henry’s Crime – 4 stars. Started watching Green Lantern, but it sucked so I stopped after half an hour. I wanna also watch The Help, Wrecked, Smurfs, The Beaver, and Source Code. Thank God for in-flight entertainment.

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Home. Feels as foreign as Jeddah did 3 weeks ago. Within 5 minutes, I knew I was back though. We arrived at 1:20 pm. We got through immigration by 2:10 pm and were outside with our bags by 2:40 pm, Alhamdulillah. We waited in line for a while at Customs. Hold up. Let me say that again. We waited. In Line…like…civilized Human beings. It was so simple, but so relieving. I kept fighting the urge to push through and shove my way to the front. It had become second-nature over the past 3 weeks to behave this way, just as a matter of survival. Ironically, many of the people that you would tussle with in crowds to get somewhere were standing calmly and peacefully in the same line as you. Suddenly, we all have etiquette again. Way to go, America.

I was also thrilled to see Latinos! I haven’t seen a Latino in 3 weeks! White people too. You don’t understand how good it felt to be around some European diversity again. Sure, they stare at you funny, something I also miss ;), but at least they behave! mA.

The sight of that flag too, Allahu Akbar. Never have I really felt a sincere appreciation like this for this country. We truly are blessed to live here. Allah blessed mankind with something uniquely magnificent with this nation. What a great opportunity, what a blessing to be here. I was happy to see officials that speak English too! Shooo, question me all you want, I’m home papa, that’s all that matters. Alhamdulillah, no problems though, got right through.

My uncle and aunt picked us up, we’re riding back now from Dulles Airport, almost home. It’s about 20 more mins. My parents are going on about all the problems they faced – complaining so much. I’m like yo – can we mention some good things too. Khair, iA. Hajji’s don’t always realize the affect their stories have on others, and the appalling things tend to stick out more.

If you ever go for Hajj, try to share the good experiences you had too. The next stage is adjusting, conveying those messages and stories – finding focus in life, learning from the experiences, and sharing them with others. Alhamdulillah wa Shukr. Ya Rabb, please continue to help me through and to keep focus. Thank you for bringing us back safely. Now begins the real journey.

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Day 4 – My 2nd Home

So maybe stability is the beginning of serenity. Remove the unknowns & find ease. Provide constants, standards, absolutes…and society will be at peace.”

10/25/11

The Ka’aba just makes me so overwhelmed sometimes. It’s 11:45 pm – for the past 20 mins probably, I’ve been standing here, staring at it. After I woke up, I moved from my spot and wandered back up to the rail to look at it again. It’s just so fascinating, especially from up here [on the roof]. This is a great time to be exactly where I am, Alhamdulillah. I haven’t gotten moved yet, so maybe I’m supposed to be here & enjoy it, this time :P

When you look into the ground floor, you see two completely different phenomenons, simultaneously. The first, all the people there – walking, chanting, praying, struggling, moving – being together. The second, even greater than the first, is the stability of the Ka’aba in the center of it all – like a mountain in the middle of a turbulent sea, unmoved, unwavering, constant. I feel like this structure represents Allah’s role in this Universe. The Absolute, The Constant. Everything else is fluid, changing, fluctuating, temporal. He is the Source of Stability, and we, unstable, desperate beings, are drawn in – seeking to cling to His stability to find stability within. To find peace, tranquility, success.

This place feels like home. Not home in the sense that I’m super comfortable, I can kick back & lounge anywhere I want & help myself to anything in the fridge – though, I do feel like I can rest anywhere & I have been getting my fill of Zam Zam at every opportunity. But, the feeling you get when you’re here is the feeling you should have when you’re home. Serene & peaceful. Allah, The Most Generous, has opened His Sacred House to us all & shown us the greatest hospitality by making our hearts the concern for care. Please repair our hearts ya Rabb. Help me to leave this life with a pure, sound heart & to live in this world with such a heart so I may benefit others.

My experience here last night, compared with tonight, is so vastly different. Last night was like a riot – everything bombarding me all at once, me diving right in, head first. I pushed through, trying to go all the way, not holding back & achieving what I strove for in some cases. But, I poured out everything in my heart. I saw the Ka’aba and I dumped out all my worries, hopes, dreams, wishes, desires, fears – everything I could think of. I poured it all out & now I feel at ease – like I’m ready to receive something new. Ya Rabb, fill my heart with something better – better for me, better for this world, better for the Hereafter. That’s one of the reasons I write as well, to clear the heart & mind. In my struggle to retain my experiences, my mind gets overwhelmed & stressed. Writing captures my heart & allows me to let go so that I can have new experiences & appreciate them fully. Ya Allah, help me to write well always – to convey ideas beautifully, to capture my heart’s words perfectly, and to inspire & move others with these words of truth & expression.

LOL…ok, after I wrote that, I had nothing else to say. I’ve been staring off at random things for the past 5 mins. Maybe I can say more about last night:

After I completed tawaf, I was trying to make my way back out, to do 2 rak’ahs behind the Maqam of Ibrahim [The place Abraham stood in prayer to Allah, facing the Ka’aba]. I managed to get to it, touch it & look inside – you can see the cemented footsteps. [I later learned this was actually a stone from Heaven, brought by the angel Gabriel, for Abraham to stand on while building the Ka’aba. His feet sank 4 inches into the stone, leaving behind clear imprints] I went further back, still on the ground floor, and prayed 2 rak’ahs, directly facing the Ka’aba, not more than 30 yards away from it. That was awesome. It’s such an elegant structure – stands very tall [43 ft] & is very tastefully decorated. I’d say the same for this whole masjid actually. It’s very tastefully ornamented & adorned, very elegantly designed.

So funny. I moved a little while ago, I was getting crowded at the rail. I moved back against the wall, where there was no one around. Maybe 20 mins go by, and now there’s a group of 5 men that just came & laid down around me – making me want to move again. Nothing is constant except The Constant. We are indeed transient & ever-shifting, as is our nature. Even the nature of our very hearts, which lead us, is to constantly change & flip. It’s a beautiful contrast, again, to The One, who will always be as He always was. He is The Reason, He is The Source, He is The Absolute. This universe would not function any other way. There would be confusion & conflict – not just the internal & societal discrepancies we perceive to be universal conflict, but actual catastrophes in the cosmos. Celestial unrest. There would be no stability in this Universe. La ilaha illallah (There is no god but Allah).

So maybe stability is the beginning of serenity. Remove the unknowns & find ease. Provide constants, standards, absolutes, relatively speaking, and society will be at peace. That’s a mission I can grasp, something real I can focus on, subhanAllah. Provide everyone with basic standards of living – remove those worries from their minds & hearts, let them find peace. Let them be guided to Allah’s fields & hopefully they will settle in its gardens.

Wow, time flies when you’re at peace & you’re being inspired. It’s 12:45 am. I should go sleep, I need to be here for Fajr in 5 hours. InshaAllah khair.

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Filed under Al-Masjid Al-Haram, Mecca, Reflections