Tag Archives: qibla

Day 4 – At Second Glance

That’s what I’d like to see, for Mecca to become a marketplace of ideas & stories as much as it is a marketplace for jewels & cheap, Chinese prayer beads.”

10/25/11

I just prayed Maghrib on mount Safa. I think Shuraim led the prayer & he recited the verse about As-Safa in the 2nd rak’ah :). That was cool. During prayer time, it’s completely silent. Hundreds of thousands of people – everywhere you look – in the same position, reciting the same words, facing the same qibla. It’s awe-inspiring. It’s so much easier to cry in salah here. I teared up in the first rak’ah when he recited “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un” (Surely, we belong to Him and surely, to Him is our return), but maybe that’s cuz that verse always gets me. Here, at least you just feel it so much more. When he says we all belong to Him, I believe it so much easier – how else would we have all gotten here? How else would we be altogether in this place, in this way, if we were not His slaves & property? So, if we are His property and we are to return to Him, then may our return to Him be as joyous & peaceful as our current union in this wonderful city. Ameen.

Mecca, specifically Masjid Al-Haram, just became my favorite place in this planet. Apparently Medina is even more tranquil than this?? That’s something I have to see. This place is special because it is So busy, just like NYC – but in a 3rd world country, & unified around a single theme – worship of The One. So much more than in NYC can you see every part of the world here, and completely, utterly unfiltered, in its most raw & true form. People make no attempts to hide who they are or be anything else – they are purely themselves, from wherever they’re from. And this place accepts them all, however they are. So beautiful. There’s also tons of Desi’s here – I don’t even need to speak Arabic, so many people, especially workers & shop keepers, speak Urdu. Even the Arabs speak Urdu, probably since so many of their workers do – like Spanish in America.

Speaking of which, for some reason my dad keeps speaking Spanish with the locals. He either speaks in English, or in Spanish. I have to keep reminding him that no one knows what the heck “gracias” means here. It’s kind of funny. He’ll be haggling with a cab driver and randomly bust out with an “Ok! Si, si, si!” and just get a blank stare. Of the many languages spoken here, Spanish, surprisingly, is not one of them – at least not as far as I can tell. I miss Latinos.

Another thing about prayer is, when the imam isn’t reciting, it’s silent. All you hear is birds chirping & people coughing – and ALOT of people be coughing. Everyone seems sick, it’s kind of gross b/c alot of them don’t cover their nose or mouth when they cough or sneeze. Makes me imagine that the Haram would be a great place to do educational outreach – it would reach samples of the entire world’s population.

Mecca could be so much more of a Mecca, to be honest. It’s surprisingly underwhelming. The masjid is the only part of the city that really seems to have it together. There should be institutions here that help to capitalize on the opportunity here – not just from a business perspective, but a Humanitarian perspective. That’s something to seriously consider. I don’t know if it’s something that isn’t being allowed, or is too expensive to manage here, but there’s great work that can come out of such an establishment. So many people come here, but they don’t really connect with each other. We connect with the Ka’aba, with Allah & with each other merely as bodies occupying spaces adjacent to us, not as brothers & sisters from regions throughout the world, facing struggles, hardships, pain, suffering – or even joys & successes – that can all be shared & leveraged.

That’s what I’d like to see, for Mecca to become a marketplace of ideas & stories as much as it is a marketplace for jewels & cheap, Chinese prayer beads.

Before I forget – I wanted to make mention of the look on the face of the Saudi guard watching over Hajr Al-Aswad. He looked overwhelmed, like he was holding back tears, while guarding the corner. Then, I imagined how powerful it must be, to stand where he stands, to look out at the magnitude of the place he’s in. To look into the fervent faces of pilgrims & zealous worshippers, to see them struggling so hard to get closer, to even simply brush their fingertips across the corner he is posted at. And it’s continuous. Never-ending. Perpetual. Until the end of this place. SubhanAllah.

I should eat right? It’s almost 7pm, I’ve been here for 4 hours – just writing & reflecting. All I’ve had today is ZamZam – and I haven’t really felt hungry. I had some KFC this morning before heading back to the hotel after Fajr – it wasn’t all that. Halal Popeye’s back home is better actually. I’m gonna go peep that Burger King tho, been fienin for it. More later iA, still need to talk about after tawaf & the rest of this morning iA.

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Reflecting on salah. I actually took so long to get out after maghrib that it came time for Isha. So, I prayed before leaving. I imagine the city full of people, stopping at the adhan, turning to the Ka’aba & devoting themselves in salah. The imam recites the revealed words of Allah out over loudspeakers, which resound through the streets, fill the air and are snatched down by the open, devoted hearts of the worshippers. No word goes un-seized.

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

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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