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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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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 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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