Remembering Hajj Again – 2009

By Abida Rahmani
Nov 25th 8th Zilhajj

We arrived at Mina from Azizia (Mecca) today. Found it too much changed than the hajj that we performed in 1983. Lots of improvements have been done here.Tent is big enough to accommodate all three groups of us. Ladies in one tent and gents in the other one. We arrived here by bus after 12pm. The sky in Mecca was over cast since morning a significant scene to watch.(After arrival in Mecca Namaz-i- istisqa was offered in Haram because of drought situation).Therefore every one was waiting for rain.It was a big thunderstorm and rained heavily after it. Our tent was leaking a bit from corners. We turned our umbrellas upside down to prevent leakage and put the empty blankets plastic bags to save our beds. The streets of Mina flooded in a while. It is a common concept that if it rained on hajis, their hajj is accepted. May it be like this Allah is the most merciful. It rained for at least 3-4 hours with light drizzle for the whole day.
To watch the tented city was an amazing & amusing sight. The arrangement inside were fantastic and luxurious. Thick foam mattresses which could be folded in a couch seat, brand new blankets and brand new pillows and sheets. Tent had a special air conditioning system and these tents are fireproof. The food was quite festive with lots of dishes of Arabic and Mediterranean cuisine.
Wondered if our organizers had provided us a part of this during our earlier stay, when we ran after arranging our food and meals. In fact the arrangements in Mina were a lot better than my expectations. Over all the arrangements were lot more better than 26 years earlier. Mina had paved streets in the middle of tents. Bathrooms had shower facilities too over the commodes. Which some of the ladies resisted earlier but ultimately had the shower. There is no proper sewerage system, all the toilets are set up on an open drain, that is why one can smell a lot of stink . Every toilet had a water pipe or hose. However some of the toilets got messed up soon and the back up cleaning system was a total failure. There were clear signs for men & Women but still the people did not follow.

A bazaar was set up on the side of the main road and lot of vendors selling off nice stuff.
Our region of tents were assigned to Hajjis from North America, Europe, Australia and Turkey. In other words those were hajjis of the developed world. There was a mic connection to our tent from men’s tent and we could listen to all the announcements, tazkirs and prayed together..
For food mostly the ladies first was the motto. Me, Kalsoom and Sadia were side by side. Soon we got befriended to our tent mates, some of whom we knew from earlier.

Nov 26th 9th Zilhajj Yaumi Arafaa

It is the day of Arafat the main pillar of Hajj and we have to leave for Arafaat as soon as possible. It was 9 am that we proceeded through big buses for Arafaat, Saudi Government has restricted movement through big buses and the roads are wide open, Therefore it was a good flow of traffic and did not notice any traffic jam. We took our lunch boxes along, which more of snacks mostly white creamy sweat stuff. The carpets in the tents were a bit wet with yesterday rains. Every where hajis could be seen reciting talbiyah Labaika Allahumma Labaik Labiaka la sharika laka labaik innal hamda wa naimata laka wal mulk la sharika lak ( O Allah I am present at your service and there is no one equal you, all the praise and glory is for you, you are the king and there is no one equal you) The media and surveillance helicopters were howling over head. We were given nice polao in lunch..
We prayed and prayed to Allah (swt) for our forgiveness, forgiveness of our departed loved ones and my intention of doing this hajj for my beloved son. Begged for his mercy and blessings for my self, for the departed loved ones , for whole umma and especially for my kids, grand kids, brothers, sister & all the gracious people who did Ehsaan with me.Prayed while standing in the later day. Most of us went out and prayed ,cried and begged to Allah(swt) for his mercy ,blessings ,forgiveness and for the strength of Umma . Here I could see a sea of Muslims all around. Men in white ahraams ,ladies in different colors. “O Allah we are so many in numbers but we do not have any weight any strength, any power. Give us strength give us supremacy, grant us with wisdom and good judgment..” Ameen

The pathetic part is that we all are God fearing, God loving people but extremely disorganized and undisciplined. By the end of the day the whole area was just littered up with garbage, water gushing from broken pipes in the toilets which were unbearable. O Allah give them strength ,unity and discipline.Although the conditions are a lot more better than 26 years back but still more improvement is required.
At 9pm we started for Muzdalifa and I was again back on my memory lane of the last hajj, when it took us almost 5 hours to reach there by 24 seater coaster. It was so suffocating with running engines and traffic jam that I cried a lot like a small kid and Ahad (my Late husband)was comforting me.It was the toughest time in that hajj. But now we reached so quickly . The whole area was fully bright and well lit like day. Whole of the big ground covered with hajis, we were supposed to find our place in between. We had only our valuables and sleeping bags.

Following the sunnah of Prophet (SAWS) there was one azaan and two aqamaaz for Maghrib and Isha prayers. Which were Qasr( shortened prayers).we spread out sleeping bags and tried to sleep which was extremely difficult. It was like if we were fixed in a match box, just neck to feet with each other. All the hajis were sleeping like this with so much humility on this hard ground just for the pleasure of Allah( SWT) to be successful; in the eternal life to fulfill the fifth pillar of Islam. Hajj is a tradition of Ibrahim(AS) followed by Mohammad (SAWS) and obligatory for those Muslims who can afford. Our muallim sheikh Abu Abdussalaam described Muzdalifa as a thousand star hotel, which is absolutely correct.I was trying to avoid the feet of the men sleeping to my head side.
I tried to sleep which was extremely difficult, the lady next to me was snoring a lot.Despite that slept for a couple of hours. At 2:15 am got up and went to toilet. It was absolutely busy and a very long line,It almost took one hour .Did tahjjud and then fajr did some tilawat and talbiya and started waiting for bus to come back to Mina. Got the bus at 8:30 am and arrived back at Mina to our tent which was like coming back home. While leaving Muzdalifa the whole ground was littered with sleeping bags, mats , pillows and carpets. A lot of needy people were collecting those. We brought our ones back.
Nov27th 10th Zilhajj Eid day

After getting back , had a bath and changed, now we were out of Ihraam and most of the restrictions were gone. It was announced that our sacrifices have been done. We greeted each other Eid- Mubarak. the ladies got busy in threading, nail cutting and make ups.Received calls from Farooqs, Khalids, Nasirs, Asim & Amir Alhamdolillah. It rained again today. Then we started to leave for jamaraat. I put on my joggers, it was a long walk but thoroughly enjoyable. The way to Jamarrat is specially designed ,what an amazing rout and complex!! Saudi Govt has spend a lot of money and expertise in designing this complex. We went through three big tunnels equipped with big blowers , lots of plastic bottles sucked up to it.
The flow of people was like a flooding sea on wide roads reciting Talbiyah and getting to encounter the symbols of shaitan. That Shaitan who came in the way of Ibrahim (AS) to stop him from sacrificing his son Ismail by the orders of Allah(swT). Ibrahim threw pebbles on Shaitan while proceeding on his way. His act was so much appreciated by almighty that he made it a ritual of Hajj till the day of judgment. I was over whelmed with this gigantic flow of hajis. They were of different colors, creeds and nationalities. Most of the groups were greatly organized and distinguished with their coats, hats ,ribbons .caps,shoes, trousers, skirts,scarfs etc.
Most of those were Malaysians ,Indonesians, Chinese, Turkish and from other countries.

During my last hajj we were not allowed to go for Rami because of the great rush and accidents . We were asked to give our stones or pebbles to our Mehrams. Therefore no one in ladies from our camp went. I was sick too down with flue and it was always on my mind because some of the scholars in Pakistan said that it is a compulsory act. When Ahad, Jamshed bhai and Nadeem got back from Rami there feet were badly hurt and chappals missing. This time we were wearing our regular shoes or joggers because the sheikh told us that women can wear any type of shoes and the men wore strong sandals too .The men were not out of Ihraam as yet because they had to shave.I was greatly excited this time and thanked Allah for granting me this opportunity again.
This was a huge complex, Jamarrat were erected as in the shape of wide pillars going through
many stories and all the precautions were taken to avoid accidents. It was a very smooth flow. Hajis coming in groups and moving towards other Jamra. The pebbles we collected from Muzdalifa in the size of a chick pea and we were supposed to throw seven on each jamrah saying bismillahi Allahu akbar. After completing this ritual we were on our way back and stopped under a bridge on the road. There men went for shaving their heads or haircut, we did a little bit with our scissors and each other’s help.
Many hajis had spread out their mats, sitting and sipping tea. We accommodate ourselves with them, later on we offered maghrib prayers .Saw a few Pakistanis from Punjab looking for some lost relatives. We tried to help them out. On our way to Jamaraat we recited Talbiyah, now on our way back we have to recite Takbeer. All the intention for glorifying the greatness of Allah(swt). We did the same on 11th Zilhajj. Some of our people went on their own to do Tawafi- Ziarat which is like an Umra doing Tawaf and Sae in Haram. This is the end part of Hajj. For the rest of us the Sheikh assured us that we can do it later without any penalty. This Tawaf is a must for a married couple, with out that they can not relate to each other physically.
Nov 29th 12th zilhaj
Today we again went for Rammi, this time our sheikh guided us all the way up on escalators. I’ve gone up and down long escalators in different amusement parks and buildings but this was a unique experience. Going all the way up to hit Shaitan. we went through 4 sets of high escalators. After hitting shaitan we went all around the roof to have a glimpse of Mina the tented city for Hajis. There were a series of tents up in the hills and those were VIP tents.
Nov30th 13th Zilhajj
Today we were leaving Mina and after Rammi were heading to Haram for tawafi ziarat and then to Azizia. We did our packing, rolled up our blankets, sheets and pillows and started waiting for bus. This was the last day for all hajis at Mina. We had to take a long way for bus. The streets were just littered with all kind of garbage, a lot of food stuff was thrown out too.
We did rammi and came back to bus which dropped us at the inside door of haram. It wasMaghrib time, offered prayers on stairs and then went for Tawaf . Some of it did upstairs on the top floor, then on the second floor . After doing Saee went in search of food to Burjul Bait where we were supposed to meet other companions and then ride in bus.
Zubair wanted to eat in Hardies an American franchise. It was nice burger and because it was Halaal. We had some tea and roamed in the area. An upscale mall and food court of course.
Around 12:30 am we sat on the bus and came back to Azizia.
Alhamdolillah our Hajj was over and in a couple of days we were leaving for Toronto.

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