January 19, 2005

In Muzdalifah

I've lost track of January time, but it's the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah. I haven't written much in a while, because too much has happened in the last few days to afford me writing time. I am currently sitting on my sleeping bag, which is covered with sand. I am in Muzdalifah, and it's been the most unfamiliar of all the Haj rites so far.

On Friday (Jan 14th), we were told that we would be leaving Madinah for Makkah on Sunday (the 16th). That worked, I could spend more time in 'ibadah, and still fit in some shopping time. I spent most of Saturday in Masjid Nabawi, since Sunday was to be my last day. After Isha, I came back to the hotel. The Safa Travel guy was waiting in the lobby, and asked me : "Where have you been? The bus is waiting!" He said we had to leave right away. I thought he was joking. But it was true, we were to leave for Makkah. My mother and I were in total panic - I went back to my hotel room and saw all the other luggage was gone; only mine remained.

I was not in ihram, so I threw one into my school bag quickly. I threw everything else in my suitcase and ran. One of our suitcases was majorly ripped - we were going to replace it on Sunday, but did not have the chance. So in complete disarray, we boarded the bus.

I was so pissed off. Everything had gone relatively smoothly so far, but this ruined everything. I would have to make ihraam in a stall somewhere rather than a comfy hotel room. One of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Madinah first was so that I would be able to shower and put on the ihraam in the hotel, and just make the intention later. I was able to handle every other hardship, but this broke my spirit.

I had a cramped spot on the bus. I really just did not want to talk to anyone, fearing that I would explode if I were to speak. Things only got worse at Abyar Ali (Dhul-Hulaifah) where I found my ihraam too thin and too small. This was not how I hoped it would begin at all.

But it did begin, and I tried building my confidence back by reciting talbiya. I couldn't. I sat dejected for over 12 hours in that bus. Reaching the hotel finally was a bit of a relief. I fell asleep after Zuhr.

After Maghrib, we prepared ourselves for Umrah. I was in a proper ihraam finally, so I felt a little better. We waited a few hours, thus missing Isha at Haram. But we made our 'umrah, and once I had my head shaved, I felt much better.

After another day in Makkah spent mostly on recuperating from the journey, we went to Mina. Hajj had now officially begun. In Mina, I saw a few people I knew, but they either do not know me, or didn't see me. The tents are quite interesting. It's not at all like what I expected, it somehow feels like Raiwindh.

An 'alim from Calgary, running a madrassah in Hope, BC, is here. I was happy to see this, and even more surprised to see Maulana Asim. The BC maulana gave a talk after Maghrib in Urdu, it was quite powerful, though not what I expected.

We came to Arafat on the second day. Still no sign of any friends. I made quite a bit of du'a there, but on leaving, I regret not doing more. Whether I would ever be there again, only Allah SWT knows. We had a whole bunch of fried chicken for lunch, which really seemed like a bad idea considering what I heard about Muzdalifah and washroom lineups. Well, here I am in Muzdalifah, and things haven't been so bad. I went in line before 3:00 am, and only needed to wait about 30 minutes or so - possibly less than in a similar lineup in Arafah. I managed to sleep despite the fact that I had sisters on three sides, with my head laying half in the dirt.

There's this guy next to me who has been trying to bother me by pointing out that it should say "Surah al-Mulk" rather than "Surah Mulk" on the cover of this book I have with me. He then told me I prayed my tahajjud in the wrong direction - that I should have prayed towards the sign that says "QIBLA". He was clearly wrong, though; the sign itself was an arrow, thus Qibla is perpendicular to the direction he told me. It seems as if it's the job of some people in Hajj to test the patience of others.

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