Saturday 6th December – 8th Zil Hajj

Pilgrims put on Ihram for Hajj on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah and go to Mina.  The pilgrims recite the talbiyah on this day:

Labbayka allahumma labbayk

labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk

innal hamdal wan-ni'mata laka wal mulklaa shareeka lak

Here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners.

Our day of anticipation has arrived.  We have changed into Ihram. It continues to have an effect on me - a feeling of sobriety and solemnity.  At 7:30 a.m. we walk in pairs down into the town area to get the bus to go to Mina. I marvel at the landscape. The mountains are sheer, straight up and bare. They continue to be a source of fascination to me. A land so barren, so bereft of resources (at the time of Rasullullah [saw]) is chosen by Allah to be given the greatest of riches - the personality of Muhammad (saw) and the priceless gift that is Islam in the form of the Quran and the Sunnah.

The tent city of Mina
The tents scene is captivating; these dirty, white tops fill the landscape as far as the eyes could see seemingly reaching to the horizon. Here the greatness of the Messenger of Allah (saw) is manifested and fills me with awe. A pilgrimage that he took 1429 years ago is re-enacted with zeal and religious fervor by millions and millions of followers. It is a journey that brings out the best in humanity - again I see the kindness, the consideration, the tolerance displayed by total strangers to each other.

We have a slight scare in finding our tents. Security at the gate does not have any reservation for Al Hassan No. 26 bus. Sheriff makes a call to an agent who upon showing up speaks with some other officials and we are shown our tents. The tents are air-conditioned. The women are placed some distance away from the men many of whom are nursing illnesses. My voice is all but gone though I had been gorging myself with panadol and a broad-spectrum antibiotics, honey, sinus tablets and Buckley’s and - did I mention honey? I took honey twice - once from a bottle, kindly and generously given to Rasheeda and me by Rasheeda’s good friend, Rabbiya.

Every time I took a swig on the bottle, as directed by Rabbiya, I remember her and ask Allah’s blessings for her - I never realized that a bottle of honey would mean so much to me.   Rasheeda  feels likewise.  Thanks a whole lot for the package of medications and necessities, Rabs!! May Allah truly bless you.

In the tents, brothers are reciting Qur’an, making duas, reading about Hajj, making Zikr and some are nursing illnesses.  Sheriff continues to be a bundle of energy, trying his best to motivate and inspire the group. No doubt, he is seeing the strain on the faces of some of the brothers.  I, myself, am suffering but it is a purge from Allah and I console myself.

Mina  - After Isha and dinner

Sister pilgrims on 2008 Hajj
Being in Mina is overwhelming, Rasheeda and I are actually here, in Mina - the very place where Rasullullah (saw) spent the day and night when he performed the Hajj  We prayed the way he prayed- when in Hajj – two rakaah Zuhr, two rakaah Asr, three rakaah Maghrib and two rakaah Isha.

Half of our camp are asleep at about 9.00 p.m. and the other half are talking about the local i.e. (Trinidad) Muslim community.  Of course I don’t know what the women are doing as they are not with us.  Tomorrow, Insha Allah  we leave for Arafah - the day of Hajj.

A quick health check and note with dismay that I am getting nose bleed, my voice is all but gone and the cold is rattling in my chest.  I have taken a lot of cold tablets and feeling as fine as I am expected in these circumstances.  But Insha Allah, I am hopeful that I’ll be fine come morning.