Morning_ Saturday 7th December – 9th Zil Hajj

Mount Arafah which stands about 70 meters high, is a granite hill to the east of the Holy City of Makkah. It was on Mount Arafah that Adam and Eve, separated for 200 years following their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, recognized each other and were reunited. Here too they were forgiven by Allah, the Merciful, for their transgression. And here, in present times, the pilgrim performing Hajj must spend an afternoon in a state of Ihram.  The 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah is the day of Arafah. It is this day when the pilgrims gather on the mountain plain of Arafah, praying and supplicating to their Lord.  The day of Arafah holds great importance in Islam since this is the Day when Allah completed his revelation on His Messenger (sallahu alaihe wa-sallam).  Arafah is the day on which Allah took the covenant from the progeny of Adam (alaihis-salaam).  Arafah is a day of Forgiveness from sins, freedom from the Hell-Fire for the people who are present in the plain of Arafah.

This is ‘D’ Day - the real Day of the Hajj. Many of the brothers are up early. Many pray Tahajjud. I would learn later that many sisters did the same. We have no breakfast. We leave at 7:00 a.m. for Arafah. The roads are crowded. People are packed liked sardines in vehicles.

In our own bus, Rasheeda has found a seat but I can’t find a seat though it is the same bus that brought all of us to Mina. The driver comes down the aisle for a passenger check to find that a couple not attached to our group has joined us on the bus. They seem to have lost their group.  But though we know not from whence they came,  but we are certain  we are going to the same destination, Arafah. Though I was prepared to stand, the driver convinces the couple to move, however another brother offers his seat to the sister. But she did not wish leave her husband’s side.  Different cultures, I suppose, so they sat on the floor of the bus, near the back exit.  With the seating sorted out, Rasheeda was able to sit beside me.

Looking at the traffic we see there are vehicles carrying twice the number of passengers they are designed to transport. Thirteen seater (maxis) are transporting twenty (20) or more. There is a suburban with fifteen on top, a like number inside and for good measure; one guy was standing on the bumper and holding on to the hood. The driving too is crazy; drivers are cutting in and out of traffic and some are using the unpaved road median to weave in and out to get ahead of the other vehicles.  There are motorcycles traveling the wrong way on the highway to get to Arafah.

It was a magnificent demonstration of a people deeply moved by a faith that was preached 1429 years ago by an unlettered Messenger of God, Muhammad (saw).

As the highway sign marking the way to Taif came into view  emotions overcame me and the tears began to flow down my cheeks.  The memory of the suffering experienced by our Beloved Rasulullah (saw) in that place flooded my soul.  Here the Messenger’s limits of endurance and patience was severely tested.  It was the Year of Sorrows (619 CE) when his beloved wife Khadijah (ra) and his protector uncle Abu Talib both died.  It was the long awaited opportunity of the Makkan elite (now under the leadership of archenemy Abu Lahab) to remove the protection of the Banu Hashim clan thus leaving Muhammad  (s) under threat of physical elimination.  According to Arab custom anyone who is under the protection of another is safe so long as his protector lives. Now, with the death of his uncle, the Prophet's protection was gone.  This signaled to all that there will be no retaliation for bringing harm to the Beloved of Allah (Habibullah).  This resulted in increasing their attacks on him even having the young children throw things at him and insult him.

Recognizing that there is now a dead end and no safety in Makkah, because the hearts of Quraysh were closed against him. He decided, therefore, to travel to Ta'if (with Zayd his adopted son) where he hoped to find support. He walked all the way to the town, which was seventy kilometers away. There he spoke in all the places where people gathered, but no one listened to him. He met the leaders of the three most important tribes but they would not listen either. Not only did they take no notice of what he said, but they laughed at him and encouraged their servants and children to insult him and pelt him with stones to make them leave the city and never come back. Muhammad and Zayd were finally turned out by mocking and jeering crowds. The rocks that were thrown at Muhammad and Zayd by the Ta'if mob caused them to bleed. Both were wounded and bleeding as they left Ta’if behind them. Muhammad bled so profusely from the stoning that his feet became clotted to his shoes and he could barely see straight.

Sadly, the Prophet (pbuh) left the city and found a quiet place near a wall on the edge of town where he could be alone. There he prayed to Allah in these words: " O Allah, to You I complain of my weakness, helplessness and lowliness before men. 0 Most Merciful, You are the Lord of the weak, and You are my Lord. To whom would You leave my fate? To a stranger who insults me or to an enemy to whom You hast given power over me? If You are not angry with me, I care not what happens to me. Your favor alone is my objective. I take refuge in the Light of Your countenance by which the darkness is illumined and on which this world and the other depend, lest Your anger descend upon me or Your wrath light upon me. It is for You to be satisfied until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might save through You."

The Angel Gabriel came to Muhammad and asked him if he wanted him to destroy the town, suggesting that he could crush the town by slamming it between two nearby mountains, but Muhammad declined Gabriel's offer by saying, "Maybe Allah will produce from their offspring ones who will worship Him alone."

The wall near which the Prophet (pbuh) was sitting belonged to a garden owned by two brothers.  When they heard his prayer, they were very sorry for him and sent one of their servants to him with a dish filled with grapes. Before he began to eat, the Prophet (pbuh) said 'Bismillah'-'In the Name of Allah.' The servant, whose name was 'Addas, was very surprised at these words, which he had never heard before. 'By Allah', said 'Addas, 'this is not the way the people of this country speak.' 'Then from what country do you come, 'Addas, and what is your religion?' asked the Prophet (pbuh). 'I am a Christian from the Assyrian town of Nineveh', he replied. 'From the town of that good man Jonah, son of Matta', added the Prophet 'How do you know about him?' asked 'Addas. 'He is my brother-he was a Prophet and I am a Prophet', answered the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). 'Addas bent down and kissed the Prophet's head, his hands and his feet, because now he saw that he was truly a Prophet thus declaring his acceptance of Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) then walked back to Makkah, where he sought and received asylum from his uncle  Mut‘im ibn ‘Adi.

And yet for another time, my mind asked “what I had done to deserve to be in this place, this the most blessed place on the earth, the place loved by Allah the most”.  To be even on the same ground as he (saw) who suffered so much to leave a legacy of pure worship to the One God of all humanity and a framework for humanity to develop sincerity of intentions, purity of mind, body and soul.  What a remarkable inheritance to many now take for granted.

I see the sign of Arafah - Arafah begins here!

Rasheeda, who is dozing next to me, stirs. But my tears are flowing again; this is the place where the Judgment will take place.  I am actually seeing Arafah!

Now my thoughts wonder about the spot the Messenger stood to deliver his final sermon. Sheriff points out Jabal ar-Rahmah  (the Mount of Mercy) the place where he said, Adam and Eve were re-united after so many tears of separation and where of course our Prophet stood for his final  khutbah.

On the hill is the awesome sight of a sea of white clad pilgrims. Dear God, why does this place move me so? Why do I feel that nothing really matters, only Allah and His Messenger and this Message?  Arafah is mind boggling. Over two or three million people in one place at the same time, chanting the same prayers and all because it is the legacy of one man, who performed these rites, fourteen hundred and twenty nine  years ago.

Dear God, save me from being a hypocrite.

Dear God, save me from being conceited.

Dear God, accept me as one who believes, as one who practices.

Oh Allah, accept my wife Rasheeda and our children, as those who believe. Accept our good deeds, Allah and save us from the fire. Oh Allah, I want them with me in the Hereafter! I’ll have no other! They are foremost, Allah. ameen.

Standing on the plains of Arafah with Rasheeda making zikr, praising Allah in the manner recommended by Rasulullah (saw). Then together we made dua, earnestly and sincerely in the manner recommended by Rasulullah (saw). One of which reads as follows:

"There is none worthy of worship besides Allah, He is all by Himself, He has no partner, His is the Kingdom, for Him is all praise, He has power over all things. O Allah, make Nur (light) in my heart, in my ears Nur and in my eyes Nur. O Allah open my chest (bossom), make my tasks easy and I seek refuge in You from the whispers of the chest, from disorganisation in working and from the punishment of the grave. O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the evils that come with the wind".

Pilgrims at the Mount Arafat
Yet again our emotions get the better of us. We make dua for all those who asked us to. We make dua for near and dear ones. And we make duah for each other. It was made with honesty, with sincerity, straight from our hearts and we ask Allah to accept us.  We both know the intensity and passion of our pleadings.  I won’t try to explain it but it is another profound moment in our Hajj. It is our fervent hope that our dua will be accepted and that all those who asked will have their legitimate wishes granted.

Arafah, the Hajj, if it is missed the Hajj was not done. The tradition tells us of Allah descending to the lowest heaven to answer the prayers of his servants. It also tells us that Shaitan is most disgraced and humiliated on this day.

There is a medical clinic here next door to our camp.  Subhan Allah, a number of pilgrims from our group, including myself, took the opportunity to visit the doctor  as many of us had respiratory problems. I was given antibiotics, panadol and something for my sore throat.

At sunset when it is time to leave Arafah, our leader makes a soul stirring dua that moved pilgrims to tears. We embrace each other. It is another profound moment in our  pilgrimage to the House and Allah and it’s sacred neighbourhood.

9th Zilhijjah listen to Hajj khutbah at Masjid e Nimrah (Mosque of Nimrah),Arafat Video 2008 Shaykh Abdul Aziz gave a beautiful speech, he talked about belief in Allah alone, in following Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him], hajj, good business relations, making halal money, using the media and giving good da'wah to people, being kind to family and neighbours, being just to the non-Muslims, he gave advice to the Muslim rulers and told them to do more for Muslims, he told Muslims to unite and fight those who oppressed them, he spoke against terrorism and extremism, he spoke about many topics including looking after the environment!

As we leave Arafah on the bus to go to Muzdallifa, what a scene played before our eyes. It is etched forever in my mind.  Millions are walking from the glorious chaos on the roads we see the never ending sea of pilgrims in their white garb, streaming towards Muzdallifa. A four lane highway, maybe a six lane has turned into an eight lane roadway. Trinidad drivers are tame compared to these hajj drivers.