2.00a.m - Tawaf Ifada

Rasheeda and I were paired with another couple Sister Nafa and her husband to perfrom Tawaf  Ifada [return from Mina circumambulation of the Ka’bah] .

The trip to  the Ka’bah was an adventure in itself. The driver of the bus that was supposed to have come for us thought we were in Mina and  he had gone there, not realizing that we had walked across to our hotel earlier in the evening. It was just a twenty-five –thirty minutes walk. What made it difficult was, of course, the massive, massive crowds.

The roads to our hotel were closed and no vehicles could enter. We had to walk to the main road. We left the hotel at about 10.30 p.m. I believe. When we got into a bus, it was a long ‘PH’ one, with no air conditioning and the gears kept grating. We were charged five Saudi Rials per person. And the traffic was horrendous.

In fact, we witnessed the most outrageous kind of driving on the roadways. I can’t  over emphasize the notion that Saudis are lawless when it comes to driving. These drivers were actually reversing for long distances on the Main Road! And the police actually turn a blind eye to it. Vehicles are overcrowded and the police don’t bat an eye. Different cultures, I suppose.

We took our time and completed the rites to our satisfaction. During the course of our Tawaf we were able to touch the Station of Ibrahim twice! Alhamdulillah! Touching the Ka’bah though still remains an elusive goal.

At the completion of the  rites in the Ka’bah and after I had showered, I experienced a feeling of peace and tranquility- a feeling of contentment and fulfillment.  I had completed the fifth pillar of Islam.

When we arrived back in Azizia at about 3.00 a.m. some of us went for ice cream!

  Tawaf after Eid
At 3.30 a.m. I had showered and was ready for bed. At 5.30 a.m. a splitting headache woke me up.  This necessitated praying Fajr in the hotel room that morning and was back in bed soon after. When I next awoke, it was just after 9.00 a.m.

After Zuhr, we were to perform the last pelting of Shaitan. Sheriff recommended that only men should go and that they should pelt for the women. The jamarrah was only 10-15 minutes away from the hotel in Azizia.  On our way, the crowd continued to be thick. This never-ending stream of humanity was in a constant state of Ibadaah to Allah.  

Along the way I looked up at the mountain as it rose vertically and barren into the sky, some places eight to ten storey high.  It was absolutely sheer. The Saudis had actually cut the mountains to make the roadway and the hotels that lined the roads. Our hotel was the last along the road and thus the nearest to the Jamaarah.

And then I noticed the chain link wire was plastered on to the mountain side with concrete in an attempt to minimize the risk of falling rocks onto the roadway. No doubt huge cranes would have been used in the accomplishment of this task. And at huge costs as well.

After throwing the pebbles for Rasheeda and me the realization came upon me that I could not see anyone from my group, thus concluding that they had already completed the ritual and left for the return journey to the hotel.

But here I was on the second floor of the Jamaarah with the multitudes but alone in my thoughts while absorbing the landscape around me. In the distance there was what looked to be the hotel.  Walking towards it there were exits points leading to four or five different places, across the street were the mountains, the sheer, vertical concrete - plastered mountains and  immediately I was sure of the exit to take.