Friday 12th December

Up at 5.30 a.m. but was still sleepy and tired. However there was Fajr to be performed  and being in its vicinity wanted to go to the Haram to take advantage of its blessed gathering.  I awoke the others and left.

The street was crowded with people hurrying to the Haram, then the realization dawn on me that the prayer had already started; others were on the street praying. The first rakaah (unit) had been completed.  Hurriedly I took  a piece of discarded cardboard, placed it next to the fellow pilgrim who was busy placing a piece of cardboard on the side walk to also join in the prayer. We got the second rakaah and completed the prayer on our own.

Then having rushed  back to the hotel, I found my three room mates performing Fajr. When they were finished, I performed the two sunnah units which the Rasul (uwbp) said should be performed ‘even if wild horses are running over you’.

Still feeling really ill I went back to bed and was up again before 9.00 a.m. still in time for breakfast.

It was the Day of Jumma and got to the Haram at 11 o’clock. Rasheeda was already there in the courtyard she reported in our phone conversation and though I too was in the courtyard; we could not see each other. An urgent emergency saw me hurriedly leaving the courtyard and heading for the hotel. Upon returning, I had to be contented with praying that Jumma  in the street. However, I was able to get back to the hotel afterwards before the others.

When Rasheeda returned we had lunch together. Her dress was torn so she had to change and thereafter went shopping for clothes.

After Asr that evening, I stayed in the Haram until Isha.  That entire day I was feeling poorly. I had to do something about my health.

Saturday 15th December

Got up feeling terrible. But willed myself to take advantage of our proximity to the Haram to perform Fajr pray.  Upon returning to the hotel I had breakfast and went straight to bed.  Awoke and washed dirty clothes.  Hadn’t seen Rasheeda all day and was missing her tried  calling her phone but to my disappointment there was no answer.  My cold medication was finished and need more medication.  This poor state of health leaves me feeling that I’m not doing nearly enough ibadah as I want.

After returning from the Zuhr pray at the Haram I went to looking for Rasheeda in her room. Thankfully she was in and we got a chance to catch up.  She had prayed in her room. Then we went together for lunch.

After Asr at the Haram I returned to the hotel to get some rest. Bad idea, the conditions proved not to be conducive to rest nor to sleep.  There was simply too many interruptions,  phone ringing, door knocking, people visiting and talking.  Just gave up trying to sleep  and  went for Maghrib at the Haram and  we stayed until Isha.

Dinner.

Non-Trinis here could really do with some training. They push and shove and jump the line. They have no table manners. They eat noisily, gluttonously quite unpleasant to the eyes and ears.  Time for a meeting with Sheriff on Level 9. Got to go there now. Hope it won’t be long.  

Sunday 14th December  2008

After Asr at the Haram I was forced to curtail my practice of staying in the precincts of the Haram until Isha as I’m feeling quite poorly.  On the way back I stocked up on new bottle of cough syrup.

Hajj route
At the meeting last night it was to announced that a tour of some of the holy places- Arafat, Mina, Muzdalifah among others would take place today. First stop was Jabal ar-Rahmah [the Mount of Mercy]. We climbed it and prayed two rakaah. There were people actually begging and others selling atop the hill.

This barren, dusty grassless land- its terrain is rugged-rocks and hills and hillocks and mountains was simply amazing especially when it is contrasted with the priceless treasures that was given to this seeming wasteland- the Message of the Qur’an, the Messenger Muhammad (SAW) and the religion of Islam.

Finally I understood the reason for the my illness - breathing in dust all the time. There is no vegetation to help purify the air.

We passed by Jabal an-Nur [the mount of Light]. This is the Mountain in which there is Cave Hira. Everyone knows what happened there! This is the site of the first revelation, a place the Angel Jibreel is known to have visited as well as our Beloved Prophet [uwbp]. From the roadway, we could see the pilgrims trekking up the hill. Sheriff promises to take us up one morning after Fajr.

We passed by a cemetery in which we are told, Lady Khadija is buried. A dua was made there, but we could not leave the bus. We also passed by Masjid ul Jinn. It was noted that the authorities do not seem to have a sense for the importance of preserving historical sites. Many historical mosques have been demolished. The tour lasted approximately three hours.

When we got back to the hotel, lunch was not yet ready. We prayed Zuhr and then took lunch. Lunch at Makkah, in fact meals in Makkah area much more palatable than at Azizia where there was too much Indian type, oily meals.

Sheriff announced that a Dr. Aziz  Madar was coming to the hotel at 8.00 p.m. to have dinner with us.  Originally, we had planned to do an Umrah at 9.00 p. m.; that will now have to be pushed back.

Oh, I wish I can feel fit and strong and well! I am lying in bed thinking about my Hajj and whether it would be accepted. I am having doubts.

Just before Maghrib, the phone rang. It was Asad. He was coming over whereupon I made  wudu and went to the hotel lobby to await his arrival.

At the elevator, there was a pilgrim standing, waiting to go down. There were three elevators and the fellow pilgrim was at the first one. The third elevator opened and I hurried to it. I called the Brother. “ Come, this one is going down.” He hesitated., then I recognized him having seen him before being helped about being was blind. I held the elevator and he came across.  He was going to the mosque. He pronounced it mosque-que.

“ But how can you go to the mosque, seeing that you are blind.” Then he explained something that sent me teary eyed. He had asked Allah to send someone to him to guide him to the Haram.  I was floored. I was just worrying about my Hajj, filled with negative feelings.  I had to meet Asad. This fellow pilgrim was blind. What was I to do?  It’s my test.  We were walking together down the street and I decided to keep on walking. The decision seemed so natural.

On the way, I learn't that he was a blind Imam from Cairo. He had come for the Hajj. I was flabbergasted. He had obviously completed the Hajj. How he did it amidst the teeming millions, is a secret between he and Allah and I realized that he was no ordinary human being; he had to possess a special relationship with Allah to have accomplished that seemingly monumental task.

As I entered into the courtyard of the Ka’bah, he mentioned the King Abdul Aziz Entrance. As I was making for it, the Azan sounded. The place was filled. Then a gentleman called him.  A soldier helped him to a spot. There was no room for me. 

I walked onwards till I found a spot. As I waited for the salah, I wept silently.  Allah had used me once again to be the eyes of someone obviously close to Him. And I felt small and insignificant and unworthy and I wondered at Allah’s plans for me.

After dinner we had a visit from Dr. Aziz Mader, consular designate for Trinidad and Tobago. He is an extremely friendly, easy- to- talk with affable man. He had left Jeddah at 7.30 a.m. and had driven by car for the whole day to pay a visit to us in Makkah.

His visit had pushed back our plans to perform an Umrah by one hour from 9.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. We didn’t leave until 10.30 p.m.

The Consular designate plans to streamline the Hajj operations for T & T. A plane will be hired from Saudi Airline or any other airline and all T&T pilgrims will be on that plane to get to Makkah. The various groups will still be allowed to allowed to offer their own packages. Also, he plans to offer fifty free Hajj packages to deserving Muslims from T&T as guests of the King Insha Allah. Of course, these are all plans.

Following dinner, we left for Masjid Tameem to begin an optional Umrah . Thirty six of us crammed into a twenty-one seater bus, some even sitting atop the hood, including Uncle Japo.

At Tameem Masjid we saw people camping outside the mosque. Hundreds were there to start their own Umrah

After praying two rakaah I opened a tin of Fisherman’s Friend-the throat tablets- to suck a couple of capsules. My throat was feeling horrible, my nose was running—I was just barely surviving.

As the can was opened, an old Indian man stood watching. I offered him one. He readily accepted. And then, all the others from his group came forward requesting capsules., the tin was almost emptied — just about six remained. But giving felt good.

The Umrah that night was accomplished by Rasheeda and I very mechanically. I was suffering with the cold and the influenza, had a massive headache and my eyes were paining.  While Rasheeda was complaining of excruciating pain in her knees—poor thing, she had been a pillar of strength and faith during this pilgrimage.  We have shared some really spiritual moments over this Hajj— moments that brought us closer together in ways only she and I will understand. This is one reason why I recommend that this Hajj should be undertaken with a loved one.

We got home at 3.00 a.m. surviving only on our faith in an Unseen God, Allah (Glory Be To Him!)-- for our physical bodies had long gone into exile.

Monday 15th December,2008

Today I awoke at 6.25 a.m. Fajr in the Haram was an hour earlier. There was still time for it though. I hurried to the Haram and prayed by myself, inside the Mosque. I had some Zam Zam water and returned to the hotel. On my way in, I had breakfast before returning to my room. There I tried to rest until  Zuhr

At  Zuhr, I went to the Haram and prayed next to a Sri Lankan pilgrim and his son. They had never heard of Trinidad but when I said it was Brian Lara’s country, they immediately recognized it. They talked Tamil, they said; English is their third language. But they were saying something in English and that’s how I got into conversation with them.

I should say here that many Indian, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and others had never heard of T&T. However, the moment Brian Lara’s name is mentioned, recognition came immediately. Other names which were instantly recognized included Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts and Michael Holding. They had never heard of Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan or any of the current crop of West Indian cricketers.