November 29th 2008 1st Zil Hijjah 1429

We were still in Ihram for Umrah and our group leader, Sheriff wisely decided that we should go after Isha to perform the Tawaf and Sa'ee to complete the Umrah. We left around 10:30 p.m, for the Haram. We were given strict instructions as to where we were to meet should any of us were to get lost. We were also advised to stay in our group. Some of us had to perform wudu (the ritual ablution prerequisite for prayer). We went into a mall outside of the Haram to get water. After asking and searching for some time we all got the washrooms and performed wudu.

Asad, a Trinidadian studying in Makkah and his wife, another Trinidadian girl, Sarah, rendered great help. We were seeing the outer wall of the Grand Mosque. Then we entered the courtyard. Rasheeda, locked her arm into mine, as had the other sisters with their zawj or mahrim. We were chanting the Talbiyah.

"Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik.

 Labbaik, La Shareek Laka, Labbaik. Innal Hamdah, Wan Nematah,

Laka wal Mulk, La Shareek Laka"

"My God, I have responded to You.

I have responded to You, and I proclaim that there is no other god besides You; I have responded to You. For You alone is All The Praise and All The Bounty, and for You alone is The Sovereignty. You have no partners."

Then we entered the hallowed hall, I remembered Sheriff’s advice  to stop and make dua. I raised my hands and started. I began by praising Allah and sending Durood on His Messenger (uwbp). Then I started to beg Allah for forgiveness. I was unaware of the multitudes around me. I was alone with Allah. And I cried. I cried over my sins. I prayed for my wife and children. And still cried. I supplicate for those who had asked me to pray for them. The tears of love, concern and caring for those closest to me flowed freely.  Upon completing my plea to our Creator, I looked up and there Rasheeda was there trying to get my attention.

“You see it?” “Look the Ka’bah there,” she said, pointing; I looked towards the appropriate direction of her finger. I saw a part of the black cuboid. “Oh, that’s the Ka’bah,” I thought to myself, in a matter of fact way. “The Ka’bah!  Then the significance of it struck. The qiblah (direction) that I have turned to for pray for the past three decades plus was in front of me. And I wept, I cried like a baby -unashamedly; I took the ends of my Ihram and wiped my tears. It was not enough. I blew my nose. The world was lost to me in this moment.

The Magnificent Ka'bah
The Ka’bah! It was before me. The place that I had only visualized in my mind’s eye was in front of me.  And again, I did not see anyone- only me and the Ka’bah and my dear wife next to me. Dear God! What passion you have placed in my heart for things that reminds me of You. I never realized that this place, this Ka’bah would cause such a reaction in me.  Dear God! How dear and meaningful this Holy Place is to me.  Shariati is right - Makkah is indeed my home.

Momentarily we commenced the Tawaf , with Rasheeda at my side, and with us chanting Talbiyah, we circled round and round.  At one point we came within two feet or thereabouts, to the golden dome, the Station of Ibrahim, at the side of the Ka’bah. But the crowd was thick, too thick there and Asad advised us to go right, to move further away from the black cuboid that was  the Sacred Ka’bah.

 I kept glancing at the monument. there were hands, touching and caressing it, others were blowing kisses to it while some waved and saluted.  I had to do likewise. I kept remembering Hazrat Omar’s words-“I swear to Allah that I know you’re just a stone that doesn’t benefit or even harm; and I’m kissing you just because I’ve seen the Prophet doing it..”  I understood, however, the significance of the circling-round and round – man’s entire existence should be centered on Allah-all our deeds are solely for His pleasure and always we must strive to get ever closer to Him.

Following the Tawaf , we performed- the two raka’ahs at the appointed place. Then we moved to perform the Sa'ee. The Sa'ee is the running between the two hills, Safa and Marwah. It is the reenactment of Prophet Ibrahim wife, Hajar’s search for water for her infant son, Ishmael.  Again the experience was overwhelming. Rasheeda and I locked arms and began-up and down, up and down. All the while we are chanting praises to Allah, Durood on the Rasool (uwbp). We saw the spot-the exact spot from which the water first gushed. In the next round we walked on top of it and got our feet wet. That spot is still unpaved, and the water on our bare feet and the rocks beneath felt cool and hard. But it was worth it. Actually, there was quite a crowd around that spot; some were standing on it, some sitting. And it was good and wonderful and it filled us with awe and wonder. And I envisioned Hajar and the little Ishmael and the plaintive cry of the infant and the anguish of the mother and  my heart was filled with awe. Ya Allah ….! Ya Allah…..!

Pilgrims perform tawaf
We completed our Sa'ee and I went to get my hair cut. I paid fifteen riyals for the barber to use a scissors to chip away a little hair.