2nd Zil Hijjah

We were still in Ihram when we arrived at the hotel, I decided to have breakfast and bathe and change. How I slept! I awoke after 1:00pm long after salat-ul Zuhr in the mosque. There is a mosque where we are staying in Aziziah. We have to cross the double lane road-way, walk down a flight of very steep stairs, then walk, for 2 minutes up the roadway, and you’ll meet the mosque.  For every salah, there are easily over a thousand worshipers. Apparently, the ladies section of the mosque is smaller, because I note that some of them are praying outside the masjid, on the roadway.

By the 2nd of December [4th Zil Hijjah], as we approached the Hajj they were spreading two long pieces of carpet out on the roadway to accommodate the large number of women who were turning up to pray. Of course, most were pilgrims and they were from every nationality. I did not see any Trinidadian (outside of our group) or West Indian for that matter.

For the rest of the day we rested, read Quran or simply stayed in bed.  On Sunday 30th November, we (Rasheeda and I) took a walk after Maghrib to see if we could change some money but we were unable to do so. And since it was quite dark, although the place was very much alive, we decided to return to the hotel. We purchased dates which we shared with members of the group.

On Monday we returned to the shopping area, we purchased what she considered to be a real bargain. The shopkeeper did not want to change the small U.S dollars; they would change only the hundred dollar bills. We got 370 Riyals for the hundred dollar bills.

That afternoon, at 3:30 we returned to the Haram, in Makkah. The bus took thirty one of us. Our group leader told us that we were on our own, but that at 8:15 pm, after Isha, we were to meet at a pre-arranged place --- in front the famous clock, right between the two tallest towers.

Rasheeda had already prayed Asr salah. A group of six of us men, had not. We wanted to perform Asr, inside the Haram. On our way to the Haram, the roads were blocked with traffic, and by the time we arrived, Asr had been completed. The group felt that we could still make our own Jamaat and pray within the precincts of the Ka’bahAlas! It was not to be. We could not find a spot for the six of us to pray as a group. We decided that we would have to pray singly, wherever we found a place.

Rasheeda and I entered the Haram for the second time in our lives. We went upstairs. We found a place where two of us could fit; we sat side by side. I got up and performed Asr by myself. After, Asr (it was nearly 5:00 pm or thereabout) I advised Rasheeda that we should perform Tawaf but she was tired and would prefer to sit and make zikr.

I left her alone, marking the spot mentally so that I could find her, following my completion of the act of worship. Three and one half rounds (of seven) were completed, when Maghrib azan was sounded. The crowd was very thick. As I stood up to pray, I realized that there was no room for sajdah. For the first time, I stood up to pray, performed ruku and sajdah but could not get my face on the floor. And it was good!

After Maghrib,  the unfinished Tawaf was completed, at exactly the moment that Isha azan sounded. This time there was sufficient room to make sajdah. An Indian/ Pakistani guy stood to my left and an African girl with her mother, I presume, was on my right.

 Again, I marveled at the tolerance that the Muslims displayed. Hundreds of thousands of people packed into one place, jostling with one another, and no one is angry.  Feet and toes are being crushed-and no one is angry!  Elbows are being thrust onto your bodies-and no one is angry!  Everyone is engaged in chanting the glory of Allah. Everyone is sending Durood on Rasulullah. (uwbp)  Everyone is making dua.

And again, I say what a magnificent display of what is undoubtedly the finest display of ibadah (worship) to Allah, in the world.  The fact that over three million people can be accommodated in a comparatively small area of Makkah at one time –is a miracle.  The fact that these people are so tolerant and accommodating to one another is a miracle.  The fact, that by and large, hostility and aggression towards each other is hardly ever displayed by anyone (I didn’t see anyone) is indeed a miracle.  The fact that the Hajj authorities can manage the logistics of all these people, is indeed a miracle!

After Isha I met Rasheeda at the spot that I left her at inside the Haram.  Rasheeda related that during my absence from her, some men attempted to sit next to her, but the gentleman who was seated next to her when I left for Tawaf, being aware that she was alone,  would not allow these men to sit next to her. Two men, I was told, attempted to do so, but were chased away. She was told to put her bag next to her to prevent others from attempting to sit there. Only when a couple of ladies came, were they allowed to sit next to her. In fact, when I had returned after Isha, I had witnessed Rasheeda embracing and hugging one of the ladies.

 Of course, the significance of the episode is clear—that Muslims, real Muslims are kind and generous and protective of the vulnerable even from other suspected predatory Muslims.

After Isha, Rasheeda went in search of Zam Zam water.  We soon found the spot, had our cups of water, (I sprinkled some over my eyes and head) and then we left together for the pre-designated meeting spot --- the famous clock.

At the clock, while awaiting the bus, and observing the constant flow of people, I again marveled at the sight of pilgrims arriving in their groups and heading for the Ka’bah. From Turkey, Tursab, Indonesia, China, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia,-look there are some places I have never heard of before, yet they were arriving, chanting the Talbiyah in a never ending chorus.  Some are crying unashamedly, I am moved and touched by their passion, for I can well understand their emotions. For I, too had experienced the same.

By the time we arrived at the hotel (the bus was long in coming) I was famished and feverish.  We had purchased some sinus tablet in a pharmacy while awaiting the bus, and I was glad to take two that night- i.e. Tuesday morning, after 1:00 am. [2nd Dec, 4th Zil Hijjah]

All of Tuesday I was  very sick. The group was going to visit Mina, Tuesday after breakfast. I decided to opt out, as I was still feeling very feverish. That day, I was content to stay in bed and awoke only for salah and meals.  During Tuesday night, I spent some time updating my diary. But by 2:00  I had fallen asleep.