Text 27 Oct Final Part

The last week has been a blur, I finished the rituals of hajj, two days later I was in a car leaving Mecca, a few days after that I arrived in Sydney, jetlagged, tired and catching up on sleep. Resting at home and spending quality time with family. There really is no place like home.

My core has been realigned. This physical and spiritual cleansing feels like a great weight has been lifted from my soul, the weight of my sins, of my excessiveness and carelessness, of the compounded mistakes that have grounded me on earth while I looked to the heavens.

I think there should be (If there is not one already) a support group for new Hajj pilgrims, to help rehabilitate them back into life’s normal routines.
Hajj was a simpler version of life, it was finite, definable, its challenges were tangible and thus easily conquered. Evil was a physical object you can attack, acts of worship were vivid enough to permeate into your life, to influence your mannerisms, at least within our immediate circles of influence. Hajj was essentially a reset button to your life and understanding of it, a reminder of why you exist and what your life’s philosophy is. So it can almost cause you whiplash, this change from the 3 weeks dedicated almost exclusively to worship, that is, waking, eating, sleeping, walking, waiting, driving, hanging on to the back of a ute/taxi etc.. to the severely secular, business and material oriented lifestyle here in Australia where worship and spiritual endeavors are ensconced to the private space. It’s almost like changing from 5th gear to gear 2nd and making a U-turn in the process.

Back at work now, my coworker Martin asked me “So, did you learn anything life changing?”. He had me stumped, what did I learn from Hajj? How can I explain my Hajj experience in one word?

I guess… Alhumdulillah, all praise is due to God.

To my freinds, family, supporters and all those who read my blog, thank you for your support and feedback, I hope this blog has clearly described my personal experience of Hajj.

Text 20 Oct 1 note I leave Mecca today


Text 20 Oct 4 notes Memorable Moments

The #hajj, as a social phenomena, represents the most accurate sample data of the state of the global Muslim community.  During this hajj trip we saw and heard of a number funny incidents, sad incidents or just very strange incidents. I thought I’d share some stories here. 

A friend in my hajj group mentioned that he saw a person pull down his pants in the middle of the street, squat, and calmly proceeded to defecate.  Then when he’she’d finished. he pulled up his pants and walked away.  My friend is still scarred by this incident. 

When traveling from my motel to jamarat. I tried to catch one of the scheduled frequent busses that drive up the mountain where I needed to go.  Unfortunately there were too many people and not enough buses, out of the 4 times I was going up and down the mountain,  3 times I ended up walking the 40 minute steep Hill incline rather that fight my way through the hundreds of other pilgrims attacking the bus like a scene from World War Z.
It was drilled into us from early on that the journey of hajj was going to be very tough, not just because of the physical, hygienic and weather challenges,  but also as pilgrims we were not allowed  to argue, to get into trouble or any form of corruption.  So as hard as it got, many of us bit our tongues, kept our heads down, and moved on. The best way to deal with being pushed and shoved during the busy rituals, or with being made to wait for 5 to 12 hours in the saudi sun, or  any other issue was to view the whole thing from a bird’s eye view, as if you’re watching a documentary. It actually works if you focus hard enough
Another friend had the ultimate chain of challenges happen to him all at once.  When he’d arrived to mecca for the first time and was doing his umra tawaf.
During the heat of the day, the great crush of people and the fatigue of travel, he felt a sharp pain in his back, he turned around to find another pilgrim trying to cut (and steal) his money belt. Once their eyes met, the thief apologized and just moved on to try and steal from another pilgrim!
By cutting the belt, the bottom cloth bit (usually worn like a sarong) came untied, so my friend couldn’t move anywhere because he was wearing nothing underneath!  So had to to shuffle his way most awkwardly out of the scrum of people.
And of course to complete the trifecta, a bird pooped on his shoulder,  so the poor guy had to go back to his hotel, wash (with water only, since he was in ihram he could not use soap) and come back to make tawaf all over again. It was a good day for him all up.

Another interesting phenomenon about the hajj was the number of beggars.  Most  notably the Kashmiris; Indians claiming to be from Kashmir who go from tent to tent, from hotel to hotel, either asking donations for schools or orphanages, OR just cry on cue and hope for some cash thusly. Everybody knows it’s a sham so nobody (from our group at least) gives them any money.
There are also the African beggars on the streets, from old niqabi ladies to 7 year old boys or girls.  They are everywhere, it seems to be a hajj season thing because they don’t seem to appear otherwise. 
There were several more similar stories that are funny, sad, disgusting and sometimes plain weird.  They point to the clear variance in the levels of education, wealth,  and  allowed dignity. 

Text 19 Oct 1 note Stoning the devil

I was woken up at 3.30am. I’d slept for 3 hours and was feeling much better. My group wanted to preempt the rush towards the jamarat, so we made our hour long treck from Muzdalifah to Jamarat, we stopped to pray fajr in Mina, all in following the traditions of the hajj rituals carried out by the prophet pbuh 1400 years ago.
In an act of humiliation and rejection towards the devil and his designs to deviate people from the divine path of Truth. The jamarat ritual takes place, where you pelt 3 stone pillars with 7 stones for each pillar (total 21 stones) which reciting the name of God
In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest

In the quranic narration of the story of Abraham, when as a test he was ordered by God to slay Ismael. Ibrahim dutifully informed Ismael of this and took him to the top of the mountain. On the way up the mountain the devil appeared three  times to Abraham in the form of an old man, and tried to disuade him from slaying Ismael, Abraham then threw stones at the devil to ward him iff5, this happened three times,  and thus we commomerate this event by also stoning the devil. 
It took us about an hour and a half to make this treck, tired as we were, this was very exciting because it was nearing the end of the hajj rituals.
Our group had shrunk to about 50 (the sick and elderly had left earlier), so we walked as one group between our two group flags, so that no one loses their way in the sea of people making the treck alongside us with their own flags and banners. All groups making the same chant
Labbayk Allahumma Labbaik
Here I am God, answering your call.
Once we finished throwing the stones at the devil, this symbolized the victory of Good over Evil, the Eid starts at that moment for us, we change our chants the moment we finish throwing the stones..
Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar,
Laa ilaha illah allah
Allahu Akbar
Wa lillahilhamd

God is the greatest
There is no Lord but God
And to Him belong all praize.
I started the make Eid chants according to the traditional Iraqi style I grew up reciting (different countries have slightly differing versions). That was a very emotional moment for me. I remembered my excitement at 7 years old going out with my dad to the Imam alA’tham mosque in Baghdad for Eid, my life flahed before my eyes. I prayed for my family and for iraqis, and for mankind
We walked back to our motel in #Azizya, we’d been walking for close to 6 hours, we were exhauted. I shaved my head and in  doing so completed my state of ihram. I showered and slept for 10 straight hours.

Text 19 Oct 4 notes Spending the night at #Muzdalifah

After sunset we waited for our bus to take us to our next destination. The tradition of the prophet was to travel from Arafah after sunset towards Muzdalifah. Once there he would spend the night out in the open.
Our wait for the bus was from 730pm to 11pm. Though we were quite buzzed from the events of day so we did not mind or even take much notice of the wait.
the hour long bus ride was incredible, we drove past thousands upon thousands of pilgrims also walking towards muzdalifa. There was a sense of controlled chaos as a sea of white walked into the night and the dust,  while bathed in a yellow hue from the lights installed around muzdalifa for this purpose.  Frequently we’d see a group of 100 or so pilgrims stop to perform the night isha prayer where they stood, the pilgrims behind them circumnavigating them like white ants going around a pebble. Eventually we reached our alloted space. As far as my eyes could see there were Turkish pilgrims sleeping on the sand and the dirt ground, Egyptians, iraqis, even some pakistani britishers.

We decided (since we found no place to sleep) to climb the hill ahead of us, there we found a few hundred pilgrims also sleeping on the gravelly road, and plenty of space for us to sleep.
By that stage I had become sick (I attribute it pouring cold water on my head while in arafah) so I was grabbing at any opporunity to rest, I laid out my sleeping mat, used my top ihram cloth as cover, and fell into the deepest most comfortable sleep throughout this journey.

Photo 19 Oct 3 notes These men rent out wheelchairs to anyone unable to make the tawaf walking: the elderly, the sick, the injured etc…  
#hajj #hajjDiary #Sydney #Mecca #pilgrimage

These men rent out wheelchairs to anyone unable to make the tawaf walking: the elderly, the sick, the injured etc…
#hajj #hajjDiary #Sydney #Mecca #pilgrimage

Photo 19 Oct 1 note Taking time off from the #Tawaf to recite the #Qur’an. This pilgrim fell asleep over the open pages of the Holy book in the Holy mosque in the Holy city in the holy month.

Taking time off from the #Tawaf to recite the #Qur’an. This pilgrim fell asleep over the open pages of the Holy book in the Holy mosque in the Holy city in the holy month.

Photo 19 Oct Pilgrims making #tawaf. You can make or the  Indonesian group moving as a large group together.  #hajj #hajjDiary #Sydney #Mecca #pilgrimage

Pilgrims making #tawaf. You can make or the Indonesian group moving as a large group together. #hajj #hajjDiary #Sydney #Mecca #pilgrimage

Photo 19 Oct 11 notes The #kaaba. #Mecca #hajj #hajjDiary #Mecca #Sydney #eid

The #kaaba. #Mecca #hajj #hajjDiary #Mecca #Sydney #eid

Photo 19 Oct 1 note Pilgrims at the #haram for tawaf al wada’ 
#hajj #hajjDiary #Sydney #Mecca #pilgrimage #Sydney #Alhumdulillah

Pilgrims at the #haram for tawaf al wada’
#hajj #hajjDiary #Sydney #Mecca #pilgrimage #Sydney #Alhumdulillah

Design crafted by Prashanth Kamalakanthan. Powered by Tumblr.