Oleh – Mohammed Assadullah
New York, USA
Sesuai dengan cara saya.
Sejak menikah, saya ingin sekali pergi ke-Mekkah untuk menunaik-kan ibadah haji. Beberapa hari sebelum bulan puasa di-thn 1997, saya bermaksud untuk mengambil cuti. Tetapi saya jadi bingung sendiri.
Karena saya harus memilih satu diantara dua pilihan ini. Apakah cuti itu untuk I’tikaf (tinggal dan bermalam di-masjid selama10 hari terakhir dibulan suci Ramadhan) ataukah untuk menunaik-kan ibadah haji?.
Setelah mempertimbangkan keadaan keuangan dan budget yang rasanya pas-pasan, maka kelihatan-nya sulit bagi saya untuk bisa menunaik-kan ibadah haji, oleh sebab itu maka saya memutuskan untuk melakukan I’tikaf saja.
Puji syukur bagi Allah, ternyata I’tikaf yang saya lakukan ini berjalan lancar. Saya sangat menikmati tinggal di-mesjid Danbury, dimana seluruh komunitas jemaah di-masjid tsb sangat mendukung saya. Mereka menemani saya beberapa malam dan juga memasak makanan untuk saya, Dr.Shagufta Hasan memperlakukan saya dengan baik sekali, bahkan beliau memberikan saya obat-obatan ketika saya sedang sakit. Saya percaya bahwa Allah akan membalas kebaikan hati mereka semua.
Menjelang musim Haji tiba, menyadari bahwa saya tidak mempunyai cukup uang dan juga hak cuti saya yang hanya tinggal sedikit saja, saya hanya bisa pasrah total dan berdoa kepada Allah, semoga cita-cita saya untuk menunaik-kan ibadah haji menjadi kenyataan.
“ Oh Gusti Allah Tersayang make it happen dong please.”
Begitu-lah permohonon saya dan saya yakin betul bahwa semuanya pasti akan terjadi. Sudah barang tentu semua ini pasti akan terjadi berkat pertolongan-NYA, dengan pertolongan Beliau, RAJA dari segala RAJA, Beliau Yang Maha Pengasih dan lagi Maha Penyayang.
Sebenarnya sih saya ingin sekali menggunakan uang pensiun saya, tetapi sayang sekali karena satu dan lain hal, uang tsb tidak pernah kunjung datang sampai musim haji tiba.
Beruntung sekali bahwa kali ini adik perempuan saya yang paling bungsu, Mahrukh namanya bersedia untuk membantu saya dengan meminjam-kan uangnya supaya saya bisa pergi naik haji. Saya yakin dan percaya bahwa Allah pasti akan memberkati kebaikan hatinya.
Sebenarnya saya sudah tidak punya hak cuti yang cukup karena hak cuti tsb sudah pernah saya ambil untuk I’tikaf beberapa waktu yang lalu. Lalu saya pikir sebaiknya saya coba bicara langsung kepada boss saya, Vane Lashua, untuk minta cuti tambahan. Beliau sendiri sebenarnya juga ingin mengambil cuti dan ingin melancong ke-Florida.
Ternyata beliau tergerak hatinya dan meng-ijin-kan saya untuk mengambil hak cuti tambahan sehingga saya bisa pergi naik haji. Semoga Allah memberkati boss saya yang baik hati ini. Semua akhirnya bisa berjalan lancar berkat pertolongan-NYA.
Puji Tuhan Gusti Allah-ku Tersayang, memang BELIAU sungguh-sungguh Maha Pengasih dan Maha Penyayang. So beberapa hari sebelum dapat visa haji, saya mencoba utk mencari group perjalanan atau travel haji yang paling murah-meriah. Hasan Ali dan teman-nya Abdul Kamil berhasil menolong saya untuk mencarikan grup travel yang paling murah. Semoga Allah memberkati mereka berdua.
Visa haji saya keluar persis pada hari-hari terakhir menjelang musim haji tiba. Saya sungguh-sungguh senang dan excited banget deh. Saya meloncat-loncat kegirangan persis seperti anak kecil, saya kepingin banget bisa buru-buru berangkat naik haji. Hati sayapun berbunga-bunga, berwarna-warni, indah sekali.
Hhhmmm….Sungguh sangat menyenangkan bisa mengumandangkan Talbiyah dalam perjalana ke-Mekkah.
Talbiyah adalah :
“Here I am at Your service, O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Your service. You have no partners. Yours alone is all praise and all bounty, and Yours alone is sovereignty. You have no partners.”
Beberapa orang ngelirik dan ngeliatin saya. Hhhmm…
Walaupun saya cuek, namun sedikit salah tingkah dan rada malu karena saya-lah satu-satu-nya orang di-dalam pesawat yang memakai baju ihrom dan satu satunya orang yang mengumandangkan Talbiyah, yang lain hanya duduk manis dan diam-diam saja.
Norak banget deh lu !.
Tetapi gak apalah karena Talbiyah adalah doa spesial yang dilantunkan dalam keadaan memakai ihrom, itu merupakan tugas dan kewajiban saya untuk melakukan-nya.
Beberapa orang mungkin berpikir bahwa saya ini rada-rada O’on, BlO’on, aneh, rada-kecepetan…., masa dari Bandara New York udah pakai ihrom sih….
Aneh ya. Seharusnya nanti di-Jeddah atau di-Mekkah sana dong pake-nya!!!. Hhhmmm…
Rombongan kami rencananya akan mandi maksudnya take a shower di-bandara Cairo dan akan mulai memakai ihrom disana. Beberapa orang kelihatan-nya belum punya ihrom dan akan membeli-nya di-bandara.
Eh tau enggak ?
mosok ternyata di-bandara Cairo gak ada fasilitas untuk shower dan juga gak ada orang yang jualan baju-ihrom. Banyak jemaah yang akan memakai ihrom di-Jeddah, yang oleh para ahli-nya dinyatakan sebagai Miqot.
Terima kasih Gusti Allah-ku Tersayang. Ternyata DIA telah memberi-tahukan saya untuk memakai baju ihram dari New York!, bukan di-tempat lain. Hhhmmm…
Konon khabar-nya Cairo sangat berantakan dan amburadul. Karena itu-lah maka kami enggak punya niat sedikit-pun untuk jalan-jalan keluar dari bandara.
Tak lama setelah mendarat, sebuah bis mengangkut kami keluar dari pesawat menuju ke-gedung utama bandara. Diluar gedung tertulis :
“…Enter Egypt, if Allah will, in security.” (Yusuf 12:99)
Tetapi kenyataan-nya saya berteriak dan ngomel-ngomel terus, sejak masuk ke-gedung bandara, karena ketika saya tanya-kan dimana ruangan pemeriksaan calon jemaah haji… eh saya dicuekin aja.
Saya lihat banyak calon jemaah haji yang disuruh tunggu di-dua ruangan. Pegawai-pegawai bandara dan orang-orang disana sangat tidak ramah plus kurang sopan. Pada saat itu terlihat disana dua orang terpelajar dari Universitas Al-Azhar sedang memberikan penerangan tentang haji. Mereka memberikan ceramah yang rada panjang dalam bahasa Arab selagi rombongan kami menuggu pemeriksaan paspor.
Setelah ceramah selesai mereka berdua memimpin sholat yang seharus-nya dilakukan hanya oleh seorang imam. Orang pertama meng-ucapkan
yang kemudian di-ikuti dan diulangi oleh orang kedua dan seterusnya. Meskipun ini masih didalam realita Islam, namun saya kira cara Sholat mereka sangat berbeda dengan kebanyakan pemeluk Islam lain-nya dan bagi saya hal itu sungguh sangat tidak Islami.
Saya juga melihat bahwa Pemerintah Mesir mempengaruhi rakyatnya agar mencukur jenggotnya tapi tidak kumisnya, sesuatu yang tidak sesuai dan melanggar tradisi Nabi Muhammad SAW.
Kemudian, saya juga melihat kaum wanitanya bebas untuk memaki rok sehingga kelihatan kakinya. Kaum wanita disini mempunyai hak untuk memakai pakaian apa saja yang mereka sukai sementara kaum lelakinya tidak boleh memelihara jenggot.
Aneh kan ?
Kayak pegawai bank aja ya. Hhhmm…
Di-Cairo saya bertemu dengan saudara sesama Muslim yang mengatakan bahwa ibadah Haji adalah pelajaran untuk melatih dan mem-praktek-kan kesabaran.
Nasihat yang saya kira sungguh sangat baik namun susah banget untuk dilaksanakan. Beratnya minta ampun. Oleh karena-nya saya akan men-coba sekuat tenaga untuk bisa berlaku se-SABAR mungkin dalam menghadapi sesuatu dalam kondisi apa-pun. Hhhmmm…
Jeddah lebih berantakan lagi. Disana kami diberikan booklet tentang tatacara ibadah haji. Ketika rombongan kami di-arah-kan utk menuju kesebuah ruangan kecil, saya sempat membaca beberapa kalimat per-nyataan sbb :
“ Selamat Datang “,
dalam berbagai macam bahasa, tetapi nyatanya saya tidak merasakan adanya kesan tsb, hal ini disebabkab oleh karena sambutan dan juga sikap yang ditunjuk-kan oleh para pegawai bandara yang kurang ramah dan kurang bersahabat. Terlihat banyak perempuan tua duduk bersimpuh dilantai, sedangkan beberapa orang lelaki lain-nya berdiri bergerombol.
Tidak jelas apa yang harus mereka tunggu dan ke-loket mana mereka harus mengurus paspor. Inshirah berkata kepada saya bahwa dia pernah menunggu selama 19 jam di-ruang tunggu bandara pada musim haji beberapa tahun yang lalu, sungguh sangat-sangat melelahkan. Stress beratlah, tetapi anyway kita harus sabar dan maklum adanya. Kan tadi diatas saya udah janji untuk berlaku SABAR.
Beruntung-lah hanya makan waktu 2 sampai 3 jam saja bagi rombongan kami untuk menyelesaikan pengurusan paspor, visa dll. Satu orang pegawai sibuk memeriksa visa sedangkan pegawai yang lain-nya meminta money order sebanyak $245 untuk pajak dan untuk hal yang lain.
Salah seorang officer pegawai bandara tidak suka kepada saya hanya karena saya mengisi formulir kedatangan saya dalam bhs Arab. Padahal tidak ada larangan untuk itu. Officer tsb berteriak keras sekali sambil membentak-bentak saya :
“ Pakai bahasa Inggris….English…English !!!”
kemudian melempar paspor kepada saya. Ketika saya terangkan bahwa saya lebih suka memakai bahasa Arab karena itu adalah bahasa Al-Quran, lantas tiba-tiba saja mendadak sikapnya berubah. Jadi lebih lunak, lebih sopan santun dan rada baik.
“ Bener juga apa kata bapak ini “
atau officer tsb malu barangkali, walahualam. Hanya DIA yang diatas sana dan dia yang bersangkutan saja-lah yang tau apa yang ada dihatinya.
Setelah selesai berurusan dengan para officer di-bandara, kami diberitahu bahwa tidak ada lagi bis yang akan mengangkut kami untuk pergi ke-Mekkah malam ini sehingga kami terpaksa, mau gak mau, harus tidur dilantai sampai bis angkutan kami datang besok pagi. Hhhmmm…
Terminal haji di-bandara Jeddah terlihat seperti kumpulan tenda-tenda besar. Banyak sekali orang dari seluruh dunia tumpah ruah seabrek-abrek disana. Mereka terdiri dari berbagai macam warna kulit, berbagai ras, berbagai bahasa, berbagai budaya, tetapi semuanya percaya hanya pada Allah – TUHAN yg satu.
Disamping itu disana terdapat banyak sekali bendera dari berbagai negara. Saya lihat bendera Pakistan, dan saya juga lihat bendera India, dimana mereka orang2 India kelihatan-nya lebih ter-organisir ketimbang orang-orang dari Pakistan. Orang India lebih menjaga kebersihan dimana pemimpin rombongan hajinya terlihat menyediakan tempat-tempat sampah serta mengatur dan menjaga anggota rombongan-nya dengan cermat dan tertib sekali.
Setelah beberapa saat berjalan kesana-kemari akhir-nya rombongan kami menemukan tempat kosong dilantai bandara, sehingga kami bisa tidur malam, sebelum berangkat ke-Mekkah ke-esokan harinya.
Didalam perjalanan ke-Mekkah kami berhenti sejenak di-pusat resepsi haji dimana kami diberikan minuman berupa air Zamzam dingin dan segar. Ini adalah suatu kejutan yang sangat menyenang-kan. Saya sangat senang ketika rombongan kami tiba di-Mekkah.
Di-Mekkah, saya melihat beberapa simbul atau ICON dunia barat. Saya lihat seseorang memakai T- Shirt – kaos oblong ber-tulisankan Michael Jackson di-dadanya dan juga Calvin Klein.
Saya lihat beberapa rumah penduduk lokal menggunakan antena parabola dan dish untuk TV cable. Kelihatan-nya masyarakat Arab Saudi cenderung mengikuti arus budaya barat dan globalisasi yang sulit di-bendung.
Ketika saya tiba di-pemberhentian bis di-Mekkah, dua orang saudara muslim menyambut kami. Yang satu bernama Abdur Rahman, memakai sorban tradisional masyarakat timur tengah, sungguh sangat menyenangkan masih bisa melihat sisa-sisa kebudayaan timur tengah yang masih ada, sedangkan saudara Muslim yang satu-nya, Talib, sangat lancar berbahasa Arab. Mereka berdua juga sangat fasih berbahasa Inggris.
Saya sangat kaget ketika mengetahui bahwa mereka berdua sebelum-nya adalah orang Amerika Non-Muslim. Kadang-kadang anak angkat lebih cepat reaksinya dalam membela keluarga karena dia tahu bahwa hidup tanpa keluarga itu sungguh sesuatu yang sangat tidak nyaman.
Mereka, dua bersaudara ini menyadari bagaimana menyikapi kebudayaan barat itu. Mereka juga menyadari kebenaran yang mereka saksikan. Ambil-lah yang baik dan buang-lah yang buruk, memang begitu-lah seharusnya kita bersikap.
Disana terdapat banyak tanda yang menunjuk-kan arah jalan menuju ke-Al Masjid Al-Haram. Saya tanya kepada Inshirah apakah kita sedang berjalan langsung menuju ke-Al Masjid Al-Haram sesuai dengan tradisi Nabi Muhammad ?.
Dia jawab ya, dan saya sangat senang sekali.Sangat disayangkan bahwa pemimpin rombongan kami di-Mekkah membawa kami ke-hotel terlebih dahulu untuk menurunkan barang-barang bawaan kami.
Salah satu hal yang saya perhatikan adalah bahwa jika kita pergi ke-hotel terlebih dahulu, maka bis yang akan mengangkut rombongan kami untuk pergi ke dan dari Al-Haram pada waktu Sholat Asar tidak ada. Pada-hal sewaktu masih di-New York tidak pernah di-katakan begitu.
Menurut informasi, bis angkutan umum akan selalu ada dalam setiap waktu sholat. Saya juga perhatikan bahwa kantin yang seharusnya gratis ternyata meminta kami untuk membayar. Hhhmm…
Kaki saya bengkak karena terlalu banyak jalan-jalan. Tetapi walau-pun pada saat saya menulis artikel ini, banyak banget hal-hal yang gak enak, yang gak sesuai dengan bayangan saya sebelumnya sewaktu saya masih berada di-New York, namun karena ke-cinta-an pada Ka’bah begitu kuatnya, semua perasaan jelek-jelek seperti ngomel-ngomel dan marah-marah sementara hilang tak berbekas, gone with the wind….all praise be to the Almighty. Yang ada hanya-lah SABAR, TAWAKAL dan IKLAS. Hhhmmm…
Pandangan pertama pada Ka`bah
Setelah selesai memberesi barang-barang bawaan kami, kami segera menuju ke-Al Masjid Al Haram untuk Towaf yang pertama. Tepat pada waktu sholat Asar kami tiba disana. Setelah sholat Asar saya minta ijin pada ketua rombongan untuk melakukan Towaf seorang diri saja dan akan kembali dengan menggunakan bis yang telah disediakan oleh Munafi. Munafi adalah perusahaan Saudi yang dikontrak untuk mengangkut semua anggota rombongan haji kami.
Saya merasa senang melihat banyak sekali orang berkerumun sambil berjalan perlahan-lahan mengelilingi kabah. Saya memberikan salam kepada mereka sambil menyapa
“Hajj mabroor ”
Semoga haji anda diterima oleh Allah.
Suatu ketika se-orang lelaki tua berkebangsaan Turki memberikan ke-pada saya tasbih berbiji tujuh untuk menghitung jumlah Towaf yang saya lakukan pada waktu mengelilingi ka’bah dan Sai yaitu lari-lari kecil antara Sofa dan Marwah.
Disini, walau-pun tidak semua orang bersikap ramah tamah dan bersahabat, tidak membuat saya menjadi sombong dan marah-marah, saya harus menyambut tamu-tamu Allah dengan ramah dan sopan santun.
Segala puja dan puji hanya untuk Allah semata, Raja dari segala Raja yang memiliki Ka’bah, Yang memilih untuk membuat rumahnya di-bumi ini, rumah Allah – Ka’bah yang dekat dengan kita.
Ketika saya sedang berjalan di-Masjid saya merasa menjadi seperti seorang ABG yang kemalaman pulang ke-rumah, takut ketahuan dan takut dimarahi oleh orang tua saya. Dengan perasaan campur aduk antara merasa bersalah-mengharapkan hadirnya perasaan cinta, damai, kasih sayang dll, maka saat itu Ka’bah terlihat sungguh sangat indah dan sangat luar biasa.
Tanpa terasa tiba-tiba air mata mengalir membasahi kedua pipi saya ketika saya berdoa menyebut nama Allah berulang-ulang. Allah Maha Besar, Allah Maha Pengasih dan Allah Maha Penyayang, Raja dari segala Raja dan pemilik Ka’bah.
Di Al-Masjid Al-Haram, saya lihat beberapa orang duduk dan menunggu waktu Sholat. Banyak orang yang berjalan tepat di-depan orang yang sedang sholat. Hal ini tidak bisa di-benarkan, tidak sopan dan juga tidak etis karena tidak sesuai dengan ajaran Nabi Muhammad SAW.
Mereka para jemaah Haji seharusnya meninggalkan barang-barang bawaan mereka seperti botol air minum, sandal, sajadah, catatan dan buku-buku doa atau meletakan-nya disamping mereka sambil me-nunggu datangnya waktu sholat.
Ketika waktu sholat tiba banyak barisan atau saf-saf yang dibiarkan kosong didepan mereka, mereka tidak mau maju kedepan untuk mengisinya, mereka tidak mau meninggalkan tempat mereka karena takut barang-barang bawaan mereka hilang.
Sangatlah disayangkan bahwa mereka sudah pergi ke-tempat suci yang jauh, ke-rumah Allah, tetapi mereka berhenti beberapa inci dari apa yang Allah perintahkan yaitu mengisi saf-saf yang kosong di-depan-nya terlebih dahulu.
Saya juga melihat kaum wanita sholat disamping kaum pria, sesuatu yang bertentangan dengan ajaran Nabi Muhammad SAW.
Ketika melakukan Towaf mengelilingi Ka’bah. saya mlihat sandal-sandal, bungkusan plastik, catatan-catatan doa dan obyek-obyek lain-nya yang berserakan di-lantai. Berantakan. Kelihatan-nya mereka para jemaah Haji sangat takut kehilangan sandal-sandalnya yang selalu dibawa sewaktu mereka melakukan Towaf.
Sebenar-nya Allah bisa saja menghilangkan sandal-sandal mereka. Saya melihat seorang wanita mendorong kesana-sini karena takut terpisah dengan rombongan-nya. Saya juga melihat seorang wanita meloncati jemaah lain supaya dia bisa berjalan dan melakukan Towaf dengan aman. Hhhmmm….Egois.
Saya juga melihat seorang pria mendorong ke-kiri dan ke-kanan supaya dirinya bisa lewat. Suatu saat ketika saya sedang melakukan Towaf saya didorong keras sekali sehingga jatuh tepat dipangkuan seseorang yang sedang duduk dan khusyuk berdoa.
Saya juga melihat seseorang yang mendorong-dorong sambil mengumpat dalam bahasa yang saya gak ngerti apa artinya, kelihatan-nya dia merasa bangga bahwa dia bisa melakukan hal seperti itu.
Sungguh sangat mengherankan semua ini bisa terjadi persis di-depan Ka’bah, di-tempat yang paling suci di-dunia ini ! Bukan main. Luar biasa. Hhhmmm.
Setelah melakukan Umroh yang pertama, saya ingin melakukan-nya sekali lagi.
Jadi saya menyewa taksi 40 riyal untuk pergi ke-Masjid `A’ishah di-Tan`eem, saya mandi dulu, sholat dua raka’at, memakai ihrom dan kemudian kembali lagi. Sewaktu saya pulang supir taksi memberi tahu bahwa saya terlalu lama dan dia minta tambahan uang tunggu 10 riyal lagi, sehingga saya harus membayar 50 riyal. Bukan main. Hhhmmm.
Setelah Umroh yang kedua, saya merasa teler, terlalu lelah, sehingga saya ingin tiduran sebentar di-masjid. Tukang sapu masjid segera membangunkan saya.
Setelah subuh, saya menunggu Bis Munafi 15 menit sebelum dan 15 menit sesudah waktu penjemputan, tetapi bis tsb gak nongol-nongol. So saya kembali lagi ke-Al-Haram. Akhirnya saya menggunakan bis kota yang pergi ke dan dari masjid A’ishah secara rutin dengan bayaran yang hanya 4 riyal pulang pergi.
Saya mencoba untuk pergi dengan menggunakan bis tsb dan di-masjid saya menggunakan ihrom untuk umrah yang ketiga. Pada waktu pulang ke-Al-Masjid Al-Haram, semua penumpang didalam bis tsb mengumandangkan Tal-biyah bersama-sama. Hhhmmm… Asyik banget deh.
Ketika saya turun dari bis, saya bertemu dengan Bilal. Saya ingat Bilal dari bandara JFK. Dia adalah orang bulek tinggi besar yang juga menjadi anggota rombongan haji kami, dia memakai sorban. Dia mengatakan pada saya bahwa dia tersesat.
Kami berdua memang tersesat beberapa saat sebelum kami terpisah dengan rombongan karena terlalu ramainya orang-orang yang lalu lalang disana.
Akhir-nya kami putuskan pergi bersama untuk menelepon kerumah kami masing-masing. Ketika saya telepon saudari saya Umbrine merasa sangat terkejut mendengar suara saya. Dia bertanya :
” Bagaimana kamu bisa tau, Assad ? “.
Saya heran dan juga bingung atas pertanyan-nya yang aneh. Dia mengatakan bahwa adik saya Mahrukh mengalami pendarahan otak yang cukup serius dan sekarang sedang berada di-emergency room.
Kemudian saya bicara dengan ibu saya dan ibu saya-pun mengajukan pertanyaan yang sama :
” Bagaimana kamu bisa tau, Assad ? “.
Kali ini saya jawab
” Allah-lah yang memberitahukan saya “
karena Allah yang menaruh di-hati saya agar saya segera menelepon ke-rumah. Hhhmmm…
Saya mencoba untuk menelepon dan berbicara langsung dengan Mahrukh di-Emergency Room tetapi dokter tidak mengizinkan-nya. Saya meninggalkan pesan untuknya agar dia selalu yakin dan saya juga berdoa untuk kesembuhan-nya.
Kali ini ketika saya masuk ke-Masjid Al-Haram, saya mempunyai perasaan yang aneh. Dia selalu di-dalam pikiran saya sewaktu saya Umrah. Begitu selesai dengan Umrah yang ketiga, kaki saya tiba-tiba menjadi pincang.
Kemudian saya pergi mendekati tempat air Zam-zam dan memberikan minuman ini kepada siapa saja, tamu-tamu Allah yang berada disektar situ. Sungguh saya sangat suka melakukan hal itu.
Dengan suasana yang seperti ini, sakit dan stress menjadi tidak terasa, saat-saat seperti ini merupakan kenangan indah dan menyenangkan yang pernah saya alami. Hhhmmm…
Ketika saya sedang Umrah, beberapa orang Pakistan menghampiri saya dan meminta uang. Mereka bilang bahwa mereka barusan saja dirampok orang. Saya tidak percaya pada mereka.
Suatu ketika seorang laki-laki dan adik perempuan-nya datang kepada saya dan minta pertolongan. Kali ini mereka saya kuliahin panjang lebar.
Saya bilang bahwa beberapa ribu tahun yang lalu sewaktu tempat ini masih berupa padang pasir tanpa penghuni, seorang wanita dan bayi-nya ditinggalkan didekat Ka’bah. Karena dia percaya pada Allah, maka tentu saja Allah menjaga dia dan bayi-nya dengan penuh perhatian. Kemudian Allah memberikan air Zam-zam dan membuat perempuan tsb bisa berlari kecil antara Safa dan marwa yang akhirnya sampai sekarang dijadikan sebagai ritual baik untuk kaum wanita maupun kaum pria-nya.
Saya minta pada orang ini untuk menaruh kepercayaan-nya pada Allah sepenuhnya dan hanya memohon dan meminta kepada Allah saja bukan kepada manusia.
Akhirnya dia minta maaf dan minta supaya saya pergi sambil mengatakan bahwa dia telah mengambil banyak waktu saya. Saya jadi bingung, sebenarnya dia yang menghabiskan waktu saya ataukah saya yang menghabiskan waktunya dia.
Akhir-nya, he-he-he, gak ada uang sedikit-pun yang keluar dari dompet saya dan mereka-pun pergi entah kemana, meninggalkan saya sendirian. Hhhmmm… dia enggak ngeh, gak sadar kalo ana-kan orang Arab gede di-Amerika, tafi ya Arab tetaf aja Arab. Blo’on lu ah sembari senyum2 bijaksana.
Sewaktu saya kembali ke-tempat saya menginap kira-kira sekitar jam 10 malam, ada pertemuan dengan semua rombongan saya di-gedung tsb. Kali ini mereka, pengurus rombongan haji, bisa membaca dan merasakan kekecewaan saya. Saya hadir dalam pertemuan tsb dan menanyakan kepada pengurus untuk memegang teguh janjinya. Saya mempunyai versi, dan ayat tertentu dari Quran tentang janji yang harus ditepati.
Ketika salah seorang dari mereka memberikan penjelasan pada saya, saya percaya bahwa mereka memang telah mencoba dengan sungguh-sungguh dan akhirnya saya memilih untuk diam, tidak complain pada mereka dimuka umum. Hhhmmm…
Ketika ditunjuk-kan pada saya dimana tempat tidur saya, teman sekamar saya, Mr. G. A. Khan, menyarankan bahwa saya seharusnya pergi ke-dokter untuk memeriksa kaki saya yang sakit dan pincang.
Dr. Tamkeen Ahmed yang tidur disebelah kamar saya memeriksa kaki saya dan mengatakan bahwa tulang kaki saya retak dan beliau menyarankan agar saya pergi ke-rumah sakit besok pagi.
Lalu saya tanya pada Talib salah seorang dari panitya rombongan haji untuk mengantarkan saya ke-rumah sakit. Dengan senang hati dia membantu saya.
Setelah melihat hasil rontgen, seorang dokter asal Pakistan yang memeriksa saya di-rumah sakit menyarankan agar saya memakai tongkat saja karena saya terkena tendonitis, tetapi dia juga menyarankan agar saya terus melanjutkan ibadah haji.
Dia memberikan saya beberapa pil. Seorang suster Filipina membantu saya memberi perban dan plester untuk membungkus kaki saya yang sakit.
Semua ini gratis tanpa biaya karena pemerintah Arab Saudi telah menanggungnya.
Saya tidak ingin terlalu memanjakan peribahan haji saya, jadi saya tidak melakukan Umroh lagi. Saya pergi ke-Al-Masjid Al-Haram beberapa kali setelah itu, bertemu dan ngobrol ngalor-ngidul dengan orang-orang yang saya temui disana.
Saya melakukan komunikasi dengan mereka menggunakan bahasa Arab pasaran, bahasa patah-patah, bahasa Tarzan atau bahasa tangan sehingga mudah untuk di-mengerti oleh siapa saja.
Saya banyak ngobrol dengan orang-orang dari Bangladesh, Bosnia, China, Perancis, German, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippina, Syria, Turki, Inggris, AS, Saudi Arabia, dan Yaman.
Saya juga bertemu dengan orang-orang yang saya gak tau dari Negara mana mereka berasal.
Salah seorang saudara Muslim dari Iran sangat ingin tau bagaimana kehidupan di-AS. Dia kelihatan-nya tidak percaya bahwa disana saya boleh bebas membawa dan membaca Al-Quran tanpa ditangkap polisi atau di-interogasi oleh pihak penguasa. Dia tercengang dan terheran-heran mendengar cerita saya ini.
Seorang saudara Muslim dari Bosnia bertangan buntung adalah salah seorang yang paling bahagia yang pernah saya jumpai disini. Dia sangat fasih berbahasa Arab, ketika saya tanyakan dimana dia balajar, dia mengatakan bahwa dia hanya belajar di-sekolah-nya dan dia bercerita bahwa negara-nya sekarang ini sedang dalam masa transisi, reformasi dan pengaturan kearah yang lebih baik.
Seorang saudara dari Inggris bilang bahwa kaum Muslimin disana sedang berencana untuk mendirikan partai.
Seorang dari Turki mengatakan bahwa dulu selama dalam masa keku-asaan Kerajaan Turki, untuk menghormati Ka’bah, semua bangunan gedung yang ada disekitar Ka’bah harus lebih rendah dari Ka’bah itu sendiri. Tetapi sekarang keadaan-nya telah berubah, banyak dijumpai bangunan, gedung-gedung dan hotel-hotel yang jauh lebih tinggi dari pada bangunan Ka’bah.
Seorang dari Pakistan berdiskusi tentang Jihad yang harus dilakukan untuk melawan hawa nafsu diri sendiri dan juga jihad yang harus dilakukan untuk melawan musuh.
Pembicaraan-pembicaraan seperti ini ternyata mirip sekali dengan apa yang dibicarakan didalam konferensi internasional tingkat tinggi yang dihadiri oleh para wakil terhormat dari berbagai negara di-dunia ini. Sungguh menarik. Wonderful world and beautiful people. Hhhmmm…
Suatu malam ketika saya sedang menunggu di-kantor Munafi selagi mengirim fax untuk adik saya – Mahrukh, seorang pegawai Saudi Airlines masuk kedalam kantor dan kemudian berbicara atau berdebat dengan Mansoor, seorang manajer di-kantor tsb.
Saya tidak begitu mengerti sepenuh-nya apa yang di-bicarakan dan diperdebatkan-nya. Keliatan-nya orang tsb adalah pegawai bagian penjualan dari Saudi Airlines.
Saat itu Mansoor mengatakan bahwa Nabi Muhammad SAW melarang beberapa jenis perdagangan tertentu, yang kemudian dia sebutkan larangan tsb satu persatu. Pegawai tsb keliatan-nya setuju dengan apa yang dikatakan oleh Mansoor.
Kemudian mereka berdua berbagi makanan dan makan bersama-sama. Saya yakin sekali bahwa pegawai tsb merubah pendirian-nya segera setelah mendengar hadis yang disebutkan oleh Mansoor.
Pada kesempatan lain, saya perhatikan juga bahwa jika ada dua orang berdebat dan kemudian menemui jalan buntu dalam perdebatan-nya, maka salah seorang dari mereka biasanya akan menyele-saikan-nya dengan mengatakan :
” Inget-inget, nyebut-nyebut, baca doa, baca doa…bla-bla-bla ”,
dengan cara seperti itu biasanya akan menyadarkan dan menenangkan mereka untuk mencapai kesepakatan atau musyawaroh untuk mufakat. Hal-hal seperti ini jarang dan sulit kita temui di-dunia barat.
The night before 8 Dhul-Hijjah, my roommate Abid, an African-American chaplain at Riker’sIsland [Prison], said that it was only play-offs until now and the next day was the “Super Bowl.”
We were all excited and “pumped-up” for the “Super Bowl.” The next day was the Day of Tarwiyah, marking the beginning of the several days of Hajj rituals. We were supposed to be in Mina before Zhuhr. We got to Mina without any problem at around ten o’clock. I expected a big traffic jam and having to travel on top of the buses. There was none of that. We got onto an air-conditioned bus, and less than half an hour later we got to our tents in Mina. We simply had to pick one of the tents there and stay there for the day. Our group found several available tents. The tent that I was staying in, luckily, had an evaporative cooler. We hooked it up and it worked! This was much more comfortable than I had imagined. The cooler of the neighbors in front of us did not work. I tried to help them, and in doing so I messed it up and the fuse went off. Now no one in the neighborhood had any electricity! Oops! One of the brothers in our tent told me that I should not have messed with the system. Now they, as well as us, did not have any cooling.
Later we got into this discussion of wealth distribution, riba (interest), and zakah. I took it upon myself to explain the relationship between zakah and riba to these newly reverted Muslims. While we were discussing this, two of the residents of our neighboring tent started to make Talbiyyah alternately. When this conversation did not go anywhere, Mikal, Abdul Wahhab, and I went searching for food. We went to the street right outside our tents. We saw a strange environment. It looked more like a fair or a flea market rather than a religious congregation. We did not find anyone making Talbiyyah. I thought it had just slipped the people’s minds and if they would hear us making Talbiyyah they would certainly join us. I was wrong. The three of us made Talbiyyah. Few people joined us, and that for a brief time. Talbiyyah is supposed to fire up people and they should join in. It was as if we were making Talbiyyah next to stones. In fact it was worse; they looked at us as if we had gone crazy or astray.
We did not find anyone selling food. We did find a Pakistani brother cooking food. We asked him to sell us some. He refused, saying that the food was being prepared for a particular group. Abdul Wahhab wanted to ask for food without money. I resisted, as I did not want to beg. He said that he was curious to know what the man would say. So I asked the man who was cooking to give us some food for free. He refused again, so we left the place.
Fire in Mina
On the way back to the tent we found someone selling food and purchased it for 8 riyals per person. We also noticed a lot of smoke at a far distance. There was a chopper trying to put out the fire with buckets of water. We wondered if the fire was in Mina. Someone said it was in the mountains. I was afraid that people might be caught in this fire and wondered if I could help, but there didn’t seem to be a way to do so since it was far away. When we came back to our tents, our companions also wanted food. We gave that food to them and Abdul Wahhab and I went out to get some more. This time we ran into another brother from Bangladesh selling food. He wanted to sell a lunch for 10 riyals. I bargained him down to 8. I proposed that I would buy five lunches if he would sell it for 7 riyals each. Apparently he agreed. When I gave him 40 riyals, and asked for a five back, he was puzzled. Apparently it was not his understanding that he was selling it for 7 riyals. But he still agreed generously to sell for 7 riyals each. On the way there and back, Abdul Wahhab and I chanted the Talbiyyah. Again it was a lonely feeling. On the way back we saw the fire getting closer. We asked a few people about it. They said that they could see the flames earlier but not any more, so it must be getting under control.
When we got back we surveyed the area for fire exits and planned a fire exit strategy. We advised other brothers to do the same. I advised my companions that there was no reason to worry about the fire, since it was too far from us. Just to make sure, Mikal and I left to check on the fire once again. That time I suggested evacuating the tents. That was a good time to leave without panic. I felt that if it turned out to be a false warning, there was no harm in it. We opened the fire exit and started to leave. After telling the companions in my tent, I started to tell the brothers in other tents. Some of the brothers started to leave, some of the brothers wanted to check the fire first, and some of the brothers wanted to wait for a police officer to come and tell them. When people are warned of a greater fire-the fire of Hell-some people believe the messenger, some want to check the fire, and some ask for an angel to come down and tell them that there is a fire.
Well, soon enough I heard that the police were asking people to leave. So I started to tell the people that the police were now asking them to leave. Some were still puzzled! During this evacuation time, I met a few people I had known before. They were concerned about me but hastened to leave, just as people will care about themselves on Judgment Day and not their loved ones.
I saw a woman of about fifty years’ age sitting alone in a tent. I called her several times at the top of my lungs, but to no avail. Finally I went around to get to her. She was very nervous and crying. She was complaining that someone had left her there and it appeared that she was waiting for him. It was just like the Judgment Day-when those who claim to love each other will care about themselves more-when people who acted wrongly and those who did not act in time of need will be the fuel for the Hellfire. This woman could have gotten burned if she had stayed in her place. It was not her fault that the fire was raging, but it would have been her fault if she had not saved herself.
The fire exit led to a street, but it was a rather large step. I helped people get off from the fire exit. Some women did not want my help, since I was not related to them. Sometimes they realized that there was no choice but to get my help, so then they would change their minds. One such elderly lady was more concerned about touching me and she took the trouble of making sure that there was a piece of cloth between her hand and mine. It surprised me that she would rather do that than save herself from fire or clear the fire exit so that other brothers and sisters could also exit safely. Sometimes we lose sight of a bigger danger for the sake of petty issues.
Someone told me that people had to jump from a nearby building in order to save themselves from the fire, even though it broke their legs. I am surprised that they do not do the same and go for jihad to save themselves from a bigger Fire. There are plenty of Muslims in the world being oppressed and plenty of Muslims in peace.
Why do the ones in peace not go for jihad to help their oppressed brothers and sisters? Have they forgotten Hellfire?
The wind had certainly picked up. I did not want to leave Mina. Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us to stay in Mina starting from before Zhuhr until after sunrise the next day. I was determined to stay in Mina for as long as I could. I went all the way next to the mountain and reached a place where the mountains cupped. At that time, I realized that I would get trapped if I stayed in Mina. The winds were heading directly to the cupping of the mountains. Beyond the mountains it was not Mina and to right it was not Mina. I chose to leave Mina and go to the right.
On my way out of Mina, I met many people waiting for the fire. I recited to them the portion of the verse [O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you …] (An-Nisa’ 4: 59) and told them that the police, who have authority over them, had asked everyone to leave, so they should leave, too. Some were thankful and started to leave, some stayed where they were, waiting for the fire. It reminded me of the times when people are reminded from the verses of the Qur’an and they pay little attention to the verses, waiting for the Fire.
On my way to the mountain on the right, I met an elderly Chinese couple. The man said that he could not go any farther because his heart was not feeling good. They were carrying way too many loads for their age. All this did not stop them from throwing away their worldly belongings and saving themselves from the fire. There was a highway between the tents and the mountain that I was on. The fire reached all the way to the end of the highway. It consumed tents until there were no more to consume. It reached the cupping of the mountains and made the Hajjis run for their lives to the other side of the mountain. It burned the tents and trees on the mountain at that end. The smoke was thick and there was a lot of it. It went over our heads, covering the sun. The sun had less light than the moon. The sky was covered with dark thick smoke. I could look directly at the sun without any problem. There were gas cylinders exploding into pillars of fire, much smaller than the pillars of Fire in Hellfire.
[In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. Woe to every slanderer and backbiter. Who has gathered wealth and counted it. He thinks that his wealth will make him last forever! Nay, Verily, he will be thrown into the crushing Fire. And what will make you know what the crushing Fire is? The fire of Allah, kindled. Which leaps up over the hearts. Verily, it shall be closed in on them. In pillars stretched forth.] (Al-Humazah 104:1-9)
I could feel the heat of the fire across the highway and it was hot. The Fire of Hellfire is going to be seventy times hotter than the fire of this world.
When the fire had finished consuming Mina, it suddenly stopped raging. There was no wind to speak of. It seemed as if the sole purpose of the fire was to consume all the worldly goods in Mina and drive us out. When the fire had consumed all the tents and it was satisfied, one brother started to chant the Talbiyyah. You would think that after such a clear warning from Allah, people would pay heed-but few joined him in the Talbiyyah.
I was terribly sad. I was totally devastated and depressed. I felt as though Allah had kicked us out of holy Mina. Instead of feeling like a guest of Allah at Hajj, I felt like an intruder in His space. I felt as if my entire Hajj was ruined. We were supposed to be in Mina at that time but we were out of it. We could see Mina, and it was very close to us, but we could not be in it. I considered not following up with the rest of the Hajj rituals. After all, I was unable to perform the very first ritual of being in Mina from before Zhuhr until sunrise the next day.
I cried and cried and asked Allah if we were that bad as to deserve to be kicked out of Mina with fear of fire. The answer to that question, as I learned in the days to come, was a resounding “Yes!” This realization was even more depressing.
People were keen to go back to their burned tents, but it was too dangerous to go at that time. The police kept them away from going there too early. When we did go back, we saw the tents, the fans, the evaporative coolers, the food, the baggage, everything burned, except what Allah had protected. I did see one brother’s luggage almost completely intact. He had put his trust in Allah. [Allah! There is no god but He: and on Allah, therefore, let the believers put their trust] (At-Taghabun 64:13). The evaporative coolers that did not work earlier were still useless now. The food that I had bargained long and hard for was burned up. It was good that the Bangladeshi brother sold it to me cheap. All of his food most likely burned, too. Allah blessed his generosity in two ways-he got some money by selling food before it burned up, and good deeds were written for him for his generosity. His material belongings were gone but his deeds remained-just as we will leave everything in this world, only our deeds will accompany us to the hereafter. The Pakistani brother who refused to sell or give us food had all of his food burned up, too-watermelon, cheese, rice-everything was now inedible. His material belongings were all burned up, too; his deeds were written, too.
I wanted to call my mother and let her know that I was all right. On the way to the pay phones, I ran into my high school friend Anees. We both went to make phone calls together. On the way, we wanted to drink some soda. The soda, which was one riyal before the fire, was now four riyals. Is the price increase all that the fire gave to people?
At the phone booth, a couple of brothers were asking the person making the phone call to hurry up. I asked them to let the man make his phone call in peace. They were a little upset at me for it. When it was my turn, it turned out that my AT&T card did not work from there. So I had to use Anees’s Saudi pre-paid card. There were a couple of other people who did not have calling cards and we all used Anees’s card to make international calls, telling our families that we were all right. Those two brothers and a police officer got very upset at me for taking a long time. At that time, I lost my temper. I yelled at them in English and at the end I said “Wait” in Arabic. The officer promptly left for another pay phone. The other two brothers calmed down too. I don’t believe they understood my English. I believe they understood my yelling. I know I was wrong in yelling, but sometimes wrong things happen when I am angry.
When we were boys in school, Anees and I used to get a dozen bananas for three rupees near Adamjee, my high school, and split them for lunch. We got some bananas from a store and split them in remembrance of old times. We then went to our respective burned tent locations.
A couple of elderly brothers from
Pakistan came to us and wanted help getting back to the Pakistani camp. I did not know where the Pakistani camp was, but I volunteered to take them there. The Pakistani camp was right where the fire started, on the other side of Mina. Since I did not know where the Pakistani camp was at that time and neither did most of the people I asked, I ended up getting a tour of Mina. I went through camps from all over the world. I was surprised that no one was making Talbiyyah even after the fire. People looked fairly calm, perhaps untroubled, and going about their business as if nothing had happened earlier that day. There was no grief for the ones who had died in the fire. Many of them were out on the street having fun with toys, gadgets, or other products for sale. I did not see people reflecting upon the fire, nor did I see them making invocations or remembering Allah. I did find a group of brothers making `Isha’ Prayer.
Almost all of the tents up to where the fire started were burned down. I did not see any dead bodies. That made me feel a little better. When I got to the Pakistani camp, I met a Pakistani brother who had seen about a dozen dead bodies. That made me think that probably 50 to 100 people had died. It turned out that about 350 people died in that fire.
There was garbage, litter, and filthy water all over the place. I felt as if I had come into a filthy ghetto. It did not look like a holy place. If someone came to my property, even on my invitation, and treated my property like these people were treating Mina, I would certainly kick them out of my property-with fire if necessary! I had thought that our neighborhood in Mina was filthy, but it was the cleanest in Mina. Our neighborhood had people from the US, Europe, and
Australia. Muslims from those countries had learned some hygiene from the non-Muslims. But Muslims today did not learn it from their Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), who taught it centuries before the West learned it from the Muslims.
There was a careless and arrogant attitude towards littering. A brother who was originally from Pakistan but was living in the
UK was pealing an orange and throwing the peel on the ground. I offered him a bag to throw the garbage in. He said, “They will come here tomorrow to pick up the garbage” and continued to toss the peel on the ground. I believe he would never do that in the
UK. Altogether, there was more than 47,000 tons of garbage picked up by the officials. I believe that 99 percent of the garbage was tossed outside the garbage containers.
Most of the people spent the night out in the streets. There were no tents, no evaporative coolers, and no fans. Now that the tents were all burned, in some of the places where there were tents, I saw burned bathtubs too. Did we gather in Mina to relax in the bathtubs or to remember Allah, our grave, our resurrection, our judgment, and our final abode?
Abdur Rahman and I spent the night where our tent used to be. He had come to
Saudi Arabia to teach English and had accepted Islam there. We were both very sad about the entire affair. He was more optimistic than I. He saw people wearing white sheets walking on black ashes and considered them coming out of ashes.
I was too depressed to support his theory. I felt that all of us, including myself, had done something terribly wrong for which we were all deprived the privilege of staying in Mina for the Day of Tarwiyah. Later, the brother who had told me that we would have been better off if I had not messed with our neighbors’ evaporative cooler, agreed with me. He said that everyone had done something to get themselves kicked out of Mina. He said that he had been “nasty” when he said something about the evaporative coolers. Blessed are those who see their mistakes and attempt to correct them.
[O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded. O ye Unbelievers! Make no excuses this Day! Ye are being but requited for all that ye did! O ye who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance: In the hope that your Lord will remove from you your ills and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, – the Day that Allah will not permit to be humiliated the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their Light will run forward before them and by their right hands, while they say, “Our Lord! Perfect our Light for us, and grant us Forgiveness: for Thou has power over all things”] (At-Tahrim 66:6-8).
The next day we went to `Arafat. Again, there was no problem getting there. There were no traffic jams and no one was riding on the roofs of the buses. This is the place where the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed Zhuhr and `Asr together so that he could concentrate for the rest of the day on making invocations to Allah for his followers-for us! He stood on theMountain of
Mercy from after his Prayers until Maghrib, praying for us! This is the place where he gave his memorable last Hajj sermon. This is the place that reminds us of the Day of Resurrection. Men were dressed in two sheets of cloth. On the Day of Resurrection we will be lucky to have even that. Everyone for himself or herself, just like the Day of Resurrection. This is the place where I started to form my opinion on why we were kicked out of Mina.
I went to Masjid Namirah for the Zhuhr and `Asr Prayers at `Arafat. Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) originally built this masjid. As I got closer to it, it seemed that everyone was going to the masjid. When I got to the stairs, people started to push and some of us had no choice but to follow the crowd. I saw people sitting in the walkways waiting for Prayers to start.
Did they not learn that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had taught us to not sit in walkways so as not to block them?
People had umbrellas propped up; the corners of the umbrellas were at eye level and a danger to the eyes of fellow brothers and sisters.
Did Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) not teach us to be considerate of others?
Finally, one brother let me sit on his mat. It was right next to a bunch of cold water fountains. There were a lot of people making wudu’ at that place. The water dripped all over the place and formed a small stream.
Did the Prophet Muhammad (may I be sacrificed for him) not teach us that cleanliness and purity is half the faith?
One woman came to these water fountains and got a bottle full of water. Then she proceeded to urinate in front of all the people and washed herself with that water. She then tossed the bottle on the ground. Later on, someone picked it up.
Did the Prophet Muhammad (may my parents be sacrificed for him) not spend a lot of time teaching us about modesty and hygiene? What have we done to all of his teachings? Have we become like the people of Ignorance? Or have we got worse? Would the world have lost anything if we had burned in the fire?
I will remember the time I waited for the Prayer that day for the rest of my life, Allah willing. My sweat had made my garments all wet and translucent. The sweat penetrated into the pouch that I was carrying and made my prayer notes and the Qur’an wet. The marks on the Qur’an should help me remember that day. I got sunburn for the first time in my life. I must remember that day, so must my body. On the Day of Resurrection, the sun will be a lot closer and hotter. In the Hellfire, when one layer of skin gets burned, another will be grown to take its place. I must fear the harshness of the Day of Resurrection and the torment of the Hellfire. May Allah please protect us all from that. Ameen.
I had not slept well the night before and I was very tired, so I decided to go to my tent and sleep a little after the Prayers. But Allah had great mercy on me that he led me to theMountain of
Mercy. I took short walks on the street around theMountain of
Mercy to keep myself from dozing.
It was at this place 1407 years ago that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
O people, lend me an attentive ear, for I don’t know whether after this year I shall ever be among you again. Therefore, listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.
O people, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take interest, therefore all interest obligations shall from now on be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer inequity. Allah has judged that there shall be no interest and that all interest due to `Abbas ibn `Abdul Muttalib [the uncle of the Prophet] shall from now on be waived.
Every right arising out of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived and the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabi`ah ibn Al-Harith.
O men, the unbelievers indulge in tampering with the calendar to make permissible that which Allah forbade and to forbid that which Allah has made permissible. With Allah the months are twelve in number. Four of them are holy, three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumada and Sha`ban.
Beware of Satan for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.
O people, it is true that you have certain rights regarding your women, but they also have rights over you. If they abide by your right then they also have the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone whom you do not approve and never commit adultery.
O people, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, offer your five daily Prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in zakah, perform Hajj if you can afford to.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white, except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother of another Muslim and that Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim that belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustices to yourselves.
Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
O people, no prophet or messenger will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well therefore, O people, and understand my words that I convey to you. I am leaving behind me two things, the Qur’an and my example (the Sunnah), and if you follow these you will never go astray.
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to them directly. Be my witness O Allah, that I have conveyed Your message to Your people. (Reported by Muslim)
At `Arafat, I saw garbage and litter all over the place. It seemed that I had come to a garbage dump instead of a holy place. This was fasad or mischief.
Did Allah not tell us Himself that He does not love those who create fasad?[But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek no (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief] (Al-Qasas 28:77).
I saw rows of beggars all over the place. Many of them had mutilated limbs or other parts of their bodies. Many of them were children. I remember a boy of perhaps seven years who had only stubs left instead of his legs. Some children were fake crying to get attention and money. Some of the beggars were wearing ihram just like myself-apparently they were there to perform Hajj, too. I was at theMountain of
Mercy and asking for the mercy of Allah, the Most Merciful. I felt that I should be merciful to these beggars so that Allah would be merciful to me although I did not believe that the beggars were genuinely in need of money. I told myself that giving them money would be getting tricked and it was un-Islamic to get tricked. So I did not give them anything.Did the great Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) not teach us not to cheat? Did he not tell us to take our provision when we go for Hajj?
There were many other distractions at theMountain of
Mercy including camels. You could take a Polaroid picture of yourself with a camel.I made invocations to Allah at theMountain of
Mercy until before Maghrib. My soloist activities were earning me the reputation of a lost person. So, I left a little before Maghrib to be with the group. As it turned out, the bus did not leave until after it was dark. I did manage to sleep a little sitting on the ground while waiting for the bus.
A little into the night, we reached Muzdalifah and offered our Maghrib and `Isha’ Prayers and spent the night there on the ground under the open sky. Next morning we had to go to Mina again. We found an empty bus going in that direction and tried to get on. The driver of the bus, who was also wearing ihram, became almost violent. He was greatly upset that we got onto his bus. People hadn’t learned much from the fire!
In Mina I was surprised to see that most of the tents were back up! They must have worked day and night to achieve this huge task in less than 48 hours. This time we found a different tent. No one complained about the evaporative coolers this time.
That day we were supposed to stone Jamrat Al-`Aqabah in remembrance of the Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) stoning the devil. I volunteered to take care of an elderly Bangladeshi brother, Muhammad Ali, who spoke Urdu. He and I went to Jamarat together. He was excited to go there and so was I. I wanted to stone, albeit symbolically, my avowed nemesis. Muhammad Ali treated me to grapes on the way there. It was a long walk. When we finally got there, I saw more devil around the stone markers than in the stone markers. People were shoving each other like I had never seen before. Two brothers brought a group of women to stone. When they had finished stoning, one of them led the women and the other followed the women. Then the entire herd ran mercilessly into the crowd. This time even my yelling in English did not work. The stones people were throwing were falling on their fellow brothers and sisters. I had a tough time performing the ritual of stoning at Jamarat. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was an excellent example of patience and consideration. Did he not teach us that too? [Surely Allah enjoins the doing of justice and doing of good (to others) and the giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion; He admonishes you that you may be mindful.] (An-Nahl 16:90)
As in Mina and `Arafat, there was garbage at Jamarat as well. The same beggars that were at `Arafat were there, too. I saw a woman begging and breast-feeding her child so that her breast was openly exposed. I suppose that was yet another way to get attention and subsequently money.
What happened to the discouragement of begging and observance of the rules satr (or covering) as taught to us by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)?
From Jamarat, we proceeded to Makkah to make Tawaf of the Ka`bah. On the way, Muhammad Ali told me that he had been robbed of his money while making Tawaf. I had a hard time believing him. In the holy month, in the holy city, in the holy masjid, performing a holy ritual, in front of the holy House of Allah, the Ka`bah, someone had robbed him by slicing open the belt pouch. He was not lying. When I tried to buy him some cold water, he insisted that he would pay for it. He told me that he had borrowed some money from his companions. Muhammad Ali had to go back to the
UK the next day. Somehow, we decided to part right outside Al-Masjid Al-Haram.
As I proceeded to the masjid, I saw an old Pakistani brother of about seventy years of age slip and fall due to the water on the floor. He was in deep pain. He kept saying that he had lost his leg. I did not believe him. I thought that he would be all right soon. As it turned out, he did have his leg broken close to his hip. His wife had burned her feet during the fire. His son was very nervous. The old man kept blaming his fate and apologizing to his son for ruining the son’s Hajj. At the hospital, I found out that there were many such cases and the orthopedic ward was overflowing.
I could not make Tawaf that day so I went back to Mina after getting rid of my hair. I did not find Muhammad Ali at the camp.
The next day it was Jamarat again. I dreaded it. Luckily, I went to the upper level and went around the Jamarat and stoned from the rear. It turned out to be a breeze this time. Later that day I was able to make Tawaf and Sa`i. That day I saw the authorities using bulldozers to pick up garbage from around Jamarat.
The last day, I had this apparently smart idea that I would go right after Zhuhr to stone Jamarat and then I would be done for the day. That was a real bad decision because everyone else was also in a hurry to leave Mina and a great crowd had gathered. I went to the upper level with brother Tamkeen. The police were trying to control the crowd and so we had to wait. I didn’t mind the waiting. It was the environment that was repulsive. We were all pressed against each other. Some brothers were objecting that I was getting too close to their women. I told them to bring the women at `Asr time if they were so concerned. They were stuck and could not go out. Several brothers had umbrellas, which protected from the sun but created a suffocating environment. That was the only time throughout my trip that I was afraid of getting run over. When we were allowed to proceed, we all ran like a herd of donkeys. One Pathan brother from
Pakistan was shoving people left, right, and center.
When I confronted him, his excuse was that it was “no dance,” implying that there was no need to be sophisticated, with complete disregard for other brothers and sisters.
On the way back, brother Tamkeen and I bought some water. When I returned the bottle to the storekeeper so that he would put it in the garbage, he threw it out the door! Lucky for me that I caught it in mid-air. I then asked him to throw it in the garbage. He took the bottle and threw it again right out the door onto the street. I wasn’t lucky enough to catch the bottle this time. I suppose they wanted to live in garbage. But that is not the teaching of my beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He liked cleanliness and preached it to his followers.
With all praise for Allah, the Lord and Cherisher of the worlds, the Hajj rituals ended. I saw deception, corruption, selfishness, lewdness, ignorance, filth, robbery, broken promises, indulgence, name calling, back biting, yelling, pushing, arrogance, and more during these few days. I did get the answer to my question, if we were really that bad to deserve fire in the holy Mina. We deserved it. We deserved it well.
After Hajj, our group leader told us that we would leave for Madinah on a certain evening. So, I went to make my farewell Tawaf that day. When I got back, it was announced that we are not leaving that night after all. That made me get up to talk after everyone had spoken. I told the management that they should keep their promises as the Qur’an reminds us: [O you who believe, fulfill (your) obligations] (Al-Ma’idah 5:1). I reminded them of their broken promises of paid food, reliable bus service for all salahs, and going to Madinah that evening. Many of the brothers later came to me and told me that they felt the same way as I did and they were glad that I had spoken out.
A major contingency at the Munafi residential area left soon after Hajj. As soon as this contingency left, the cafeteria downstairs closed. There was no manager on the property, and the director disappeared as well. Two days later at the complex, I met this lady from
France who was eighty or more years old. She told me that she hadn’t had anything to eat for two days! The cafeteria was closed and the management had forgotten all about her. The nearest restaurant was about three-fourths of a mile away, out of walking distance for an old lady.
Eventually we left for Madinah by bus. On the way there, the authorities had put up signs by the roadside saying “All praise be to Allah,” “Glory be to Allah,” and similar messages. This made me remember Allah and His Messenger in my free time, instead of thinking up silly things. My gratitude to the authorities who put up the signs.
There were two signs written in the bus: “It is forbidden to give money to the driver” and “No Smoking.” The bus driver insisted on getting a tip from me, despite my refusals several times. I told him to read the sign. He did not get a tip from me. One of the passengers came next to the driver while he was driving the bus and started to smoke and talk to him. Bilal, who was sitting next to me, brought the “No Smoking” sign to the passenger’s attention. He mumbled something and then referred him to the driver. The driver was himself smoking and he said, “One minute.” I suppose we were supposed to hold our breaths while they smoked.
Madinah was like a healing ointment on cuts and bruises. The people there were a lot more peaceful and accommodating. Abdul Wahhab, Bilal, Abdul Hakeem, and I stayed in a small hotel room for three nights. The hotel was at a walking distance to the masjid of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). It was very beautiful to just walk to Al-Masjid An-Nabawi for salah. Al-Masjid Al-Haram and Al-Masjid An-Nabawi breathed people. Before salah, people would come to the masjid like water in a whirlpool, like light in a black hole, or like air molecules in our noses. Everyone had his or her face turned towards the masjid. After salah, people would similarly leave the masjids like air molecules from our noses.
Abdul Hakeem, a young African-American brother who had reverted to Islam only seven months before coming to Hajj, told me that when he found out that Muslims are supposed to go for Hajj, he said, “I’ll go.” For him it was just fulfilling his obligation. He said that some of the “born Muslims” had then started to discourage him! They were very surprised at Abdul Hakeem’s decision. They said that one has to make invocations at `Arafat in Arabic and asked him how he was going to do that. I believe that they were merely jealous that they hadn’t fulfilled their obligation of Hajj and that this young brother was availing the first opportunity of Hajj on becoming Muslim. May Allah bless Abdul Hakeem and may Allah guide us all to the Straight Path. Ameen.
Right after the first Zhuhr Prayer I prayed at Al-Masjid An-Nabawi, my old-time neighbor and friend Shahzad Razi found me. I was very glad to see him-and what a beautiful place to meet. We hung around together for the next three days.
Right after the last salah Shahzad and I prayed at Al-Masjid An-Nabawi, we ran into a very small library right inside the masjid. It has old manuscripts of the Qur’an. Some manuscripts were written on date-palm leaves, others were written on paper. Since the paper was much thicker at that time than what is available these days, I saw a manuscript of a single surah in one bound volume. None of the other brothers that I went with had seen the library. It is not very well marked and so you may have to ask for it if you want to see it.
We left for Jeddah three days later. For Maghrib Prayer on the way back we stopped at a wayside masjid. Bilal gave the Adhan and Inshirah led the Prayer for a group of travelers from different parts of the world-one a Caucasian- American reverted Muslim and the other an African-American reverted Muslim. After my experiences in the preceding few days, I felt that the reverted Muslims deserved the leadership of the Ummah, just as in that Maghrib Prayer. I did not see a single reverted Muslim who had his or her faith shaken by all the injustices of the “born Muslims.” They really believed in Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), unlike those who merely claimed to follow Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).
As expected, we spent another night at the Jeddah airport. Inshirah and his wife had some trouble getting a seat, while their daughter got a seat. It was a problem for them since this would have separated the family. The Egypt Air official told them that they should try an hour after the start of check-in. Inshirah said that he trusted Allah and that Allah would take care of him. By the grace of Allah, they got first class seats instead. Sometimes what we think is an upset is actually a setup of Allah.
There was a quick stopover at
Cairo and we were soon off to JFK airport. As I got to my seat in the airplane, I saw a young Egyptian woman dressed in a skimpy tight T-shirt and tight pants, sitting close to me. She started to ask for attention from men nearby and she got plenty of it. Apparently she did not know where the volume and channel controls were and it took one man to show her that. Apparently she did not know how to put the seat belt on and it took another man to almost put the belt on for her. Apparently she did not know how to use the pillow. It took the first man to fold the pillow and put it behind her neck. One of these two men was carrying Qur’an in his left hand and helping her put her belt on with the right hand.
I was appalled at this hypocrisy. I got their attention and recited in Arabic [Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers, or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments; And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss] (An-Nur 24:30-31).
One of the men calmed down a bit, the woman started to mumble in Arabic, and the other man, who still had a finger stuck in the Qur’an that he was holding in his left hand, started to argue with me. He knew the verses very well-he even corrected my Arabic recitation. He said that he had performed Hajj before I did and that I should be quiet after giving my advice. Later I found this man and the woman talking in the back of the plane. It did not appear that the Qur’an had made any impact below their ears or their throats into their hearts, even though it was in their language. Later I found out that this woman was “Miss
Egypt.” There was a world of difference between these “born Muslims” and the “reverted Muslims” who gave Adhan and led the Prayer at a wayside masjid between Madinah and Jeddah. They were certainly not equal.
When I arrived at JFK a remarkable thing happened. The people who had behaved like a herd suddenly became civilized! They all lined up neatly in front of the US Immigration officers. Compared to the one at Jeddah, it was a much more pleasant experience. At Jeddah, it was Hajjis behind walls against immigration officials. At JFK, it was mostly foreigners in peace and in a neat line. At Jeddah the officials were yelling at the Hajjis to be patient, at JFK the officials were directing people to the next available immigration officer. At Jeddah, I was wearing ihram, an obvious indication that I was a Muslim going for Hajj in a Muslim country. At JFK, I was wearing shalwar qameez, an obvious indication that I was a foreigner coming into a non-Muslim country. At Jeddah, I was yelled at “English. English.” At JFK, I was greeted first, before I greeted, with “Good Morning.” At Jeddah it took from two to three hours to get through all the processing, at JFK it took thirty to forty-five minutes. It seemed that Muslims were following the West in all sorts of ways, including its icons of Michael Jackson and Calvin Klein, but not in organization, courtesy, greeting first, hard work, and consideration.
At JFK, my family brought many gifts when they came to pick me up. Among them was my sister Mahrukh. By the Grace of the Most Kind One, she appeared as if nothing had happened to her although she had had a brain hemorrhage and had spent several nights in the hospital. All Praise be to Allah, the Lord and Cherisher of the worlds, the gift of Allah is the best gift of all.
Everyone who goes for Hajj has a certain amount of commitment to Islam. Everyone spends time and money to go for Hajj. If the people that I met at Hajj were the best that the Muslim world has to offer, then the enemies of Islam have nothing to fear. It is no wonder that Muslims are treated like cheap dirt the world over. It is no wonder that the Muslim blood is the cheapest blood to shed all over the world. It is no wonder that little is left of the Muslim honor. Today in this Ummah, there is no Muhammad ibn Qasim, the 17-year-old general who delivered Muslim prisoners when an Indian prince invaded their ship. There is no Salah Ad-din Ayyubi, who said that he would not smile until he had delivered
Jerusalem. There is no Muhammad Fateh, the 18-year-old general who pushed ships on land around the Bosphorus to conquer Constantinople (
Istanbul) because of a prophecy of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
It is also no wonder that there is little progress in the Ummah towards the advancement of various sciences. Today in this Ummah, there is no Abu Ali Al-Husayn ibn `Abdullah ibn Sina, the great physicist and physician whose books were used as medical textbooks all over the world up until the mid-seventeenth century; there is no Al-Khawrizmi, the inventor of Algebra; no Al-Hasan ibn Al-Haytham, the great scientist in optics; no Al-Battani, a reverted Muslim and the pioneer of his time in astronomy and trigonometry who invented sine, cosine, tangent, and cotangent. We do not have the discipline or the patience to wonder about the signs of Allah. It is no wonder that there are few like Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, and `Ali. We do not have the passion and the selflessness to serve the creation of Allah. Today the politicians and leaders merely fight for power and wealth, and then they oppress people. We have become a dead Ummah. An Ummah of mere talk, if that at all. “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon”-Verily we belong to Allah, and to Him is our return.
All my life I had dreamed about the revival of Muslims. I had hoped that my nation would wake up to the call of the Qur’an, given fourteen hundred years ago. I had prayed to Allah to help us and give us the will power and the strength. But Allah revealed fourteen hundred years ago: [Verily Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition; and when Allah intends punishment to a people, there is no averting it, and besides Him they have no protector] (Ar-Ra`d 13:11). We have forgotten the message. It seemed only a few people I met at Hajj had any desire to change themselves. The number of these very few people was so small that it doesn’t appear to me that the Ummah will have any appreciable revival in my lifetime. This was the most depressing and thought-provoking realization during my entire Hajj.
The overall picture of Hajj that I received was quite gloomy. The state of the Ummah is pathetic. My message to you, gentle reader, is to start educating people where the population is already Muslim. Tell them about organization, hygiene, trust, piety, humbleness, selflessness, modesty, consideration, compassion, truthfulness, honesty, and other Islamic treasures that our beloved and honored Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us so diligently and practiced in his life.
Tell them to stop following Satan and falling into the popular sins of today. Today, you may find many who do not adhere to the very basics of Islam, for instance salah. The most difficult salahs for a hypocrite are Fajr and `Isha’. Tell them that Allah forbids dealing with interest and that whatever is forbidden by Allah does not have the blessings of Allah in it. Also remind them to pay zakah and that what Allah has ordained has great blessings in it. Tell them to cover themselves up as Allah has ordained us in His Book. If we do not, we will be spending time in sin. Today, it is considered admissible for men to wear shorts and for women to uncover their hair, but this was not the practice of our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Tell them to consider others as worthy creations of Allah and other Muslims as their brothers and sisters and to be considerate to all of them, whether Muslim or not.
Tell them to stop backbiting and slandering each other. Today it is a very popular sin. Listen and obey the Qur’an: [The believers are nothing else than brothers, so make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy. O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor defame one another, nor insult one another by (offensive) nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having faith; and whoever does not repent then such are indeed the wrongdoers. O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins; and spy not, neither backbite one another.
Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?
You would hate it (so hate backbiting); and fear Allah; verily Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful. O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another; verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the one who is pious.] (Al-Hujurat 49:10-13)
To those who do not know the blessing of Islam, we must take the word to them. I found the newly reverted Muslims most energetic and enthusiastic about Islam. This is because they come to Islam after understanding it. I believe that they will take the lead of the Ummah, Allah willing. If we are unable or unwilling to lead the Ummah, the least we can do is bring the message of Islam to the ones who are able to lead the Ummah. By doing so, we share in the reward of their leadership and hard work, without diminishing their reward. This is the most important realization I had during my trip to Hajj-to spread the message to those who are able and are going to lead the Ummah.
If we do not educate our brothers and sisters and do not spread the word of Allah, we will fall short of fulfilling our obligation to The All-Powerful. Of course, The Most Generous has prepared beautiful gardens for those who fulfill their obligations and burning fire for those who do not. Remember, we must start from ourselves, our families, our relatives, and our neighbors. We must change our ways for the better, so that we may receive the Mercy of The Most Merciful.
[Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity] (Aal `Imran 3:104). In order for me to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, I must judge the actions around me. If I see the need for something right to be done, I must command it; and if I see something wrong being done, I must forbid it. But before I can do that, I must first judge the action, if it is right or wrong. The above narration of my experiences of Hajj is in the same spirit. I do not judge the people, for that is reserved for Allah alone; I only see the actions. May Allah please, with His Great Mercy and Generosity, accept the Hajj of all the believers and grant them all a high place in the highest
Paradise. May Allah please forgive my forgetfulness and mistakes and those of all the Muslims. Ameen.
Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The believer is the believer’s mirror, and the believer is the believer’s brother who guards him against loss and protects him when he is absent” (Abu Dawud). We must all tell each other what is good and bad in the other so that we may continue to do the good and stop doing the bad, so that we may grow in our own faith.
In the end, I’ll mention some of the lessons I learned regarding the logistics of performing Hajj. The average age of the Hajjis was probably more than 55 years. It was difficult to make Hajj for many of the elderly people. One should plan to make Hajj as soon as one can, preferably before forty years of age. Once one can afford to make Hajj, Hajj becomes an obligation to Allah. One may be held responsible if one was able to make Hajj for a short period of time in one’s lifetime but did not avail of it at that time. Later on, one may never be able to afford Hajj again. Offering Hajj at an early age ensures that one will be in good physical condition and in a spiritual state to mend one’s ways easily and earlier.
It is probably easier and better to make Tawaf by yourself and not with someone else. This lets you concentrate on your worship and not worry about following someone or making sure that someone is following you. My recommendation to the women would be to decide on a meeting place and time. A gate would be a good place, since all the gates are numbered and named. The best place to make Tawaf is, of course, as close to the Ka`bah as possible if you can do so without hurting others or yourself. I found it better to make the Tawaf on the roof. There are fewer people there, especially after Fajr and also when the sun is hot. This way you make bigger circles and under the hot sun, but you do not run the risk of injuring-physically or emotionally-another Muslim brother or sister or yourself.
By deciding on a meeting place, the women will be more in a position to make an effort to pray with women and not with men. Men and women should pray separately as taught by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
Women have a leave to go to Jamarat at nighttime. They may want to utilize it. There are a lot of people at Jamarat during the daytime, and it may be difficult for the women and children. Men may want to perform the stoning in the daytime for themselves and then accompany their women at nighttime.
Out of all the salahs that I prayed in Al-Masjid Al-Haram and Al-Masjid An-Nabawi, there was only one that was not followed by a funeral Prayer. You may wish to learn the Janazah Prayer. Narrated Abu Hurayrah: Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “(A believer) who accompanies the funeral procession of a Muslim out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s reward and remains with it till the funeral Prayer is offered and the burial ceremonies are over, he will return with a reward of two qirats. Each qirat is like the size of (Mount) Uhud. He who offers the funeral Prayer only and returns before the burial will return with the reward of one qirat only.” (Al-Bukhari)
Under the new system, everyone is given a wristband. The name of the office that is responsible for the individual is written on that band. If one simply shows the band to any official, he or she will arrange for the person to reach his or her place. This system is followed through in Makkah, Mina, `Arafat, and other places. I met a few people who were lost and the information on the band was incorrect. You may want to make sure when you get the band that the information on your band matches that of your companions. There are information offices in Mina and `Arafat as well, and people should feel free to get directions from there.
Medical care is free for all Hajjis. I came across people who were sick or wounded yet they did not go to the medical clinics. There are clinics in Mina and `Arafat, and people should feel free to utilize these facilities.
I had some difficulty cashing my traveler’s checks. The lady who sold me the checks in the
US told me to keep the receipt separate from the checks. The officer at Al-Rajhi Bank in Makkah said that they would cash it if it were accompanied by the receipt and my passport. Of course, the Saudi officials had already taken my passport into “custody”. In this situation I called American Express. They said that I could cash them in Al-Khobar or
Riyadh-both closer to the east coast of the kingdom, while I was closer to the west coast. I found out that one could get cash from ATMs from a particular bank. I believe the name is Arab National Bank. Their ATMs are connected to the same network that most of the American banks are connected to.
Many vendors there sell a leather belt that has many pockets to protect valuables. It is a fact that people pick pockets of Muslims making Tawaf. These pickpockets are well aware of the construction of those belts. I saw a Turk brother crying out loud in front of the Ka`bah and asking for money because he had been robbed. His belt had been cut open from the back while he was making Tawaf. I do not know if he was a victim or a con-artist. In any event, my recommendation is not to use such belts but to find different belts or pouches, perhaps from your hometown.
Egypt, all of our passports were taken to get stamped. I did not get my passport with the rest of the passports of my companions. It was lying in a pile of passports of similar color. Rizwan Shah, an old-time Adamjee friend of mine who had gone for Hajj before I did, had advised me to put a bright colored sticker on the spine of the passport so that it would be easily identifiable. It was a great help-I was able to recognize my passport right away.
You may want to take a flight that goes directly to Jeddah. You may also want to make sure that your lodgings in Makkah and Madinah are at a walking distance from Al-Haramayn. It may cost you more to do so, but it may be a better solution than waiting for a bus each time you want to pray there.
Food is not a problem at all. One can get a good meal for less than ten riyals, about three dollars. There is enormous variety of food there-Arab, Pakistani, Indian, Indonesian, American (McDonald’s, KFC, Dairy Queen), and many other types of restaurants are abundant. However, I suggest that you eat less at the restaurants and eat fruits and drink Zamzam water so that there is less chance of stomach problems, and, consequently, you may concentrate on your worship.
Take more money than you estimate that you will need-say, $300 more per person. It is always better to lend than to borrow, and you may never know when you might run into a need for money. Divide your money into smaller amounts and keep them separate. Don’t put all the eggs in one basket.
There is a huge barbershop opposite to Jamarat. The Saudi government runs it. One may also find men around ready to shave your head by the street. It is illegal for them to do so. Also, it is not hygienic to do so. If the shaving blade is not sterilized before shaving each head, the blood may get exchanged via the shaving blade. You may end up with a serious disease if you are not careful. You may want to take your own razor or a charged electric shaver. In any event, it is much better to have your head shaved at the government-run barbershop than by the men on the street.
The Saudi government has put in a lot of effort to make Hajj a smooth process. There are ample restrooms and wudu’ facilities all over Al-Haramayn, Mina, `Arafat, Muzdalifah, and waysides on the highways. There are ample buses for transportation. There is a large contingency of police. Some of them were very helpful. One of them took me to my camp from one side of Mina to the other when I asked for directions. All the Hajjis are supplied with Zamzam water every day at their residence, although the Munafi management did not give any to us. The medical facilities are free of charge to the Hajjis, paid by the Saudi government. At theMountain of
Mercy, there are poles that spray out cool mist so that it does not get too hot for the Hajjis.
There are some areas where there is room for improvement. For instance, for stoning Jamarat, the administration could set times for different camps so that the place does not become over-crowded. They could mark some rows close to the Ka`bah on each floor to be reserved for making Tawaf. The tents in Mina could be made from flame retardant material (a suggestion given by Mikal).
Most of all, Hajj is a time for sabr (patience). It was difficult for me to not fight, to not even argue while I was at Hajj. But this is exactly what is required of us. I suggest practicing not fighting nor arguing long before it is time for Hajj.
May Allah take you, my gentle reader, to a Hajj that is accepted by Allah, rinses you of your sins, is a source of spiritual growth for you, is a reason to get you a high and blessed place in the highest heaven, and a generous blessing of the Most Generous One. Ameen.