Brother Tanweer woke me up gently so that we could begin our day at about 10am. I made wudu’, waited for Zuhr, combined and shortened and then set out for the jamarat after Zuhr. We left at 2pm.
A the jamarat, we completed all of what Allah asked us to do as best we could. My favourite jalabiyyah was ripped in the process of leaving the jamarat area and someone stepped on it by accident.
Although shorter than myself, I used brother `Irfan as a shield while we ran forward to get out of the firing line of the stones. We arrived back at the camp for 4:45pm. Fortunately we did not get lost and the trip back was ideal.
The people of hajj are the most humble on the planet and also the most patient. Between 4-7 million registered and unregistered people were present and they flowed easily. A Muslim brother handed me a cup of water which I was grateful for and I thanked him a great deal.
People in the United States fight in line at McDonalds so how on Earth could someone put the finger at the believers of Muslim Orthodoxy? Time at the camp flew by and I waited eagerly for Maghrib prayer.
Masjid Hujjaj il-Birr bi Mina, better known as Masjid Kuwait, was my destination with our amir, Mumtaz, and some of the other Slaves of Allah.
The prayer of Maghrib was decent but right after we had to hear about the takfir of the Ummah, how most of us don’t have a valid Hajj, and how intercession is not viable.
I just wanted to go and the sign on the wall claiming it as impermissible to offer Jumu`ah prayer at the Masajid Masha`ir as the people are not resident. They have stopped people who might validly want to make Jumu`ah.
We quickly went back to the camp and that was the end of it. Annoyed at the takfir and time wasting we were subjected to with Salafiyyah, reading a qualified text by a qualified scholar took the sour taste from my mouth left by the divinely cursed and wretched Salafi movement.
All the believers slept fitfully at the camp. I woke up at 3am unaided and took a shower. We were about to pray fajr when Al-Hajj `Ismah had a heart attack. The walking he should not have done the night before had caught up with him.
Pandemonium ensued as everyone was talking at once over the collapsed body of the senior most of our camp. One brother did CPR while I and a Moroccan brother did translation work to the emergency services of the situation.
Al-Hajj `Ismah was taken to the camp clinic, which had more confusion, with one of the doctors telling Dr. Tanweer, another believer with us and a doctor, “I’m going to kill you.” No you’re not, I thought while I blocked the way. We broke up the situation and calm was restored.
When the ambulance arrived, they were still too slow. Brother Khubaib and his cousin commandeered the keys from the driver and assistant (and left them standing there looking puzzled) and took the ailing al-Hajj `Ismah themselves to the hospital at the end of the camp. This was called al-Wada Hospital.
Fajr went on after that but it was very worrying what the fate of our senior member would be at the hospital. The rest of the day passed without incident and I prepared to get ready to go later as the following day we had to be gone before Maghrib or you would have to do the other day at Mina.
My decision was to do the stoning before Zuhr. “But is that valid in all the fiqh, brother,” a worried brother in our group asked. “I don’t know but it’s valid in mine. If Imam Al-Buhuti says that’s the end of the discussion.”
And so it was the case. The plan was for the next morning we would arise and head to the jamarat and then make our way back to Makkah. There we would complete the final rite of Hajj: The Farewell Tawaf.
If this was done, then all the rites of Hajj had been completed. Whether Allah accepted it was something else.
We were now back at the hotel and we needed money to go and get our heads shaved but also for something to drink. “I’ve got this one,” I insisted.
So out we headed and I bought a fruit smoothie, in fact two for myself although the brother only wanted one. Tanweer and I saw prices for head shaving had escalated by some 400% but we had been warned.
The situation was unbelievable. We finally found some good, professional brothers that we witnessed change their blades after every shave. The hair was then taken away and incinerated. Yes, these guys knew what they were doing.
I had to get this round as the last round Tanweer had chipped in for everyone. He told the man very clearly, “You are not to touch my beard. Do not touch it. It’s long and strong and I don’t want it removing. Do you understand?”
He asked me to say it in Arabic for further emphasis. I have repeated it and gone through the details. The man understood and agreed not to touch the beard. Our heads were shaved with precision and they felt soft and delicious in the cool night. “Now that’s a haircut,” brother Tanweer patted my back as we left from the place and I paid our bill.
It had only been 15 riyals each and it was nice. We next found ourselves back at the hotel and we each took our shower and went into hall and we were back in our non-ihram clothes.
Tanweer waited for his brother and everyone else and we set out and did Tawaf uz-Ziyarah and then the Sa’ii or heading to Safa and Marwah. Before we had arrived, three people were killed in Tawaf.
From 9:40-11:40pm we were in the compound and it was not as crowded as people had told us it was going to be; you just had to go with the crowd and move with the flow of the people.
We then left the Masjid and waited at the hotel until 1am. The Imam had told us to wait and we would have to head back to Mina for two more days and to do the stonings one more time at the jamarat.
Here we had a group of some sixty people that were trying to wave down buses in traffic that would take us back to Mina. Cabs and taxis were far too expensive and some were so well booked they had the ‘Unavailable’ sign up in the window of their depots.
Finally a bus pulled over and brother Muhammad Ishaq that I had introduced to the reader in the beginning negotiated a price. It was 20 riyals each and added up from the sixty five people from us it came to £1300.00.
This was an old blue bird bus from Sacramento, California so it was indeed safe. The seating was for women and old people and the men were to stand. Brothers Matloob and Tanweer went on the roof as the bus proved too crowded inside.
The roof on top and the railing was a little bit too shaky, but Matloob and Tanweer seemed confident. Muhammad Ishaq sat next to the driver and dictated him around the streets to try to reach Mina and its’ tents.
We had so many people, the driver was concerned about being pulled over by the police, which happened thirty minutes into the journey. We were released after a long discussion and pleading and begging from Muhammad Ishaq and the driver.
The police and border guards released us and we were up the road with twists, turns and bumps. The back of the bus leapt in the air when we hit a pot hole and came down with a bang.
Everyone held on tight and some of the women cried. After things calmed down, I looked out of the back window from my standing position and wondered if Matloob and Tanweer had been thrown from the bus.
I fast forwarded to their janazah and explaining to a tearful Asian woman, “You see, there was this big bump…then they fell off. He finished most of the hajj, so he was hajji and he was martyr as well. You have been blessed that you have two sons as martyrs.”
I did not find my own explanation worthwhile so how would I convince this poor lady that she was now two sons short. “There’s always adoption,” I would drop in as a nice consolation.
Finally we were dropped at a place about 30 minutes from the camp. Based on this there was a huge argument between Muhammad Ishaq and the driver. All of us stepped down and began the walk. A loud explosion then rocked the back of the bus that we had exited from and the driver had a look of worry.
Muhammad Ishaq had said to him, “Allah deal with you!” So it had come to pass. The back door was blown off and the windshield of the driver in back of the bus was nearly blown out.
I was relieved on the walk to see that Matloob and Tanweer were still alive and had survived the bumps in the road. They described the ride as bumpy and difficult to handle. “Well, let’s get home.” No one knew how to find the camp and Muhammad Ishaq, the advisor to our Imam, was now the brunt of all the blame.
He promptly resigned as amir and turned the reins of power over to another brother, who had been lost two previous times but nonetheless was happy to go ahead. I marched ahead and found one elder brother, al-Hajj `Ismah.
Coughing a great deal, elderly and out walking at about 2am, he had no business out at this time. “He’s had a heart bypass as well,” Matloob said, his troublesome groin complaining to him and hampering his walking power.
The three of us decided to flag down a bus that was going near the camp and safely found one. The driver took our money and brought us all on board. I kept checking, along with Matloob, on the face of Al-Hajj `Ismah, which seemed dour and ashen.
At long lost we were back at the camp at 3:50am. Other believers were looking askance at us as to how we had taken this long. We left the lights on and decided to stay up for Fajr and then sleep like there was no tomorrow coming.
I descended into the abyss twenty minutes after Fajr and stayed like that. It was time to sleep and I had not a care in the world. I would have to be up later in the day to go and do the stoning at the jamarat and I hoped before drifting off to live to do so.
A Muslim brother from Morocco made the beautiful Adhan of the Sunnah at Fajr that awakened us. The believers were enthusiastic after he roused them from their sleep. The rest at Muzdalifah had been without incident.
I heard a few people complaining before I dozed off into the dead zone, but they were either the usual suspects or not worth worrying about as they had forgot what the Hajj was about in the first place.
Wonderful, I thought. The brother had made the first Adhan and not the second. I stood up among a sea of people that were still by an large sleeping.
Now was the time to snatch a place in line before the second Adhan and the lines started. I used the bathroom straight away and then headed to the wudu’ stalls.
Another point worth sharing is the following: wake up early at Muzdalifah. Wake up as early as you can and use the toilet and then use the water for wudu’ sparingly. Remember others as while there the water became scarce. Some brothers didn’t care and abused it anyway.
The toilet facilities are the same Victorian style toilets and some Muslims are not very hygienic so those Muslims that are must be on guard. Lift you entire Ihram when you use the toilet and do not sit but rather squat over the hole in the floor.
Wudu’ complete and Ihram a little bit dusty, I was still fine. Now I was ready for the prayer. There had been a little bit of permafrost but it was burnt off by first light. The second Adhan came and people were dashing around and not knowing what to do or how to do it.
A small cadre of believers gathered and prayed behind an Algerian imam who read the Warsh recital of the Qur’an beautifully. The prayer completed and after dhikr he came over and shook hands and offered light pleasantries.
Once the people had completed Fajr, now the next hurdle began. People were to stand in their perspective groups and await the bus to their camps back at Mina. Ours was a 45 bus. The only problem is as mentioned before, that number is for the Turkish, US, UK, Canada and some Mexican nationals.
Therefore all the groups wanted to be first on the bus, first in the front seat, first to put on the air conditioning, first to have their prayer beads out, first back to the camp, first at everything. Few people wanted to wait. Our Imam was a bit vexed but kept his cool.
One or two fist fights broke out between brothers that were in the 45 group and brothers that were rallying the people to the buses.
Rich kids dealing with poverty, I could only think while speaking with a brother about the situation and the estimated time of arrival.
“So anyway, I started to do my wird at `Arafah and I went on and on without a hitch. The guards didn’t do anything, akhi,” Uwais grinned while recounting the whole story.
“You got away with that? But they came for us after 20 minutes! I thought you got lost on the way back,” I chuckled while discussing the matter with him.
We kept talking away until more people became restless in the camp. Uwais had smartly wriggled his way into one of the other bus lines and waved at us through the window. The only problem was it was going to get 54 instead of 45.
Mina is a big place and I hope he knows the way back, I prayed for him. After more than 10 buses with 45 emblazoned across the front passed, we were able to flag down one and get aboard.
Brothers Tanweer and Muhammad Ameen ambled up alongside me. “Subhanallah, I didn’t think I’d share the bus with you brothers again!” Muhammad Ameen grinned and answered, “Didn’t think or you didn’t want to?!” We both laughed.
Although still a bit drowsy, we prepared ourselves to get to the jamarat by after Zuhr and do the stoning. I prayed by combining and shortening and moved out with the whole group doing the talbiyyah. Everyone was there and I do mean everyone.
Turks, Arabs (Bedu and Hadari), Russian, Chechen, Bosnian and even the occasional whatchamacallit were all in attendance. It was something. So was the heat. The journey there was good and we required about seven escalators to get on top of the buildings to the pillars to do the stoning.
People were doing the stoning but sometimes heating others in the process. Al-Hajj Muhammad Ameen came and showed us how to do it and what was the safest way. We followed his advice and came out unscathed.
Our only casualty was brother Mumtaz who was hit by a pebble that had ricocheted. “It’s ‘cause your head is so big, Mufti Sahib. It’s all the wisdom!” Mumtaz and all of us laughed while his head was medicated.
We were lost on the way back as the original way there had been sealed off due to overcrowding and security concerns. The group was squeezed, smooshed, jammed and pulled every which way. Tanweer at one point decided to take his chances on finding the way back and so did Matloob.
Now we were back at Mina, tent no 45 and the wait was on. Each group of slaves of Allah at Mina was waiting for news back from their perspective Imam regarding whether their sacrifices had been done.
A note to the believers: Do not worry about the logistics of the sacrifice unless you are asked. The charge of the housing, buses, food and sacrifice and such is inclusive of the charges unless you are told otherwise or you want to take cabs. This would be your expense and headache.
I saw brother Khubaib across the room and we exchanged greetings and hugged. “How are you brother?” He nodded and offered me some cashews. A fitting treat in this weather. He also had some bread. I remembered that he was still my bread brother.
I had kept the same diet along with brothers Matloob, Tanweer and it looked like Khubaib was doing the same thing. I read some ayat from the Qur’an and then looked at some minor masa’il by Imam Ibn Qa’id and felt at home.
Khubaib came back to the tent at 2:45 pm and announced, “I’ve seen some brothers have received news back about their sacrifices. They have started shaving their heads.” I remarked to him that this was great and I could not wait into we had our news.
“Brother, their heads are bleeding. No, no. Let me say that again. Their gushing, akhi!” Just as Khubaib had mentioned, three heads were bleeding, freshly shaved in the corridor area. I wondered what I could do.
“Should we catch the bus back to Makkah?” Tanweer’s eyebrows were raised in his typical Dr. Spock reflective pose. Uwais and Matloob felt the same way and wanted to go. Then another brought felt the same way.
“It’s a good idea but…” I was about to ask when but was interrupted by the Imam coming in and announcing that our sacrifices had been done and now it was fine to shave our heads. It was 3pm.
“…Now is the time then, gentlemen,” I poised myself. We gathered up a few things to take back. If you have a back at Mina, you can leave it there without the valuables and just leave a fresh change of clothes. The rest can go back with you.
We headed out of the camp. We looked all over for buses and found one with a driver and quickly filling up. It was at Kubri `Abdul `Aziz bridge. He said it would be 40 riyal each so we agreed and jumped aboard.
I paid mine but one brother was short. “Forget it,” I said, patting him on the back and I put some towards him as well.
He counted up all the wealth and checked that there was nothing wrong and at first there was some confusion. I explained and then another brother did that this was for the whole group and then we set out.
We had caught the bus at 5pm and we were 50 yards from Al-Masjid ul-Haram when we stepped off. Traffic was crazy and we did not want any part of the wait to get there on time for Maghrib prayer. Brother Matloob again had problems with his grown and waved us to carry on and he would be fine.
Tanweer and I continued the march over to the Masjid and could see her noble and blessed minarets greeting us.
“We’re not far now,” we picked up speed as his words gave us hope. We made wudu’ and waded in with the sea of people and prayed with our Ihrams.
The respect that we received while in Ihram was greater than we thought it would be and people moved out of deference. “Do you think the same thing would happen if we wore these in the UK,” Tanweer offered, half grinning.
I woke up with a jolt at 2:58 AM. I it was the 9th of Dhul Hijjah. I drank in the atmosphere all around me and sat in the tranquillity. I could hear nothing but the sleeping of the Muslims and occasional gusts of wind through the camp.
When I exited from the tent, I saw one or two security guards wandering around. I could not help but wonder what it must be like to have to police millions of people.
I headed straight for the toilet areas which were a straight walk all the way down the corridor and then you chose whichever stall was open.
Each stall was a combination toilet and shower. You had the Victorian sit down toilet and then on the wall was a shower nozzle and you could turn on the pipes and such.
A word of advice is necessary. Make sure your clothes are hung on the door or the side of the stall and not above the toilet. The same goes for your toothbrushes.
There are brothers who have suffered the set back of losing their toothbrushes or having their clothes take a quick dip in raw sewage. Do not be one of those people on your Hajj. Be wise!
I showered up and decided that perhaps on the following day I would change into the extra Ihram that I had packed. Once the shower was complete, I headed back to the tent. The reader might think that after a shower and in ihram it will be very cold, but this is not the case.
The reason is that it is warm outside even in the night, even while raining. The wait was on and I was able to read in the light of the lamp outside the tent. At exactly 4:01 am food came and the believers were eating and enjoying the company of one another.
Something about food just gets everyone up. Tea and coffee came later along with fruit and basic cold packs. After the Fajr prayer, there were preparations to board the buses for `Arafah. “They will be with you shortly, insha’allah. Be sure to be prepared,” the Imam of your group advised us staunchly.
The buses arrived and filled up quickly. Once the fourth one went and left by gate 45a, other brothers decided to walk. Brothers Mumtaz (our amir), Naveed, Uwais, `Irfan, Khan Sahib, Saghir, Matloob and his brother Tanweer, myself and others made a firm intention and headed out with Labbaik on our tongues. The sunrise was awesome and so were the crowds.
Our journey began at 7:10 am and the sun was up and scorching our ihrams. I felt strangely happy for the heat and loved the procession of people.
If you are going to attempt the walk from Mina to `Arafah, you should have trained hard. As I mentioned, you need about a year to prepare. It is not just the terrain but weather tolerance.
You need proper liquids and also sufficient sleep. No all night talking or mumbling about silly things. Stay focused. You are on Hajj and not day camp. The amir waved us on. Keep going brothers.
Uwais decided that the heat was so intense there was no point wearing sandals, so he took them off and walked barefoot on the pavement.
`Irfan carried on reading his poetry and ayat, Saghir looked into the distance and tried to keep up with the Pushtun women striding ahead, Khan Sahib thundered along with authority and I walked along but looked at the terrain.
Large Bluebird buses-the very ones used on the West Coast in the United States during the forced busing policies-roared by and shook the people on the road.
They would pull over, offer to take people for a fee and then speed off. They still had the California seals. They still worked well.
Sometimes what’s older is indeed better. We continued our walk along while saluting the blue birds carrying the Slaves of Allah shouting salam to us from their windows. Huge mountains of limestone and igneous rock grinned at us from their positions while throwing the suns rays our way.
Looking at the aging on the rocks, the size of the massive fingers called mountains poking out, the place had not witnessed any eruptive activity for maybe 400 years or more.
I stopped and picked up some rounded pebbles. Once I saw these and no signs of obsidian I know the place was quiet on a geologic scale.
What about…? I thought to myself while walking next to a mountain. I picked at some of the rock but it did not flake off. These sediments definitely had time to dry and cool off. It must be murderous doing any excavation or drilling work, I reasoned.
I saw one or two mountain areas with tents on them and the people were perched on top of mud stone and sandstone peaks. If it rains again, the sandstone becomes nothing more than sponge cake under the feet.
Even the grass was different in the Hijaz region. The hearty parasitic flowers defiantly pushed through rock to hold their own in the desert. Anything weaker would have been eliminated.
Our group found a small cliff and had to descend down to move back onto the main road with the other people. A man came with crutches, his left foot broken and his right one deformed. Mumtaz and I helped him down and he was so grateful.
“Thank you so much,” he smiled with tear filled eyes. He then took off on his crutches and left us all behind. Mumtaz and myself laughed at the spectacle. Allah often endowed people on Hajj with other worldly strength from what we saw.
Once we reached the halfway mark, we found small pouches filled with rounded rocks for the rami when the day came. FREE-PLEASE TAKE SOME, the sign read. I picked up four small sacks that were on the road and put them in the backpack I had.
The others expressed doubt. “We’ll collect them when we get there. It will be night time.” I thought we might be exhausted so I collected some for the journey. If people were too tired or we ran out, we could always use these pouches.
Bathrooms appeared and relieved faces could be seen dashing to and fro. Once out of the stalls, our companions made a hasty wudu’ and marched onward. The heat intensified and so did our tans.
We heard the Labbaik of a group becoming louder and louder until when they were right upon us, we recognised them as part of the Nigerian Hajj delegation. The brothers were linked arm in arm, gracefully jogging past.
Naveed was now in deep trouble. We had been warned to grease our legs with Vaseline for the trip, but Naveed had lost his at the camp site. Two cavernous blisters formed on his inner thighs and he was cowboy walking the whole way.
When he started to sweat and it would run down his legs, he would grimace. All we could do was pray for him. We turned another corner and saw an Afghani man selling the coldest water I had ever tasted.
He only had a small box in the middle of the massive street, no cooling equipment and he was dressed in a shirt and Levi acid wash jeans.
Matloob chipped in and bought water all around for the group while Tanweer and I waited and then said we would get the next round of beverages and/or food. Matloob had injured his foot and groin so he was in need of medical attention as soon as possible.
He had also suffered the same issue with his thighs. I had greased up but in the sweat it started to fade, so I folded my ihram in to shield them from rubbing together. A cute little Yoruba boy came over and gave us salam and just stood with us.
When asked if he wanted water, he shook his head and said nothing more. He just wanted to be with the guys. His mother called and he was off in a flash.
We resumed our walk and I went alongside Matloob. “Chicken and chips,” he chanted part of the way as an incentive to himself if he survived the ordeal.
“That water was unbelievable, wasn’t it?” I nodded my head in agreement to Tanweer’s question. In the course of a few hours he had tanned more than I had.
“This is some weather. Blue as far as the sky can see,” I focused on the horizon. He only nodded and we quickened our pace.
Our group arrived at the correct poles indicating our camp at 10:55am. Marching ahead, we checked for the different entrances, asked around and finally found our group. “Brother, where were you?” The Imam smiled encouragingly after greeting us and waved us over to ice cream containers and lukewarm water.
In scorching whether, you were not to drink ice cold water as you could be ill the following day. We all sat and enjoyed the refreshments and laid down. I in characteristic fashion found a pole, leaned against it and slept.
“Hu! Hu! Hu! HU!” I was awakened by chanting and also Shi`ah majlis’s across the way that in Arabic were cursing Companions, pronouncing takfir on Sunnis and more. Salafis were ranting, chanting and making takfir.
I only held my hands and made du`aa for patience and steadfastness. “Brother, you made it!” Khubaib was happy to see me and gave me a hug. “Thought I’d fallen from a cliff didn’t you? Still can’t have my phone, man!” He laughed at my remarks.
“I hear Naveed’s in a bad way. He really needs help.” “Yeah, I know,” I responded. “Matloob went to the doctor and got treatment for his groin straight away. Don’t know what Naveed wants to do.” Then I remembered.
Reaching into my backpack, I pulled out the extra large scentless Vaseline and handed it to a grateful Naveed. “Are we going to Jabal ur-Rahmah later?” He seemed hopeful after medicating himself with the Vaseline. “Let’s do it!” I was jubilant.
The Imam told us to be careful and as there were a great many old people in the camp and the heat was intense, he could not take them. So it was Uwais, Naveed, myself and a few other brothers who braved it. On the way we spied a funny thing.
“Abu Ja`far! Look at your people!” Uwais pointed at a Bedouin family getting into a truck with a large notice board on the back reading: BEDOUIN TRANSPORT. MAKES FREQUENT STOPS. SORRY!
It was humorous that they went out of their way to clarify the reason for their stops. Nearing Jabal ur-Rahmah we could see helicopters dropping water on the people from above. There was a sprinkler system in place at the base of the mountain.
Once we were close enough to go and make du`aa I felt anger when I saw all the graffiti and spray paint on the mountain. “Ahmad was here,” and other such nonsense was plastered on the mountain.
The guard saw us and held up a hand to say that we could be there for a little while. Allah blessed us to make du`aa there for 20 minutes without interruption. It was everything I had hoped it would be in dreams. I was there, uninterrupted and with like minded people. After 20 minutes had elapsed the guard came.
“Okay, brothers. I gave you as long as I could. Let’s give other people a chance. Please remember others,” he politely requested in Arabic. We moved on and thanked him and even prayed for him.
The other members of our group were pleasingly envious when they heard us retell our journey upon return. Sunset brought cool and calm to the camp and it was time to head for Muzdalifah to sleep the night.
We awaited our bus from 5:10-8:12pm. Once it was there, we rode along the way and praised Allah. We would now have to pray Maghrib and `Isha once there. I combined and shortened upon arrival and took a blanket in my nap sack and used it as a bed and stretched out on the ground.
Some people had brought tents and unfolded them. Everyone seemed to be ready. Only a few could not accept the idea of sleeping on the ground. After having been homeless three times in my life and almost starved to death over the summer of ’87, this was more than adequate.
I had eaten, it was warm, the ground was soft and I knew that there were no Klansmen or skinheads. At this point, the Hajji should remember poverty and praise Allah for what he has been given. Some people sleep outside daily all year around; and this is not out of choice.
Some people collected stones but more were too exhausted. I had a nice sleep and loved the outdoors. For some brothers the same confusion resulted regarding adhan, iqamah and whether to combine, shorten or do both. I again recognised that fiqh would continue to be an issue for them until someone sorted the matter out; but I was not that person.