A Hajj Journal-11 Dhul Hijjah

file-13-Tent city of Mina

Figure 1A: Mina, the tent city acts as accommodation for all the pilgrims.

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.

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