The remaining three days flew by and they were at breakneck speed. There was no time in which I felt that the days and nights were dragging. When I woke up, I felt that my head had only just hit the pillow.
Then when I laid down, I felt that I had only just prayed the Fajr prayer. I had finished my 300 raka`ah on 22 Dhul Hijjah and was at the Rawdah between 1-2am.
It was a wonderful feeling as the religious police were snoozing at home, having sweet dreams of takfir and beating believers with umbrellas or portions of trellis that they had broken off from the railing around the grave of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Brothers Tanweer, Matloob and myself were at Al-Masjid un-Nabawi and soaking in the atmosphere. The crowding had died down and we were peace and had constant access to the mimbar, the Rawdah and every other portion. We sat down and at one point wanted to go to the hotel and get more water to bring back and share among the people.
“Brother, Abu Ja`far! Our shoes are gone,” Matloob looked around bemused. In Makkah, such a thing was so common we sometimes intentionally walked home barefoot, assuming that they were probably gone. We were right most of the time.
But in Madinah? It was far last crowded and the shoving was much less. Where had the shoes gone? Where could they possibly have gone? I looked at the same place where they had once stood and had no other means of figuring out what had happened.
I approached a cleaner and asked him if he had seen the shoes or if they had moved them. He shook his head no and only smiled innocently. “Where do you think they might be?” He looked over and back at me.
“They would have to be somewhere around here…” he gestured, indicating the entirety of the Masjid complex. Great. We’re walking on bare ground that unlike Makkah is actually biting cold at night. What to do now. Allah, help us in this affair.
I walked over to the Rawdah and coming near the trellises was again dazzled by their beauty. “Messenger of Allah, ask Allah to put our shoes back so we don’t injure our feet on the way back to the hotel.”
And that was it. I walked back and turned the corner and there were the shoes, stacked neatly were they should have been and looking better organised than how we had originally placed them. Mine were on top.
I explained this to Matloob and he advised that we get moving. “Let’s get moving. We don’t want to annoy the Messenger of Allah with any questions like this again, so let’s go.” Saying our last goodbyes and hoping to see him again, we looked from the distance and silently headed back to our hotel room.
I felt sad and heavy and did not know what to say. So I kept quiet and just contemplated. I have made Hajj and visited Madinah. If Allah sees fit, I would love to visit again but when that would be I did not know.
Packing my things on the 24th of Dhul Hijjah, I had much to reason and think on while preparing for departure. I had seen so many signs of Allah and many of the thorns of sign were pulled out and boy were they painful.
The prayer timetable flashed at my from a huge sign that could be read from the window of my hotel room window:
Time to go soon. The buses would be lining up outside and we would be boarding them, lugging handbags, suitcases and assorted items we had purchased. I had been able to purchase some four slim books, one to help with the Hajj details and a few others to do with theology.
One was by the great Imam Yahya as-Sarsari (d. 656 AH), the first person in Baghdad to be murdered by the Tatars. One of the great saints of the Ummah, when I found a book on his poetry, I counted myself among the fortunate.
I would shortly be leaving from this fortunate state to one of testing. I would be headed back to the Anglophone countries and be susceptible to the possibility of stepping in puddles of vomit from the binge drinking the night before, being stabbed through the boot with hypodermic needles left on the ground by junkies overnight or even the occasional used condom that would squirt out its’ contents when I would unknowingly step on it.
Yes, these Anglophone countries; but no point stressing. Time to pack and steel myself for the long journey. Allah give me the strength and accept my Hajj and other actions, my three `Umrahs and 300 raka`ah. Amin!