the 12th of dhul Hijja
This is again expected to be a very strenuous day. We are told that the Muallim's men will shut down the tent accomodation in the evening, and those who want to stay for rmee on the 13th will have to camp out in the cold. The leaders of the group are adamant that ramee will be done after zawaal, but we have to be out of Mina before Maghrib, so that leaves a very small time window. I manage to convince one from the group to do the ramee before zawaal, but I discover that he is procrastinating, eventually it turns out that he had no intention of doing ramee before zawaal. I need someone to accompany me, so I am stuck.
There has been intermittent rain. Just after zawaal, my mate asks me to accompany him, but I refuse. I think that we have missed our chance of a safe exit from Mina, and we may have to stay the 13th, so we must escape the just-after-zawaal rush, and wait. I find someone who thinks the Muallim's men's threat to throw us out of their tents after Maghrib, is an empty threat. The two of us decide that if there is chance of staying for the night in the tents, we will stay and go to Makkah after ramee on the 13th.
Then the rains come in torrents, and we are trapped in the tents. Someone goes out for reconnaissance, and reports a flood everywhere. The closed circuit TV tells us ramee has been suspended. There were vendors and squatters on the roads. We can imagine and hear of people's belongings being swept away in the flash floods. Then we hear of a stampede on the Jamaar, around 30 lives lost. Then the figure is quoted to be more than 100, with the Saudi police losing 14 men. There is panic all round. The Maktab closes the doors of the tents. "Let us out", some people force their way out of the tents. After half an hour, those who have left come back. No success. The shurtas have closed the bridge. There is water flowing everywhere, upto the knees. Some old man was seen being washed away with the flood, but he was saved downstream.
"Istaghfaar, do astaghfaar", I tell people who ask me: "what is happening".
I too do istaghfaar. I ask Allah(SubHana Wa Ta`ala) that this rumor of such loss of life comes out to be untrue. The rains continue, sometimes light, sometimes strong. After a couple of hours, two from our group get brave, and go for ramee. One comes back after a while. He is afraid to go for ramee, but the other one has gone. Later, the other one returns, and now both of them ask me to accompany them for ramee, and then a quick exit from Mina. We leave to do ramee. I have my shawl around me. Don't want to get wet, or catch a cold. As usual the cowardly one does ramee from a distance, but the brave one takes me along further up, and I get closer to the wall, and do the ramee. On the bridge (we have done all ramees from the bridge, as this would be easier and safer), we see a lot of slippers in two places, indicating a stampede.
We would see similar collection of items along the way to Makkah, obviously people having been forced by the flood to abandon their belongings. After the ramee, we leave on foot for Makkah. There is mud and litter on the road. We go through the tunnels, and come out near the haram. Once again my companions jump into the narrow street where we were stuck earlier. I manage to break free and tell the others that we all know the way now, so we should be on our own, and get to the hotel. They say yes, but perhaps are not listening, because when they reach the hotel, they ask me why I haven't waited.
Later, when everyone has assembled, I will tell the whole group off for losing their wits so easily. "Why don't you keep your senses around you? Why do you get frighetened? Are you afraid of death? Isn't there a time and a place and a way for it to come? Can you ecape it? NO! Then why make your lives and of those around you miserable. If we Muslims feared only Allah (SubHana Wa Ta`ala), if we did not take leave of our senses, if we kept our cool, wouldn't we be better off?" And then I will list some of the times they have behaved as idiots.
They will take it to heart. There is silence for a couple of hours. Then they ask me: "How do you keep your cool?" I laugh, "Fear Allah alone, remember that death will come when it is due, and have faith in Allah that all will be well". but inside I know I am not that brave. I too get a fright off and on, but I try not to let it cloud my judgement. The Hajj is over, what do we do next? Later ...
The Hajj is over. We discover that there are now too many people and we have to go earlier to enter the Haram, or we won't find a place inside. The cost of every thing and every service has doubled, tripled, and it won't come down until after the pilgrims leave.
There are framed pictures of the Haramain - the Ka`aba and the Masjide-Nabawi. These pix are different from what I have seen in the past. There are holes cut in the pictures where there are lights. Behind the pictures is a tubelight (fluorescent tube). So, when the fluorescent light is switched on in the dark, the picture looks very real. These are in three sizes, but the cost is 60 riyals each for the smallest one. The medium sized one is for 70 riyals, and the largest is for 80 riyals. I am thinking of buying when the prices go up again. Salem advises me that these would be cheaper at Jeddah. The visa for Hajj is given only for Madinah and Makkah. And knowing of the horrid tales that we have been fed, I am afraid to venture out of these two cities. But I discover that the visa is for these two governorates, not cities. Jaddah and Taif lie in the Makkah governorate. So, I can visit Jeddah without violating any laws. I buy the medium sized pix from Jeddah for 40 riyals each. These are packed very carefully by Salem, and I come back to Makkah. I love chidren, but Salem's children are busy with their new brother. Only his eldest son shows himself.
Salem is a wonderful Muslim. Wish we are all like that.
At Makkah, the prices keep climbing. We abandon using the laundry. From 4 riyals per shalwar Qameez, it ha gone up to 7 riyals. My colleagues won't let me throw money like that. Instead they wash my clothes together with theirs. I don't remember the following happened before the Hajj, or after it. But if I have told it, it is still worth repeating: The crowd makes it difficult for me to get in. I have not done any nafli tawaf. One day I ask Allah why is it that every one has made so many tawafs, while I haven't. Then I try to get in, and am able to do so, but these are times when I am squeezed.
Once I get in to do Tawaaf. I ask Allah why have people been able to pray Nawafil in the Hateem, while I haven't been able to do so. In the second round, I find mysself being pushed inwards nearer the Ka`aba. As we get near the Hateem, I find myself pressed against the outer semicircular wall of the Hateem. I try to break away, but can't. The crowd pushes me. I move with it. The entrance and exit to the Hateem lie near the ends of that semi-circle. The crowd moves into the Hateem, taking me along. Then the crowd rushes towards the wall of the Ka`aba, and I find myself in an empty space where three hefty men can stand and pray Nawafil. I realise that Allah (SubHana Wa Ta`ala) has given me this opportunity. I sieze it, and stand in the middle of that space to offer two rakaahs. Two more men come and stand beside me. We offer out prayers in peace, and when we have finished with the dua as well, I think I shouldn't monopolise the space in Hateem. Praying here is the same as praying in the Ka`aba, although in the book on the Ka`aba by Dr. Ilyas Ghani, it says the area within Hateem for Ka`aba extends upto 3 meters from the wall of the Ka`aba. As soon as I have thought of this, the crowd fills up the space, and starts moving again. It moves out, and throws me out of the Hateem as well. Subhanallah, you think of something, and it is granted immediately. I complete the Tawaf.
Similarly, I ask Allah during another Tawaf that I haven't been able to get to the wall of the Ka`aba. I want to go there and seek forgiveness, and make duas. Intermittently in that tawaf, I keep asking ALlah to grant me that wish. In the seventh round, after we have passed the Rukne Yemani, suddenly some space opens up in the shape of a segment of a circle, with me as center, and towards the Ka`aba. This is impossible in these conditions. There are so many people, how come no one is rushing to fill up this place? And how did this opening take place? Is Allah providing me this opportunity to get to the Ka`aba's walls.
No, it cannot be, I tell myself in disbelief. As soon as I think that this cannot be, the arc widens and deepens so now it extends up the wall of the Ka`aba. There can be no hesitation now. It is a clear sign. I go to the wall of the Ka`aba. There a rope about 2.5 to 3 feet up on which people are standing, and clinging to the wall. How will I get there? There is no space, but starngely enough, as soon as I think of this, the man just in front of me on that rope, jumps down, and there is space for me. I try to climb up to the rope, but there is a new obstacle. There is a slippery tilted piece of marble running all through the base of the Ka`aba's wall. I keep slipping. Then the man standing next to that vacancy on the rope, extends his hand and pulls me up. I cry, I weep, I offer dua. Allah (SubHana Wa Ta`ala) is so Kind, so Merciful, He grants every wish. A long time passes. The man who has pulled me up asks me to move on along the rope. I do so. Then I think I have had my wish fulfilled. I must leave this space for others. As soon as I think of this, I find it becomes difficult for me to stand on the rope. I jump down, and make my way towards completing the Tawaf.
Two days pass before I realise my blunder. I could have got on to the Hajre Aswad, and to the Multazim, but I had forgotten that just ahead of me lay these two places I should have visited. I ask Allah to provide me another chance, but I am not particularly insistent this time. I have stoped going into the Mutaaf. How can this wish be fulfilled without going there.
I will be called again to do everything including the things I missed doing this time, insha`Allah.
I tell of this experience, and my colleagues get angry. They mock me.
One of them says: "You are a wali of Allah. He listens to you. He grants your wishes."
"All Muslims are walis of Allah (SubHana Wa Ta`ala). You are, too", I reply.
"But He doesn't listen to us", he complains.
"Maybe you don't ask Him", I say. "But we do, we do", he emphasises.
"Ask Him again. Do Istaghfaar first. Then ask Him", I advise. He isn't convinced, but he says he will do that. "I want to do a Tawaaf now. I will see if He grants me that wish", he says and goes out.
I pray: "Allah, please grant him his lawful duas, aameen".
When he comes back, he is ecstatic. "You were right, Allah listens. I was able to do two tawaafs."
When I came back from Karachi, he met me and said: "You are so right. I asked Allah before leaving Makkah to call me again, and my brother has just promised to send me mney for doing Umrah in Ramadan". SubhanAllah.
This post, I think, concludes an account of the Hajj Allah was pleased to call me for. If there are any questions or observations, I am here. May Allah (SubHana Wa Ta`ala) call all of us to Hajj and Umrah, (again for those who have been there earlier), and shower His blessings upon us here and in the Hereafter.