Mona says

November 5, 2011

Notes from Hajj: Makkah, Mina and Arafah

Filed under: Random — by Mona S. @ 12:00 pm

It’s been exactly one year since we were at Hajj and I never got around to writing all about our experiences and the memories are starting to fade and curl around the edges.

Today’s Arafah, and I have this strange tug of war happening in my chest – one side, the peace and contentment from knowing I’ve done this, my duty, already and the other, yearning to be back in that sea of white, remembering and worshiping, living the true purpose of this life.

I’m going to try and finish recording what I do remember today. The last post stopped at our first night in Makkah, before we did our Umrah. I don’t remember much, except that we prayed maghrib at the hotel and quickly freshened up to head to the Haram. Our hotel was only a few minutes walk and as soon as we got there, we realized how crowded Makkah was starting to get with the pilgrims coming all corners of the world – the costumes, the languages, the colors and features were simply too much to absorb.

Being in the Haram itself after so many years was overwhelming, somethings I remembered, somethings were new. We hurried towards the center, eager for our first look at the Kaaba, and it was an emotional moment – no matter how many times in your life you are lucky enough to be at the Kaaba, I think the wonderment never ceases. There were gasps and tears and emotional exclamations. They say that any dua you make after you first lay eyes on Kaaba is generally accepted – so we raised our hands and asked, and asked, and asked. It was almost time for Isha then, so we headed upstairs to find a spot to pray. Before we could find a spot though, the prayer started and mercy of all mercies, Surah Rahman was being recited in the first rak’ah!

Right after Isha we did our Umrah, back on the ground floor, in the Mata’af and then went back to the hotel to cut our hair and officially be out of Ihram until the days of Hajj. The rest of our stay in Makkah is a bit hazy – mostly us walking to and back from the Haram, of always finding a spot in our favorite spot by Marwa, of being at peace as only being in Haram can bring, of discussing the the enormity of things to come and what was the best way of going about it and so on.

I remember hearing that people didn’t often get along with whoever they were allotted to stay with but we really lucked out. I remembered making dua in Ramadan that I wanted good company for us, in general, people who were good for us, for our deen and I feel that at Hajj, my duas were truly answered, I found people that even one year later, I’m very close to and consult often for everything. I think my Hajj experience was definitely enhanced because of the amazing company!

We left Makkah for Mina on the night of the 8th, after Isha. It was crazy on the streets, buses and honking cars and pilgrims on foot. By this time, we were back in ihram. I don’t really remember my first impression of Mina. I do remember Arafat though. I remember the bus ride, I remember the lines for the bathrooms, and I remember the comment that a fellow pilgrim made while in a queue for the use of the bathrooms. She said, that people world over are watching us on tv, wishing they were in our place and here we are, looking for bathrooms with relatively shorter lines.

I remember that as the time got closer to Dhuhr, getting nervous about everything, about having the du’as accepted, remembering that someday we would all be back on this ground, waiting to be judged. Scary. We couldn’t hear the khutbah so we just did dhikr to pass the time and then we prayed Dhuhr+Asr, qasr and jam’a. I remember after, standing and making dua like I’d never made dua before. It really was a sea of white around us. Some people were crying. I was missing the kids and my parents, my siblings, and my closest friends at that point so I did make crazy, fervent duas for them.

At the end of the appointed time, just before Maghrib, I felt immense relief that we’d got through Arafah, you know, because ‘Hajj is Arafah’. We got on the bus and headed out for Muzdalifah.

More later or I will miss this precious time to make dua!

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