Friday 29 June 2018

The Pinnacle of my Hajj Journey

Asalaamu Alaykum readers,

Hajj time is rapidly drawing closer, and I can feel the tangible excitement mingled with an uncertain anxiety in the air. I have been graced with several visits by prospective hujaaj in the past two weeks, and my heart overflows with joy for them, for this most wonderful journey they will be embarking on. 

My last post ended with the 5 waqts on Mina and by 2am the following day we started preparing to leave for Arafah. We performed Fajr and then gathered at the entrance to the SA camp to board the bus, which would take us to Arafah. The air was heavy with a solemn energy, as if every Hujaaj was deep in contemplation after a full day of preparation in the tents. I was in a state of heightened anticipation, notwithstanding physical discomfort and beginnings of a migraine. My physical state did not even feature in my awareness of the day other than being an insignificant detail. Moreover, I felt as if I was walking through the day on another plane, as if a magical energy was propelling me forward. It cannot be described as anything other than an immensely sacred experience. The sanctity of our journey weighed heavily on my consciousness, and my only wish was to be fully present during the waqt of Arafah and to make the most of this precious time. 

After waiting by the gates for about an hour and a half, we eventually boarded a bus to Arafah. The bus ride was probably more than an hour, I was so preoccupied that time was not a factor. When we eventually arrived, we were bustled into another gated area with open marquee-type tents. We followed our travel operator who directed us to our tent, carpeted with red mats- this was to be our spot for the duration of Arafah. It looked nothing like I expected, I had visions of being on open plains where I'd be able to to see Jabal Rahmah, and hopefully be close enough to catch a glimpse of Masjidul Nimrah. Instead, it looked very similar to Mina, with rows and rows and rows of tents, and if you were lucky, and in the right spot you'd be able to see Jabal Rahmah. Masjidul Nimrah, the place where the last sermon was delivered, also the mosque which only part of the building is on Arafah, was nowhere in sight. We were settled into our tents by 9:30am, with the heat already affecting hujaaj. The tents were not air-conditioned and had blowers which circulated more hot air. Despite the extreme heat and my migraine now at full blast (along with extreme cramps), I was overcome with gratitude and awe. After making duah daily throughout my trip that I be spared to arrive on Arafah, to be present and to be in good physical shape for these days; I have indeed been blessed to have arrived. I nibbled some snacks, took some painkillers and waited for the pain to pass. Some hujaaj took the time to nap and some were deep in reflection. I cannot remember when I became oblivious to the pain, oblivious to everyone else in the tent with me. But at some point I felt as if I was alone in the tent, mentally preparing for when the waqt of Arafah appeared. I was vaguely aware of hubby a few rows ahead of me with the rest of the men, but in a sense we were completely disconnected. Each one of us preparing for the most sacred dialogue of our lives. As the waqt arrived, our spiritual leaders started with a group jamm salaah (joined two prayers of Thuhr and Asr), followed by a group duah. Hubby and I had agreed that we would meet during the waqt of Arafah for some time on our own, away from the larger group. And we had both prepared something in writing for the other which we shared during our time together. A special moment shared with my soulmate on the most momentous day of our lives. Thereafter we returned to the tents and continued with our individual Arafah programmes.

Every single moment of the waqt of Arafah is indelibly imprinted in my mind, and at the time of Asr, at the height of the day's heat, a soothing breeze came up, wafting through the tents and bringing some cloud cover. It was such a welcome respite from the 50+ degree heat, and a tangible feeling of Allah (SWT) grace and mercy. At this point my senses were sharpened, I could not recall my physical discomfort, only a heightened sense of gratefulness; for my life, for my trials, for every single experience which has shaped me, and ultimately led me to this pivotal moment in my life. As I went through my Arafah programme, I was overcome with emotion, as the honoured guest of the Almighty, my place on this vast plains brought me a sense of peace, a sense of my purpose in life and essentially made me realise what my priorities are. I became acutely aware that everything I did in life was not for myself, but to serve my Creator and to live the destiny and purpose He has decreed. I became intensely aware that life as I know it had fundamentally changed forever. By Maghrieb the waqt of Arafah had passed, and we prepared to leave for Musdalifah. We waited at the gate of our camp to board the buses while those performing the walking Hajj (which was strongly discouraged due to the extreme heat and massive crowds) started the next leg of their Hajj journey. 

After a crawling bus ride of about an hour or so, we arrived at Musdalifah around 10:30. As we arrived we were provided with some water and fruit for sustenance.We found a spot close to the boundary, performed prayers and collected our pebbles. By this time it was almost midnight and we moved towards the boundary to set off on the long walk to the Jamaraats. The walk to Aqabah was a long one, and again I lost track of time. I do not remember any physical discomfort, nor do I remember feeling tired, or hot; and just moved forward, propelled by a surge of spiritual energy. The Jamaraats have a huge 3 storey structure built around which resembles a parking garage. The crowds were still manageable and we easily approached Aqabah, pelted, and without much fuss, exited on the other side. Even pelting Aqabah was a surreal experience and by this time I was floating on a high, yet still aware of every single moment. As we walked away from the Jamaraats, we realised that it was now Eid morning,  and I start the Taqbeer in my mind. As I reflect now, every single detail is etched in my memory with clarity.

We were really fortunate (Algamdulilah) to have flagged down a luxury bus for our entire Hajj group to transport us to Makkah. I could feel physical exhaustion set in as I sat on the bus, and yet I easily managed the next couple of hours. I decided to join my group going to Makkah for Tawaful Ifaldah (even though I was unable to perform my tawaaf) and decided to wait outside on the Mataaf for hubby to perform his Tawaful Ifaldah and Sa'ee. I had missed the Ka'bah in those few days in Azizziah and Mina, and when I saw the glowing green lights of the clocktower, I felt as if I was home. Shortly after Fajr, Ghaalid had completed his Tawaaf and Sa'ee and we left as quickly as possible to miss the crowds. We hailed a taxi and made our way back to Azizziah. At this point, I was still partially in ihraam, having only performed the 'klein verlossing' (ie clipping of the hair) after pelting Aqabah. This meant I could shower and remove the ihraam garb, but I would still need to perform my Tawaful Ifaldah and Sa'ee before I could exit the state of ihraam completely. 

Once we'd showered and freshened up, we ate and slept; we only needed to return to Mina by Maghrieb. We returned to Mina after Asr, refreshed, fed and with a change of clothes for the next 2/3 days of Tashreeq. We spent the night performing Thikr on Mina, and our spiritual leader informed us of arrangements to pelt the Jamaraats the following day. Each group is allocated a time, and a Saudi guide, along with a SAHUC representative, leads each group to pelt. The crowds were massive, the heat of the day was intense and we approached the crowded Jamaraats with guidance from our spiritual leader. Algamdulilah, I managed to pelt the Jamaraats with ease, and as I cast each stone I pictured the casting out of my own personal nafs, and my demons- this too was a poignant experience for me. On our way back to Mina we passed by our Azizziah accommodation and popped into the room to freshen up before returning for the 2nd day of Tashreeq. The second day, the crowds were larger, and more menacing, but Algamdulilah we once again managed to pelt with ease. We joined the enormous crowds making their way back to Azizziah, stopped for a bite to eat and returned to our room. We didn't return for the 3rd day of Tashreeq, so our journey was now complete. However, I still needed to return to the Haram to perform my Ifaldah and Sa'ee, so the extra week we'd be staying would be enough time to comfortably complete all my obligations. 

I make duah for a Hajj Maqboel and Hajj Mabroer! ♥️

Mina is a city of tents

The Arafah camps are set up along the road, and beyond...

Jabal Rahmah

Sign directing Hujaaj to the Jamaraats

Mina camps

This sight was like heaven for my soul

The Sa'ee

Entering the Jamaraats, you can see the 3-story building in the top right

Aqabah is this paved pillar, and we pelt over the yellow fence

The crowds exiting the Jamaraats after pelting Aqabah

My view as I waited for hubby to complete his Tawaaf & Sa'ee

Walking to pelt on day two, the Jamaraats ahead looking like a parking garage

Algamdulilah! After pelting on day 2 with our SAHUC representative

Crowds departing after pelting Jamaraats on Day 2

Caio for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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