My Hajj Diary: Random Reflections, Discrete Memories, and Practical Advice-Part 2

03. Wisdom behind social classification

After the completion of the formalities at the Qatar-Saudi border, we started our marathon journey of about 1400 kilometers.

At every 100-150 kilometers interval along the highway, there is a petrol station. Majority of the petrol stations are accompanied by a rest house, a mosque, toilets, a supermarket, a car repair workshop, a coffee shop, a restaurant, and accommodation for the people working there.

Our bus would stop at these stoppage points either to take fuel or to allow the passengers to go to toilets, perform salah, and take lunch or dinner.

Whenever we stopped at these stoppage points, the lives of the people working there would make me think. Many of them working at these stoppage points have been living in the middle of deserts for years. Can you imagine living in a desolate place for years, a place from where you would probably visit the nearest city once a week or once a month?

The lives of these people often force me to reflect on the wisdom behind social classification.

That people will be of different social and economic status is the divine plan of Allah. Had Allah willed, He could have made all the children of Adam equal, but He did not will so. Of course we will never fully grasp the full divine wisdom for anything that Allah does, but I will mention one reason of why Allah wanted this social and economic gradation to exist among human beings: Allah wants to test his slaves through this classification. It is the sunnah of Allah that He tests His slaves through different kinds of trial. Thus Allah made any group a trial for its opposite group. For example, children are trial for parents and parents are trial for children. Children are trial for parents because parents have the responsibility to take care of them and teach them properly. Similarly, parents are trial for children because children are required to behave respectfully with their parents, and should look after them during their old age.  This analogy is applicable for any two opposing groups, and it is also applicable for the rich and the poor.  Through classifying His slaves into rich and poor, Allah wants to see how each party reacts when they look at the opposite party.

How does a man working in the middle of a desert react when he sees a rich man driving a land cruiser? Because of his economic situation back home, he may have no other option but to work in the desert to feed his family, but if remains patient, and remains happy with what Allah has blessed him with, and remains steadfast in earning in halal way, and asks from no one but Allah, he will win his trial of being put at the bottom of social ranking.

On the other hand, how does a man who has been blessed with wealth react when he looks at a man picking trash from the streets? Does he become arrogant thinking that he is better than him, or does he immediately remember how much Allah has blessed him? Does his heart look down upon that man or does it get filled with gratefulness? Does he ignore poor people or does he try to spend as much as he can? How he reacts will determine if he has failed or won the trial of being put at the top of social ranking.

I will recall one unfortunate incident here: after we came back from Jamarat al-Aqabah on the Eid day this hajj, we lost our way.  We were very tired and we wanted to go back to our hotel to take shower and catch some sleep to gain energy before doing the tawaf al-ifadah. I asked a brother, who was picking trash, if he could direct us to our hotel location. He could not. Makkah is a big city and it is completely natural to be ignorant about some areas of this city. However, one hujjaj who was making hajj with us, remarked, “Ohhh…may be he never went to school…”

What he meant to me was, “Oh…you are asking an illiterate. What does an illiterate trash picker know?”

The arrogance expressed in this comment made me fuming inside, and at the same time, it made me felt crying.

How can you make such rude comment during hajj?

Isn’t the trash picker also a Muslim and thus your brother? How can you make such a remark in the face of your brother?

How can you even comment about his education? Just because you are educated, do you think you know all the locations of this world? Why could you not remember the location of your hotel, despite living there for more than a week and despite armed with education?

How can you even think that education is something that you have achieved yourself? If Allah wanted, He could have deprived you of your education. Had He willed, He could have put you in the shoes of that trash picker. Where is your gratefulness to Allah?

How can you look down upon a trash picker? If these brothers had not picked trash or built these roads, would you have been able to do hajj? Are you also not dependent on them? Did your wealth and your education cease you from being dependent on other human beings? It did not. So, where does your arrogance come from?

Above all, do you know the status of that trash picking brother in the sight of Allah? How can you be so sure that your status is greater in the sight of Allah than that of that brother?

Allah said in the Quran:

O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa [i.e. one of the Muttaqun (pious)]. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. [The Noble Quran 49:13]

Nothing is of any avail in the sight of Allah, except piety and righteousness.

Our beautiful religion makes us humane. When we look at the brothers working under harsh conditions through the lens of Islam, there cannot be any reaction in our heart other than a rise in humility and thankfulness to Allah. When we look through the lens of Islam at them, it is simply impossible for a sense of sadness to not grow in our hearts. Because believers are like a family, and when I see a member of my family in poor condition, my heart will move.

So, alhamdulillah, these roadside stoppage points and the brothers working there are actually a mercy for the people of wealth both in worldly and spiritual sense.  In worldly sense, their service facilitates us to make hajj and umrah from the Gulf countries by road. In spiritual sense, their condition is a means for us to get closer to Allah by remembering His favors upon us.

At every stop, our bus would open the air-conditioning unit door for cooling down.
A roadside petrol station. This station is close to the city of Hufof.
Our bus stooped at this petrol station to allow us to eat our lunch and perform our 'Asr salah. You can see the name of the restaurant. It says mat'am bab ar-riyad or the Riyad Gate Restaurant.
Roads through the desert.
Inside our bus at night.
Another roadside restaurant.

04. Miqat
After 23 hours of journey, we reached the miqat named Qarn al-Manazil. We prayed fajr in the miqat mosque. Then we took our bath and put on our ihram clothes.

Qarn al-Manazil miqat mosque.
A water sink at miqat mosque.
It was another calm and serene morning when we reached the miqat.
Mountains situated opposite to the Qarn al-Manazil miqat.

05. Seeing the Ka’bah
We first checked into our hotel in Aziziyah to put our belongings in our rooms. Then we were taken to masjidul haram.

We entered masjidul haram through the Fatah Gate, which is the 45th gate of the Grand Mosque. When you stand at the entrance of this gate, you can see a portion of the ka’bah. It was about 10:30 AM when we entered the haram. The crowd was huge.

Normally people are advised to keep their eyes down until reaching the mataf (the circumambulation area around the ka’bah). However, I was so excited that I couldn’t keep my eyes down at all. I looked straight from the Fatah Gate and immediately caught a glimpse of the ka’bah.

We then slowly maneuvered through the crowd, and finally, I found myself standing right in front of the House of Allah. After 16 years!!!

Allahu Akbar.

Before going to hajj, I used to fantasize a lot about how I will feel when I will see the House of Allah. Every time I thought about that special moment, I would shed a tear or two.

However, when I was actually standing before the House of Allah, I could not cry. The beauty, the majesty, and the magnificence of the House of Allah shook my inside and out, and left me completely hallucinated and unsure about how I should react.

When I overcame my initial shock after two or three rounds of circumambulation around the ka’bah, its majesty and magnificence gave rise to another feeling in my heart.

I felt that the ka’bah was looking at me and asking me, “So what?”

It was as if the ka’bah was telling me, “So what if you are a king or a president of a big country?”

“So what if you are a billionaire?”

“So what if you are such and such important person?”

This “so what” was like a rhetorical question. The answer of a rhetorical question is never given to you. Because you already know the answer.

I also knew that answer to the rhetorical question that I felt the ka’bah was throwing towards me.

“So what if you are so and so?”

“Absolutely nothing.”

This was the answer.

Before the eternal Glory and Honor of Allah, anything that you can imagine is totally insignificant and meaningless. When I stood before the House of Allah, I realized the greatness of Allah, and simultaneously, I also realized my own insignificance.

This feeling own insignificance in front of Allah’s Greatness is the essence of preparing your heart for the complete submission to the will of the Almighty Creator. Only through feeling your own insignificance and properly understanding your need of Allah, you can completely eradicate your ego, which will then led you to submit to Allah.

The House of Allah exactly generates that feeling. And that is why when millions of worshippers prostrate before His House during prayer, it creates the most powerful image.

The Ka'ba. You can look at the House of Allah for hours, but the moment you depart, you will feel the urge to look at it again. The analogy is like the inhabitants of Jannah, where they will look at the Face of Allah for millions of years, and yet at the time of the departure, they will feel that they have been allowed to look at Allah for a few seconds. Allah is beautiful and so is His House. Unfortunately, any image cannot capture this Beauty. You have go to the Grand Mosque and see the House of Allah with your own eyes to understand that.

06. First day trial
We finished our umrah at around 2 PM. There was supposed to be a bus to take us back at our hotel after isha, and we therefore to decided to stay in the haram until isha.

The bus was supposed to come at the place where it dropped us, but we could not remember that location.

We were waiting for the bus in a wrong place. When an hour or so passed by and there was still no bus, we were certain that we had missed the bus. We were in trouble.

We did not have our hajj cards with us.

We were so tired that we even did not have the energy to walk half a kilometer.

We did not know Arabic.

We did not know the exact location of our hotel.

I cannot explain how helpless I felt that night.

I was getting angry and frustrated at myself for not brining my hajj card, but it was of no avail. Out of my excitement, I forgot to do all these things.

However, this helpless situation taught me a lesson. Am I not as helpless as I was that night even in good times when it felt that trial will never descend upon me? Did I not forget during good times about my helplessness before Allah and committed sins? Allah said in the Quran:

And when affliction touches man, he calls upon Us, whether lying on his side or sitting or standing; but when We remove from him his affliction, he continues [in disobedience] as if he had never called upon Us to [remove] an affliction that touched him. Thus is made pleasing to the transgressors that which they have been doing [The Noble Quran 10:12]

I made a small dua to Allah and He responded. We disobey Allah, but Allah never abandons His slaves.

I suddenly met a Pakistani brother of our group who was also lost. Fortunately, he had his hajj card with him. It had some phone numbers, but it did not include the address of our hotel. We rang those numbers, but no one responded.

Anyway, it was a blessing of Allah that I remembered that our hotel was around Bin Dawood Super Market. So we hired a taxi and told the driver to drop us there. He dropped us there, and from there, by the mercy of Allah, we were able to find our hotel.

Tip 1. As soon as you reach your hotel in Makkah or Madinah, write down its location in a notebook or record it in your cell phone. Record the phone number of you hajj agent. Learn how you can communicate the address of your hotel to a taxi driver in Arabic. If you have GPS in your cell phone, immediately mark the location of your hotel in it.

07. Our hotel at Aziziyah
We were provided with a nice accommodation during our stay at Makkah. It was a newly built hotel. Everything of it was nice, except for its distance from the Grand Mosque. It was about 7 kilometers away from the Grand Mosque.

Our hotel building in Aziziyah, Makkah.
We were served with fresh sugarcane juice every morning at the entrance of our hotel.
They used to serve us fresh sugarcane juices in these glasses.
This is not tea, it is sugarcane juice.
This is not tea, it is sugarcane juice.
Our hotel lobby.
407- my room number.
Our room-four hujjaj shared one room. Can you see the sticker under the air condition? It is qibla indicator.
There was a small refrigerator in the room.
On the roof of our hotel. We would use this place to dry our clothes.
Can you see the lights on the top of the mountain? This is a palace of King Abdul Aziz. In Arabic they call it 'Kubri Malik Abdel Aziz'.

08. Surrounding areas of our hotel at Aziziyah

The road that connected our hotel with the Aziziyah Street.
Aziziyah street.
Another shot of Aziziyah street.
Bawarith Plaza: you can buy all sorts of clothes here. But the prices are UNREASONABLY HIGH.
When you go to Masjidul Haram through the Aziziyah street, on your right you can see two mountains on your right. This mountain is one of them? Is it Jabal Al-Noor?
A hotel on Aziziyah street.
A beautiful palm tree in front of Bawarith Plaza.
The hotel building of Al-Ali group, which came from Bahrain.
A bill board of our agent Yusuf Al-Hammadi showing direction to our hotel building.
09. Bin Dawood
It is a Hyper Market. You can find almost anything in this shopping mall. The prices of many items seemed to me higher when compared to their prices at Qatar. However, like the Bawarith Plaza, the price of clothes at Bin Dawood was also simply UNREASONABLE.

Here are some pictures of items that are available at Bin Dawood:

Prayer rug.
Home theaters.
From towels to can find almost anything you need at Bin Dawood.
Lahm (meat)
Fresh produce.
Some more fresh produce!
To be continued inshallah…

6 thoughts on “My Hajj Diary: Random Reflections, Discrete Memories, and Practical Advice-Part 2”

  1. JazakAllah for sharing. I also went this year, and it’s interesting reading accounts from different people. For someone so young (you’re 16, right?), you have amazing insight and values – which can only be a good sign at such an early age 🙂

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