Hajj Trip: October 12

Posted on a later day, 10.29.13, I chose to keep the dates in mark with their corresponding dates from our Hajj trip for convenience. You can see a link of all the post-trip posts by clicking here and scrolling downClick here to see the previous day’s post and click here to see the next day’s post.

Saturday October 12.

Apparently another one of our buses, bus 21, the one with my aunt and family and my cousin and his wife, broke down along the way from Madinah to Makkah. We found out through our bus driver initially, and didn’t get the details from our family until much later.

Saturday morning, still traveling by bus to Makkah from Madinah, we hit one of the checkpoints around 12:20 AM pretty much as soon as we entered the city of Makkah we were so warned about (the delays they cause, etc.). The person first asked our bus driver where we were from and when he said “America”, the guy literally said “assalam aleikum America” and let us get on our way. Have I mentioned how easy we have it compared to others? We can see lines and lines of cars and buses and whatnot waiting for I don’t even want to imagine how long. At this point we also started to notice people walking to their destination, the Haram.

We reached, what I think is called the matawaf’s office, around 12:32 AM. Here your passports are once again taken from your group for who knows what. While the driver and the imam were inside taking care of the official business [it took them about 20 minutes inside], someone came and gave us zam zam water (holy water).

I have mentioned the language barrier before, but it was most intense as of yet at this point. When the driver and our imam was inside, apparently one of the guys that helped our people take care of things so quickly [again our wait time was minimal at best compared to most] for us inside wasn’t satisfied with the “tip” he was given and so what did he do? Climb on our bus and refuse to get off and argued with our imam and bus driver… And just continued traveling with us on our way… stopped somewhere else… he went in with bus driver and imam… came back on with them again. I am a worrier, so you know Allah SWT is with you every step of this sacred journey when instead of freaking out, I found it more funny. This random guy, arguing along most of the way and refusing to get off, finally got off randomly in the middle of nowhere though.

Patience. And everything goes. That’s for sure. I think, by the end of this trip, nothing will surprise me.

Around this time, I got my first glimpse ever of the Ka’aba. Just barely, and only the top of the Ka’aba… but it was indeed the Ka’aba nonetheless… and just something. I couldn’t contain my excitement/surprise and pointed it out to my dad. I wasn’t at all expecting to see it at the time, and was looking at that general direction only because someone from behind commented on how we could see our Makkah Hotel– Fairmont Royal Clock Tower– that we would be staying at for the last six days of the trip. Honestly, reflecting back, we must have been on some high ramp or something because you can’t even see the Ka’aba from outside when you are right outside in the courtyard. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing it again for the rest of the trip from outside going or coming from anywhere [traveling by bus]. I would see it fully for the first time later this day, when we went to the Haram for umrah.

We finally got to Aziziya around 2:15-2:30 AM. Of course, we can’t just get there without a story to tell. We are finally pulling up and driving through narrow roads [which makes you think/hope/realize that you are almost there!] and roads are blocked everywhere and there is vehicle traffic coming from all sides. I don’t even understand how buses navigate and go through just narrow roads, let alone traffic from both sides. Anyhow, we are stuck behind another one of the Dar el Salam buses [carrying a separate group from our program] who apparently is stuck and has no where to go. You’d think we’ll just be here awhile, right? No. Our driver, somehow [who knows how] reverses our bus on said narrow road [there was barely any room to go forward on this road], makes a crazy right turn to another narrow road and two left turns… and we are now head to head with the stuck bus I just mentioned. Our bus driver gets off, along with the yellow shirt man [I mentioned in a previous post that traveled with us], to help the other bus driver. Our bus driver guides the other bus driver and the two yellow shirt men [one from our bus and one from the other]… what do they do? THEY PICK UP THE CAR THAT WAS BLOCKING THE WAY AND MOVE IT! Not kidding. At all. This would not be the only time I would see this happen on the trip, kid you not.

Oh boy.

Anyhow, after getting to Aziziya, and refreshing up a bit, first thing we did was head straight out to the Haram to do Umrah. Its like the unofficial start, with the hajj days officially starting Sunday morning when we head to Mena until Thursday.

Even before we got to the Haram, when we initally got on the bus with our group 19 to head to the Haram for umrah, and started the talbiyah once again… that was it. Emotions started to get the better of me before we physically even did anything [besides be in the state of ihram, of course].

This morning was when I got to see the Ka’aba fully for the first time in person, when we went for Umrah. Walking in from the Abdul Aziz Gate 1 for the first time, and walking straight ahead, there it is: in all of its greatness and beauty. You can’t help but think: am I really here? Is this a dream?!  But you quickly realize it can’t be just a dream… because this time it looks different than all the other times you have seen it in pictures or anywhere else. This time, it’s real and you are admiring it in person. Alhumdulillah, what a blessed opportunity to be among the chosen ones this year to be invited to His house. I can’t even tell you the feeling that overtakes you from within. It just isn’t possible to describe and give it full justice. You have to be there. You have to feel it. It’s a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life, I’m sure. There’s absolutely nothing else like it in the entire world.

Unreal. It still describes it best. Alhumdulillah, I can’t say enough how thankful I am for the opportunity.Side note: tahiyat ul masjid [two rakats sunnat we pray upon entering a mosque] is not done in the Masjid ul Haralm: it is replaced by the tawaf.

My parents and I finished Umrah at around 10 AM after leaving hotel at 7 AM. The tawaf, alhumdulillah, my parents and I were able to do on the main level with relative ease. As a matter of fact, this Umrah tawaf was probably the easiest one we did throughout our trip and we were expecting it to be the hardest because of the crowd. Indeed, He takes care of his people. In this tawaf, we could have easily touched the Ka’aba as we came very close to it– only about three rows of people away– but we kept thinking it would be easier to do it later when the crowd dissipated. If only we knew then how untrue that would be…

The only remaining major part of Umrah left was the Sa’ee. The Sa’ee portion {seven rounds of walking between the hills of Safa and Marwah} was a little more physically exhausting by the end. We had had a long day of traveling by bus and no rest time before heading to umrah, so that too played a part. Not to mention the walk is about 2 miles in total between the 7 rounds.

We stayed at the Haram to pray zuhr before heading back and walking to Shohada Hotel which was Dar el Salam’s meeting point to get on buses back to Aziziya. We got back to aziziya at 2:50 pm, with nothing significant on the agenda for the remainder of the day. Once we got back, and cut our hair, we were out of the state of the ihram [for now].

I cannot believe, tomorrow morning, we head to Mena, for the official start of the hajj days!

Click here to read the post from the next day, October 13.

Posted on 10.29.13

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