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A tale of a Muslim pilgrim: a

personal journey to the sacred


cities of Mekka and Medinah
By Arfan Shah (Sheikhy notes)

Chapter one

Pondering

Reflecting for a moment I ponder about what I was leaving behind. Then I
contemplate over what I was going to gain. I realised that I had to do something,
the conditions had been met, and all that remained was for me to find a package.
How exactly was I going to do this? Had this moment come before and it passed me
by? Had I not acted before? Why was it was different this time? Did I really spend
the money on something else instead of performing Hajj? Was I even up to the
task? Am I spiritually prepared?

The Fiqh is clear if you have sufficient funds to go then you go. No debts, sufficient
funds for the journey there and back, money for your family and a safe passage.
Performing it when your body is youthful is a smart idea because it is easier for you
to bear the rigour.

All my questions seemed to pale into insignificance as I had answered affirmative to


the conditions so I had to go. One does not have to wait for a handwritten invitation
as your invitation is that you have the means to go, so just get on your way.

Chapter two

Goodbye

When people find out about your trip delight is the normal reaction. They hug you
and ask you to supplicate for them. Yet this became one stark reminder of death.
Saying goodbye to all the people that you know. Taking stock over your life.
Thinking about the possibility that you might never come back.

I really felt as though I was going to my own death and that I was not coming back.
This was it, the end was nigh.

The two white cloths reminded me of the death shroud; that the body is wrapped
in. Death was so close at that time. I really felt it was close. There were small things
that I had to prepare and think about. What was I going to take with me? I decided
to take as little as I could. People going to their grave take nothing but their good
works.

So taking precautions I made sure that if I did not come back my work would carry
on. I gave a trusted friend all my works so he could add the finishing touches to
anything that I did not complete. My blog is set to automatically update so it would
run for seven months if I did not return.
Chapter three

Departure gate

Even more cognisant of my death I adorn myself with the garb of the pilgrim. Two
pieces of unsown cloth. Exactly as a poor person and exactly as someone who has
absolutely nothing. The death shrouds of the Muslims are three pieces of cloth for a
male and five for female, white pieces of cloth, this is called the qafan. The Ihram,
the garb of the pilgrim, is extremely similar but it excludes women as it is only the
men who wear two pieces of unsown white cloth. Wearing the ihram is like entering
into a state of death. It’s very close, it is imminent. We all know death will come to
us one day we just do not know when.

The prayer of drought is dua and istighfar, no units are performed. We also turn
our clothes inside out, displaying our neediness displaying our poverty. Zakah is
given to the poor and needy, the most important thing is the signs of poverty. So in
these states people display their absolute destitution and absolute neediness before
Allah (The Exalted). Likewise the Ihram displays someone’s in his lowest Dunya
(worldly) form.

So do you think that Allah (The Exalted) will not provide for you when you are in
these states? The one who deserves charity is the one in need and we are
displaying our neediness. By removing the outward dress then putting on the garb
of a pilgrim we all become equal. We are all lowered to the lowest common
denominator as we have no outward signs of who we are.

The only real difference is the inward and that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Only Allah (The Exalted) can see what we hide from our fellow man. It is a blessing
that no one knows what our hearts really think. Sometimes the eye of a prophet
can see beyond flesh as the outward movements indicate the inward realities.

Although a person can see the signs of what the heart contains on the limbs but
these signs can deceive.

Chapter four

Hajj is patience

The D.I.Y Imam is showing signs of crumbling as I sit and listen to mixed up Fiqh,
whilst waiting in the lounge room. We are a full room of people waiting at the
airport, ready for Hajj. I forgot that we had to shorten the prayers as soon as we left
our home because the total distance was not just from my home town to the airport
but to our final destination. I made a mental note as I repeated the prayer whilst
waiting at the gate.

Chapter five

Gates

Waiting at the departure gate reminded me of a hadith about the reward of the
perfect Hajj. I had already prepared for the journey by putting on the ihram and
making ablution whilst waiting. Paradise has eight gates and depending on the
amount of your action you will be called by that gate. In other words the believer
will enter the gate of the actions he did the most.

I sat here in the waiting room to be called to a gate so I could leave this place.
Waiting for the gate to open was like waiting for an axe to fall.
Chapter six

Mystery hajj tour

Depending on which tour operator you have chosen your journey will either be
haphazard or organised. You may have to rely on your wits and try not to rely on
people telling you where your gate is.

If you have chosen a bad tour operator then you’ll be inducted to the mystery hajj
tour! Where you do not know where you are going fly, not the terminal, not the
gate, not the hotel but that’s the mystery of the hajj tour! It’s a puzzle that you
have to work out!

The plane was delayed for a few hours and seen as there were hundreds of us but it
did not seem to matter. We finally got onto the plane and the queue to the toilet
was beginning to look like a march in single file. I had the right idea putting on my
ihram before travelling because the toilets were packed and there was no water left.
Chapter seven

Delays

Do not expect anything to run on time, buses, planes or whatever, none of it will
run on time and if it is on time then praise Allah (The Exalted)! You’ll be lucky if
anything runs on time and as it’s all interdependent it has a knock on affect.

There are queues for everything that almost appear from nowhere, so if you see an
opportunity take it. We were waiting for some time and I wondered when we would
arrive into the miqat (the sacred section) so I can make my intention, magnify Allah
(Takbir) and pray two Sunnah units. An announcement was made and we did the
above.

The plane lands and we go through about three or four different queues for
stickers, stamps and who knows what. It all seems to be too much, too much red
tape. We waited in the airport for our bus for seven hours! I tried to get some sleep
but it was impossible in a busy airport. Someone said that the Hajj was beginning
now and that our patience had to start now.

Chapter eight

The hustle

When you are on hajj you are going to experience what we call ‘the hustle.’ This is
when everybody is pushing and shoving so they can get past you. Surprisingly
some women poke you in the back just so they get your attention and then they
can move past you. Women’s liberation is in full force when you are going around
the Ka’aba! Stand your ground as politely as you can which was what I was doing
at first.

Locals call it the ‘rush’ but we like the term hustle it was so busy, an endless sea of
people. The bus going to Mecca took about six hours. The heat was unbearable but
somehow being in two pieces of cloths meant I was not as hot as other people. We
eventually arrived in Mecca tired and worn out; we still had umrah to do. Due to
our mystery hajj tour guides we were in a hotel that was dirty and inadequate. The
desire to see the Ka’aba was taking over so we put our bags down and began to
prepare ourselves.
Chapter ten

Ka’aba

I was finally here at the place I have been praying towards all these years. We
walked through what must have been a mile of the masjid to see the Ka’aba. At first
we did not know which direction to go which was confusing.

The Ka’aba is something wonderful and it cannot be understood textually you have
to see it with your own eyes. Its beauty is beyond anything that can be considered
a wonder of the world because Allah (The Exalted) chose this ground and gave it a
hallowed nature that all Muslims love. No matter what group they belong to.

Was I really here I thought to myself. I was and now the hard work of going around
it was to begin. We had to climb the second floor as there was no room on the first
floor. Seven units took just less than an hour and a half. Leaving behind my
camera I refrained from taking any pictures here.
Chapter eleven

Safa and Marwa

There is very little room for manoeuvre, near the mounts, so you have to try your
best. Seen as they have cordoned it off you’ll have to get as close as you can. It’s so
strange to see an ancient mount surrounded by expensive marble.

I wonder about the desperation that Hajar felt as she went from mount to mount,
when she had no water left for her son. Any mother worth her salt would never be
able to bear the suffering of her child. Imagine her relief when the angel Jibreal
appeared and struck his heel into the sand and the water of zam zam appeared.

Zam zam is onomatopoeia meaning to bubble and from that time to this. It’s been
bubbling for thousands of years quenching the thirst of millions of pilgrims and
city dwellers.

Zam zam water is like water but it’s sweet with a honey like quality. My first
experience of it was on the bus a small package was brought to us during our
gruelling bus trip. We will talk more about Zam Zam later.

After moving seven times between these mounts this part of the Umrah was
complete. It’s almost one mile and a male has to run between the green lights. My
hair is shaven clean off and my Umrah is done. Now all that remains is the main
event. In a few days the hajj period will begin.

Chapter twelve

Busy?

Is there a time in which things are not busy? Maybe for a short time in the small
hours but other than that I do not think so. Try to avoid prayer times as these are
extremely busy. We wanted to get as close to the Ka’aba as soon possible but this
was not possible. Whilst we were at the Ka’aba we made dua for all our teachers
and those who made requests.

I kept making duas for all those past and future sins. Then any sin that I could
think of. I made dua for the deceased and those of my relatives who were still alive.

There is a certain irony about going to Mecca and being surrounded by those from
the indo-pak subcontinent. There is also a certain irony in being unable to order
anything unless you speak English or Urdu! “Where is the burger king?” asked a
naive youth to a cleaner. I am sure he was from London.

One of the most wondrous things that I saw whilst circumambulating the Ka’aba
was a woman dressed in black from head to toe speeding through the crowds of
people so she could get as close the Ka’aba as possible. I do not know how close
she got but with her himma (aspiration) she must have got close. That’s what I call
determination!

Chapter thirteen

Where are you?

I texted my good friend Luqman, someone who I have known for many years. He is
one of the few people in the world that I totally trust.

We were trying to engineer a meeting. He thought I was in Medina and I thought he


was in Mecca. We both laughed out loud when we realised we were in two different
cities. Maybe next time dear friend.
Chapter fourteen

Reflections on Zam Zam

We were reflecting on the benefits of Zam zam. We are guests of Allah (The Exalted)
and as guest the host should give you the best thing that benefits you. Zam zam is
something that helps you beyond imagination. Think for a moment if it had been
fruit then some people may have liked it others may have not. Had it been milk
then some people have lactose intolerance. So when Allah (the Exalted) gave the
believers Zam Zam he gave us a precious gift. As no one can refuse water, it’s the
most basic thing that a person needs, as it was what man was created from!

Yet it has so many qualities that quench the thirst and implode the mind. Even
though those who have difficulty drinking water cannot refuse it for an extended
period even if it’s mixed with chemicals. Travelling in the desert makes people
thirsty and the only thing that can quench the thirst is water and the best water is
Zam Zam.

Love of drinking Zam zam is part of faith and the one who drinks it shows more
faith. Zam Zam has a sweetness just like faith has a sweetness and both are
enriched when someone displays their faith when consuming it. They taste the
sweetness of faith.
Chapter fifteen

You went with whom?

Choosing a tour operator can be a bit of a nightmare. The Sunni’s are notorious for
bad organisation, with some exceptions, and the Wahabi’s have all the contacts. If
you already know what you are doing then chose any operator you like but if you
do not then choose carefully. Because you might have agreed to a mystery tour
without knowing it; a hajj package which no one tells you what to do and promises
are broken with every passing prayer time.

Try to find people who have gone previously and chose your package that way. In
any case you must study all the Fiqh of hajj and keep a document with you on
what to do every day. Review it and try to do as much as you can. So you know
what to do when; reading this text will help you a lot but you need to study the fiqh
parrot fashion.

Chapter sixteen

Restaurants

The best restaurants are near the Ka’aba and yes burger king is one of them. I
really hate saying that but the fact is that cheaper food is not clean so you get ill
after eating. It is in a shopping complex as is pizza hut and other names that you
may be familiar with coming from the west. The main difference is that here that
stuff is halal and over in the west its haram.

On the second floor of one of the shopping complexes is burger king and in it are
all the restaurants. Or you could just have it your way with burger king! There is
something absurd about eating at burger king or kfc in the vicinity of the Ka’aba.

Even here you cannot escape from capitalism not even if you wanted to. Many of
the local cheap restaurants are not clean and this was our main motivation for not
using them.

Chapter seventeen

Overcrowding

This is the main problem at hajj! Too many people!! There are so many present in
this year’s pilgrimage it leaves us with little space to manoeuvre. If you want to get
into the Ka’aba then you have to form a strategic plan because you are not going to
get in otherwise! You may not get the chance to pray in front of the Ka’aba.

After seeing pictures of the Ka’aba in the past it seems like there has been much
destruction caused by the present regime we hope that there is a policy change on
this matter.

In Ibn Jubayr’s book of travels he recounts being in Mecca during Ramadan and
there being five Imam’s of the Ka’aba. A Hanafi, a Shaf’i, a Maliki, a Hanbali and
Shia Imam. They prayed their prayers in slightly different times. This meant that
even if you missed one prayer you could catch the next one. It meant that there
was no overcrowding, like now, when one would finish the other would begin. This
meant that people could pray in comfort and there was very little in terms of
overcrowding. This is how it was until the Wahabi’s rebelled their way into power
after various events. They removed all the Imams and installed their own. Since
(1900’s) then we have had the problem of overcrowding. You could argue that Islam
has reached further parts of the globe than ever before but that really does not
justify destruction. Islam is growing all the time and the people who come to hajj
are from all the corners of the world. I’ll understand if the Wahabi’s do not go back
to having Imams of the four Sunni schools. Then why don’t they have at least two
congregational prayers just look at the hadith of Jibreal in which he indicated the
beginning and the end time of the prayers. Having at least two imams would mean
that more people would have chance to pray before the Ka’aba and it would stop
people camping in the masjid for extended periods of time.

We really think numbers should be limited because the crowds are just out of this
world. It’s an endless sea of people who are pushing and shoving each other. It’s
not the ideal spiritual ground for focusing on your worship. Especially when the
memory of someone pushing you in the back is fresh in your mind. If this issue is
not tackled when will it be? Will they keep expanding the Ka’aba perpetually? How
far can the masjid go? People pray in the streets next to the masjid especially on
Friday when you cannot move in the streets. You cannot even find a place to pray!
You have to use your wits as the masjid is totally full. The masjid has a basement
floor and other levels but all these are not enough. There may be as many as three
million Muslims here. We do think that people who have been to hajj before should
be overlooked in favour of those who have not been before. Unless they are taking
female relatives.

Chapter eighteen

Food 2

Avoid anything that you know does not taste quite right and avoid meat like the
plague especially from cheap places. And if you feel it does not taste right then for
your own sake do not finish it. It’s probably off and if you finish it you’ll get sick.
Mango is another substance that can cause problems.

Try to avoid eating foods and drinks that are too cold as this may make you ill. As
moving from hot to cold can affect your health. Especially if you take a cold drink
to your room with AC you will get ill. So if you have a cold drink have it outside.

Beware of local cheap food that might not be fresh and unless you have the internal
organs of an ox then you are going to be ill.

Chapter nineteen

Funeral prayer

Due to the amount of people present here at the same time people are going to die
and what a good place to die! So do not be surprised if you hear the call to the
funeral prayer. You may hear Salah Al-Janazah but you’re more likely to hear
Salatu ‘ala Amwat which means prayer for the deceased. And this indicates that
there are more than three people who have died and are being prayed over.

The Quran states that a person does not know upon which earth he will die and
what an earth is better than one of the two sacred sanctities.

Jummah prayer is ordinarily the prayer of Friday. Attending the prayer at the
Ka’aba is a whole different kettle of fish. The actual prayer is not until 12.50 (but
check local times) but actually attending the prayer is another story altogether! At
10.50 I received a phone call by the hotel keeper advising me to attend the Friday
prayer now. I was not totally surprised but what came to light was even stranger.
When I looked out of my window there was no way to leave the building without
crossing someone’s prayer from both directions. Not just one person but literally
hundreds of people in both directions. Looking down at the adjoining streets I saw
people praying the four Sunnah’s before the obligatory. The only option was to pray
on the roof that was the only place left.

From there I could see that the entire street was full with worshippers from both
main streets and smaller side streets. There was no room to swing a Miranda can! I
joined a small group on the roof but I had to retreat until the prayer started due to
the intensity of the heat. It was 35 degrees in the winter, yes 35 degrees in
November! I shudder to think of how much it would be in the summer I would turn
into an omelette, had I come during that time.

The khutba is barely audible from my position which I was thankful for because he
seems to be shouting excessively. You do not need to shout because we have
microphones! We can hear you clearly even if you whisper! He is not listening and
neither is anyone else!

Chapter twenty

Excuses

Hajj is the best time to practice giving your brother seventy excuses but this is not
easy. Yet if you do not practice this then you’ll find yourself getting excessively
angry when people push by you. At times I was getting up to excuse sixty nine
when a four foot high woman pushes past me as if I am piece of paper! They are so
small but so strong!

Chapter twenty one

Workers

Most of the people working in the shops are migrant workers from poor countries
and because of circumstance or choice are here. You may know that Arab states
import their workforce to do work in jobs that they feel are beneath them like
cleaning. Most of the cleaners in the Ka’aba are from India. During this peak
season they work hours that would be illegal elsewhere, or so it would seem.

I did not realise that I would have to brush up on Urdu before coming. There are
sections around the Harram that you can get away with speaking Urdu in. This
shocked me as I was ready with my Arabic tongue which I had to swiftly put away.
I have a friend called Ibrahim Al-Faransi who knows the Urdu for my stomach is
empty/mera payt hali hai! This might come in useful here, depending on where you
eat. Of course you could have it your way at burger king! The only advantage of
shopping here is that you know the food is clean, which is something that you
might not get if you eat cheaply.

Trust me when I say that eating from a big burger giant before the harram is not
having it your way!

In the times gone by people would go out and receive the pilgrims and they would
look after them in their homes. Now it’s all about the hotels and the money people
have to spend.

Chapter twenty two

Rubbish

The rubbish is starting to build up. This is nothing but horrifying as the place that
someone has thrown rubbish in could be a place in which the Prophet (may Allah
bestow peace and blessings upon him) wandered by or his companions.

Find a bin or keep it with you until you return to the hotel. Please do not throw it
carelessly on the floor.
Chapter twenty three

Patience! I have none!

Patience is something that keeps getting re-iterated to us. Someone gave us good
advice saying people are coming from the four corners of the world, they will be
tired, ratty and hungry so do not expect good manners.

This was good advice as a man dressed in ihram came into a shop after me,
stepped on my foot and took my bag then paid for his things before me by pushing
in! I even said, ‘look at this guy he’s still in ihram and he stepped on my foot.’ He
did not seem to hear it maybe because he was too busy pushing in! What a
thoroughly nice bloke!

Then again is it because where I come from we expect people to queue and keep it
civil and not step on anyone’s foot!

Chapter twenty four

Medicine

Bring any medicine that you may need or respond to. If it’s just aspirin or
paracetamol or even bechams bring it just in case. You may not need it but then
again you may get ill and it’s not nice being abroad and being sick. Lemsip for flu
might also be useful and even if you do not use it someone else might.

Bear in mind that locally you may not find what you need. As many dispensaries
do not know English well enough to find out what you need. Or they will sell you
anything and everything.

There are hospitals available but bear in mind that you may need them if your
sicknesses are not cured.
Chapter twenty five

Children

Do not bring children if they cannot differentiate their environment. Or if they do


not know what to do if they get lost. There is a ministry for lost children at one of
the shopping complexes and that tells its own story. Not to mention all the diseases
present here.

People are wearing masks all over the place so bear that in mind before bringing
children. This really is not a place for children unless you are local and even then
the best place for them is home.

Chapter twenty six

Shopping mall or prayer hall?

We were looking for a restaurant when the prayer time entered and in an open area
of the mall people began lining up. This was due to the three million or so people
present and we could not all pray on the streets. We instead prayed in the mall and
as we began the entire bottom level of the mall became a sea of people and this
would never happen elsewhere in the world.

Imagine a whole shopping centre stopping for prayer. Please take note that it is
illegal to sell during prayer times, shops have to close. I really do not like this
ruling because forcing religiosity never works.

After almost four days of illness we are preparing for Mina as Hajj is about to begin.
I am getting better and we are not sure if everyone will be healthy to make it. The
anticipation is imminent and I am mentally preparing myself for a tough journey
ahead. Tomorrow we are heading for Mina; tomorrow Hajj season begins in earnest.
Chapter twenty seven

Hajj begins

Mina

The Sunna of Mina is to pray five prayers in Mina. If you miss this then you miss
Sunna but as long as you make Arafat then your Hajj cannot be destroyed.
Practicing the Sunna has hidden secrets and it not always easy. Sometimes
practicing the Sunna is one the hardest thing that one can do on his nafs/ego. As
we were doing tamatutu (Umrah then Hajj) we made Ihram from the area of Al-
Harram then proceeded to Mina. There would be no other reason to go to Mina
other than for Hajj.

Sitting in a dirty tent on a cement floor upon a dirty carpet made me realise the
importance of the Sunna. It’s important because in this environment you realise
that you have no one but Allah (the Exalted) to turn to. We rely on so many things,
machines are just one thing, but if Allah (the Exalted) did not cause them to work
what would we do? When our cars break down we often get frustrated but it runs
effectively for many moons and rarely breaks down but we do not see that.

I lay here like a dead body in my Ihram waiting for the next stage and like a corpse
I have no option but to wait.

Chapter twenty eight

Not easy

Hajj is one the hardest acts of worship that one can do. Yet, the effect shall be felt
beyond these days and that’s why people come back year after year. Do not expect
that all your sins that you have ever committed in your entire life to be wiped away
without some hardship.

Hajj contains many things that break ones nafs and these can only be good for you
but you may not realise the extent of the goodness. We are all going through the
same thing and it’s not easy for any of us. Depending on your package some will
have better accommodation than others, clean carpets for example. But the toilet
facilities are all the same for everyone so expect people not to show any
consideration and jump the queues.

A captain of any ship knows that if they want to cross an ocean it is not plain
sailing all the way. There are storms and other things to contend with but what
comes after a storm? Calm, there is always calm after a storm. Be prepared for the
worst and you won’t be disappointed.
Chapter twenty nine

Religious level

You’ll be disappointed if you are expecting people to have the same religious level
as you. Many might not pray their daily prayers and some will openly smoke so be
prepared to smell the stench of the infernal cigarette around the sacred sites.

I remember reading a short text about the humiliation of the cigarette. It’s strange
how much we have humiliated ourselves for a mere cigarette. Yet this is a sign of
addiction that people lose control of their ability to rationalise when they chase
their next fix.

Chapter thirty

Ihram carelessness

There seems to be a stage in which the male hajji reaches when he does not care
about covering himself. The top half of his ihram is no longer covering his chest
and back, it is now a scarf. This man is treating the upper garment like a scarf and
he is now exposing his back and belly.

Now some may be hoping for a flash of a six pack but let’s be realistic, you are
getting flashes of flaccid, hairy and large belies. Or worse still you’ll see one of the
hairiest backs that you’ll have ever seen! My eyes! My eyes! This type of man no
longer cares that his belly or back is exposed. His shame has run far away from
him, maybe he left it at home! Your eyes are now the latest victim of this atrocious
sight! This is frighteningly common sight! Some have even totally disregarded their
upper garment totally and have tied it around their fat waists.

Brother, I realise that you no longer care about your nakedness but I do because I
get to see your flaccid belly. So please do not walk around like Rambo cover
yourself up, please for my sake. You can still use safety pins brother so use them
for the love of God!

Chapter thirty one

Mina 2

Mina is in the middle of nowhere and this is the beginning of your Hajj proper.
Mina is lacking in many things even though it has improved over the years. We
drive over to the area of mina and see a seemingly endless sea of tents on both
sides of the road.

Okay it is fine to allow people to come to do Hajj but I am against more than half a
million being here. When you arrive at Mina the difficulty of your Hajj becomes
clear. There was a time when there were no tents in Mina but viewing the current
state of the tents left a lot to be desired. Now, I have some sympathy with the
authorities because it must be difficult to plan for a two day event but there seems
to be very little planning.

The procedure at the airport takes a lot of time and after four separate queues for
four separate things, I felt exhausted. Then waiting for seven hours for a bus, I was
not happy and I found it difficult to accept that and the conditions of Mina. It might
be because my western brain only accepts certain standards but to have unclean
carpets in an unclean tent was difficult.
Chapter thirty two

Arafat

After a long wait for coaches, and a dispute with a kind brother who wanted to
push his wife into the queue, we arrive at Arafat. Excuse me for saying so but if
they know we are going somewhere then shouldn’t the coaches be ready for us?
Why do we have to wait until someone feels like turning up? Just a thought I am
throwing out ideas for people to catch.

Arafat was one of the hottest and hardest days, so far. The carpets were upon sand
and there was no light after the sun went down, this did not become clear until
later. Arafat was very difficult and I could barely leave the camp because of the
heat. It had been one of the hottest days in over five years. I should have prepared
by bringing two meals and plenty of drinks. As there is very little in the way of
shops. There was however some kind people handing packets of soft drinks. These
were lifesavers for some of us. May Allah (the Exalted) reward the kindness of those
who give out soft drinks for free.

In the intense heat I had to find some drinks and a kind man was sat with some
people and offered me cold soft drinks which I took three. I do not know who they
were but they were kind and may Allah (the Exalted) bless them. The drinks were
cold which was strange because everything was scorching hot.

There was also a strange sight that I saw, that will stay with me forever. There was
a truck and someone was throwing something out of the back of it. I wondered
what it was bearing in mind it was an extremely hot day. I thought they were
throwing drinks out but instead it was something more sinister. They were
throwing out umbrellas, yes small compact umbrellas. Umbrellas that were
branded by a certain mobile provider. The people were going mad for them and
were pleading for them. There was even shouting and swearing. I really could not
believe it, we were in Arafat and people were dying for Umbrella’s! I was thirsty for a
drink and I did not need an umbrella as Bin Dawood (supermarket) sorted that out.
I have seen some dreadful sights here but that was by far the worst.

After sunset people began to congratulate each other for their Hajj. In terms of Fiqh
their Hajj could not be nullified any longer after the standing/waquf of Arafat. So
this is largest pillar of Hajj was complete. The most important part is done but
don’t be fooled into thinking that’s it!

I heard some of the elders swearing after sunset. It baffles me that people do not
change when things happen to them. Sometimes it does not matter what
happens...

When the sunset there was a beautiful feeling of purification but then darkness
because there was no electricity!
Chapter thirty two

Muzdalifah

We had to wait for another bus! We finally arrived in a desolate and empty place.
Now I wish I had brought a tent as there is nothing here so you have to sleep on
the ground. People who go camping maybe familiar with spending the night in the
wide open. Some smart people brought a tent but everyone else covered themselves
with blankets. There were at least a few thousand people here and only fifteen male
and female toilets with ablution facilities outside. This is fine for men but not for
women they need privacy to do their ablution in. The race issue was something that
was being bounced about.

Arafat has toilets, and though you had to wait for five or six people in the queue,
you eventually get your empty throne to empty in! Here there were at least ten to
fifteen people before you. The toilet was a hole in the ground with a water pipe
attached to the wall and that is how you clean yourself, using the pipe. Yes, your
throne has a pipe!

It was a difficult night because the buses kept coming and dropping people off. And
I witnessed the thorns of the Zakum plant. It is mentioned in the Quran as a
thorny tree. It is absolutely lethal and the thorns pierce your skin in two places, at
the same time, because of its nature. It was really annoying but a valuable
experience at the same time.

It was a long night, a very long night. I had a clear view of the moon which was
something of a comfort as its light seemed close. I kept looking at it for signs of
movement and that the night was moving on. I was trying to get as much sleep as
possible as tomorrow was going to be the hardest day of Hajj. I had to be ready. It
was also Eid and there was a lot to do tomorrow.

I kept waking up in the night and was hoping that fajr was in so I could pray fajr
and leave. Later that night something really strange happened. I was asleep when I
felt like someone was looking at me. I opened my eyes to see a fifty year old woman
(or older) checking me out. I am not joking! She had a mad smile and when I
realised someone was looking at me I stared back. I thought that she would look
away but she did not. She continued to stare at me for what seemed like a long
time until she finally left. Hello? Since when did I become a magnet for strange
women? Especially here! The horror, the horror, the horror! I did not come here to
get married!
Chapter thirty three

The tenth

We wake up in Muzdalifah strangely refreshed after sleeping on bare earth for the
first time in my life. We prayed Fajr and we ready to head back to Arafat as this
wajib was done. Due to the madness of buses we were advised to walk back to
Mina. It looked like the only sane option as people were going insane pushing each
other to get on the bus. From there we went to Mina it was about five or six miles
away.

When we arrived in Mina it soon became time to head to Mecca but first to the
Jamarat to stone the furthest idol from Mina. We walked as getting there by bus
would be impossible and this is how it turned out. It was absolutely packed as we
walked for miles shoulder to shoulder, back to back moving and scuttling towards
the stoning area. Then we headed to Mecca and the Ka’aba to wait for news that
the sacrifice was completed and we could perform a tawaf and cut hair. The
distance was something like five or six kilometres.

After the sacrifice but before my hair was cut we went around the Ka’aba and one
of the first things that annoyed me was the pushers and shovers.

Chapter thirty four

The pushers and shovers

Who are these people and what do they do? Let me describe them to you. They will
push you and poke you, come very close to you so you get out of their way. These
people should be taken into a dark room and be beaten with a large stick!

They push and shove you even though there is no room to move forward! Yet, they
think by pushing you somehow space will appear and the crowd will keep moving.
There was one such person who was pushing me behind his wife. I have been
pushed by women who were totally covered from head to foot! Hands on the back is
also a favourite of some people, normally that would not bother me but when you
have been sweating it bothers you a lot. You’ll find that this type of idiotic
behaviour happens a lot. Especially when there is a crowd and especially around
the Ka’aba. It really is a sad sight but it’s a display of our Ummah at the moment.
Now that it has happened to me a lot, for several days in fact all day today my
temper was fraying! I began to get fed up of being pushed about so I fought back by
not making them push past me so easily. I had ran out of excuses and it had got to
an unacceptable level. I know in the cold light of day it does not sound like I have
any good character and I’ll admit that myself but there are limits and here my
patience was being sorely tested. None of them felt ashamed at what they were
doing and it was really getting to me.
Chapter thirty five

Unity

Many people moan about the lack of unity in the Muslim Ummah. Yet the only
reason for the lack of unity is because there is no Muslim caliphate to rally around.
If we had this then the endless unity talk, from modernised westerners, would
cease. However we do have lots of things that do unify us. The Ihram is one of
those things as it makes us abandon the outward signs of our differences we are,
for a few days at least, the same.

Some Muslims who know several groups become aware of their dress so someone
instantly recognises who belongs to which group; just by their outward dress. The
Ihram disregards all the outward signs of group membership. Some groups wear
similar hats or similar dress etc.

After we had completed the rites of Hajj the normal clothes came back on. This was
a little disappointing as our differences became clear once again. As for those unity
guys here’s some points you need to consider we all worship the same Creator,
send blessings upon the same Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon
him), read the same Quran, pray in the same direction, make wudhu, we recite the
Quran in the prayer and so many other things. There are different things which we
disagree on but these are some common features. The call of unity must come from
within for it to be effective otherwise those who call to unity from the outside are
doomed to failure, generation after generation.

As are those people who call to group membership rather than to Islam. Having
successful events means nothing as people always need day trips!

Chapter thirty six

The disappearance of the Arabness of the sacred cities

One of the most striking things that you experience in Mecca and Medina is the
lack of Arabness. We have had the blessings of travelling in many Muslim countries
but these places have their Arabness intact. The problem is that the Saudi’s do not
have jobs in restaurants. They have high positions and the lowly positions are given
to immigrant workers who work for little. Some are treated well and others are
treated badly. So if you go to a restaurant here you may be served by an Indian or
even a Pakistani which is very strange given my previous experiences in the Muslim
world.
There was an Arab area here which was cleaner but I never saw it. With the
workers come their culture and their customs. Saying Sukran and afwan is normal
for Arabic speakers in any Arab country but here you would be lucky to hear
either. As there is no word for thank you in Hindu or Urdu. With the obvious
exception of the word sukruya and mehrabani which are taken from Arabic! So it’s
normal for them to use these terms. This is quite frustrating as I had my Arabic
terms ready and Ahki wasn’t responded to and I had to use bhai sahb!

Chapter thirty seven

Racism

As we know racism is not part of Islam. Its presence can make the beautiful ugly.
We have seen much ugliness on our trip. One man taunted a fellow Muslim who
was a different colour than him. A security guard mocked another Muslim claiming
that he did not pray like him, a Saudi. When we see racism we must condemn it
and it does not matter who it comes from. Someone I know refused to eat in a
restaurant because he saw them as lower than him. This is pure racism and has no
place in Islam. This is one thing that you should be aware of when coming here.
Islam is a global religion and every nationality is part of it. The true Muslims are
not your group or your nationality or any other type of category. As long as a
Muslim affirms the core beliefs then you should leave them alone and do not ask
him if he is a Wahabi. Let him or her be.

One strange example of respect towards the Ahl Al-Bayt was done by an Arab who
had no idea that the person he was helping was from the family of the Prophet
(may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him). Yet the one who knew he was
Ahl Al-Bayt were less concerned about him. Whose action was better? The one
claimed to love the family or the one who looked after his brother?

Chapter thirty eight

Back to Mina

Waking up in Mina on the 11th was not easy as we had spent a good part of the
precious night walking. As we had done the tawaf al-ziyrah and the taxi back left
us far from the camp in Mina. He also charged extortionate prices to drop us off. In
any case I was glad to be back in tents. Later that day we went to stone and on our
way back something strange happened. The wind picked up and sand was being
flung into the air. Then we finally got what we had seen flashes of in Mina, yes it
was lightening and yes, it was a thunderstorm! Whilst our party were walking back
from Mina we saw some lightening from far away over a mountain. We had
wondered if it was lightening but I had not seen lightening as clear as that from
such a long distance away.

The tiny tents were not built to withstand storms even though the frames were
quite sturdy. The lightening, thunder and rain came down at the same time. After
helping some people strengthen the cover I got hungry and started to eat some
beans. Yes, in the middle of a storm I was eating beans. When you are indoors you
are shielded from the storm because the walls of your house protect you from the
sound and the rain but outdoors we had no such protection.

The wind and rain was moving through the tents and all I could think of was my
empty stomach!

Chapter thirty nine

Stoning

Have your stones ready because the last thing you want to do is look in Mina for
stones which will mean going up into the hills. You can get them from Muzdalifah
or Arafat but it does not matter where you get them from but try to avoid picking
them up from the stoning area. I got stuck and had no choice which was a real
pain because I underestimated how many stones I would need. Seven for the 10 th,
thirty three for the 11th and thirty three for 12th so that’s seventy three per person.

It is a bit mad at the stoning areas people become overzealous. Someone said to me
that satan is the least of our enemies and maybe we should stone our own
nafs/ego. As satan flees with a sentence but the nafs does not. It’s a fair point!

The method of stoning is to flick by placing the stone of the forefinger and flicking.
Your hand should be upside down. The stone should be about the size of a chick
pea. Try to get as close as you can and have spare stones just in case. You stone
the furthest one from mina on the 10th and on the remaining days you stone all
three and if you are in mina after sunrise on the 12 th you have to stone the next
day.

At the end of stoning we had a lot left over. So one of our party called for the
remainder and showed that big satan who he was messing with by throwing thirty
stones at once! It was madness and amusing at the same time.
Chapter forty

Last day of stoning

For some reason we decided to stone last minute which was not a good idea! We set
off after Asr prayer which gave us 2.5 hours to stone and get back to Mecca but
there was one problem. It had begun to rain and not just a little but a lot. Did I
mention something about a thunderstorm? In England we could call it raining cats
and dogs or we could just be clear and call it a thunderstorm! Seen as it does not
rain often here there is very little in the way of drainage. This means that water
stays on the roads and pavements then flows downward. That’s not a problem but
when you are walking against the tide of rubbish that is ankle deep and you are
wearing sandals, that’s a problem!

We had to be quick or else we would have to stone the next day as well (the 13 th).
The lightening was clearly visible as audible as the thunder was. It was quite scary.
The thought that drove me on to complete the stoning was that I had tried hard in
the Dunya for many things but I had not tried even the slightest in my deen. So
this thought drove me through the driving rain, thunder and lightning. The dirt
was filling my sandals and my bare feet were filthy and my clothes were wet
through. After an hour and a half of walking through the rain we reached the
stoning area. We stoned and then headed back we just made it back in time. Near
the stoning area was a masjid were prophets were said to be buried, we did not get
a chance to visit it. It is called the masjid Al-Khaf try to visit it.

When we had finished stoning we headed back relieved after completing the Hajj
there was the farewell tawaf left.

Chapter forty one

Treatment of women

One of the many shocking things that I have seen during this trip was the
treatment of women. Once a man made an elderly woman move so he could pray,
just because he did not want to pray in front of her.

On another occasion I saw a man push a woman out of the way, whilst they were
supplicating. Another pushed a woman out of the way so he could pray, he was in
his ihram and yes I did push him back.

I saw a man drag his children around the Ka’aba whilst they were in tears. Another
man was trying to force his way into a queue and pushed a woman out of the way.
These are unislamic mannerism but are the mannerisms of those who do not
understand Islam even if they are at the Ka’aba and wearing ihrams. Have you
actually read how the one you bless treated women? Why do you claim to follow
him and not do what he did? I was disappointed by some of the treatment that I
have seen and these men mentioned needed a good beating. As words do not work
with them!

Chapter forty two

Complete

We completed the farewell tawaf the day before we left. It took almost two hours to
complete and it was not without the pushing and shoving that we have come to
abhor. I have to say the Ka’aba was always busy and there was rarely a quiet time.
You do not have a clue how frustrating it was.

The next step was to Medina and we were about to go from the place of work to go
the place of reward. Medina here we come!
Chapter forty three

Leaving Mecca

It was with more than a tinge of sadness that I left Mecca. I took a last look at the
Ka’aba and made a few supplications and left. Thanks to our Hajj mystery tour we
were not told when the bus was going to leave. We found out by chance, this Hajj
mystery tour has not been easy to decipher!

As the bus turned away from the Ka’aba we all wondered if we would ever be given
the opportunity to visit it again. The amount of people present meant that many
could not get close to it. Our driver seemed tired and took his time leaving Mecca
and he did not drive faster than 45 mph. This meant that a six hour journey took
us ten hours. Halfway we stopped at a petrol station so I emptied a bag of rubbish
into some trash. I was conscience of arriving in Medina with rubbish in my hand.

The mountains of Mecca where quite strange in that they seemed to be bathed in
light. I wondered had the Beloved (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him)
wandered past these mountains?

When we arrived at the check point and we had to wait a further two and a half
hours, as our passports where being checked. The bureaucracy in this country is
extremely excessive.

We went to the local shop and were surprised by the good manners shown to us. A
man opened a fridge door for us and then returned with a bag for us to put our
items in. The cashier saw the ill condition of one of our party and pointed to a
packet of paracetamol. I was sure we were close to Medina. The good character of
the Beloved (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) had permeated the
residents of the city, well those with big hearts. Even though we had not arrived
there. I am sure that we were almost there.

Chapter forty four

Entering Medinah

As we travelled into Medina the air seemed different than the air in Mecca. The
moon seemed closer, exactly how it was in Muzdalifah. All of a sudden I caught a
glimpse of the masjid of the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon
him) between two large buildings. Then it disappeared so I scanned the horizon for
it. Some five minutes passed before I caught another glimpse. I was finally here.
Here in the place that I had dreamed of arriving.

I had visited graves of companions, Awliya and scholars but this was going to be
something else.
When we arrived in Medina our hotel room was being disputed over. Someone else
had barged in and refused to move. It was not going to be sorted out for at least 3
hours. The time for fajr came in so we headed to the masjid.
Chapter forty five

Entering the masjid

Entering the masjid was different to entering the masjid in Mecca. Mecca was a
masjid whose grandiose was overwhelming at times. Yet the beauty of this masjid
was almost attainable and welcoming. It was extremely close without being so far
away that it was out of reach.

Its pillars were similar to the designs of the masjid in Cordoba, Spain. Its carpeted
prayer area was a relief from the marble floors of Mecca. There was no
overcrowding that Mecca was famous for. I entered the masjid like a skinhead
because I could not find my hat but I was in luck there were plenty of skinheads
present!

I wish that I had brought my boot bag because I lost my shoes something that had
occurred a few times before. I left barefooted but I was not bothered anyway.

I had to prepare myself for giving greetings and I did not want to go like this, in a
disheveled state. I needed some serious grooming, a hat and some perfume. After
the prayer I got ill, again! Then I spent the next few days recovering. It was not easy
to be ill when all I wanted to do is visit the Beloved (may Allah bestow peace and
blessings upon him).
Chapter forty six

Paradise

Paradise is everyone’s dream. It is one of the things we all hope for. Paradise is one
of the rewards of a perfect Hajj. But before you go there, if you come here, you get a
chance to visit it. Here on earth but only if you are Muslim. The Prophet (may Allah
bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “What’s between my pulpit and
residence is one of the gardens of paradise.” This is where the Beloved (may Allah
bestow peace and blessings upon him) is buried and this is where you’ll visit him.
So if someone enters paradise do you think that they will ever go to hell?

He (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) also said whoever visits me
after my death has visited me during life. He (may Allah bestow peace and
blessings upon him) also said that my intercession is incumbent on whoever visits
me. And there are so many other benefits and reasons to visit the grave. Aren’t
these reasons sufficient enough to spend some time in Medina and visit your
Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him)?
Chapter forty seven

Quran

It’s quite peculiar to be reading the Quran in the place that the Quran was
revealed. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said he knew, when
and where the Quran was descended. How wondrous was this giant in Muslim
scholarship that turned the city of Kufa into a centre of learning that Imam Abu
Hanifa would emerge.

The Quran was talking to me here and I was listening, I hope! Many a time I have
read thorough its pages heedlessly but now it was all clear. It had never been
clearer than it was now. It was such a blessing that I could not describe or put it
into words.

Even on the bus on the way here reading the Quran was totally different
experience.

Chapter forty eight

Preparation

I had to prepare myself by dressing well and making sure that I was well groomed. I
was keen to visit the part known as the piece of paradise, the rawdah. When we
finally arrived we were behind rows and rows of people shouting and jostling for
position. They extended their greetings from far away as the Saudi’s would usher
people away quickly from the grave. They just want you to look and get out of the
way as quickly as possible. I gave greetings and was greeted by a Saudi official to
move on and seen as there was no place to stop so we all move on. We enter from
the bab as-Salam and head past the minbar then towards the graves. There is an
empty space for Jesus (upon him peace) when he comes and the other two graves
are Abu Bakr and Umar’s (may Allah be pleased with them).

The safely issue popped up again as someone could slip and that would be it. He
would be trampled upon and that could not be prevented. The people behind may
not be able to stop and they would crush him.

There really needs to be some crowd control. Even if it means going in rows of
single file. It was not going to be easy for the authorities but this needs to be
addressed. The danger is clear and present and the impoliteness adds to the
danger.
Chapter forty nine

Bad actions

One of the startling things that has struck me, this Hajj, was the pushiness of the
people whilst doing acts of worship. More specifically those people who push you
and do not see it as anything wrong in shoving you out of the way; just so they can
do something. How is it that they are not concerned about their sins when the
elbow you in the chest so they can perform two rakats of nafl. I was struck in the
chest by an old man who was reciting salawat upon the Prophet (may Allah bestow
peace and blessings upon him)!

It is not better to come to these sacred places without causing hardship to others?
So that you get the maximum reward and not lose most of it by pushing one of the
Ahl Al-Bayt! Do you really want to go back with more sins?

Chapter fifty

Greetings

Greeting the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him)
is something that is part of the tradition of Islam. You do not need to ask for proofs.
This is a practice that has not ceased even up to the present day. The Quranic
verse explains that Allah (the Exalted) and his angels bless Muhammad (may Allah
bestow peace and blessings upon him) and he commands the believers to invoke
blessings upon him. So when you stand before his (may Allah bestow peace and
blessings upon him) blessed tomb invoke blessing upon him but beware of the
bedouin police who might stop you!

So read from the heart and say what you please. The response to the greeting was a
warm feeling of tranquility. Do not forget about the Rawdah which is a part of
paradise and the Sunna is two nafl units there.

These moments were the best moments of my life. Nowhere else on this planet did I
feel more at home as I did before his (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon
him) grave. I have lived in many places but nowhere did I feel like I was at home
except here.

I was ushered away by a young bedouin who did not understand the concept of
love in Islam. I took the hint and left by the exit of bab al-baqi. I entered from bab
al-Salam and walked towards the grave. Medina is the antidote to the toil of Mecca.
It heals the areas in which you were wounded in Mecca. Medina is the city from
which Islam spread globally. It was the centre of knowledge for many years. Medina
seems to welcome all and it can bear all the travellers that come to it without being
overcrowded. Mecca was fraught with problems of overcrowding but Medina on the
other hand welcomed all who came. I shall miss it dearly when I have to leave.

Chapter fifty one

Bedouin Islam

Wahbism is an offshoot of a narrow minded form of bedouin type of Islam. They are
the a-typical stereotype of Islam to which the Orientalists wrote about and when
this group began to emerge. As the exact model of what they were warning about.

The founder of wahabism is M. Ibn Abdulwahab hence the term Wahabi’s. He was a
self styled preacher who rejected the classical, traditional version of Islam; in
favour of his own works. He rejected all other forms of classical interpretation. He
then teamed up with M. Ibn Saud to forcibly propagate his ideas with his backing.
Together they massacred the entire inhabitants of Mecca and Medinah in the
1800’s. Muhammad Ali pasha, the ruler of Egypt was commanded to repel them by
the Ottoman caliphate Mahmud the second. He sent his son Tusun to fight them in
1811. But the sect survived in what is now known as Kuwait. The British would
secretly fund this group to the tune of £26,000 until 1926 when they began to
massacre again. They went to the holy cities and repeated the massacre but this
time the inhabitants of the city of Ta’if were amassed. So whilst Muslims were
subjects to colonialist intrusions all over the Muslim world. This group saw it fit to
declare Muslims as polytheists for not following their specific doctrine. Did I
mention the 4,000 pilgrims who were on their way to hajj? All them where given the
choice of either declaring their parents as polytheists or death. They were all duly
massacred with the exception of the women who were taken as slaves.

Now this is the type of Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia. The Arabia of the Saudi’s.
The Wahabi sect sees every group as other than their own as incorrect. This is the
exact definition of a sect. Sunni Islam is the correct form of traditional and classical
Islam.

Sunni Islam is divided into four main groups the Hanafi, the Maliki, the Shaf’i and
the Hanbali schools. Anyone who does not belong to these cannot consider
themselves Sunni and there are not parts of mainstream Islam. Wahabism come
with a bedouin understanding of Islam or to be more precise a misunderstanding.
They then transmit this misunderstanding, thanks to petrol dollars, to the world.

This is the first time that such a country is supported externally as Saudi is in
Islamic history. Have not people wondered why out of all the leaders of the Muslim
world only one walks hand in hand with the president?

The Saudi’s regime change is not likely but we hope that a policy change is coming.
Chapter fifty two

Resurrection and prohibition

The destruction of graves in Saudi is one of the most heinous crimes that have
been committed on these lands. Even if they left the name that would be sufficient
but they have removed all the possible signs even the names. Hajj has now become
a little empty with the destruction of the religious sites. This is not the actions of a
servant. Rather this is the actions of the someone who hates Islam but I am sure
that is not true.

We dearly hope for a policy change on this issue from the government. Some
religious sites are restricted to men which means women cannot go near the graves
of the Beloved (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) or the graves in
Jannat al-baqi.

This is a problem when people come from the west where they have similar rights
to access, in most things. Even though true equality does not exist anywhere in the
world. Women are banned from seeing the blessed grave and from entering
graveyards.

It makes the Muslims look backward when it was not always like this and it is only
in recent times that this has changed. There is already a hadith that gives
permission for women to visit graves. So why do we pick and choose what we
practice? It is no wonder we are seen as backward as we cannot establish the
Sunna.
Chapter fifty three

Leaving Medina

It was difficult to leave Medina. I wished to stay before the blessed grave (may Allah
bestow peace and blessings upon him) for as long as I could when I was bidding
farewell. I walked a few steps then stopped, looked back, I bid farewell, walked a
few steps and then turned back. This continued to occur until I reached the gate of
baqi. Then I saw one of the security forces force two elderly men out. What was
there to gain by being so harsh? Especially on two elderly men who had just come
to pay their respects to their Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon
him)?

I had, by the blessings of Allah (the Exalted), avoided the harshness of their
measures. Why aren’t their hearts affected by the tears that they see? Grown men
moved into sobbing wreaks. Do they not wonder why? I look on at their emotionless
faces showing signs of hearts of pure stone.

Looking back on Hajj I realise that I did not show any patience to anyone I came
into contact with. One part of the Sunna that I have the most difficulty performing
is being good to those who display vice. Bearing harm from people is something
that I am not able to do. Bearing harm makes one look weak but this is Sunna so
should I care how it looks to others? Next time things will be different and I’ll know
what to expect.

We left for Jeddah in the early hours of Monday morning. Thanks again to the Hajj
mystery tour we were left hanging due to the lack of communication.

Travelling from Medina to Jeddah was peculiar as the road was covered in sand, for
some of the way. It was as if we were wandering into nowhere.

After a sand filled nose of a journey we arrived to more mystery. No one knew when
the gate was going to open. This followed a farce of titanic proportions before the
plane took off. The people had brought far too much stuff and were struggling to fit
it all. People were talking the compartments of other people without having any
consideration. It was really silly and childish. So many were committing grave sins
without realising it. It reminded me of a saying of Iman Abu l’Hassan As-Shadhali
that people who do not study our knowledge deeply die committing grave sins.

So many of these hajji’s were committing major wrong actions without knowing it
and those who knew did not care.

We arrived in Manchester in what seemed like an endless flight. I was expecting


rain in Manchester but it wasn’t raining, it was snowing. The temperature was 0.2
degrees that was more than 32 degrees less than I had become accustomed to. I
was finally back in England. The Hajj mystery tour was over and now it was time to
drive back and sleep.

Chapter fifty four

Endings

At the beginning of this journey I felt that this was to be my last. So many things in
my life had been bookended and there was no need for me to continue to exist. I
felt as though my death was imminent but now the tables have been turned. I came
back with a sense of hope. Hope that my previous sins were forgiven and that I
would avoid future ones, in sha Allah. I hoped that some old parts of me were dead
and new parts of me were given life.

Hajj wasn’t the easiest thing that I had done and it certainly was not the hardest.
This pillar of Islam was now complete. The only thing I had to be concerned about
was my daily prayers, yearly fasting and alms. Oh and the simple matter of keeping
the faith!

I had learnt a great deal and hoped to move forward and put these into practice. If
you have not performed pilgrimage and you meet the requirements, being of sound
body and health, possessing wealth etc. Then you must go and plan carefully for
your own sake. Just one more thing bring a tent for Muzdalifah so you won’t get
harassed by any strange women!

O Allah please accept our pilgrimage to your house even though we are unworthy
and may peace and blessings encompass the grave of the Beloved, forever.

This was written whilst attending the pilgrimage in the year 2010 and completed in
the months that followed.