Hajj (Part 1)
Hajj (Part 2)
::: Still on Day 3: (8th Dhul-hijja, 25/11/09)
Preparing for Arafa:
You know those huge strawberry farms in Europe, where you’re given a basket and have limited hours to collect as much strawberries as you can? That’s Arafa for you, a Du’aa farm. You have 5 hours to spend solely on Du’a in a blessed day, for Arafa is the greatest day the sun has risen on! It’s the day Allah shows off His servants in front of His Angels!
Is that it? A day spent on Du’a? Eeezy Peezy… ? Believe you me, it’s not even close to easy for Arafa is only enjoyed if your spiritual buds are fully awakened!
The day before was spent preparing for the blessed day of Arafa. Remember we need to fill our baskets with Dua’s – the more Dua’s, the better! I have to stop for a minute to sincerely thank Sheikh Khalfan Al-Esry, for the fine guidance he provided. The channels in which he gave his lectures were simple, easy to follow and creative in every sense. Not once did any of us listeners feel that we were on a different wavelength!
“Al-Salamu Alaikum Hajjies, we’ve got to prepare our shopping list for Arafa, are you ready? Pens and papers out?” We all sat listening, taking notes and listing down our shopping list for the holy day ahead. Shopping list is what I’ll pray for during those sacred five hours, during which no Du’a is returned Inshallah. I’ll let you peek into my shopping list:
1)Du’a for spiritual connection, for Allah to guide me and qualify me for His acceptance. Also, to purify my intentions and commitments towards pleasing my ONLY savior.
2)Du’a for my bodily organs and all their actions; health, emotions, thoughts.
3)Du’a for family and friends (I did include you my dear blog readers, even you “silent readers”). Plus, everyone who entrusted me with their Du’a. I had a huge list of names, people I know (and knew) from all walks of life, family from my great grandparents down to my 3rd cousin and beyond. I also had names of school friends, college friends, work friends. You get the picture? Everyone I had the pleasure of knowing!
4)Du’a for mental growth and wisdom
5)Du’a for financial growth and independence, involving clean and pure earnings.
6)Du’a for the use of gifted skills and talents lawfully
7)Du’a for guidance in social contribution, to help this Ummah in any way!
8)Du’a for lawful leisure and pleasure
9)Others.. With the help of Du’a books and whatever I remembered or thought of.
10)Wrap whatever I pray for with immense thanking, affirming my wrongdoings, repentance of sins and prayers for acceptance!
It was still raining, raining continually and heavily. We received warnings through SMS from the Saudi government, informing us of the forecast and asking Hajjis to be cautious as flooding may occur. For a minute I honestly feared for my safety and the safety of this whole journey. “What’s the worst that could happen?” Well, flooding could wash us 3.5 million away! The worst is that I may be facing death here. Then I realized, what more could I ask for? Dying in the holy land. In a holy journey. During Hajj. Sounds too perfect a death, don’t you think? Something I’m sure every Muslim would beg for! You know, my dear reader: Hajj frees you from the shackles of life. Your focus is shifted to the hereafter. This life becomes minute, you do not give it much attention!
Death was the least of my concerns (I wish I could bring back that spirit now!). Although and logically of course, some of us had an emergency evacuation plan, just in case!
::: Day 4: (9th Dhul-hijja, 26/11/09)
Solitude in Arafa:
At 4.00 am early morning, buses drove to Arafa. Carrying in them, people from all walks of life, targeting Du’a and only Du’a, people with pure hearts and compromised physical statuses. Remember we had not washed with scented products or washed nor combed our hairs for 3 days! Men, are still barely covered with Ihram wear.
Destination reached at 5.30 a.m. We are now in ARAFA! Prayed Fajr, had some snacks, then recharged our exhausted bodies with a nap until 9.00 a.m. The blessed time starts from Mid-day until dusk! We waited impatiently for the call of Dhuhr prayer. We all made sure we were on Wudhu the whole time.
As the beautiful sound of Athan filled the entire region, echoing back and forth in our ears, we knew time has finally come. Sheikh called for Jama’a prayers. We all prayed in unity, men in front, ladies at the back. Then, Sheikh deafened our ears to anything but his voice in an emotional Du’a, it was magical in every sense. This prayer may have been the best prayer I had ever had, for one, I swear to God there were no dry eyes around. Hearts were massaged, blood was cleansed with that specific prayer. In fact, by the time we finished, we had not realized that we had been standing on our feet for little over an hour without feeling tired. This prayer has left unforgettable memories of Arafa. His voice and the words he chose still dance in my ears during Du’a at times of despair.
There onwards, it was complete solitude. No one engaged with no one but himself. Everyone connected to the Divine Power in his very own way. It was as if we wore a sign that said “No interruptions please, I am with my Master, I am with The Lord of The Land”! Spectacular scene… but not easy! Remember, I’m still with my sister and friends for 5 hours, each one of us minding her own business. It’s practically impossible (being among a group of women particularly ;)) but WE DID IT. All talks or chit chats if any, were to share Du’a books or to ask technical/religious questions!
….. and we prayed, prayed and prayed. Our hearts spoke before our tongues..
(Part 4: Muzdalifa, and Eid without the make-up – what was it like?)