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Memoirs of an American Haji, Part VII

March 11, 2006

kr’s note: After a long
hiatus, memoirs are back. I know I’ve been slacking on typing up the
next installment in the series. I guess my excuse–as poor as it
is–was that I’ve been busy with a lot of things lately. In addition, I
wasn’t feeling motivated to update with a serious post. I’ve taken a
lot of unfounded criticism for some of my posts in the past, usually
from people who are too caught up in the medium that I may choose to
deliver my messages. The nature of this criticism has varied from
mirthful to constructive to downright malicious, as if this xanga is
the greatest threat to human progress that exists today. Recently, I
even had someone even tell me that my xanga is an “abomination”, and
that as a community leader (that’s arguable…), I should be ashamed of
it and it should be “shut down”. There are more examples of comments
that
I’ve heard from people along this nature, but I think you get the
point. It’s times like this that make me wonder, “Is it worth putting
forth my time and effort to purvey education and entertainment
to interested readers?”. Alhamdulillah, I know that this xanga has done
untold benefit to people, reaching international audiences and even
bringing people to Islam. Yet, harsh words often leave wounds deeper
than any weapon, and I guess lately that I’ve let myself be affected by
some of these words and contemplated quitting xanga. Yet it’s also
times like this that I hear words of encouragement from unexpected and
even unknown places that gives me the motivation to continue. And thus, a
few days ago, the following message was left on my chatango chat box…
after reading it, I was so moved that I felt I owed it to this person
to update and continue this blog. This latest installment is the direct
result of this anonymous person’s kind words:

anon1 (02:05:53 PM): Assalamu
Alaikum
anon1 (02:08:01 PM): I enjoy reading your Hajj posts, and most of the
other posts as well. Sometimes I am so touched it even makes me cry. May Allah
reward you for guiding so many people that you don’t even
know.
anon1 (02:08:21 PM): Ameen.

In short, kr’s back, stronger and more motivated than ever.

As Kahlil Gibran writes: “Let the people say what want about me for the
soul that has seen the countenance of death cannot be frightened by the face of
a thief, and the soldier who has seen swords glittering above his head and
streams of blood running at his feet pays no attention to stones tossed at
him by small boys in an alley
.

Enjoy, and pray for me.

Monday Night (January
9th, corresponding to the 10th night of Dhu’l Hajj, The
Valley of Muzdalifah)

    Once again, we found ourselves
stuck in the midst of glorious traffic en route to Muzdalifah. The two hours
that we had spent waiting for IB effectively caused us to be stuck in the
middle of the pack that was migrating towards Muzdalifah. Since I was exhausted
from the day’s ordeal, I don’t remember much about the bus trip as I crashed on
my mom’s shoulder. I don’t know how long I slept—it certainly must have been a
few hours—but I awoke when our bus finally stopped at our destination around
midnight… the whole time, my mom had not moved, lest my sleep become disturbed.
Subhanallah, given that I will never be a mother, I don’t think I can fully appreciate
and understand how much a mother loves her child… and then when you realize
that God loves us even more than our mothers, even the most abject sinner has
hope for salvation. Going to Muzdalifah like our ultimate grandparents did, in
the aftermath of their own redemption, we too felt perhaps like they did:
restored back to God’s grace and prepared to once again handle whatever
obstacles that life may throw at us.

            And once
again we were tested—what test number this was, I had lost count—because by the
time we reached Muzdalifah, the parking lot/enclosure area where the pilgrims
are to spend the night had been closed since there were too many people inside.
Effectively, there was no room for us to spend the night in Muzdalifah. At this
point, some of the group members wanted to adopt some of the newer fatwahs and
skip Muzdalifah altogether, and proceed back to our tents in Mina. However,
even if we wanted to do that, this option quickly vanished as the roads leading
out of Muzdalifah were shut down as well. And thus, our group, American Hajj
Union Group 6B, was now forced to spend the night on the road that bisects this
blessed valley. For those readers who are not familiar with the layout of
Muzdalifah, imagine a large, uneven, rocky valley between two mountain tracts
that has several paved parking lot areas to accommodate Hajis. There are some
floodlights and even fewer bathrooms to accent the stygian scenery. Thus, we weren’t
missing much on being “shut out” of Muzdalifah. Sameer stopped the bus on the
shoulder of the road—well, whatever was left of it, anyway—and we got down to
spread our sleeping bags and prepare for the night. Since we hadn’t prayed
Maghrib and Isha (since one is to leave Arafat without praying Maghrib there
and should pray both Maghrib and Isha in Muzdalifah), we had to attend to that
before we could get some sleep.

    It is at this point that I should
interject and offer some advice that I think would benefit any prospective
Haji, especially in a situation like the night of Muzdalifah. What I mean to
say is that since many of us had to make wudu in order to pray now, many of the
group members had to make the long, perilous trek through the darkness to get
to the ablution areas. Alhamdulillah, I didn’t have to walk over since I
essentially filled up a soda can with water and made wudu from it. I told the
group members to do the same, but many of them felt that they didn’t know how
to use that little amount of water to properly make wudu and thus had to make
the journey to the bathrooms. I was thankful that I had experience with using a
small amount of water to make a complete and valid wudu. Keep in mind that all
one has to do is to wash the face once, the arms to the elbows once, wipe the
head, and wash one’s feet up to the ankles once, making sure that each of these
areas gets completely wet. Thus, I think it’s a sound investment to practice
making this bare-essentials wudu a few times before one leaves for Hajj; it’s a
skill that takes some time to properly develop so as to ensure a sound ablution…
but trust me, Inshallah once you become adept at it, it will serve you well
throughout the pilgrimage, saving you time and energy.

            After
praying Maghrib and Isha, we lay down and tried to get some sleep. We had
decided to send four people ahead of us to get to Mina and secure our rightful
tents. I asked Shaykh Amin for permission to do this since if we didn’t send
anyone to claim our tents, we would be again sleeping next to the
slaughterhouse for three nights… and this time the animals would be, well,
slaughtered. Under such conditions, he allowed for us to send these four
valiant scouts to make sure we had our tents when we arrived back in Mina the
next morning. The rest of the group went to sleep almost immediately, exhausted
from the day’s ordeals. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t get any sleep since
many of the buses around us had left their engines on to keep their air
conditioning on. The exhaust fumes were wreaking havoc on my allergies, like
soldiers drunkenly rampaging through a village of women and children. I had to
go back to the bus and attempted to sleep on the seats. I managed to get a few
hours of restless sleep before waking up again around 4 am due to a loud commotion outside. I hobbled off the bus
to find an inconsolable Azra Aunty frantically explaining to the group that SP
and his wife had gone to the bathroom three hours ago and were still not back. Everyone
was trying to explain to her that they will be alright, they went together and
SP was there to make sure his wife was ok… but again, mothers will be mothers,
and the poor woman was scared out of her mind, imagining all sorts of
calamities that could have befallen them. We sent out a few scouting parties to
check at the clinic and information booth for them to no avail. All we could do
was pray for their safety. While this was going on, we also noticed an old
Pakistani man and two old women that sat down and began crying, scared out of
their minds. I went over to them and asked them what was the matter. They
seemed relieved to speak to someone in Urdu, and the man sobbingly said that
they had gotten separated from their group, and he didn’t know what to do with
his wife and sister, where to take them, etc. Thankfully, he still had his ID
bracelet on him; as we were thinking about how to get him back to his tent in
Mina, we saw a group of Pakistani men walk by. We explained to them the
situation and they said they would be more than happy to take the old man and
his family to their tents, as they themselves were walking back to their tents
that were quite close to the old man’s tents. Upon hearing this, the old man
became afraid that he and his family wouldn’t be able to walk that entire
distance. The leader of the group told him that if need be, they would carry
them on their backs until they arrived at the tents, and would not leave them
here in this state. Perhaps the saying is true: the most beloved of God’s
saints are so hidden and unrecognized because of God’s protectiveness over
them.

            We
prayed
Fajr (once again, I did my soda can ablution while everyone had to
walk… hehe)
and then got on the bus to head back to Mina. Once again, we were mired
in
traffic as everyone was now on the road again. As I looked out the
window over
the expanse of Muzdalifah, I was saddened to see the sheer waste that
was left
behind: food, juice boxes, bedding, and plastic bags of every shade
decorated
the valley. What a waste. Still, with two million people spending the
night in
one place, I wonder if we should expect anything less. I would later
find out
that amazingly enough, all of this is cleaned up within a week by the
army of
cleaning crews so as to avoid plague. As we moved along the road, I
realized I
had a book of colloquial Arabic phrases in my backpack that I hadn’t
used yet.
I showed it to SU; he and I then proceeded to use it on Anas to annoy
him,
asking him questions like, “Do you have a girlfriend?”; “Where is the
nearest
bar?”; “Where can I find a dry cleaners nearby?; and of course, “Would
you like
to go out on a date with me?”. In addition to the fun that all three of
us had—and
Sameer joined in the fun too—I was amazed by how people from different
countries, cultures, and backgrounds can come together so quickly and
become
the best of friends, joking, laughing, and sharing life-long
experiences with
each other. SU loved Anas’s African hair and kept massaging his head,
saying it felt like carpet. Anas looked at SU’s bald head and said that
SU was jealous that at least he had hair. In short, we were human
beings once again, something that perhaps
we’ve forgotten how to be in the context of the increasingly mechanized
modern
world. Ironically, the more technologically advanced we become, the
more
vestiges of humanity we lose. The Hajj reminds us once again how to be
human—and
perhaps this is the most powerful lesson of them all.

            I’ll end
this part by skipping ahead to the end of SP and TP story since I thought this
was the most remarkable story of the entire pilgrimage. We would later meet SP
and TP in Mina that afternoon; Alhamdulillah, they were safe and sound.
Apparently, what had happened was they went towards the bathrooms around 1 am. They used the bus next to us, with its
flag flying out the window, as a landmark for where they should return. As they
came back, being as this was their first time perhaps, they lost track of the
landmark bus and thus couldn’t find their way back. They tried the information
booths and clinics but no one knew how to direct them back towards our specific
bus. SP also left his book of numbers (the one that had SU’s cell number) with
his mother, so he couldn’t even call to find his way back. Thankfully for them,
they ran into a group from Boston
that took them in and said they would drop them off at their Mina tents. AA and
SP’s brother lives in Boston, and
SP and TP had dropped off their daughter Maryam in Boston
while they went for Hajj. Thus, some of the Boston
group knew of them since they knew SP’s brother. But the story that essentially
is a miracle occurred when they all got onto the bus the next morning. TP sat
down next a lady, and the two of them introduces themselves and exchanged
pleasantries. The lady asked TP where she was from, and she replied that she
was from Houston. The lady then
exclaimed her joy at finding from someone from Houston
and told her that while she was making Tawaf on Sunday, she had found a wallet
on the ground. She said that the wallet was from a man from Houston, there wasn’t
any money in it but all the credit cards and such were still there, and she was
planning to mail it back when she got back to the States, but since TP was from
Houston, if she wouldn’t mind doing it. TP said she would be happy to do it.
When the lady handed her the wallet, TP opened it and glanced inside; the
driver’s license said “Javed Saya”.

Javed Saya and his family were members of American Hajj
Union Group 6B.

Later, when TP returned the wallet to Javed, he didn’t even
know he had lost it. He remarked, “That’s not my wallet, I have my wallet right
here in my bag….” He looked inside and only realized it was missing then.

What are the odds: Javed loses his wallet during Tawaf; this
lady, amongst the millions of pilgrims finds it; the wallet had $50 cash which
was taken, but credit cards and other such documents are left intact; SP and TP
get lost and happen to get picked up by this specific group from Boston; TP
happens to sit next to this lady on the bus and happens to have this
conversation; Javed happens to be in our group… and of course, that Javed Saya
didn’t even know that he was missing his wallet.

And none can
know the forces of thy Lord, except He…
(74:31)”

Currently Watching: House, M.D., Season 2, Episode 11


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33 Comments
  1. MashaAllah. Brilliant post. And welcome back to Xanga!I really appreciate your describing the chaos during the travelling between Mina and Muzdalifah. It gives me an idea of what to expect when I eventually (inshaAllah) make Haj. Thanks!Ignore all the naysayers. A lot of people benefit from your posts. I know I do.

  2. SubhanAllah! That’s amazing. Great post bro.

  3. It’s alittle late from me, but Hajj Mubarak.

  4. Anonymous permalink

    props on your wudu style.. The lines for the bathroom at Hajj are insanely long!

  5. KR, don’t ever listen to these haters man. They’re full of hasad. MashAllah, the work that you’ve done with your xanga is a huge blessing to people all across the country (and wow, I didn’t know there was a global following too, lol).
    I think Shaykh Nazim said this a while back (paraphrased): “Don’t ever get married KR, so you can keep your xanga going for another 10 years.”
    As for the actual post (lol), the story about the wallet was just… wow, Allah is great.

  6. to IbnAbuMe – I would calm down before saying such bold statements as “theyre full of hasad,” I doubt you know their intentions 100%, needless to say you probably dont know who they are, as KR didn’t even mention it.”Alhamdulillah, I know that this xanga has done untold benefit to people, reaching international audiences and even bringing people to Islam.”…not really untold benefit anymore, is it.Basically my stance, is yeah, this xanga is cool and all masha Allah, but I mean when recieving comments like that, just brush them off. When people are upset with something that you do, and you know deep down that you have pure intentions, then their words shouldn’t bother you at all. I mean, I understand you’re frustrated by the words, but there is really no reason to post a big section about it, it just brings more light to the subject that really can’t be resolved; there will always be people who criticize, whether your actions are right or wrong, so recognizing it and analyzing it publicly is just chasing your tail. Just my stance though, take it or leave it.

  7. Anonymous permalink

    i didnt read this post cuz it was too long…but i still love you…
    “Recently, I even had someone even tell me that my xanga is an “abomination”, and that as a community leader”
    whoever caused your xanga and abomination should get the crap kicked out of him…or her…gotta be equal cuz NUH doesnt discriminate and if this same person called you a community leader *scoff* they should be shot in public…
    keep the peace
    nigger-ul-haq

  8. was a nice read bro….
    If you wanna be great in life, you have to have the guts to be hated….
    i wonder what would be the reaction of the haters if they knew you were doing the alim course along with your medical education?  enough respect and power to you bro…

  9. Anonymous permalink

    MashaAllah, one of the best Hajj memoirs so far. Tell the haters to eat it. That episode of House was slightly disappointing.

  10. what a post mA. i liked the saintly people. seems like there’s very few of them left…..it seems like no one does anything for anyone anymore. but props to those men. carrying someone on one’s back isn’t so easy.
    that wallet thing was amazing…what a coincidence. would have never thought that he would ever find it again
    and yea mothers are the best. girls are just so much better than guys

  11. u know..i was just kidding bout the whole red background business. you didn’t have to go and change it back to normal! good entry, i always learn/enjoy/am entertained by your entries.

  12. KamKam, I will read this later, as I have a big exam on Friday…internal med shelf…
    Eprops in advance cause I know you are the bomb…don’t ever shut this down or ill have to hunt you and have a pack of squirrels beat you down. 

  13. i am gonna read this soon. just wanna give u the props incase u’re on the way for an FC Insha Allah 🙂

  14. SubhanAllah, that wallet story was the best one thus far.
    Don’t ever stop this xanga KR.

  15. that wallet story was…subhanAllah.and kr, please refrain from changing your color scheme in the future. this one is perfect.

  16. The Hajj Memoirs keep getting better and better. Every latest installment becomes my new favorite.
    JazakAllahu kheir

  17. yayy, hajj memoirs!  this one was sweeet, mA (as they all are).  and that story at the end was just amazing, subhanAllah.  ameen to anon1. (u have so many that you hafta number them to keep track huh?  hehe) inshaAllah ppl like that will continue outweighing (and almost completely erasing such thoughts/comments of) losers like the ones mentioned earlier.    may Allah guide us all.

  18. Publish this in a book my man………you can make alot of money and money can lead to fame…and fame can lead to chicks!….and then you can get married….or sum sum

  19. kahlil gibran’s work is in the Arab American National Museum right now in dearborn…so when you come up…maybe you and i can take a look at his work 🙂

  20. Amazing as usual. Who are these haters… “say hello to my little friend”

  21. yeah, and I missed most of the trip to Muzdalifah during my hajj in ’99 cuz I was sleeping on my mom’s shoulder too…subhanallah to the SP/TP/Javed Saya wallet story…

  22. Allah is awesome.

  23. Assalamualaikum….
    you HAD to update when i wasnt home by my computer and was at the competition, didnt you? i wanted to be the first one to prop this but too bad, mr. kr wanted to update when A&E wasnt around…..and now i am the 22 to comment….gee, thanks a lot….
    but, MashahAllah it definately was a good read….glad you are motivated and back….
    Allah Hafiz
    Wasalaam

  24. don’t let the haters stop u from updating…ur post is great as usual…and ur posts in general are insightful and entertaining…i know a lot of people hav already said this…but stories like the one involving the wallet never cease to amaze me…subhanallah

  25. Cool post, I especially liked the story about Javed losing his wallet. I noticed you made a grammatical error here – “I asked Shaykh Amin for permission to do this since if we didn’t send anyone to claim our tents, we would be again sleeping next to the slaughterhouse for three nights… and this time the animals would, well, slaughtered.” I think you meant to say that the animals would “be” slaughtered but you left out the word “be.”Don’t worry KR, I got your back, grammatically speaking.

  26. ^hehehe, thanks for noticing that asad, ill fix that immediately

  27. now that i finished reading the post i can say that’s a great story. what a true hook up from Allah swt.

  28. wow the story at the end subhanAllah man, what else is there to say…

  29. Brother kr156: wa-iyaakum…may Allah give us (first and foremost my sinful soul) all the taufeeq to do good…Ameen…also please read the edit. jazakAllahukhair…
    The post is awesome. I am in complete agreement with others. The wallet story is just unbelievable. The wudu thing, now I have a question with that one. That is a perfect way in a situation like this, but do we have to pour water on our feet and hands or can we take a little water in our hand and just make sure our hands and feet are completely wet? I did wudu with similar amout of water, but later when I was told about the process of how it should be done I got a little confused.
    The Khalil Gibran quote is beautiful.
    As for haters, they exist. They exist so that we improve. If it werent for them, we would not struggle to do better. UIC hates me, but I continue there, and I make sure it knows I am not a quitter. Just so you know, I always learn a lot of vocab words from your posts. Even when I know the words your posts refresh the meanings of the rarely used words. And  I am also always taken back in time when I used to go for pilgrimage.
    Go with a khaki and dark teal colour combo. Blue is too over used on this and several other xangas. Maroon and grey/silver or orange and grey/silver will look good too. Or to move from plain colours, you could take a scene from the Persia game and set it as the background.

  30. subhan’Allah, the wallet story is amazing, and the rest of the post was awesome too masha’Allah. my only complaint is that this installment was shorter than the others =(

  31. Anonymous permalink

    daz one thing i noticed about the hajj stories, traffic.

  32. Anonymous permalink

    these props are late…but i just finished catching up on your hajj memoirs. what ended up happening to IB? was he ever found?

  33. ^as for IB, you’ll find out soon enough what happened to him =) i dont wanna ruin the surprise.

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