Tuesday, January 30, 2007

So we got on to the coach, they told us it was'nt that far a ride but who knows, there 5 minute rides can easily become a 2 hour ride :). the ride to Mina was so nice, all the men where doing the talbiyah really loud, it was 3am, really peaceful and we where heading to a life changing event, the ride was an oppertunity to ponder over intentions and re-do them.

Mina is not that far, actually it took us under 10 minutes to get to Mina the problem was to find the European camp and not only that but to find exactly where it is where staying within the European camp, Mina is gigantic, and i totally understand now when people say that they got lost for days not just hours.

alhamdullilah our driver didnt get to confused, it took us say all in all 25 minutes which is very good mashallah, later when i met with my cousin from Libya, she informed us that it took them 16 hours to find there place in Mina, the driver just kept driving around and around and was totally lost himslef, could you imagine 16 HOURS !!!!!!!

we where given red wrist bands to wear, it was to indicate we where from the European camp and it was incase we got lost or what not, Libya where wearing white bands, pakistan, india etc where wearing yellow. our camp included Britain, Europe, Australia, Canada and America, it was basiclly the 'western' camp.

when we got to our camp, we where pointed towards our tent, we walked in and found woman already spread out in sleeping bags sleeping they where from switerzerland, but the problem was we where 16 ladies and they where more than 20, the tent was big enough mashallah but they needed to take less space so that we could all cozily fit. unfortuantly we didnt start on the right foot with each other, bless them they where asleep and we walked in on them and made some noise, and when one of our ladies tried to make some space by moving one of the suitcases, the woman got really angry and told her off for touching her suitcase, its understandable that some people can get really cranky when woken up all of a sudden but its out of our hands and most people where on high alert because a condition of ihram is not to argue or fight, so our patience can get really tested at times.

just as the swiss sisters started to wake up, the tent flap opens up and 3 older ladies walk in, from the look of them they where fresh libyans, they walked in with there luggage and sat down. every one just stood and looked at them because they where so unexpected bless them, the tent was to be occupied by britain and switzerland, so these 3 wonderful ladies where not according to plan, and it was so cool they had brought with them zimeeta, gideed etc.. (libyan food stuff)

my mum loves old libyan woman so she zoomed in on them and started a converstaion, it turned out that they where indeed libyans from Libya but who had come to hajj via switzerland for some reason, so they where put in the european camp. they where so cute bless them and they where so happy to be doing hajj that they really didnt care where they where put, one of them even said that she would sleep in the corridor if she had to and it will be an honour for her, see thats what im talking about, putting our differences aside and working together and being happy for the simple fact that allah enabled us to even be in this blessed place, not fighting and bickering over where to put your suitcase!!!

people where not being very co-operative so in the end the men gave us a bigger tent, it was announced to every one that they should move there stuff to a tent down the corridor but the swiss sisters at first said that they wherent moving, so we took our stuff and transported ourselves, the libyan old women where told to stay where they where, so sadly they didnt come with us although we met again in arafat which was nice.

the tent given to us was alot bigger alhamdullilah, and we managed to secure good spots, 10 minutes later the swiss sisters walked in with there luggage and they also managed to get good spots so overall everyone was happy, it wasnt an issue with me like i said i was ecstatic to even be there so anywhere was fine by me. we decided we might as well stay up for fajer seeing how it was only an hour away, so people prayed tahajud and after fajer a sense of calm took over every one, i crawled into my sleeping bag and zonked out.

i woke up about 2 hours later to noise, when i opened my eyes the tent looked totally different, while i was sleeping the quantity of people in the tent had more than doubled, no joke!!! i looked at my mum and said 'mama where did these people come from?' to which she replied 'shhhhhhhhh, ahlan wasahlan bil kul translation - everyone is welcome 'but i didnt mean it in a bad way i just meant it in a mashallah type of way looooooool.

while we where sleeping, more sisters had come from ireland and germany, and seriously before i had even turned around more sisters walked in, thats when i turned to my mum and said ' mama, i bet you its going to be a case of 3 woman in one sleeping bag' and burst into laughter, to which my mum said 'intee usktee, minghayer fadaye7, translation- you better be quite, stop emberassing me', to which i laughed some more, my mums freind backed me up though and said 'walahi bintik 3indhal 7ag translation - walahi your daughter has a point', by the end of the day my mum came up to me and said 'i think what you said this morning might actually come true' no problem, converting to a twix or kit kat during mina is fine inshallah was my reply.

seriously guys mashallah by the end of that evening we where full to the rim, more sisters had come from switzerland and some where so annoyed that they refused to walk into the tent and held a protest outside the tent, they at first went in search of other tents that had less people and more space, they eventually found one but unbeliavably they where kicked out from it and when they told them of their situation the woman in the tent replyied 'either you remove yourself from this tent or i hit you with my shoes' astaghfurallah.

so they came back to ours and held a protest, wanting the leaders to arrange bigger accomodation for them, but sadly they where ignored and by late evening they came in and managed to find some spot to sleep on. with all that was happening it was still lovley and there was a nice feeling, and us brits just tried to look at the bright side of things.

it really is a test of patience and you have to make sacrifices on your part, its all part of gaining the reward from Allah inshallah.

after asr i went out to take pictures and investigate mina, i found it to be a totally different world, absouloutly amazing....

to the left is the scene outside our tent, rows and rows of tents basiclly and to the right is a part of our section with the mountain in the background pretty cool.

mina only gets used once a year, the remainder of the time its like a ghost town, otherwise its mega packed full of people, apparently the numbers this year was 5 million pilgrims although t.v and 'offical statistics' are saying 3 and half million.

i walked out of our section to scenes of more white, and coaches dropping more hajjis off, here where are bunch of them walking towards there camp, every one is on high, really excited looking forward to arafat tomorrow and generally preparing themselves.

some people didnt stay in the actual mina tents but instead brought their own minature tents and set them up, some where single men coming together as friends others where whole familes.

amazingly some people are not even sleeping in tents, they spread carboard out and sleep out in the open, you either catch them resting during teh day time or if you walk out at night the whole road will be full of sleepers, and it can get really cold at night as well, hope no one got to ill.

one of the sights you will see is groups of people sat around eating, sharing their food and even calling you over to eat with them, random starngers wanting you to sit and eat with them, its really a nice gesture and you feel all happy and warm inside when you see it.
you will see groups of kids or men walking around with trolleys selling rice and curry just like this little kid, and it is fresh, i didnt hear of anyone coming down with anything alhamdullilah.

also you can easily buy fruit and vegtable too, one guy even selling mangos.

eventually we got to the border of mina, or at least one of the many borders, walking around you see so many sights and to walk amongst millions of people from all corner sof the world is truly and heart warming aspect of mina.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

So after being mistaken for a beggar and generally being the laughing stock for the day, I decided I would stand up and try to look dignified :)

a cup of tea was so what we needed so of we went in search of some, we didn't have to look far Lipton tea came to the rescue, for the next 3 weeks I survived on Lipton, so I would like to thank the makers of Lipton for there never ending supply of tea bags in Saudi, now whenever I drink Lipton (my mum bought about 5 boxes of the stuff back with her) I remember my time in hajj.

we decided we would stay till fajr, it will be the first jammah prayer we pray at the haram. When the adhan for fajer was called it was so amazing, living in the west has its ups no one can argue that but really one of the most missed aspect of the Muslim world is the adhan and when I travel to Muslim countries the thing that excites me about my travel is the fact that I will be able to hear the adhan, such a wonderful feeling goes through you and to witness the ummah of Muhammed pbuh rushing, running, preparing themselves for sallah, coming from all corners of the haram is really a sight to see.

the fajer adhan is my favourite adhan, its that time of calm and peace and to be awakened to the call for sallah is something that installs faith in your heart, to hear the muadhin call 'asalatu khairn min al nawm - prayer is better than sleep' and to join the many thousands who have woken up to stand before Allah swt in prayer really is something. Its really one of the major things that I miss.

you have to be at the haram early by like 2 hours before each prayer to even get a place inside to pray otherwise you will pray outside and even outside there are stages, you have the marble surrounding the mosque then you have the streets and by the time the adhan goes off even the streets are full of people wow. We managed to find a spot, one of the weird things is that during the hajj period men and woman will pray next to each other, you will be standing ready for prayer, you turn to your right and there could be a man standing next to you although majority of times people try to find there gender to stand next to :).

after the prayer there was a call for the prayer on thd dead, it was a child who had died, after every single prayer in mecca and madina this would be announced, my brother turns around to my mum and he says 'mama il3ayel mat fil tawaf? akeed mat fil tawaf' translation - mum did the child die at the tawaf, he probably died at the tawaf', bless he really had a terrifying experience.

by this point we where really tired and wanted to get back to the apartment to catch up on sleep, from the haram to where the taxis where is just a 5 minute walk, it took us nearly an hour because of the crowds and when we finally got to where the taxis should be all we could see was a sea of people, every one had the same idea as us, seriously it felt like everyone in Saudi was waiting to get a taxi, and see all sorts of sights I swear, I was so tired but I was laughing so hard my sides where hurting me. One guy who was driving had another guy sat on his lap, seriously!!! How was he able to drive?

one car kept taking people in, the maximum should be 4 at the back instead 10 of them where squashed at the back and they really did look like sardines, one guys face was squashed against the window it looked like a scene from dawn of the dead. People where getting onto the roofs of cars and mini buses, or at the back of those cars that have no roof, the ones that are supposed to carry loads of objects not people.

you are supposed to approach the driver and ask them if they will take you to where ever it is you want to go and negotiate a price, some of the drivers just ignore you when you approach them, some give you a ridiculous price.

one way of getting attention from the drivers is to shout out the area you want to be taken to, at one point no one was getting anywhere so we started shouting out areas in Britain 'Manchester, London, Birmingham' and then we started shouting out areas in Libya ' trablis, benghazi, misrata' the drivers where getting confused, one said I don't know where that is, can you direct me? loooooool he ended up taking us to where we wanted to go bless him.

we got home and hit the beds straight away dreaming of tawaf and Lipton tea....

woke up in the afternoon, prayed duhur and generally relaxed, had breakfast and got to know the rest of the crew with us, that evening we went out to the main road for a walk and to eat dinner, it really is a different world in Saudi, and they have all the names over there, its a busy street and its constantly buzzing full of life, in the middle of the pavement you would find chidren and woman who spread out a cloth and sell things like purses, scarfs, socks, perfume etc.. As soon as they see the police they bundle up there stuff and make a run for it, I feel so sorry for them when that happens and some of the shop owners are so cruel they will shout out 'baladeeyah baladeeyah - police' to watch them run away, whilst they stand there laughing at them.

what used to amaze me was how they would balance there stuff on their head, so cool, I tried doing it with a book and ended up hurting my toe, edge of the book fell on my big toe owwwwwwww.

we where spoilt for choice as to what to eat so we decided to go for a pizza, boring I know but I was in the mood for pizza and it was delicious, pretty cheap as well but I have a suspicion that the prices increase like anything in the hajj period tut tut. My brother and Judy about to tuck into their pizza.

we where to go to Mina the following day, so we relaxed and spent some more time at the haram, as well as my younger brother entertaining us, at one point he pretended to be a beggar and started coming up to us saying 'sabil illah, sabil illah, for the sake of allah for the sake of allah' and although it was kinda funny we had to tell him off and say that he shouldn't mock people but should pray for them. So he did acrobats instead as wlel as seeing how far he could twist his leg, kids are weird....

we where told that we had to be ready by 8pm because the coach was coming to take us to mina, so every one had to be ready and in a state of ihram by 8pm, we rushed home and had our showers and packed our smaller bags for mina and barley got ready for 8 but we made it, by 8 we where all ready, every one was set to go, all the men where in white, the bags, boxes what not where prepared but no sight of coach.

this is what the hall of the apartment looked like by the time we where done and dusted, that was just a portion of the stuff, the rest was outside with the men.

the men where standing outside for sometime, an hour passed yet no sign of the coach, my dad went back up and slept an asked to wake him when it arrived. We all sat in one room and waited for the coach, we ended up having a reminder on what hajj is all about, as well as eating and still no coach. Some of the woman decided they would go to bed and to wake them when the coach came if it ever did.
salma and her hubby waiting for the coach, no sign yet guys I'm afraid.

the thing is that our leader requested the coach to come, and he was informed 8pm, but nothing is ever guaranteed with the saudis or the drivers, so by the time the coach finally did arrive it was 3am, so those people who managed to sleep, they where very clever. it wasn't a problem, it's all part of the experience and that night where we waited was one of the best, because we established a bond with every one which might not have happened if the coach had turned up on time.

we got on the coach and began our journey to mina, hajj had officially began....

Thursday, January 25, 2007

When starting the tawaf you should start at the corner where the black stone is, don't even think of trying to touch it or even kiss it especially if you are a woman, its crush city and you might even get your scarf pulled of, most defiantly you will get bruises and your foot stamped on, so we would raise our hand towards the corner and say Bismillah Allah Akbar and start the tawaf, circling the kaaba, with the kaaba on your left.

its such an amazing act, the further out you are the more space there is and the less of the crush, some people choose to do the tawaf from the roof, less people but takes longer as the circle is more bigger, we did it around the kaaba on the ground floor, I was determined to get as close to the kaaba as possible but because of my younger brother who was petrified and who kept getting peoples elbows shoved into his chest and face we had to stick to the outer circle. The tawaf went well mashallah, occasionally a person would push and have no consideration for others, and I could never understand what the rush was, if anything I wanted to stretch time so that my experience of tawaf was longer rather than rush it and have it over with.

parts of the tawaf where more packed than other parts, at one point I felt like a sardine, that was near maqam ibrahim basically it is the stone upon which Ibrahim (may Allah be pleased with him) was standing while he was building the Kabah. It is circled with silver. The footprints is clear in the stone. The late King Faisal Bin Abd AI-Aziz ordered to make a crystal glass cover, surpassed by an iron framework, with a marble foundation around the Maqam. Every one wants to have a look at the maqam but its difficult, my dad tried to take us to get a closer look but we ended up get pushed and shoved and my brother started to cry aaaaaaaaaaw, so we had leave it. What amazes me is that some people after they finish there tawaf they insist on praying directly behind the maqam where people are doing tawaf, risking there lives and lives of others, crazy, imagine trying to do sujud when thousands of people are walking over you, some people need there heads screwed in properly!!!!!

what really bothered me was the amount of shirk that was going on as well, seriously it was something that was very common amongst the pilgrims, some guy would not leave the maqam, he insisted on sticking to it like glue, rubbing himself against the glass and making dua to it, now what is the glass going to do for him?, what sort of benefit is he going to obtain?, the house of Allah is directly infront of him and the weirdo is supplicating to a footprint!!!! I swear you see all sorts of ignorance.....

by the third tawaf my brother was saying to my dad, 'please baba don't take us near the maqam ibrahim, minibeesh maqam ibrahim, fikna min maqam ibrahim' (translation,' I don't want maqam ibrahim) poor guy was scared from the crowds loooool.

During the tawaaf the man wears his ihraam under his right arm pit and over the left shoulder (with the right shoulder bare). The man completes the first three circuits walking quickly with boldness (but not running) the reason for this was because at the time of the prophet, the mushrikeen spread a rumour about the Muslim men saying that they where diseased and unfit so the prophet ordered the companions to make tawaf with the right shoulder bare and to jog to show the people that they where indeed fit and free from disease, it became sunnah after that.

Each time one passes the Yemeni corner of the ka'bah (this is the corner before the corner of the Black Stone) it is preferable to touch it with ones hand as this is the sunnah, if this is not possible because of the crowds then for a far you say bismillah allah akbar but without raising your hand although most people do. The following supplication should be recited between the Yemeni corner and the Black Stone:(Rabbanaa aatinaafid dunyaa hasanatan wafil aakhirata hasanatan wa qinaa adhaaban naar)" Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and protect us form the punishment of the Fire." and you can hear people saying this dua, some whisper it and some feel that they should announce it to the world lool.

There are no particular du 'aas (apart from what is mentioned above) to be recited during tawaaf- so really you can may recite the Qur'aan, or supplicate with any other du 'aa from the sunnah or from ones heart in any language, you hear all sorts of duas being recited from different people, some are so beautiful and lifting and some poor souls are reciting the dua for entering the toilet??????????? They think any dua will do, bless them...

After Tawaaf you have to perform 2 Rakaats Salaah, preferably behind Maqaami Ibrahaam. However this is impossible so anywhere convenient, we found a spot and managed to pray in a safe place. Next we went to drink Zam Zam you should drink as much as you can, face the qiblah and make dua. You find zam zam water all around the haram, the well is closed now, it used to be open but because of the stupidity of some people who used to get naked and wash themselves in zam zam infront of thousands of eyes, forget about awrah and modesty, there only concern is there selfish self, they closed the well for the public.

after drinking zam zam we went to the 2 hills of Safaa and Marwa to perform Sai. We start from Safaa and make Dua facing Kaaba, then start walking towards Marwah. There are 2 sets of green lights when you reach the first set of green lights the men quicken their pace until they reach the second set of green lights, the distance is about 5meters and is known as Meelain Khadarin, my brother loved that part because he raced with one of the brothers every time they got to the green light part women do not quicken their pace but you still see woman who lift there jilbabs and make a dash for it bless.

When we reach Marwa again we stand facing Kaaba and make Duaa then walk back to Safaa. Complete 7 rounds in this manner ie. From Safaa to Marwa is 1 round and Marwa back to Safaa is another round, some people make the mistake of thinking thatthat safa to marwa and marwa back to safa is 1 round so instead of doing 7 they end up doing 14 wow, and it can be very tireing doing 7 never mind 14. subhannallah when your performing the sai you cant but help being in awe at hajer because could you imagine running up one mountain searching for sign of life then running up another mountain 7 times, and then it was 10 times harder, now its marble floor, air conditioned, zam zam water in between the safa and marwa if you need to drink, we have it easy....

we did the first 2 on the ground floor but it was so busy that we had to do it on the second floor which was a lotless packed, when we finished we came out of the haram to the shouts of barbers 'khamsa riyal khamsa riyal' (5 riyal 5 riyal) the men went and got there hair shaved, we would wait until we got to the apartments to cut some of our hair, although i did see a lot of woman who had pulled out there fringes in public and where cutting their hair loool.

it took us about 3 hours to perform umrah, not bad, we grabbed something to eat I couldnt be bothered standing up and eating so i decided i would sit on the stairs of the haram, eating like i had never eat before in my life when all of a sudden a man approaches me and offers me money looooooooooool he thought i was a beggar, how flatering well you can imagine the group laughing about it and making fun of me until i got back to Manchester.

Monday, January 22, 2007

our drive to Mecca was not long, on the way there we stopped half way and I thought 'here we go typical, stop searches and what not' but surprisingly nothing of the sort, it was a stop for gifts believe it or not, half way to Mecca they supply you with zam zam water in little bottles, Islamic tapes and booklets as well as a leaflet on the new system for jamarat, such a nice way to enter Mecca.

we eventually got into Mecca and we headed to an area called 3azeezeeyah, its quite a distant from the haram, to get to the haram we would have to get taxis but that's never a problem, every ahmed, hassan and Mohammed (Islamic version of tom, dick and Harry) are taxi drivers in Saudi and usually the cost is like 2 riyal per person (1 pound equals 7 riyals) but because of the hajj season they really take advantage and charge between 5 - 15 and if its mega packed full of people and they now you are desperate to get either home from the haram or to the haram then they can charge 30 riyals, once after fajr we wanted to get back to the apartments, it felt like the whole mulsim world was waiting for taxis, that's how packed it was, we stopped this one guy and asked him how much, he replied '300 riyal per person' cheeck, when we asked him why he replied 'traffic' !!!!!

it was soooooo funny trying to get taxis after fajr, half the time I was cracking my self up with laughter cause of all the stuff that was going on.

anyway, so we get to our apartments, to be honest we didn't know what to expect, every thing was last minute so all the hotels where booked out, and we where left with apartments, I was expecting the worst, but I didn't care my only concern was cockroaches. When we got to the apartments it looked nice and new from outside, and even better from inside mashallah, the downstairs was for us ladies and the upstairs was for the men, it was four people to every room, there where toilets and kitchen and even a washing machine, and it proved to be soooo much better than a hotel, and my time there was the best ever and I now have memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

we where 16 ladies all together and we really got on mashallah, the prophet pbuh said to know some one well either live with them or travel with them and we certainly did both with this group and all I can say is I couldn't have chosen a more nicer group (although it would have been even more better if my Manchester crew was with me as well :D)

after putting our bags and generally relaxing, we where told to get ready after isha because we will be performing umra, when we had made our intention for hajj we choose tamatu, there are 3 types 1.tamatu, 2 ifrad and 3, qiran. Tamattu is where the pilgrim wears ihram only for `Umrah during the months of Hajj, which means that when he/she reaches Makkah, they make Tawaf and Sa`I for `Umrah, then shaves or clips the hair. On the Day of Tarwiyah, which is 8 Dhul-Hijjah, we puts on our ihram for Hajj only and carries out all of its requirements. so we where about to do Umra...

so exciting, it felt so surreal being in Mecca and knowing that just round the corner the kabbah was there, how amazing is that!!! I couldn't wait to see the Kabaah.

we prayed Isha and walked to the main road which is extremely busy, every restraunt and take away you can think of is on that road, and its a never ending shopping spree as well, we got a taxi for 11 people and soon where dropped of near the haram. We turned the corner and there was the haram, it really was an amazing sight, and there where soooooooo many people, and a lot of people don't have accommodation so they sleep outside the haram, they just spread out on the floor and sleep, apparently they came to do Umrah before Hajj and end up staying until Hajj, one of the police men told us that during hajj usually 3 million people come and 1 million end up staying. It can be a mission trying to get any where near the haram because you are constantly trying to dodge those who have camped out, annoying really...

walking towards the haram was an amazing feeling, I really was not aware of anything except that I will be seeing the Kaabah, we walked through king abdulaziz entrance and walked across the cool marble floors, the hussle and bussle of Mecca, the traffic, the noise, the shops, people, it didn't matter, it was blocked out from my very eyes and ears, my moment was for the kaabah only, and whilst walking across the mosque my heart was thumping loudly that I felt every one could hear it.

suddenly I saw the kaabah through the pillars and walahi I understand now when people say that they cannot explain what feelings and emotions runs through them when they see it. I was completely struck still and when you see the kaaba you must make dua, I could barley speak, my throat had tightened up, and I could barley see with the tears that took over my eyes, it was one of the most awe inspiring, spiritual moment ever to happen to me. Since birth I had been brought up seeing pictures of the kaaba, at the age of 7 I was taught to pray towards the kaaba and here I was standing with the kaabah infront of me in all its magnificence, here was the compass point of Muslim prayers, the house of Allah swt, wow, I felt like I could never blink, eventually I had to move because a sea of people where pushing me trying to get to the kaaba and that's when I started to take in the rest of the scenery and one of the most amazing sights any person can witness is the tawaf, surrounding the Kaaba was an effortlessly turning human wheel - the endless circumambulation of the Kaaba by the pilgrims all year round subhannallah.

I stood and watched the tawaf for a long time completely mezmorised and taken in by it all, I wouldn't have minded standing watching for the rest of my life, eventually the Kaaba tugged at me like a magnet and I was drawn into the tawaf to start my Umrah.

indeed when Prophet Ibrahim built the Kaaba in Makka, his prayers were that this place should remain a centre of worship for all good and pious people and that you really do wintness when you see it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Last year when we decided we where going to do hajj and that my youngest brother will be joining us, I had great pleasure in teasing and threating him that I would pull his ihram off, for a whole year he would be the butt (excuse the pun) of every one of my jokes ha ha ha, so you can imagine I couldn't resist running after him at jeddah airport....

the kid new how to tie his ihram, I am happy to say that during the duration of hajj his ihram stayed well in place, so congratulations bro you did it, round of a applause...

we where like cat and dog with each other, continuously annoying one another, he was the only child in the group so he would get really bored and would find ways of amusing himself, usually it would mean getting in my way and making a nuisance of himself, although he did entertain us, the only time he was quite and peaceful was when he was alseep, put the kid anywhere and he would fall asleep, kinda like my father, im th etotal opposite i cant sleep unless i'm comfortable..

I have heard horror stories about jeddah airport, so I was expecting the worse, people say you wait hours upon hours at jeddah airport and that you get moved from one place to the next etc... We got of the plane and walked down some stairs and entered a room where we had to sit until given some cards to fill in our details, that took minutes, then we where moved to the next section, I was sat right at the back and infront of me was a sea of white...

we hadn't sat that long when they started calling people to the desk, they stamped our passports, obviously they have to ask the question of 'where are you originally from' and they wont let it be until you tell them, one guy said to us why did you leave your country and go live in the land of kufr, well the answer to that was obviously political which scared the living day lights out of him so you can imagine how fast he changed the subject looool, serves him right for being nosy...

we where very lucky alhamdullilah because we where told that the day we arroved was the last day they where accepting flights for hajj into jeddah so a day later and we wouldnt have been able to fly!!!

we got our luggage which alhamdullilah was intact and then was taken from us to be put on our mini bus. We walked out of the door to this sight:

massive airport, they took us to a secluded section in the middle of it, each country has its own section, I spotted Libya when we where walking to our section, they had rows of mini green flags plastered all over their section, you coudnt miss it.

we didn't have to wait that long alhamdullilah, just enough time to buy sim cards, pray, eat something and obviously visit the toilets which I didn't want to because of the horror stories that you hear but it was fine, clean, empty and no human samples in sight. The toilet sign is pretty cool:

see through nikabi woman to indicate woman's toilets and a man in a turban style head gear to indicate men's toilets. We had to move to another part of the airport where all the coaches and mini buses where, again our passports where checked and more stickers added to our passports, by the end of our trip our passports where double the size they where because of all the papers they add and staple into them.

we had to hand in our passports before boarding the coach and you don't really see them until the day you depart for home.

our jeddah experience has ended and we where beginning our journey to Mecca.......

Friday, January 19, 2007

I'm back in Manchester and I still cant believe I have been and gone, it's like a dream.

I'm so tired and I have this cough but I'm loving it cause I had this cough since the first day of hajj and its been with me since and I feel like its a part of the hajj that I have brought home with me and I don't want it to go away... The actual rituals don't exhaust you its the travelling that does and we did a lot of travelling to get to Saudi but it is so worth it and if some one told me that I had to do it again then I would without any hesitation.

remember that week where I was moping around all depressed because I thought I wasn't going, I was convinced that it was postponed for a whole year, and subhanallah out of the blue we get a visa, but the problem was obtaining flights, everything was packed and we where told to be on standby because any minute the phone will go off to tell us to get ready and to be at a meeting point, so our bags where packed and it was a case of waiting..... Me and my mum had gone to Asda to get some provisions and stuff and we got back home around half past 3, my dad announces that we are leaving tonight at 9:30 pm after that it was dashing here there and every where, I was meeting a couple of friends at 7 cause one of my dearest friends was going back to Malaysia forever so it was a going away dinner, half an hour before I was leaving my mum says to me:

mum: white African did you have your shower?

me: shower? Why, can you smell something? (at which point I was getting all paranoid sniffing myself exageratingly)

mum: (slaps me on the head) don't be silly, I mean the shower where you do your niyah for ihram?

me: oooooooooooooooh, no am I supposed to?

mum? Yes, my god I thought you new

me: apparently not, stop assuming I know things.. And with that I ran to have the fastest shower known to mankind....

with all the preparation and what not it still had not sunk in, at 9pm I was at didsbury mosque waiting for the coach to arrive, mashallah people had come to say there sallams and the atmosphere was truly amazing, we had an introductory talk by the brother in charge of the group, it still didn't sink in...

coach arrived and at around 3 am we got to heathrow airport, our flight to Damascus airport was not until 8am, so we played with foil from someone's sandwich and made different shapes out of them as well as generally get on each others nerves, especially me and my youngest brother..

this is just a portion of peoples luggage:

eventually it was time for checking in and then of to departure, where it felt like we had to sit and wait forever but as always nothing really is forever so we boared the plane to Syria. 5 hours the flight was and eventually touch down at Damascus airport, where we had to spend 14 hours at transit, lets just say that we really got to know the staff at the airport, I didn't realise Syria was so ummmmmmmmmmmmmm..... airporty....

eventually we boarded the plane to take us to Jeddah, it was a flight like no other, every single person on the plane was going to perform hajj, at a certain point the pilot announced that we had crossed the miqat, all the men got up and changed into there ihram, we all made wudu and prayed to rakas on the plane then started the takbir labbayk allahuma labbyk, labbayka la sharika laka labbayyak'.. That's when it started to hit me, I'm nearly there, subhannallah looking around me on the plane brought about such unexplainable feelings.

I wanted to post more pic but blogger needs a case of jamarat type of punishment...

will type up some more...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

blogger will not let me upload any pictures.....

i want to go back to madina.....

some one smack blogger for me....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Well what can I say...

here I am sat in Madina, the blessed city, typing away, I cant believe it myself, I may just get one of those Saudi woman body guards to pinch me....

so much to say but how to start, eventually it will all come out in some sort of order but right now I seriously am dumbstruck and lost for words (doesn't happen often I know)

subhannallah it really was my time, for a week I was convinced that it was not meant to be but it happened and when I got that call to say that 50 visas where obtained, well what can I say, I jumped at the chance, and brave heart I didn't have to cross the border :)

I really wanted to up date my blog on a regular basis but in Mecca there where no internet cafes for woman sob sob, and I was not staying in a hotel but in apartments so I was internet less, which was ok for the first week or so but then withdrawal symptoms kicked in, first thing I did when I got to the hotel was ask about internet access to which amazingly they have, so here I am typing about internet when I could be typing about hajj experience duuuuuuuuh.

wallahi guys I pray that each and every single one of you get the chance to see the kabbah and pray there for yourself and soon inshallah because its truley awe inspiring and words can describe the sight, already I am missing Mecca.

I prayed for you all and I am now gonna leave the internet for some poor other deprived soul by the name of hayak.

will try to update someother time inshallah.