Wednesday, February 28, 2007

every where i looked there where men shaving other men's heads, and clumps of hair every where, it was interesting to say the least.

one thing that annoyed me was that after they would finish they would leave the blades just lying there, how dangerous is that? again what with all the bins every where why would you choose to just be reckless and leave dangerous items lying around, any one can easily walk over them and cut themselves, we humans can be perfect at lacking consideration for others.

we get back to the tent, and my mum brings out her scissors from her magical bag, seriously this bag is famous and it holds everything you could possibly think of, its a bottomless bag that has another life, kind of like the cupboard in Narnia, i haven't tested it yet but soon i will put my hand in her bag and i bet you i will never feel the bottom of the bag, magical or what!!!

it was time for us ladies to cut a small part of our hair, we all lined up and released ourselves from ihram, that meant that we could now cut our nails, use fragranced soap and shampoo, fragranced deodorant, none of that simple product that i hated, although now when i go shopping and i come across any simple products i end up smiling and remembering my time at mina. we wherent completly out of ihram, we would be released from total ihram after teh tawaf al ifadah.

we had already payed for the hadee it came to about 40 pounds per person, Offering a sacrifice (a sheep, a goat, and for seven people a camel, a cow, or an ox) is incumbent (wajib) upon every adult Muslim who has the nisab amount of wealth. The difference between having to pay zakat and sacrificing is that zakat must be paid on it if the person has had it for one year, while a sacrifice must be offered if the person has had it for only one day. The sacrifice must be made on any of the first 3 days of eid, we didn't do the actual sacrifice, we payed the amount needed and left it for our leader to organise, the meat is then distributed to the poor, again this ritual goes back to prophet ibrahim who was tested by Allah concerning his son, where he was asked to sacrifice his son and just as prophet ibrhaim was about to perform this action, Allah sent down a ram to replace his son subhanallah.

when walking back from the jamarat there are big sign's that say slaughter house and another one that says modern slaughter house, i wonder what the difference is? cows with lap tops and mobiles maybe?

that evening we had meat with our rice instead of the usual chicken and now we could use those scented wet wipes they put in the food box.

for the next three days our days consisted of walking around mina shopping, seriously every where you walked their would be some one selling something from jilbabas to hand made socks, to fake watches, sibhas, toys, bukhoor (incense), it was lovely just walking up and down the rows of people looking at the different varieties of stuff being sold as well as the different versions of people selling the stuff, at one point we came across the Eastern European camp and there where people who had driven in a big coach type transportation all the way from the home towns to Saudi and they where selling all types of gear.

some where even offering camel rides..

i couldn't resist taking another picture of those cute imprisoned babies, mashallah there so good, you never hear a sound coming out from them, at one point i had to prod one just to check whether it was breathing or not.

look at its little sandal sticking out, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw mashallah.

when i got back to the tent i was amazed to find a cleaning frenzy like no other, it was scary to watch, the woman just couldn't get enough of cleaning, one lady had found a wheel barrow somewhere brought it back to the camp and filled it with her clothes and husbands ihram, dumped a ton of soap and scrubbed like there was no tomorrow.

the wudu areas where taken over by woman intent on cleaning every thing in sight, the toilets where hijacked because they where using the hose pipes, there was soap stud every where, it was scene from a movie where washing machines rule the world and vomit soap all over people (there is no such movies but I'm sure Hollywood will come to film one)

even the water containers which you find outside every tent had been taken, dismantled and used as a do it yourself washing machine, it was hilarious, clothes where hanging from every corner of the camp, the good thing was by the end of the washing the toilets where remarkably cleaner.

this was mina life and as each day went by the more attached you get to it and you forget your world back home, its strange to think that living in such cramped conditions with so many people can make a person feel good but subhannallah it really does and i have to say my best times ever since birth have been at mina.

the next 3 days of jamarat went really well, no deaths mashallah this year, very smooth no problems, people stuck to the rules, sometimes we would go to the ground level and other times we would go to the first level, walking towards the jamarat was always fun and you would meet people from all over the world, some of the sisters would have different style of hijab to make themselves noticed by their group in case they got lost, you really see all sorts of style, some where wearing hats, some had massive bows, some had flowers, others would wear neon colours, this lady decided to have her country...

it says Malaysia on her scarf, the Australian brothers and sisters had kangaroos, how cool is that?

we would walk through a tunnel each time to get to the jammarat

look at the space between me and the people in front of me, quite alot of space, enough for a person to make cart wheels (which my brother did do)

when you get to the jamarat you start with the smallest, then the middle then the largest, after each one you would face the kibblah and make dua of your choice except the third jamarah, you don't do dua after that, at each jamrah you throw 7 pebbles, like i mentioned before people do get emotional and start throwing there slippers, water bottles and shout things at the pillar, as it symbolises the devil so they get carried away.

mashallah at each one i managed to get right to the front and i even took my time with throwing the pebbles, no one was pushing or shoving apart from one freak of man who felt he had to copy a bull, seriously he would bow his head and run into the crowd of people knocking people over when there was no need to. another man threw his pebbles so hard that his fist landed on my head and for a few seconds i saw birds just like in the cartoons, the funny thing was he didn't even notice he had hit me.

by the last day of the jamarat it was the most easiest and funniest, there where ice cream vans right infront of the jamarat, never has that happned,you can see teh jamart right behind the van, the man was shouting 'iscream iscream', you could have a camel ride if you wanted, the new system seemed to work so well that by the final day it began to look like some theme park seriosly.

completing the final jamarh was really sad because it indicated the final acts of hajj and saying goodbye to mina, we had one more act to do before our hajj was complete and that was the tawaf al ifadah.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

we where told to get ready for the jamarat as we would be leaving after asr, to be honest i didn't know what to expect, you hear all sorts of stories of people dying, getting crushed etc... so understandably every one was on edge.

i remember last year something like 500 people died because they brought there luggage with them to the jamarat, so people where tripping over bags and what not and got themselves crushed, every year people seem to die at the jamarat and every year they have a new system, one time people died because of one of the so called ameers, his body guards where pushing people left right and centre so that Mr. Prince can get his ritual done but at the expense of hundreds of deaths, sad or what?

you know we heard a rumour just before hajj started that gaddafi intended on performing hajj this year, so when we got to jeddah airport we asked one of the men working at passport control whether that rumour was true or not? to which he replied that we where dangerous in bringing up such a topic and we should keep clear away from politics, but eventually he told us that he honestly did not know and besides that all world leaders come to a separate airport, later we came to find out that he actually was intending on performing hajj but he wanted to bring 200 female body guards with him and Saudi refused, well well well how interesting would that have been? i have to say that i would have maybe aimed my pebbles elsewhere.

right after asr we all gatherd right outside our tent with sheikh salem leading us and started to make our way to the jamarat, now the European camp is the furthest camp away from the jamarat, the Libyan camp is pretty close to the jamarat, but we westerners have to trek 40 minutes to get there maybe its because where used to walking!!!

we walked to the star of the eurpoean camp and came across this sign:

i took that picture when it was empty a couple of days before, but when we got to that particular signe, it was completely packed full of people, we still had alot to walk because that was the start, people where pouring into this section to get to the jamarat, at one point we where not moving at all but more people where coming so we where literally stuck to each other and one of the sisters started to panic as she felt she was being crushed, and we had to calm her down as much as we could, eventually the people at the front began to move so we had slightly more space to manoeuvre.

at one point i was so close to my brother that when i took his picture this is how it came out, my brother was actually calm through out mashallah which was good i was expecting him maybe to panic with the amount of people around but he seemed to be enjoying himself although holding very tight onto my dad.

we where walking at a snail pace, walahi it was so packed full of people, from all over the world, at times there would be no space to move an inch and at other times it was fine, but one of the best things this year was the one way system, everyone was going the same way, there was a wall that separated us with those who where coming back from the jamarat, so that did help alot, also there where so many 3askarees (soldiers) standing guard all the way up to the jamarat and what i noticed which i thought was pretty cool was that there where quite a few scouts helping out with there scout uniforms, i myself am a scout leader so it was pretty cool to see them volunteering and helping out the hajjis, may Allah reward them for their efforts.

the walk to the jamarat allowed for us to contemplate on the story of the jamarat, where Prophet Ibrahim before being relieved of his sacrifice, was tempted three times to recant on his commitment by the shaytan, and each time he rejected the temptation. It is from this story that the hajj ritual of casting pebbles at the three pillars, or jamarat, derives. Pilgrims would approach three pillars, representing the devil, and throw seven pebbles at each of them in a symbolic act of rejection.

walking towards the jamarat you cant but be in awe at the rest of creation, people from all corners of the world and some people have left there countries flags flapping in the air towards the jamarat, mina really is a global village all the flags and faces of the world are on display subhannallah.

it felt like we had been walking for quite some time, there are toilets on the way as well as take aways the famous Al-Baik, who sell delicious chicken, also there building hotels near the jamarat which will probably be ready for next year for those who would rather sleep in a hotel than in tents in mina.

you get to a certain point and any one who is carrying luggage or big bags are not allowed through, they have to leave them behind, again its all part of the new system, also the jamart are on 2 levels now to make more space for people and we where told that they are building more floors, The pillars have since been replaced with large walls to increase the throwing area, i remember seeing pictures of a rather small pillar but when i got to the jamarah al kubrah (the biggest pillar) it was big, we only had to stone the biggest jamrah and even though it was packed i managed to get right to the front to throw my pebbles, you have to throw them one at a time, some people make the mistake of throwing all 7 pebbles in one go, that's in-correct, i got really excited and decided to give it my all so with all the strength that i could muster i leaned back and threw my pebble as hard as i could at the same time my bracelet fell out of my hand and into the hole surrounding the jamara lol.

it took literally seconds and we where done and it was time to head back to the tent, the next three days would be the real test of the jamarat, the men could now shave there heads and remove themselves from the state of ihram and us woman can cut small part of our hair.

walking back to the tent i saw something that made me laugh out loud and point out to all the British lot, i couldn't belive seeing an asda sign walking ahead of me, how funny is that?

when we got back to our section we where greeted with frantic washing and shaving....

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

we got back to Mina and the first thing i noticed was that the other sisters from Switzerland got to the tents way before us and secured there places, some of our lot managed to find there original place but me and salma ended up as refugees with no place to call our own sniff sniff, some body had taken our place and they where intent on not leaving.

so we stood looking at each other for a while not knowing where to go what to do, shrugging our shoulders and conscious of the fact that we didn't want to get into any arguments with any one, seriously we didn't utter a word to a single person, didn't question the sisters as to why they took our places, just stood staring and laughing. i was contemplating converting to a bat, hanging myself from the feet upside down from the metal pole and sleeping the way bats do, but then i realised that the blood would rush to my head and it would probably explode all over the hajjis, not a nice sight.

eventually we found a miniature spot and plonked our sleeping bags on the floor and fell asleep, i was really tired, there was allot of noise but i was oblivious to any one or anything, sleep land was where i was headed, i swear when ever you guys get to do hajj you must and i will type must in capital MUST just to emphasise how important this item is, you Must buy an eye cover thing, for you will not be able to sleep without it and its the next best thing since sliced salami, it will keep you sane and give you some sort of comfort and sleep so NEVER EVER leave Britain or your countries without them, at one point i was wearing it on my forehead constantly i looked like i was about to go fly a plane or something, pretty cool if i say so myself.

i hadn't slept very long, actually hardly at all because just as i was getting comfortable, a lady with her 2 sons walks in and makes us get up and move, just as i thought i had found asylum and was about to become a citizen of Mina tent me and salma became refugees all over again, i did protest to the lady telling her that the reason we where in that place was because some one had taken our place, to which she said 'not my problem' well what could we say, we smiled and stood up and looked around for a place to at least rest our heads, my head felt like it was getting heavier by the minute...

we asked one of the ladies if she didn't mind moving her luggage to the side of the tent to make space, but she refused and wouldn't budge, how great did we feel!!! one of our lot kept saying just squash next to us, but seriously there wasn't space for an anorexic ant never mind a full grown human but in the end we did, we squashed up mega style and that was to be our place for the next 3 nights, cozyyyyyyyy.

so again i plonked myself on top of a thousand sleeping bags and zonked out, i woke up a couple of hours later and was chatting away to some of the girls when some one got a text from England, she shouted 'oh my god' and then said 'Saddam is dead'it didn't register with me at all as to who she meant, Saddam? which Saddam? duh!!!!

it then clicked in my head, Saddam the former leader of Iraq, wow, you see we hadn't been in touch with the world news for quite some time so we where not aware of what was happening in the world, to be honest i was not expecting that type of head line, so it did come as a complete shock to every one, i didn't believe it at first because its happened before in Mina a couple of years ago where it was announced that sharon of Israel had been killed and the Palestinian camp in Mina where rejoicing and all sorts bless, then it turned out to be one big lie so i thought maybe it was the same, but it turned out to be true, Saddam was hung on eid day.

it really was unexpected and even though he was sentenced to death, i didn't expect it to be put into action so fast, if anything i thought he would eventually walk away with his life.

it was the topic of the moment for like an hour but then every one had to go to the jamarat so peoples minds where preoccupied with the up and coming crowds and the fear of death at jamarat so Saddam was put to the back of every ones minds.

later when we where at Madina and we had caught up with the news, then it began to register, i am not a fan of Saddam and he had so much to account for, but i get the feeling that his hanging was a way of shutting him up, ie some one else had more things to hide than Saddam,Washington's secrets are safe for now that is hmmmmmmm

The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the United States - and Britain - gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which our presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember. And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support - given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War - is dead but what of his partners in crime? where is the justice in that? he faced many more trials, bigger crimes he had committed but was executed before facing those trials and you really do question why that is?

Sloboden Milosevic before his death in prison (god knows how he died) was facing trials upon trials for his crimes towards the Bosnians througth an international war crimes tribunal sitting in the Hague so why not the same for Saddam? either would have been far better than the process we witnessed.

that's my 2 cents worth, we did hear some celebrations coming from the shia later that evening but other than that he wasn't really discussed, we started to get ourselves ready for the jamarat...

just of the topic, yesterday i ate an orange that had travelled all the way from Libya, it was one of those blood oranges and it was delicious mmmmmmm.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I woke up to the sound of people making noise, it was just before fajer, people where praying tahajud around me, some where collecting pebbles, it was nice and calm, and believe it or not i had one of the most relaxed and nicest sleep in a long time, i know who would have thought sleeping in the outside in a desert would be so nice??? amazing subhannalah.

i kinda just sat in my sleeping bag watching the world of hajj around me, completely mesmerised by the scene, one of my mums friends grabs me from the back and gives me a big hug and says 'kul sana wintee taybah' translation - 'may you be well every year, i was confused as to why she said this then it dawned on me, today is eid.....

every one was hugging one another and congratulating each other, it was really nice, we all huddled together in our sleeping bags and hugged each other, the feeling of unity was sooooo strong at that moment and a hope that you may not have had enters your heart and optimism replaces pessimism, waking up to eid in muzdalifa is certainly an all together different experience.

all this time in the back of my head i kept thinking i gotta venture out and do wudu for fajer, i asked someone where the washing facilities where and they pointed across at a huge mass of people, thankfully i only needed to do wudu, could you imagine standing at that que, no way, so i managed to find a tap that wasn't being occupied by 10,000 hands and did my wudu, here are what the wudu facilities look like in muzdalifa after the people had gone:

its an interesting experience, and you know whats amazing is that with so many millions of people no one fights for the toilets or wudu areas, people really do wait patiently and some even throw you a smile...

so i went back to my group, by then fajer had come in, we grouped ourselves with a Syrian group who where praying and joined them in congregational prayer, after fajer that's when all the madness started, we where told we should pack our stuff and meet at the gate at the entrance so as to board the coach to take us back to mina.

sounds good yeh? simple enough yeh? no problemo yeh? yeh right more like, we get to the entrance and find people having nervous breakdowns, shouting at one another, a coach would come and people will get on, but for some reason people can no longer wait, they are in a rush like no ones business and they will get on the coach no matter what, they mean business, we stood there for like an hour then decided to go and sit down away from the crowds and wait until it calms down. watching the crowds was my favourite past time at muzdalifa, at one point a coach came and a man stood at the entrance of the coach and stopped any men from getting on and would only allow woman, sounds cool the only problem was that the men where not listening to him and where trying to force themselves onto the coach, the coach body guard was having none of it, he was Algerian and he had a temper, he basically turns to one of the men and punches him, gives him a right smackeroonee on the upper cheek hmmmmm.

well the man who got punched, his wife was horrified so she gets involved, the result oh dearest bloggers is that her hijab gets taken off, traumatic but i have to admit hilarious in a sick sort of way. see what i mean about the madness, we thankfully where not in a rush and our group sat down in the shade watching this episode from afar. what was sad was the fact that these people had just completed arafat, why would you put yourself in a position where you will accumulate sins. a question that kept popping into my head was 'why are people in such a rush?' walahi there was no need to escape muzdalifa, it wasn't like we had to be back at mina before duhur or something, there was plenty of time and plenty of coaches, it just meant waiting for a while, but people where acting like they where being chased by a million carnivorous camels.

some men decided they weren't going to wait for the next coach and took it on themselves the mission of getting onto the roof of the coach, one man was really struggling and at one point we all thought he was going to fall either that or his ihram was going to fall, he stood on one mans head to balance himself and it took 3 men to pull him onto the roof crazy!!!!

muzdalifa was becoming a ghost town just like arafat, people where slowly leaving and the numbers where decreasing, i bought a cup of good old coffee and watched the world of muzdalifa

after the crowds die down i always notice the amount of plastic bags left behind, why do people do that its not like there are no bins around, Saudi has supplied enough bins to throw the worlds rubbish into so why do people litter? it was soooo annoying to watch people drinking water from bottles then throwing the bottle on the ground, so many times i would pick the bottle up and chase after the culprit who threw it and make them throw it in the bin, i didn't need to speak there language, the power of my sign language was more than enough in giving the message.

people where still lingering around doing there own thing, it was sad watching the numbers decreasing although we would meet again at mina but it indicated to me that time was passing and that soon hajj would have ended.

one thing i kept noticing through out mina as well as muzdalifa, was the babies, they are so adorable its unbelievable, sersiouly, the mother would tie the baby up behind her back so that its little feet where sticking out as well as the head, kinda like a diy baby carrier, the result is you get one hell of a cute adorable baby mashallah, i kept chasing them for pic, i was there stalker..

every so often i would look up across to the gate to see if there was any chance for us to grab a coach but still people where waiting then the unbelievable happened, a coach drives right up to us and just parks, seriously, some how it had gotten into the area and just drives up to us, for like a few seconds we just continued to sit down staring at this random coach, then our leader goes up to the driver and asks him if he can take us to mina to which he agrees subhanallah, withing seconds we where sat on the coach making our way back to mina without having to stand and fight for a place on the coaches at the entrance.

I'm reminded of when Allah swt says that reward will come to those who are patient and when he 'be patient, for Allah is with those who are patient' subhannallah...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Back to writing about my hajj experience.

after the adhan for maghreb, people began to leave for muzdallifah, there where sooooo many people waiting to get onto coaches and so there was no point in standing for so long waiting, so we went back to the tent to wait until we where called. going back to the tent and entering it was totally different to the morning, you sense a difference in you and in others, every one is so much calmer and at peace and you feel like nothing can get you down, a sense of zeal for life takes over you and you see life in a different light to how you used to, i know it sounds confusing but its difficult putting the feelings that where going through me then.

We all sat down together, there was no need for words, we where all contemplating on the days events and there was a sense of unification amongst us all. obviously i broke the silence by asking people if they had any food because i was starving and i felt like i could eat a camel with the bones, i hadn’t eaten before so i really was starving, so every one began to rummage around in there bags looking for something for me, i ended up with a croissant, cheese and half a chocolate and orange juice mmmmmmmmm.

One of the girls with us was constantly reading a book on hajj and she was a great help bless her, we would go back to her book all the time to check some information out and to know what the next stage would be. Here she is sat amongst all the sleeping bags, thanks sis you where a great help :)

after munching away at the rations i had i thought i would be adventurous and venture out and it felt so weird, kinda like a ghost town, it was only hours before that the place was buzzing full of people, all that was left was empty tents, a random shoe here and there (i know even in hajj random shoes where following me, i realised its an international thing lol).

i went back to the tent and every one decided that they wanted tea, all we needed to do was find the tea men, not a problem, seriously its like they wait round a corner for you and when your brain yearns for tea they pick up on the signals and appear cool to watch.

we didn’t have to walk long, right outside our tent we found a dude serving tea and coffee, so we walk towards him and order 22 teas, he just looked us at like we where pulling his leg, but we where serious we wanted 22 teas and he smiled and said no problem, he just needed to boil the water which was fine until it was announced that we gotta join the queue to board the coach, then it was panic time, we had ordered the tea, we had 22 people who would kill for a tea, ok maybe not kill but near enough, so we where saying to the man 'hurry up hurry up hurry up' the men where shouting at us saying 'hurry up hurry up hurry up' i found it all so hilarious so i was laughing away, the tea man was getting stressed bless him, i think he’s never been rushed to do anything in his life that is until he met us.

Eventually we got the tea and managed to join the queue and drank our tea and still not board the bus, all that rushing for no reason lol.

Eventually we got on the coach and headed to muzdalifa to sleep under the stars, thats why we where carrying our sleeping bags around with us. muzdalifah is actually not far from arafat but again we had to find our spot, we got there and it was an amazing sight walahi, millions of people just spread out on the ground in the open, not in a tent but under the stars subhanallah.

some people had brought sleeping bags with them and thats what we did, as well as wearing 10,000 layers, seriously it was freezing, people who had gotten ill in hajj was mainly because of the night in muzdalifa, some people had nothing apart from the clothes on their back, alot of men only had there ihram they must have been soooo cold.

looking around at the many people was a reminder of god and our place here on earth, because it was a sight like no other, one of the ladies with us said it reminded her of when we depart from this earth all we will have is ourselves, individually with nothing to take with us, all being equal, rich poor, black white, it was a thought to ponder on. We had to pray magheb and isha combined and after the prayers i went looking for pebbles. There’s something about being out in the open in the middle of the night, picking up chick pea size pebbles with thousands of others that is strangely satisfying and surreal, the pebbles where for the stoning of jamarat, my mum had bought me a little pouch thing just for this occasion, so if you get to do hajj remember to take something similar, you will need it.

After picking the pebbles, i dived into my sleeping bag, it really was very cold, what we did was huddle together to get as much warmth as possible, we had cleared the ground of any jagged rocks to try to make our sleep as comfortable as is possible.

it took me some time to fall asleep because i was so excited about the days events and also the person next to me had such a powerful snore, bless her she really was tired...

its such a beautiful thing to sleep under the stars, for some time i just looked up to the sky and eventually fell asleep with a smile upon my face...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

i was going to type up my experience of muzdalifa (still am inshallah) but i got a call from 3 mobile company this afternoon (Sunday i know, why cant they leave people in peace).

they where offering new offers of 'buy one phone get another free' and the contract is 600 free minutes with 400 Free text messages, and you could choose from the oh so many new phones that keep appearing. well i told the man i wasn't interested in getting a new contract until my current one ends and i wasn't quite sure when it ended.

so he offered to find out when it ends for me and i stupidly said ok, so he needed my details of names, address etc... when he asked for my name he needed me to spell it for him and then said that's a 'unique name, I've never come across that before, where is it from?' so i explained that its found in the quran and gave him the meaning of my name, he then said 'so your Muslim?' to which i replied 'yep, that i am'.

i thought that would be end of that little diversion of conversation, but noooooo, things don't work like that for me, instead he said ' well I'm Muslim as well, my name is kassim, see Muslim name'

i didn't know what to say apart from correct his pronunciation of his name lol, he then said 'well that's how it should be pronounced but I'm so use dto working with English folk that the way they call me is stuck on me now'

ok, so i thought that would be the end of that diversion, but noooooooooooooooo

so he then goes on to say 'so do you mind me asking what ethnicity are you?' hmmmm do i answer that question, maybe telling him I'm Arab will end this diversion and we can get to the point of ending the conversation, 'I'm Arab'

'oh really, ok can i confirm your address please?' finally back to tracking when my contract ends, see i new being Arab would quickly change the conversation lol or so i thought.

so i told him my address, when i mentioned i lived in Old Trafford he said 'oh wow, see i used to live in chorlton just down the road from old trafford what a coincidence (is it?) i live in blackburn now but i still come down to Manchester and visit my friends in old trafford'

so what do i say 'ok, old trafford is a cool place' - i felt that i had to say something, that's the best i could come up with.

just as I'm about to tell him could we please hurry this up I'm kinda busy right now, he says to me 'do you mind if i request to become a member of your friend club?'

what!!!!! where did that come from?

so after a brief pause i said 'excuse me, my what?'

'i want to be your Friend'

looooooool, i had to put my hand over my mouth to stop my self from laughing out loud.

'ummm sorry that's not going to happen, i stick to a rule of female friends only'

telephone man: 'oh come on, don't be like that, I'm sure you can have me as a friend, a person can never have to many friends correct?'

me: 'maybe so but like i said i don't chill with male friends, not gonna happen'

telephone man:' come on your Muslim, I'm Muslim, you have a nice laugh (what!!!) you sound like a nice person, you never know'

me: 'ummm do you ask every female you call to be your friend?'

telephone man: laughs 'no no I'm not like that, so can i join you friend group?'

me: 'nope'

telephone man: 'i tell you what i will find out when your contract ends then give you a call later on to tell you the dates, in the mean time that gives you plenty of time to think about me and being your friend ok'

me: laugh from the sheer craziness of it all 'the date of the contract ending is all i require'

man: well we will see, bye'

and with that ended the conversation, how freaky and weird is that? who does that, calls there customers and then chats them up?

i need you guys to give me brilliant come back lines that i can say to him if he calls back, cause now he has my mobile number and i am sure i wont be hearing the last from him.

subhanallah some people are just created differently.....

Monday, February 05, 2007

Ok so i was really post-poning my trip to the toilet, i figured if i didn't think about it then i wouldn't need to go and life would be perfect, yeh and pigs fly which if your wondering they don't.
it was really funny because you can see it on every ones face, the fear of the unknown, and when one courageous soul decides to venture to the toilets we would wait anxiously for them and as soon as they come back to the tent we would be like vultures surrounding them 'so how was it? is it really bad?, did it smell? oh my god aaaaaah'

well i gotta say my turn came to visit the hole in the ground, i had put if off long enough, i was turning yellow slightly jaundice in colour and it wasn't because of the sun (i don't tan unfortunately) quite simply my bladder was hanging for dear life and was about to commit suicide. so white African thought it was time to be one with nature, to be honest i didn't know what to expect, you hear horror stories galore that you expect the worse.

there are loads of toilets cubicle style, i forgot to take a pic people so i do apologise, it looked fine from the outside, the men's should have been split to the woman's but men where ignoring the female signes and vice versa so as i was waiting for a free toilet, the door opened and a man came out then looked at me like i was some kinda freak and then muttered under his breath 'why don't you use the woman's toilets' uh cheek, he was in the woman's toilets and he had the nerve to throw me a few words, well i wasn't standing for it, so in my nice ihram voice told him ' akhi afwan lawsama7t, mula7ahad baseeta, 7amamata al reejal fil khalaf, il 3alama al kabira ilee warak surat mara wa laysa rajul' translation- brother, excuse me if you may, something i noticed, the men's toilets are at the back, the big sign behind you shows a lady and not a man'.

to which he turned, i pointed out the sign, he smiled and nodded his head and scurried away, one point to white African 0 points to Mr user of woman's toilets, later too many people where using the toilets that i gave up...

98% of the toilets where the hole in the ground type, 7amam 3arbi, which i hate, i really don't like them but beggars cant be choosers, the other 2% where the normal type that we are used to, as you could imagine they where hardly ever free, the one time that i found it free i celebrated but my celebrations came to an end because when i walked in i found that it was over flowing with human waste, i know i know, it wasn't a pleasant moment, i screamed and slammed the door and warned people not to enter.

next to the hole is a hose pipe with a tap, there is no roof, you look up and the shower head is directly above you, two in one toilet and shower, there are hangers to hang your clothes but it would have been better if the hangers where at the door because where they where placed meant that when having a shower any clothes you hung would get soaking wet no point really...

to be honest the toilets really where better than i expected, it was always generally clean apart from that one time with the over flowing mess, but other than that i was impressed more than disgusted so that's a good thing. my greatest worry was that some creature (cockroach) would pop out of the hole, how horrible would that have been? the thing is also when your in a state of ihram you cant kill any insects, bugs, anything...

so that's my essay on toilet experience in Mina, slightly different in Arafat though :)

so we woke up on the 9th of dhul hijja, that was a Friday, we prayed fajer and had breakfast, i drew all over my breakfast box:

inside of the box, this was our breakfast on a day to day basis while at Mina, cheese, orange juice, either jam or halwa taheeneyah, milk and the oh so famous croissant, what was really funny was that each box they gave us be it breakfast, lunch or dinner would have those freshener tissue, the scented variety, we where in a state of ihram so we are not allowed to use anything perfumed, but you forget so just as we where about to open ours some one shouts, 'don't open the wet wipes, there perfumed', whoever prepared the boxes should have realised...

after breakfast it was a case of waiting for the coach to take us to Arafat, again we where told it wasn't far but it was a case of finding your camp withing Arafat, some people still chose to walk it as did millions of others and apparently it was a killer trying to get there, you can easily get lost and end up missing most of your time in Arafat.

the coach came and it was announced that it was for the Swiss sisters so we where like see you guys later inshallah, but then 2 seconds later we where told that us Brits would be joing them on the coach hee hee hee they cant get rid of us that easily looool.

the scene outside of the camp in Mina, we would be back tomorrow, hopefully up lifted and in high spirits with our sins removed.

the drive to Arafat was surreal, on the way i was thinking of how blessed i was that Allah swt invited me for hajj and i still couldn't believe it seriously guys it felt like i was a in a dream land, i would look around me, at the other hijaj and thank Allah for this amazing opportunity, again the ride there was a chance for me to reflect on my intentions and aims. it was kinda difficult taking pictures because of a couple of things, the seat i was sat on was designed for the Pygmies in south America, extremely small people, my knees where in a position that i am certain no human should ever try, i had my sleeping bag with me as well as other peoples sleeping bag who thought it would be funny to dump them on my head, some people really exploit the whole 'don't argue or fight when in a state of ihram' loool, the person next to me was leaning towards me for some reason and also the coach driver was driving kinda fast so the picture quality is not up to scratch. after a few minutes we arrived at Arafat,one of the mountains at Arafat and already people where climbing it as you can see:
i was at Arafat so as to my sins, my imperfections, to beg Allah swt for forgiveness and to cleanse my self of any sins, to come back to Manchester as though i was born again, free of any sins, to start all over and become a better person.

Arafat is really the day of repentance and forgiveness and that's why eid begins for hajis on Arafat day. Arafat is the day that Satan hates the most because Allah frees the most people from hell fire on this blessed day.

all over the world, Muslims fast on the day of Arafat, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafat. He said, 'It expiates for the sins of the previous year and of the coming year.' Narrated by Muslim. This (fasting) is mustahabb for those who are not on Hajj. In the case of the one who is on Hajj, it is not Sunnah for him to fast on the Day of Arafat, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not fast on this day in Arafat.

I am so thankful to be among the ones to stand in Arafat in supplication. when we arrived at ararfat we where pointed towards our tent, it was different to mina, the tents where what you imagine tents to be, none of the air conditioning buisness, we got there for around 09:30am which is very good timing, we literally dumped our sleeping bags and sat in the tent. now we where all wide awake but subhannallah allah swt send down sleep on his servent on Arafta day before duhur that most of us slept, i was out of it completly zonked out.

I woke up the sound of Turks saying dhiker and having a lecture which i didn’t understand cause it was in Turkish, they where in the tent opposite us and man where they loud, later they broke into a song, tala al badru 3alyna, bless...

We prayed Dhuhr and Asr shortened and combined dur ing the time of Dhuhr to save the rest of the day for glorifying Allah and for supplication asking forgiveness. you have to ensure that you stay within the boundaries of Arafat, some people want to do the sunnah of listening to the khutbah at masjid nimrah but what many don’t realise is that half of the masjid is built outside the boundaries of Arafat so you have to ensure you sit in the side that is within the boundaries, there are so many millions of others who have the same idea so you can imagine how packed it gets in the mosque, its sunnah and not fard so its not necessary at all.

Some of us then ventured out, some of the sisters wanted to climb a mountain not because it’s a must, the Prophet salla Allah-u alaihe wa salam, said: "I stood here on this rocky hill and all Arafat is a standing place" Muslim. Which means that you don’t have to tire yourself out by climbing rocky mountains to get a spot to pray on, you can do it from wherever in Arafat. we wanted to see the sights more than anything else, so we found a mountain close by and it was already full of people who where deep in prayer, contemplation, observed in there on thoughts and selves. we stood together as sisters and did a joint dua on this random mountain in Arafat, it was lovely and whilst saying ameen I looked around me and the sights of people together yet each person as an individual, standing before Allah humbly, it stirs emotions in you that you never thought where there. Eventually we went back to the tent to find that lunch was being handed out, we ate and then every one was doing their own thing, reading quran, making dua, doing dhikir.

I chose a lonely spot somewhere, I took out my list of people's names (including the bloggers) and just went through the list making dua, i hope i didn’t forget anyone :) to be honest its a very emotional time, you cant help but think of yourself and the life you led for however many years it is you have lived, you cant help but ask yourself questions about who you are as a person?, what life your leading? What good are you doing for yourself, family, friends, community the world etc.. What rules are you breaking? Are you happy with the life you are living? sooooo many questions pop into your head, you bring things to the surface that you had dug deep deep into the back of your mind, you remember people you might have wronged or who might have wronged you.

its funny really because before all that you are at a lost as to what to do, what type of dua to say etc.. but then Allah paves the way for you and you find yourself not able to stop, the tears will come down, you might think they wont but they will and as soon as they do its difficult to stop, you forget the people around you, the moment is for you, its a moment like no other.
After asr (which we didn’t need to pray as we had already combined with duhur) we again left our tents and stood on the square courtyard outside the tents in our section, we faced the kiblah and prayed to Allah swt:

looking around me i'm reminded of the day of judgment where we will all be standing infront of allah swt in rows upon rows with nothing but ourselves and where no one is aware of any one else, in the pictures you can see that people are standing, some sitting, praying to Allah individually, all absorbed in there own problems no one is noticing any one else, each wants to be cleansed of all sins. whilst standing there your aware that the sky is getting darker, sun set is close at hand but you look up to the sky with your eyes full of tears and you wish from the bottom of your heart that the day would extend for another few hours, you wish that sun set woul dbe post-poned so as to get more dua in, but the adhan for maghreb is heard and our experince in arafat was over.

People where hugging each other and generally bonding in there happiness because happy is the person who receives the Mercy and Pleasure of Allah on this particular day. The Prophet said on his day of pilgrimage, when he himself attended at Arafat: “Gabriel had just visited me to convey to me the greetings of my Lord and said: ‘God has forgiven all those who are in attendance at Arafat and those who will be at Al-Mash’ar Al-Haram, i.e. Muzdalifah, all their sins, and He has taken it upon Himself to settle on their behalf all that may be claimed against them.’ Umar asked him whether this was for those who were offering the pilgrimage in the Prophet’s company, but the Prophet said: ‘This applies to you and to all who come after you until the Day of Judgment.’”

I couldn't believe that it was over, they say Arafat is hajj because you hajj is not accepted if you miss Arafat and nothing can compensate for missing it. from the moment you decide to perform hajj, your dearest wish is to stand on the plains of Arafat, again i couldn’t believe that i had just completed the Arafat experience wow subhannallah.