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Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer

PILGRIMS PROGRESS - ARAFAH

Monday, December 13, 2004
In Makkah we were roomed in Makkah Intercontinental, a very nice hotel but too far for walking to the Masjid ul Haram. Every prayer time there was a mini bus to take us to the mosque. At the end of each prayer, the bus would wait for us under the viaduct to take us back to the hotel. The bus could not wait too long and if we missed it, we had to take a taxi back. (See pic above taken by Pak Masduki at the entrance of the hotel. Khaled (Tunisia), Coulibaly (Mali) and I were pooling our riyals for the taxi fare. Apologies for the visible nipples.)
During the hajj season, taxis were a bit picky. I got a bit anxious after prayers every time Pak Masduki got distracted by the batu aqiq sellers outside the mosque. At the end of the trip, he collected about a pouchful of various stones. I spied a nice African cap (kopiah) made of sisal sold by an African lady under the viaduct. I didn't get to buy it. Procrastination again. Bad habits are difficult to lose.

One day we were in the crowded open area near the Kaabah looking for a place to pray 'asar. Masduki sandwiched himself between some pilgrims from Indonesia (they had tags) leaving me standing. One kindly old man, without tags, without ihram but in a dress that didn't seem to belong to any country or culture, beckoned me to sit beside him. I accepted gratefully, salammed with him without speaking just as he was standing up to begin praying. I prayed next to him. Immediately after the final salam of the prayer, I wanted to thank him for his thoughtfulness. But he was gone. I looked around for him but he wasn't anywhere in sight. How could an old man go so fast?

At the Makkah Intercontinental, we were joined by the CNN crew who were covering the hajj for the first time. We caught sight of Riz Khan many times in the hotel restaurant. None of us asked him for an autograph.

The CNN crew went on to cover the wuquf at Arafah. There, I shared an air conditioned tent with friends from Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria and Pakistan. We were in the Ministry of Information's permanent complex which had towers for TV cameras. Some of us were asked to give a running commentary in our language on the event for the Saudi TV live broadcast. We had a panoramic view of Arafah. The Prophet said "the hajj is Arafah". Miss Arafah on the appointed time and day and you are just doing the umrah.

And the pilgrims converged on the Plain of Arafah under the watchful eye of the helicopters from The Royal Saudi Air Force.

From the tower, we saw people in the white ihram moving about. There must haven been thousands and thousands of them. The usual number of pilgrims annually is around 2 million and all of them have to be here in a designated area of about 15 acres. Some were in the Masjid Namirah nearby listening to the special sermon. Some were seen arduously climbing Jabal Rahmah, a historical hill. Adam and Eve (Nabi Adam and Siti Hawa to the Muslims) were believed to be reunited there. The universality and equality of Islam were much in evidence here. People of all colours, white, black, brown, yellow and whatever other colour they come in, all there in white, in the same garb. No Guccis, no Armanis. No defining and showing of status.

Someone told me that being on the Plain of Arafah during wuquf is a small preview of the Padang Mahsyar, the Day of Reckoning. Only, I won't be on a tower then and the burning sun would seem much closer. That day, the Saudi government tried to keep the pilgrims cool as much as they could by installing structures along the roads that reminded me of our bunga manggar only theirs had jets of cold mist streaming out of the branches. Much later, I saw similar system back home installed in Amcorp Mall and other places.

Do not hope too much for a similar relief at Padang Mahsyar.
(To be continued)

Architects' pictures of Makkah Inter Continental
Pics of Masjidul Haram (warning: No captions)
About Tawaf
About Sa'i
About wuquf at Arafah
A South African's Arafah Experience

| 12:40 AM :: ::
22 CommentsOldStyle:
  • Mary Mary Quite Contrary but that's a bare chest! :p
    Wonderful experience. Patiently wait for yr next entry.
    You've done a great job on the list of reference. TQ sir! :)

    By Blogger Honeytar, at 1:03 AM  
  • er the man in "tudung(?)" was walking toward the hotel or the cab? :)

    dusyum.fotopages.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:01 AM  
  • I feel the 'pull' getting stronger, to visit the holy land as His guest. InsyaAllah someday, tengah kumpul duit. Great posts, Pokku, please keep 'em coming.

    By Blogger Jie, at 8:06 AM  
  • Makkah Intercontinental is one of the nicer hotels there, but yep, a bit far. When I went for umrah in October, they put us up at Makkah Hotel - a REALLY old and dilapidated hotel, where when we first arrived, safety seemed questionable and the beds and sheets looked as though they had been imported from Hotel Ah Fatt at Jalan Alor, KL!! LOL

    But quite contrarily, we couldn't have been safer and (dig this) more comfortable!! The hotel entrance was ten feet from the Babul Umrah entrance!! Needless to say, we could afford to go back to the hotel room and freshen up for each and every waktu and really spend all our time in the Holy Mosque.

    My initial take was "Wow!! Pok Ku was on the Saudi government's invitation!! Bet he got preferential treatment during the Hajj, seeing as how there are so many people there!!" But reading your posts thus far, it's not necessarily so eh? But you do get to do some amazing things like having a bird's eye's view of the pilgrims at Arafah .. that must have been a sight to behold, Subhanallah. :)

    Can't wait for the next instalment!!

    -b-

    By Blogger Ms.B, at 8:39 AM  
  • when you that strange man like that again, remember to shake his hand ... if his thumb is soft, like there is no bone, he is probably the mystical alKhidr

    -riza

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:23 AM  
  • you should mozaic them before putting them 'on air'. RTM regulation mah.

    By Blogger Chief, at 10:07 AM  
  • PokKu - Strange things happened over there at my firtst umrah(83)when the crowd was less. I was below the Mosque at the zam zam well at late hour and a few people down there were hapilly sleeping on the floor. . I was trying to drink the zam zam water but the chained cups not in good condition. Suddently , a man gave me a cup and I used it to drink. The water that came out of the tap was whiitish ( like 100 plus ) I was hesitant to drink it and pour it away. The next turn of the tap brings in clear water and I drank it. When I turned around to thank the man who gave me the cup- he was not around anymore. Somebody told me that I should have drank the whitish water - that may be the maal hayat - the water of life of nabi Qidir.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:17 AM  
  • My mom had a similar experience, she wanted to go to Raudhah, but wasn't sure how to get there. Along the way, a nice pretty lady called her "Hajah! Hajah! Raudhah!!" and pointed to a direction which was later, Raudhah. She wanted to thank her, but she seemed to have dissapeared right after.

    Leen@Xanga.com/ashburn

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:17 PM  
  • "Apologies for the visible nipples"

    Tak apa, bukan aurat + tidak memberahikan.

    By Blogger Aku Tak Reti, at 1:06 PM  
  • Mysterious story in Mekah. Eagerly waiting for the continuation.

    By Blogger Nectar, at 2:04 PM  
  • Hajj is probably the only time you can walk around in public wrapped in bedsheets and/or topless as picture shows. LOL

    By Blogger Kri, at 2:36 PM  
  • PokKu... many things happened there. We went to Umrah with a friend who was a first timer. We rushed for the Maghrib prayer at the Grand mosque and managed to sit at the back row.Then we rushed by taxi to Tanaím to the starting point for the Umrah and managed to get back to Grand mosque and prayed Isya at the back row again. After the the prayer ended, my friend looked very sad and worried ( petrified). So I asked him why? He said " I saw the Kaabah during the maghrib prayer but I cannot see the Kaaba during the Isya" prayer - may be it was a sign that he was going to die. He was very releived when I told him that during the maghrib prayer we were on the first floor and during the isya prayer we entered by different door and were on the third floor!! and of course , he could not see the Kaabah then.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:09 PM  
  • Salams Pokku..
    Lepas habih cite Haji ni.. takmboh cite pasal banjir?? Teruk kabornye leni..tapi thank God ..kapong ambe dok rajin lagila naik air... :)

    By Blogger ceklong, at 5:22 PM  
  • PokKu : I had the opportunity of doing the sacrifice - qurban myself. After the "throw stone session" I followed the mutawif to the Arab village near the Mina as he promised us to bring it there. There were a few Arabs who were selling the livestock ( sheep & camel). So, he helped me to bargained with the Arab - it was interesting the way the do it- as though it is a quarrel - short of some blows. But finally , we settled for a price of 3 sheep. The cost is equivalent to ONE sheep , if it is done by proxy by the tabung haji. The Arab offered us dried camel penis ( looked like long dried herbal roots)which is supposed to be good for..... However, i declined. Then a number of slughterers with long sharp knife were trying to get the job to do it for us and we settled for one of them. He alone dragged the 3 sheep to the side drain and hand me the big knife fo rme to do it. I had no experience before not even with chicken and asked him to do it for me while I will only baca the niat Qurban. You know he single handledly slaughter each of the sheep with no struggle from the sheep- as compared to the slughtering of Itik sekati or itik nila which keep on struggling and walk to air chor even after the neck is haalf cut.). ( later when I was in Australia the sheep rearers told the secret - as long as you ensure the all the four legs of the sheep did not touch the ground , they will keep quiet. ). may be any hajj going this time - try to arrange it with you Sheikh for D-I-Y qurban . Its fun and cheap. On the way back we saw a camel on a datsun Pickup truck - It was mowing softly and when I look at his /her eyes , there were tears ( which confirm that those animal which were not chosen for the sacrifice will cry and those which were chosen will submit to it willingly. Thats the experience i would like to share.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:23 PM  
  • Honeytar: Thank you!
    dusyum: LOL! Don't know who the Pak Arab was but he was hoing into the hotel.
    jie: IsnyaAllah!
    Blabarella: It is best to be as close to the mosque as possible no matter what star rating the hotel is.
    Anonymous1: Thanks for the tip.
    Chief: LOL! I am glad there's no censorship here.
    Anonymous2: MasyaAllah! A missed opportunity. Tak ada rezeki!
    Leen: Such is the wonder of the Holy Land. Lots of strange things hapening.
    AkuTakReti: Bukan aurat pun segan juga.
    nectar: InsyaAllah!
    Kri: Right!!! And don't forget the "no underwear" rule.
    Anonymous3: Disorientation usually causes that kind of problem.

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 5:27 PM  
  • ceklong: Nampak gaya berat sikit boh taung ning. Tapi saya di KL ning.
    Anonymous: Thank you for the wonderful story about the qurban. I missed all that because I used the IDB coupon system.

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 6:09 PM  
  • Org kata, pengalaman di Tanah Suci setiap orang adalah berbeza, mengikut tahap amalan masing-masing dan kelakuan sewaktu menjadi tetamu di sana. Ye ke?

    By Blogger hana_kirana, at 8:24 PM  
  • hhmm..i can't thank you enough pok ku for sharing your experience of your time there, thank you again. i've never been there though i hope i will one day. reading your post helps me imagine what it feels like to be at the place where my late father last went. please keep up the excellent work. you've got an avid reader in me ;)

    Cheers!!! :D

    By Blogger hyelbaine, at 10:30 PM  
  • Hana Kirana: Allah swt jua yang Maha Mengetahui!
    hyelbaine: You are welcome and thank you for the encouragment.

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 11:10 PM  
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