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Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer

PILGRIMS PROGRESS- THE END?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

(WARNING: LONG POST)
Two of my friends who got left behind at the Jamrahs in Mina wanted to go back to Masjidul Haram to take care of unfinished business. They wanted Pak Masduki and me to accompany them.

We got an official car, a GMC Suburban, but were told to find our own way home. We didn't foresee any problem with that.

We couldn't get a taxi to Mina. It was past midnight. The few taxis that stopped refused to take us after knowing our destination. We decided to take the public mini bus. After a long walk and many inquiries, we found the right mini bus. We showed the slip of paper with the Arabic version of the Ministry of Information's address and the driver nodded. He was a young boy of about 18. His co-driver/conductor was very much younger. We agreed that he was no older than 14.

The bus took many side streets and back lanes to get out of Makkah. Enough to get us apprehensive and a bit worried. We could pay for the ride but we wouldn't want to be taken for a ride, if you get what I mean.

We relaxed a bit when the bus finally joined the now-familiar highway and the crawl. The drivers amused themselves by taking turns at the wheel while the other clambered on the roof of the bus and shouted instructions. Their antics amused us too until they spied a Ministry of Information signboard, stopped and told us to get out. It wasn't where we wanted to go. It was Muzdalifah, where we got our stones. I remembered that the Mina complex is on a hill and that was where we wanted to go. The drivers tried to argue but finally saw the wisdom of not continuing arguing with bigger adults who outnumbered them. We got to our quarters safely.

The Ministry of Information's complex in Mina consisted of buildings and also refurbished containers stacked on top of another. We had a vantage view of the Jamrah area from our quarters on the hill. We saw that it was getting very crowded day by day. "Ustaz", our Palestinian friend from Ramallah, looked at the swelling crowd one morning and grimly predicted that soon there would be dead people there. He decided to go and do the final stoning right after subuh. I wanted to follow him but reading the book my wife gave me, I was made to understand that I can only start the stoning ritual just slightly after midday. I decided to follow my book. Pak Masduki and a few other friends decided to do it after middday too.

In the afternoon, six of us walked the steep steps down the hill to the Jamrahs. Even there, the crowd was already big. The traders on the steps were doing brisk business selling Russian binoculars, Chinese watches and other souvenirs.

To get to the 3 Jamrahs, the Saudi built another level, an overpass much like our highway viaduct, to accommodate the massive crowd. We found the "ground floor" already packed and decided to use the upper level. It was getting unbearably hot and I stopped to pick up a free plastic bag of frozen air zam zam to cool my head. By the time I got up on the ramp towards the first Jamrah, the air zam zam has melted; I lost sight of my friends and trouble started.

People started pushing forward. In spite of the repeated announcements in over 20 languages over the loudspeakers urging people to be calm and orderly, there was a stampede. I had no inkling of what was happening until I saw soldiers running around at the edge and I was pushed forward. Then it hit me.
"There is a stampede and I will die here. This is my end".
Dying in the Holy Land has its merits but at the moment, I rather be alive. I surrendered my whole being to Allah.

I did my best to keep myself from falling and being crushed. I didn't know how, but I did it. I kept holding on to my glasses for some inexplicable reasons. Whatever was going to happen to me, I wanted to see, clearly. I lost my sandals while I was pushed right to the front of the first Jamrah. I threw my seven stones, properly and confidently but how do I get out of this mess of unruly mass? In the rows behind me, people were already falling down and trampled or pushed off the viaduct. My end would come soon. The hot sunburned concrete burned my bare feet. My mouth and throat were very dry. I kept submitting myself to Allah's Will.

Just as some people in the row nearest to me fell like bowling pins, I saw a tall big man who could easily pass off as an American Football quarterback. I saw him calmly and confidently going out of the melee. I hung to his back as he cut a swath through the thick crowd and got to the safety of the railings away from the mobs. The man was gone before I could thank him.

I saw two abandoned selipar jepun, one red and the other one blue. I got them and put them on so I could stop hopping on the hot concrete. Both were for the left feet but they would do for the moment. I flopped by the side of the railing, catching my breath and heard the wail of the ambulances above the din of the pandemonium.

I took off my glasses, wiped my sweat-drenched face and thanked Allah profusely. Only the burning concrete prevented me from doing a sujud syukur. I put my glasses again and saw what looked like an African lady sitting quietly by the railings. She had a kettle with her. She handed me a tin cup of water. I had a much needed drink and gave her many "shukrans" (thank yous).

The drink refreshed me and I was able to get to the next two Jamrahs without much difficulty. The entrance to the Jamrah was closed off by this time.

On the way back, I was so overwhelmed with fatigue as well as the emotions of the experience that I had to sit on the steps of the steep hill, which by then were cleared of traders by the security people. I sat there for a long time until my friends found me and took me back to our quarters.

118 pilgrims died that day. 180 were injured including some of the soldiers.

On the plane home, YB Tan Sri Dato' Paduka Dr. Abdul Hamid Othman told me that the fatwa had been changed. Malaysians pilgrims now could do the stoning after subuh. I knew too late. To those going for pilgrimage this month onward, may Allah keep you safe and may you be rewarded with haji mabrur. Amin!

Tragedy at Mina
About the Jamrahs

Throwing Days and Hours

| 12:31 AM :: ::
26 CommentsOldStyle:
  • Whoah, that sure is scary. But I suppose that's the whole idea of doing haji is all about. As in, seeing where your faith lies in. I'm glad to hear that you're all right.

    Allah bless you and may you return home safely.

    By Blogger Silencers, at 2:07 AM  
  • Silencers: Thank you. I came back in 1998, safely, alhamdullilah.

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 2:36 AM  
  • Po Ku, Alhamdulillah all's well that ends well. Glad you made it safely. What an experience! Thank you for sharing.
    Now, the side stories please... :)

    By Blogger Honeytar, at 5:59 AM  
  • Dengar cerita pun dah naik gerun.Saya lihat ombak manusia mulai jam 8 pagi sampailak tengah hari.Semasa saya diMina dua tahun dulu, kami dinasihatkan melontar waktu malam,tapi saya buat selepas subuh.
    Semasa saya kerja haji pun ada berlaku kecederaan kerana perangai bakal haji yg tidak endah arahan pihak berkuasa dan kurang sopan santun.

    By Blogger Berisman, at 7:43 AM  
  • alhamdulillah..
    i agree with Honeytar.. now on to the 'side stories' .. hee hee

    By Blogger elisataufik, at 8:08 AM  
  • it's a miracle to be able to get out of the mess early.
    p/s thank you for your comment!

    dusyum.fotopages.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:12 AM  
  • (warning. SHORT comment): Alhamdulillah Pok Ku. --md

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:25 AM  
  • the stones to throw the jamrah are strange. one morning while i was sleeping on the sofa at my parents home. i was in semi-awake when i saw few huge human like figures came to the house looking for some thing. they were talking in unfamiliar language, but i could understand them, looking for some bunch of stones. i was frightened. when i was totally awake, i related the experience to my parents. then suddenly my mom said.."tu lah abah kau..orang suruh pulangkan"...then i saw my dad's face changed, like he was wondering and feeling guilty at the same time. then only i knew, after months coming back from the holy land, my dad actually brought back something he was not suppossed to. he told us, he accidently brought back the stones for jamrah. but he could not do it as yet, coz he noticed there was a missing piece. one night while sitting on the floor, i heard a sound of something being thrown next to me. it was one of the missing piece. my late dad glanced through his innerself who told him that it was earlier stolen by a djinn. then he requested me to bring me to tabung haji kelana jaya. he wanted to pass them to any officer there who would go to the holy land, to return the stones. and we did.

    By Blogger Captain Barbell, at 8:39 AM  
  • i pity those who lost their life there, but pok ku, glad u made it safely home - otherwise, we wouldn't be reading your interesting posts, rite?
    anyway, strange things do happened to some people, that's make life more interesting i guess. :-)
    ciao!

    By Blogger 3six7, at 10:05 AM  
  • Riza,
    Your story confirms my belief that Mina is 'tanah haram'.Semasa saya kerja hai disana,saya tentukan yh saya tidak membawa balik apa2 dari Mina.

    Pada musim haji tahun 2002,seorang jemaah haji (bukan dari Malaysia) ditelan bumi semasa bermalam di Muzdalifah.

    By Blogger Berisman, at 11:34 AM  
  • dear Pok Ku,
    thank you for sharing your hajj experience. Certainly this is one of the most valuable entries I could ever read - a real life experience. From your stories, I could suspect that you were helped by God for many times, especially during the hugeu stampede incident near Jamrahs. Hopefully, this will be a lesson for all of us that God is watching us and He is helping us in any way possible. Even without we ever realize it.

    farid
    jalan-sepi.blogspot.com

    By Blogger Orang Kita, at 12:51 PM  
  • PokKu, your story was greatly enriched with flavours thus eye-opening for us to be there!!
    Now, as your many said - Side story wanted!!

    By Blogger zaireen, at 1:09 PM  
  • PokKu – Your frightening experience at the stampede reminds me of my frightening incidence in 1989. Our residence was near the palace wall. One day when were on the way to the maghrib prayers passing through the palace wall , there was a loud explosions in front of us which shook the ground .We ran back to our place and was trembling in shock for one hour or two in the room. What happened was that some body put some explosives there and we were lucky that it exploded before we reached to that place. We did not go to the mosque to pray that day but did it in our room.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:52 PM  
  • PokKu- At the place where we were staying was some African who camped under the bridge. Well, the stay, sleep, eats & even shit / pisses there. We have to walk by their area and it was very smelly and some of us complained on the unhygienic and stinking of those people. When we walked pass the area we hurried to our building to get away from the unpleasant smell. Well, as they said you should not complain when you are there. When our group went to the Arafah, we were placed just next to the public toilet!! – And it is difficult to have our meals with the extra aroma in the vicinity.
    The funny incidence that occurred at the public toilet is something I cannot forget. One morning a young lady went into the toilet and unfortunately the latch was jam and not working and she was locked in it and shouting for help. So we have to rescue her from being locked in there the whole day. The public toilet was roofless and the only way is for a man to climb up and go down the toilet to unlock the latch. - A very easy solution. But which man is going to climb up (We were in loose ihram and with no underwear- reminds me of the mice who has to put the bell on the cat). Finally, one brave man climbed up and releases the lady from the toilet. He took nearly half an hour to do that because it is difficult to climb with one hand and two legs while the other hand is holding the ihram so that it wont split open exposing the “two bells” that is not to be seen by the lady.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:53 PM  
  • Bringing so many people at one place does has it's dangers. I still recall a year when a fire broke out among the pilgrim's tents and many died. Fortunately the Saudi government is taking measures to ensure the Hajj is performed safetly though every year there are loss of life. Glad you made it back in one piece.

    By Blogger Kervin, at 2:02 PM  
  • PokKu- You did not relate the experience at Arafah. From the morning to the zohor , we have to wait in our tent . The temperature was 47 celcius .One quite elderly hajj in our group has the sudden urge to have teh tarik.( it was more of the goncang – where the Arab gave you some hot water in a paper cup and a sache of tea and powdered milk and you have to D-I-Y the goncang and charged 2 riyal ) So he went out in search of the teh goncang for about two hour. We were worried that he might lost his way but finally he came back exhausted and we have to call the medic since he was exhausted and dehydrated. ( So , to the bakal hajj , don’t start wondering around in Arafah). As for lunch , we were served some rice and hot soup ( I was not sure if it was cows bone or camels bone or sheep bone in the soup) . can you imagine trying to sip hot sour under the tent at the temperature of 47 celcius.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:04 PM  
  • Alhamdullillah, Mujo dok kena pijak. Very interesting story Pokku. Finally, abis pung cerita nie.

    By Blogger Yeen Hashim, at 2:04 PM  
  • Pok Ku, glad you've made it. My parents went for haj few years back and told us some few strange stories. So by all means, Pok Ku, side stories pls!Cheers

    By Blogger atiza, at 2:28 PM  
  • Off topic sekejap.

    Err takkan 3 orang jer yang vote Pok Ku?

    tengok result:

    http://pub2.bravenet.com/vote/stats.php?usernum=131619791

    Tempat mengundi:

    http://simonworld.mu.nu/archives/059137.php

    (self appointed PA)

    hehehe...

    By Blogger Aku Tak Reti, at 4:19 PM  
  • Honeytar:
    Alhamdullilah! I am glad too.
    Berisman:
    Kadang, kadang orang lupa bersabar & bersopan santun.
    Elisa:
    Have to think hard now.
    dusyum:
    Yes, to me it was a miracle that I got out alive.
    md:
    LOL! Alhamdullillah!
    riza:
    Wow! I am glad I didnt bring any stones back.
    3six7:
    I am still wondering what Allah planned for me, apart from blogging all these.
    Berisman:
    Seram juga dengar cerita tu.
    Farid:
    Yes, berserah kepadaNya.
    Zaireen:
    Side stories lagi!
    Anonymous:
    Explosions are more dangerous, I am sure.
    Anonymous2:
    Oh yes, we must watch our tongue or else the erst of our body (like the nose) will suffer.
    Kervin:
    Mob behaviour is difficult to predict. Tragedies happened at concerts etc. even though precautions were taken.
    Anonymous3:
    It was in the previous post.

    Yeen Hashim:
    Alhamdulillah, finally!
    atiza:
    I have to remember them. It has been a while (1998)
    AkuTakReti:
    Susah beno nak ngundi kot.

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 5:11 PM  
  • Semoga Allah SWT merahmati roh roh mereka tersebut dan roh roh yang juga telah pergi sebelum kita.

    To all muslims yet us recite Al-Fatehah for them. For non Muslim, you can just observe a minute of silence because death, in any religion, is something we need to give respect and as a reminder of our own frailities. I know i would do the same if i hear deaths of any other believers of other religion dies due to similar pursuits or any kind of trajic death. We are all human, same without difference. Only prejudice sets us apart.

    By Blogger Sham, at 6:58 PM  
  • Wow, Pok Ku! What an experience. Thank God you survived all that. And despite the hardship one has to go through during the Hajj, everbody wants to do it all over and over again. Yes, side story satu!

    By Blogger Kri, at 11:14 PM  
  • Sham:
    We all did contribute our fatihah and yassin the night itself in 1998 after our prayers. Nice comments.

    Kri:
    Alhamdullillah! Now to figure out what I survived for...

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 11:52 PM  
  • Pok Ku, you survived to pass your experience on. I don't know about other bloggers, but yours is the first "senior" Malaysian blog I've come across, with many, many stories and lessons to convey to all of us who are young and not-so-young (no prizes as to where I belong!) and still very very green in terms of life's experiences in comparison to you. Reading your blogs daily is very insightful, educational and heartwarming. I've only been following your blogs for less than a month and yet, you're already my favourite penglipur lara. :)

    And syukur Alhamdulillah Pok Ku, for returning home safely. Whatever it is, I've made lots of mental notes of your experiences during the Hajj and some of the revealing facts and incidences related by your other readers.

    Thank you, all of you. :o)

    By Blogger Ms.B, at 1:15 AM  
  • Mak oiii... Dahsyatnye.....

    *Mata terkelip-kelip membayangkan*

    Btw, Alhamdulillah... U r here, to tell us your valuable experience... :)

    By Blogger hana_kirana, at 5:11 PM  
  • Blabarella & Hana Kirana:
    Thank you for the kind words.

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 9:59 PM  
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