Saturday, November 21, 2015

Haj 2015 - Part VII Stoning and the 8 km walk

We normally left Mina by about 2 am in the morning. Had a quick sleep in the comfort of our rooms before the dawn prayer, and then only rest during the day before repeating the cycle. 

So on the day of the 11th, we left Makkah to have our second stoning  ritual. This time around there was no Zaki driving us around. We had to take the cab this time around. We are told, it will be tougher to enter Mina during the day with many roads closed.

So I think the cab charged Riyal 100 for the 7-8 odd km trip to Mina for the five of us. I am not sure; Ustaz Jufri handled all the transactions for us.

The road leading to the Jamrah - one can only walk
It was nearly midday when we arrived on the 11th Zulhijjah. I can assure you the day was so bright, and it was hot.

It was quite a distance for us to walk from the Mina town centre to the Jamrah. But it was an easy walk. Every few hundred metres, some people would spray water on to you to ensure you are kept cool. Wonderful. There are many ways for you to earn deed for your hereafter. Only that I wonder why the government did not bother have the auto spray fan along the path to the Jamrah. May because it was only a once in a year affair, unlike at the Grand Mosque where there will be people all year round.
Paksu and Hj Halim at the back and this time around we have extra assistant handling our drinks for the walk

But still, you are talking about 2-3 million people plying the Jamrah yearly; surely it will be money well spent.

The first day was a shorter walk - around 5 km, and we had no problem getting a cab back to the Grand Mosque. It was one happy walk doing the stoning. Even at midday, it was an easy ritual; we could do the stoning right at the edge of each Jamrah. I would not say it was crowded - crowded is relative of us. I am sure they were many people, but we weren't threaten with any risk of an incident. 
Don't laugh; it was ustaz Jufri's idea that he purchased this mini head umbrella for our walk in the hot sun. IN the back ground is Mina town

It was barely 24 hours of the Mina stampede incident.

We were happy campers completing our stoning rituals. I did not take any pictures while we were stoning. It is not important to take picture. We were trying to concentrate doing the tasks at hand, and did not bother with the nitty gritty of selfie and picture taking. Furthermore, we thought we want to maintain certain dignity in performing the haj.

The second day was a tougher day. More road closure, and our journey took a different path and it involved the two tunnels leading to the Jamrah. 
12th Zulhujjah stoning. This time through the tunnels you can see in the background. Much longer walk. See the spray bottle I was holding in my left hand. That is the most important piece of Haj tool that I can ever imagine. I managed to keep myself cool with spray of water.
All in all, we walked about 8 km that day. I left my GPS running and have my S Health monitor my walking distance. Much more that I had ever done. But the heart and limbs were willing so there was no issues about walking. We also knew that that would be our last ritual. 

We would be done by the 12th of Zulhijjah.

But we were tested on the last day - not only on the distance that we walked, but we could not get a cab to come back to the Grand mosque.
Large crowd during the second day

Actually we did find a few cabs willing to take us, but they would want a few of Ry200 per person, making it Ry1000 for a 7 km trip to Makkah. It is too much to pay. We would think that these cab drivers would maintain certain dignity and not overcharge the Guests of Allah, but even in this holy land, everybody was working for themselves only.

Sad to say, isn't it?

I guess it is like working hard for a the haj month, or even for for days of Haj, and not having to work again for the remaining months of year. Wonderful, no?

View from inside the cab taking us back to al Haram. It was a reasonable jam going to the Grand Mosque, but you should see the jam of all the roads leading to Mina. It was really bad, but by this time, we were going the opposite way
Anyway, it took us about 2 hours waiting for our cab. We walked and walked, and stop somewhere to have chai - wonderful hot chai to rest our tired - really tired - limbs.

And after a while, it struck us that we may never get a cab, so we asked Ustaz Jufri on how far it would be for us to walk back to al-Haraam.

"About 7 km, through that tunnel. At the end of it would be the Grand Mosque. We can see the tunnels, but we have walked for 8 km already, we weren't ready to walk another 7 km.

But we knew we may not have a choice.

Redha. Just do it. 

We decided that since Allah has decided for us that we need to walk, about all the ease of performing the Haj, then we have to redha to His wishes. 

We will walk the extra miles, we told Ustaz Jufri. He has been all so stressed up since he could not get a cab for us. We can see in on his face. Since we had agreed to walk, we told him to bring with him more cold drinks for that journey.

But God is great, the moment you leave your fate to Him, and readied yourself to walk, a cab arrived and agreed to take us for Ry 200 per cab.

Alhamdulillah, we cried with joy.

I know the concept of redha, but I had never seen how quickly one was rewarded by being redha.

Allahu Akbar.

Haj is quite a physical ritual. You need to be strong. You need to be healthy. Young people should be the one going - not old folks. It will be tougher for them. It did strain my muscles. I am not sure how to handle the remaining 7 km  walk, if we had to walk that day.

It will be tough for sure. We might have to crawl.

After the ease of Haj on the first day, the last day was the most challenging. But still it was nothing like many had experienced. I thought my journey was so simple. And for me to be more thankful, I was also in the pink of our health throughout the Haj period. Not a tinge of sore throats or any of the common illness. My piles by this time had gone completely by Haj time.

Trust in Him. He will only test you what you can handle and surely he knew our limitations.

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