Monday, 2 January 2012

20th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Wednesday 16th November 2011)

The day of our departure from Makkah to London, It was a sad day in many ways. We were leaving the sacred land to go back to the lives we have left behind. Our lives here on will never be the same again. Some of the changes I have thought about during Tawwaf, taking the time out during my stay.

I woke up at 4.30am and read Fajr at the Harem for the last time at 5.11am Akluma and I made our Tawwaf al Widaa (Farewell Tawwaf) taking just over an hour on the middle floor. It was rather emotional leaving this blessed city. We went back to the hotel to pack for the last time after we had breakfast with the Swansea crew table. Once we prayed dhuhr at the Harem we boarded Coach #3 and were ready to depart. Brother Mustafa found Aklumas backpack in the reception foyer, and Alhamdullillah located us with this bag. I did leave my own bag and my book “The Road to Mecca – by Mohammed Asad” on the coach to Jeddah airport ironically.

The journey to London, was fairly easy and comfortable (as much as it can be on a BMI chartered flight). Most people were not feeling too well and the a/c in the airbus did not help one bit. This later had the ramification of Hajjis collecting the luggage and saying salaams as quick as one could say “Hajji Tariq”!!!
Our Zamzam, the one I purchased through Al Muntada, went missing, never to be found. Alhamdulillah there was a previous flight were few zamzams were not redeemed and the lost property office at T1 provided me with one 10kg crate of zamazam.

Neha was there waiting outside on arrivals, we must have been one of a very few coming out at 1.15am! We were tired but Alhamdullillah I so wanted to see my bed to get some much needed sleep. I am so glad I did not have to go into work the next few days. My throat was painful, and the cough well, it was only bringing up flem that I must hasten to add was not the most pleasing on the eye. These symptoms persisted for another week.

My mother was so proud we did not lose any footwear! Well she was pleased for my wife for sure that she did not have to use the women’s Hamams at the Harems in Medinah and Makkah.

I write this looking back at my days. The more I write on each day journal of my journey, the more I long to be at the Harem, to the sacred land that Allah swt has made for us in this World. Subhana’Allah.
I ask Allah to forgive me for any mistakes I may have made during this Hajj journey, Ameen. May Allah accept the Hajj of Akluma and I, the Hajj of my Mother In Law and Brother in Law, the Hajj of the Hujjaj of Al Muntada and all the Hujjaj from all over earth.

19th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Tuesday 15th November 2011)

The day of packing, this was the item on the menu for all of Al Muntada Hajjis. There was luggage all around the 3rd floor, where we resided.

All the couples were doing all what they can to fit all what they have purchased into their luggage bags. I must say I was not too fussed as with an allocation of 30kgs it would be difficult to go much over this and we had a taste of this from our travels to the Far East earlier in the year and this was with 23kg each.

In the evening after Esha and tawwaf at the Harem on the roof once more, Akluma and I went to see her mother and her dulabhai for the last time in Saudi. We managed to see her mother as dulabhai appeared to be awol. Nevertheless it was sad saying goodbye.

18th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Monday 14th November 2011)

We were originally planning to perform Ummrah today after Fajr however we both were not feeling well.

We hit the souks in “misfala” after asr prayer once we had some proper home cooked Bangladeshi fish and rice at our favourite joint now – Asia Restaurant.
We performed another nafl tawwaf after Esha which was better on the roof. This was followed by much needed mango slush from the zamzam towers.

Our bodies were feeling the tiredness by now, which did not help from our constant coughs which were aided by the a/c all over the 4* hotel. These mod cons are a hazard I must say and many a time I try to switch this off in my room.

17th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Sunday 13th November 2011)

At Asr we managed to meet Heera and his wife. We went to the Zamzam towers, to the 3rd floor where the food court was situated. Akluma and I got our favourite mango slushes from the ground floor and met the other couple near the Burger King. We talked about out Hajj experience to date and Heera being his normal self was cracking as many jokes as he was gasping Oxygen, though this almost backfired where his wife did not take some of the jokes heart. After Maghrib on the roof of the harem we stayed on the roof, and I recited more of the Glorious Qur’an (which I started on day 1 of Hajj).

In the evening after Esha salaat on the roof, we looked to performing nafl tawwaf. This was so beautiful especially as we had more time to take in the surrounding of this magnificent masjid and could supplicate and read the Qur’an in a more tranquil setting than the ground floor.

After ordering our Al Muntada Zamzam 10litre drums @ 18riyals from Brother Sherif, we made our way to the hotel. On the way to our hotel we looked into some of the shopping complexes, and little did we know until then they were full of womens abayyyas! This was like kryptonite for me, from the memories of 1430 (2009). Though I must add it was not too bad, as I must say I had much more sabr (patience) this time round. After looking at much black abbayyas, thought my scenery could do with a change and we took a well deserved break and went back to our hotel.

16th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Saturday 12th November 2011)

This is the day we intended to perform Umrah:
We got up for Fajr and then we stayed up after breakfast at the hotel. I did the preparation for Umrah like any other Umrah.

So at 8am in my umrah attire (2 white cotton towels) Akluma and I went to fetch a taxi to the nearest Meeqat point, Ayesha Masjid. The taxi cost us 80riyals and the driver waited whilst we prayed our Nafl Salaawat and made intention once again. This umrah was for my beloved Father who has suffered much in recent months with him being really ill and then being admitted to hospital which resulted in him being on Dialysis. May Allah accept my umrah. Ameen. Akluma also performed umrah for her Father. May Allah accept this umrah from her. Ameen

We performed the Tawwaf and Saee on the ground floor, the busiest parts of the Harem, MashaAllah we managed to complete this in good time. We just finished the saee 15 minutes before the start of Dhuhr adhaan, so it was very good timing on our part. So all in all took us 4 hours to get the Meeqat and complete umrah. Akluma and I were thinking we could do an umrah every day if it only takes 4 hours! However, we did not look to getting another look into umrah as we both became poorly.

15th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Friday 11th November 2011)

Today was Jummah in Makkah. It was very packed and we were informed we should leave our hotel rooms by 10.30am, so as us well times individuals we left at 11am.
We met my Mother In Law, Brother In Law and my new friend, my brother in laws younger brother, who resides and works in Jeddah. The younger brother was a right character and he lead us to where Aklumas maternal aunt was staying in Makkah. This proved to be quiet a long way away from where we met near the bridge of the Harem.
It was min Sylhet there, signs in Bangla, and looking at the people, you would be difficult to believe it was anything but Sylhet town! You could not even hear the Adhaan from where they were residing at, that’s how much noise there was and how many tall buildings the apartment was surrounded by.

After much deliberation, we ended up leaving around 9pm from Aklis aunts place, and so we prayed Esha and Witr at the Harem, with me leading. I thought may get a ticking off for having another Jammat after the main harem one, as some guards may think this was not allowed. It was okay and we safely escorted my mother in law to her Retaj apartement, room 740, which was on the doorstep of the Harem, MashAllah. We went to Misfala and

14th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Thursday 10th November 2011)

In the morning, I was completely knocked out after taking some antibiotics and performed Dhuhr and Asr at the nearby Masjid and Akluma and I went around the nearby shops. There was very little to find here. The coaches from Azziziyah apartments to Makkah came after Asr and later we arrived at the 5 start As Shohada Hotel at 6pm.

The ques to getting our sets of keys was very long and most of the peeps were getting very tired. Ironically all the allocated rooms were okay except the room of Akluma and her co habitués. They had still been occupied by the previous residence and thus required time before the hotel can get the room ready to vacate. I later checked in to room #362 and Akluma to room #359 which was very convenient. The Swansea crew were in room #361 and Faisal from Commercial Street and his 2 other friends were in room #361. It was amazing that I knew most people on our corridor, that was the beauty of the Al Muntada group, and shows how close knit we became on this beautiful journey.

We went to the Harem to perform our Tawwaf al Ifaada around 9.30pm. We managed to do this on ground floor, managing to get to the Yemeni corner and touched the blessed Kabbah. We were there for some time, making our duas. Alhamdulillah once you are there, it feels very peaceful, and getting to touch it is the difficult part. We did try to get close to the black stone and with the crowds proving to be a very big obstacle we later dismissed this idea. We finished the Tawwaf and Saee around 12am and celebrated back at the hotel.

13th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Wednesday 9th November 2011)

Tashreek – Day Three
I got up for Fajr and as always was the norm, we had a breakfast box delivered to our beds, this was a blessing. And with many croissants on the menu, I opted for a chocolate one, as the cheese variety we all the mina camp agreed was one that had to be consumed in dire need.

This was the quietest day of all the three previous days. Akluma and I went on our own to the Jamarat after Dhuhr, as now after 3 days we thought we have enough gravitas to do this and know the way back to our Mina camp. We also were feeling much better than the other days in Mina. We arrived back to Mina at 2.30pm in time for Asr Salaat. We had some rice and chicken (once again) which subsequently followed the packing and later departure from our camp at 4pm. It was rather emotional to leave what had been out home for the last 6 days, and dare I say it there was much love in the camp, even for the lavatories, I had already got used to these cubicles.

The diesel almost run out on the bus that I was on, and many u-turns later to find gas we were back on the road and on the way to Azziziyyah. There was long traffic for most of the journey as roads were blocked (which is typical during the Hajj season as I found). I met brother Zia from Croydon on the bus who works in Aldgate east.

We arrived at Azziziyya apartments at 7pm for one night stay. I took a nap whilst others went for a stroll. We had the Qurbani meat for dinner, it was scrumptious, Alhamdulillah. The Swansea crew were looking to head out to the Harem for 11pm, and Akluma and I were set for this until sleep got to the better of us. We got up at 5 to 11 and thought we should leave it and wait the next day when we are closer to the Harem from our hotel.

12th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Tuesday 8th November 2011)

Tashreek – Day Two
Today was less busy at the Jamaraat than the previous days. We went after Asr and came back in good time for Maghrib around 6pm. On the return leg I got talking to Brother Imran and we spoke about how blessed it was for us to be invited to Hajj.
After esha prayer, we had another Shaykh from Amaana Tours come into our camp to provide us with another dars.

The main message was:
1. Patience of 3 types – In following the commands of Allah, in staying away from the prohibitions and lastly patience in times of calamity (lower and higher levels – having contentment with the calamity i.e. it is blessed).
2. Obedience
3. Reminder of Death
4. Brotherhood and Love
5. Other Benefits of Hajj
Leaving with the message, Hajj - if it is a turning point in one’s life than that is a sign that one’s Hajj is Mabrour, an accepted Hajj from Allah.

The hujjaj are a snapshot of the state of the ummah as you will encounter all types of people during your experience on Hajj.

11th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Monday 7th November 2011)

Tashreek – Day One
Our group was blessed with many great professionals from all industries, and from all over the UK too. We had a few Doctors, Lawyers, Pharmacists, IT technicians, not to mention the transport industry was fully represented, with professionals from TFL tube and buses, black can and mini cab drivers, it was a great mix. Our own Mayor Boris would definitely had given the thumbs up for a future consortium with this group! (Perhaps to create the new Hajji Mobile in London?...)

I went to our resident Pharmacist, Brother Hasan from Swansea, and he was Alhamdulillah a top bro. He came with his 2 elder sisters, and he was great to have around the camp. He mentioned there was a Hospital not too far away from our camp where a Doctor would see you and subsequently would prescribe you medicine for your ailments. I intended to do just that after Fajr prayer. I got talking to an Uncle from our group, who was very emotional to be at Hajj, who over the course of the next hour told me all about his 3 near death experiences, Alhamdullillah Allah has blessed him with this chance now to complete his Hajj.

I got to the hospital at 8am, and after seeing much entertainment in the ques for a good hour or so, was swiftly seen by a Doctor who diagnosed me with a throat infection. A few minutes later I was provided with a bag full of medicine which included antibiotics, cough medicine, paracetamol and wait for it, skin healing cream for burns!

After Dhuhr , there was a mass collection of stones in our part of the tent. Brothers from all over the tent came to ourside as if it was the “chosen” place for stones, and lifted the carpet to hunt for their Jamarat stones.

There was a great Nasiha by our resident Shaykh Abu Hanifah about:
1. The obligations /commands of Allah swt
2. Staying away from what is unlawful / ones desires that can be harmful
3. Where one does not have any control – one must have Sabr

Then the heart renching story about Imam Ahmed who was unknown by physical appearance hen he entered the Mosque in Damascus in the night and was dragged by his feet by a man in the Mosque as he did not allow him to pray. Another man came to Imam Ahmeds rescue (not knowing who he was) and wished to take him in to his home. Imam Ahmed asked the man if there was one thing he could wish for before he died what would it be. The man replied it would be to meet Imam Ahmed.

The morale of this story – nothing in this life is ever by chance, it may not make sense to us mere human mortals at the time, due to our own limited intelligence, what is fully known is only attributed to Allah, who had created us. There is an overall plan, and one must be thankful and be patient.

This day was very busy at the Jamarat, in fact even after we thought as a group we timed our journey well (after Asr), we were not, as the crowds were very large.
After Esha, we were blessed to have Shaykh Haitham Al Haddad who was on Hajj with Amaana Tours next to our own camp.

He was so full of energy and every time I see the Shaykh there is something that is always very memorable I take back with me.
The main message from him on this dars was:
• The main purpose of Islam – To Glorify Allah swt - this is manifested in Hajj. Through the glorification of Allah through submission, doing the acts of ebadat such as the Tawaaf, reciting the tarbiyyah (the real aqeedah as he called it).
• Increasing the size of the Ummah – more people saying the Shahadat, glorifying Allah swt. The story about Umar Ibn Al Khattab and what his intention of having sexual relations, was not for pleasure but to increase the Ummah.
• Allahs rights- we talk much about Human Rights, what about Allahs rights?
• Rationalisation – man cannot rationalise everything
• Have we “westernised” our ebaadat – there should be no shortcuts
• Tawwaf, Stoning and Sa’ee are all forms of dhikr of Allah, even if you do not recite at all
• Understand this principle of Glorifying Allah swt and make this a turning point in your life.

May Allah swt grant the Shaykh with all good in this World and the hereafter, Ameen.

10th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Sunday 6th November 2011)

We prayed Fajr as a group in Muzdalifah each of us using our cloth mattresses as musallahs. After a quick munch of breakfast, which was the infamous cheese croissant and various other condiments most of the group made their walk back to our Mina Camp. The walk took approximately 45 minutes and we finally came to our home from home, our tents at 7am. Brother Altaf was first to greet us there and did he have a warm hug to give us all, it was as if he was lost and found.

We had a nice kip once we got back to the camp. And after lunch, we prayed Dhuhr and then Asr. And with that we as a group went with Military precision our Amir (The Algerian Brother whose name I did not catch who had broken shades I recall) to the Jamarat.

The jamarat was like the way I left it two year ago, there has been little change here and there but nothing striking. It was again easier than I thought. And more so than what Akluma thought it to be. After hearing much stories about the crowds and the dangers of the Jamarat, this was put to bed as Alhamdulillah with 3 floors and a widening shaytaan wall, and with a one way system all put in over the last 5-10 years or so it has made a significant difference.

Akluma and I were not feeling too well and this did not help with the amount of traffic on the return leg. We got back to our mina camp at around 7.30pm. With the animal sacrifice given to the agent, and both of us agreeing not to perform the Tawwaf al Ifdaa until we were both well, the only thing left for us to do, was to do the shaving (for the males of the pack that is).

Brother Waqeel was generous enough to provide me with one of his bic disposables and with this in my hand I went to find a barber. And Alhamdullilah Brother Rafiq accepted the task to shave my head. After a long grinding hour on my head, May Allah swt bless brother Rafiq with good in this world and the hereafter, I was a new born baby! With no mirrors around the camp, I did not know how I looked like. I could however imagine given that we were all mirrors to one another, one baldy to another.

Later on in the day we received confirmation that all those who arrange their sacrifice with Al Muntada, they were all complete. Alhamdulillah.

After Esha prayer and food, Akluma and I went to visit her Mother and Dulabhai at their mina camp #29. We bought some fruit for them on our way there. I met the infamous Dulabhai brother, aka “Moyna” who was with them for the course of Hajj. Moyna resides in Jeddah and with his knowledge of Hajj having been there many a time, and his fluency in Arabic he was a great asset to have along. He was very sweet and a gentle man, and had a great wit about him, rather different to his elder brother.

It was a long day and we headed back close to midnight to our camp where we rested until the adhaan of Fajr. This was the beauty of being in an Islamic country, to hear the morning adhaan, it really remunerates inside you, and causes you to think about your eminent meeting with your Lord, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. No matter how many times you hear the call to prayer, it is a most striking example of Tawheed.

Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar.
Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar.
Ash-hadu an la ilaha ill-Allah.
Ash-hadu an la ilaha ill-Allah.
Ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ar-Rasoolullah.
Ash-hadu anna Muhammad-ar-Rasoolullah.
Hayya 'alas-Salah. Hayya 'alas-Salah.
Hayya 'alal-falah. Hayya 'alal-falah.
Assalatu Khayrum Minan-nawm
Assalatu Khayrum Minan-nawm
Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar.
La ilaha ill-Allah.

English Translation:
Allah is Most Great. Allah is Most Great.
Allah is Most Great. Allah is Most Great.
I bear witness that there is none worthy of being worshipped except Allah.
I bear witness that there is none worthy of being worshipped except Allah.
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.
Come to prayer. Come to prayer.
Come to Success. Come to Success
Prayer is better than Sleep
Prayer is better than Sleep
Allah is Most Great. Allah is Most Great.
There is none worthy of being worshipped except Allah.

9th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Saturday 5th November 2011)

The day of Arafat had arrived; this is the day all Hajjis are looking so much forward to. After Fajr, Shaykh Abu Hanifah provided us with a Dars on the significance of this day, the day of Arafat. This was followed by a beautiful dars by Shaykh Abu Saeed about the significance of reciting the Tarbiyaah during the days of Hajj.

The government coaches came by at 9.30am as our group had been on standby since Fajr at 5am. The journey from Makkah to the nearby hillside and plain called Mount Arafat and the Plain of Arafat took us 20 minutes to get to. It was from this site that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave his famous farewell sermon in his final year of life.

The Khutbah from Shaykh Abdul Azeez at the Namera Masjid in Arafat just before the combined Dhuhr and Asr salaat. I just about caught the start of this after waiting in the mens for almost an hour. I met Brother Hanif from football whilst waiting there, this was rather weird. He was on Hajj with his wife with Amaana Tours, MashAllah.

The full khutbah (in English translation) can be viewed on the link below:
The main message from the khutbah as I understood it was:
• Tawheed and for all believers to have belief in the sacred books, messengers, angels, and the hereafter.
• Clarification of the responsibilities of husband and wife, and bringing up children in an Islamic footing.
• Muslim Brotherhood and Community – how to deal with each others in commercial transactions, keeping away from what is unlawful (e.g. liquor, intoxicants, fornication, backbiting). Allah guided us to the best of manners, being kind to each other.
• Violating Allahs laws, eg homicide, accusing women of fornication without any proof
• Settling dispute amongs people via the Qur’an and Sunnah, so not based on nationalism and race, but on the fear of Allah.
• Muslims should not rebel against the rulers. Rulers should be fair to its people, to be united, solidify their status. Do not dispute as this would be the cause of your weakness. The Muslim governance should be based on the laws of Allah. The perfect method of life is for the moderation of life, soul and body and there is a balance between this world and the hereafter. The society that is established by Islam, the characteristics, the prevalence of safety and security, the blood and property must be honoured and respected.
• Elders to look after the younger and the younger to have respect for their elders. Islamic mannerism, will lead to having a beautiful life and not favouring any other law other than Allahs laws.

One message which struck me was when the Shaykh spoke about the importance given the current climate about the need of having a strong leadership in the current Ummah.

During the entire day, from dawn until sunset, all the Hujjaj look to stand in earnest supplication and devotion, praying for Allah’s abundant forgiveness. Many tears are shed readily as those who gather make repentance and seek Allahs’s mercy, recite words of prayer and remembrance, and gather together as equals before their Lord. Muslims around the world who are not participating in the pilgrimage often spend this day in fasting and devotion.

It was getting very hot by mid-day and after the combined Salaat of Dhuhr and Asr, Akluma and I with our umbrellas, sunnys, and dua books in our hands, ventured out of our Arafat camp to find a spot for our private devotions and supplications to Allah swt. It was not an easy find, and we looked to the Mountains and after 15 minutes of walking found a nice spot on the mountain to make our most needy duas of Allahs rahmah.

It was very emotional; my heart was feeling so needy to cry to Allahs swt. The duas took me back to looking back at my life, and having a dialogue with Allah like no other dialogue before it and asking Allah for his Mercy.

On leaving the plains of Arafat, there was frenzy at the collection point. We were originally getting ready to board the government buses, with the priority of women from Al Muntada to board first and their Mahrams on the same buses. This ideas was just an idea and ended up being, whoever can get on. We did eventually board separate buses, and my bus driver was an inexperienced to say the least on the wheel, and we did almost get lost looking for our Makhtab, though taking a few U-turns on a bus on narrow roads, we did have our hearts in our mouths and we eventually got to our #38 Muzdaliffah camp.

As I entered the camp, I managed to find the brothers that I recognised, brothers Enam and Rafique and we prayed Maghrib and Esha combined as was the Sunnah in Muzdalifah. As I looked for a space to settle down, there appeared to be a lack of ground to park myself on. I did eventually find a place, with my new neighbours for the night being Brs Enam and Rafique.

It was 10.30pm when I received a call from Brother Altaf, with the information that he was lost in Muzdalifah. This was a shock as I did think everyone of our group members were here. Later did the story manifest itself, with a small contingent lead by Shaykh Abu Hanifah (all brothers mind) who thought they would walk it from Arafat to Muzdalifah. And this group had many a experience, each member with a unique twist to their story. All had said it was a story of Tawwakul, SubhanAllah.

Whilst all this was happening, where we were settled in camp #39, where it was very narrow, and had two main roads not too far away from us. In fact the women were against the main gates to the road border were the buses pass by or stop so as you can imagine it was very noisy and pretty cramped. We did have unexpected visitors at camp #39 from no other than the United Stated of America. And oh did they cause some commotion. A group of women from the USA group settled near a small gap left by the women of Al Muntada as a means of divided the men from the women. Many exchanges later between Al Muntada and USA settlers, who were in fact Bengalis from NY, the camp rested and our visitors did not budge and settled together.

In the mist of all this I did manage to get some sleep, probable an hour or so. And once I got up, I knew it was not good. I had to go to the mens in Muzdalifah. So I ventured and lost 90 minutes of my life to the que, listened to a lot of tales and observed much in the ques to tell a different type of story.

8th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Friday 4th November 2011)

I was sitting next to Uncle Mohammed Asim Khan, a beautiful brother with great stories to tell MashAllah. Uncle first went to Hajj in 1964 he recalls at the tender age of 22, and this was his second time 47 years later, SubhanAllah. He was telling me how Makkah was so different, less people and people used to sleep outside, with their washing and all things for all to see. It was very very different to now, where there are millions of Hajjis, with all types of accommodation right on the doorstep of the harem. Even though I went in 1995, this was in itself a big change to what Makkah was like now; I could only but imagine what it was like in 1964.

We got to the Mina camp at 2.30am and with the Azziziyyah apartment roommates we managed to find a good spot for ourselves, away from the majority of the camp but still in close proximity.
See the my-mini-mina-mattress-map below:

There was an Algerian contingent too where we had camped out. And this brought much fun to the next 6 days of proceeding in Mina. There were 12 sofa beds in our quarter and all 12 of us became pretty close over the course of the next 6 days in Mina.
Over the next 6 days we had:
- Algerian visitors from all over the Mina Camp visiting Zim Zim and Company.
- Our quarters became known as “Internet City” as it had the single main mobile charge outlet for the Al Muntada group – this was being orchestrated by Zim Zim (who I am sure had a mobile exchange outside his bed post - ;-))
- Stone collection site – this was hilarious, as I pulled back the rug we had our sofa beds on, I found much stones and pebbles, and little did I know but the word spread and Al Muntada Brothers came wide a field to come and gather their stonage from our quarters.

It was beautiful praying Salaat with the brothers in Mina. This was the true essence of brother hood. We would encourage each other to wake up for Fajr. Some required more pulling then pushing I must add, no names!

After Dhuhr salaat, we had a Dars given by Shaykh Abu Hanifah on the Day of Arafat.
We went to visit my Mother in Law who was at a nearby Mina camp site. My mother in law came with the eldest brother in Law with a Bangladeshi UK based group, called Hasan Travels. It was a little weird her being in another group, though she was adamant that she wanted a Bangladeshi group so in order to be comfortable with her Hajj, which is the most important thing. My mother in law was in Makhtab #29 and we were at #38 so ideally should not be too far.We managed to go after Dhuhr and saw her and my dulabhai, it was good seeing them, they both looked well, Alhamdulillah. After a short visit we made our way back to our camp and prayed Asr.

There was a good Dars given by Shaykh Abu Hanifah on the Miracles of the Sahaba and pious predecessors such as Abdul Qadir Gillani and Abdul Mubarak.

In Mina, breakfast, lunch and dinner had been provided by Al Muntada, and MashAllah unlimited tea and coffee from the nearby breakout area, which was really nice. The breakout area was decorated with plastic plants and leaves all across it. This was pleasant entrance coming into our Makhtab 38 after looking at the condition of the streets and decor on the streets of Mina.

Breakfast usually consisted of bread roll, cereal, milk, cheese, biscuits and the infamous cheese croissant (there was plenty of this going around).

7th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Thursday 3rd November 2011)

The group, with all its 4 coaches entered Azziziyyah apartments at 2.30am. As we rested our sides on some neat sofas in the basement of the Azzizah apartments, we were served fried chicken and chips!!! And half an hour later, by 3am were back in the coaches on the road to Makkkah Al Mukkarammah.

No rest for us Hajjis, Akluma and I made our own way to the Harem from the drop off which was noted specifically as being on “Ghazzah”, opposite the Masjid al Jinn. We had to be at this place by 7.30am for our return journey to Azziziyyah apartments. Having got to the Harem at 4am, we had 3.5hours to complete Ummrah, and perform Fajr with 3m+ Hajjis. Ok, this is not going to be easy. Abdul Aziz Gate (Gate#1) was closed, typical, just when we thought things can’t get any hard so I recalled there was a basement entrance which I took Akluma through and we entered through various hopping and skipping through people to view the beautiful sacred Baytullah (House of Allah), the Kabbah.

No matter how many times you see this in the media, whether it be on Islam Channel or on your Nikon, it takes nothing from one seeing the Kabbah with ones naked eye. SubhanAllah its magnificent stage for all Muslims to pray in one direction towards, and I am there, answering the call of Allah swt and Ibrahim AS. This is so real!
It was nearly 8.15am when we finished Saee, and therefore we aborted the mission to rush back to the coaches. There were many barbers only meters away from the Mount Marwa as you end the 7th round of Saee. I got a grade 1 @ 10 Riyals and was out of there. Akli and I traced our footsteps back to the where the coach had dropped us off and to our amazement there were other Al Muntada Hajjis waiting there too. So we waited and found our coach, where we happily rested until we arrived at our apartments.

By the time I got back to the apartment It was so very tiring, and then I was on the lookout for a bed to sleep on, so went to the 2nd and 3rd floor and there was no luck, as all beds miraculously had been taken. I then parked myself on the 4th floor where there was a bed free. The room happened to be one of the best rooms in the apartment, with a floor space in the middle that was equivalent to a room in itself. Alhamdulillah for those who wait patiently, Allah does not fail to provide.
I slept like a baby, too much in fact that I missed the dhuhr adaan! So prayed this together with Asr salaat.

The rest of the day was more chilled out, as I got re-energised ready for the commencement of the Hajj days starting tomorrow. Got my Mina bag ready, this was even a smaller bag to the one I took from Medinah, this was the very bare minimum, and it was going to last me all of 6 days!

The waiting game kicked in from 9pm in the evening, as the group waited for the government coaches to arrive to take the group to Mina. So our roommates ended up sleeping until there was any movement....and then as the clocks stroked 1am, we were all out of the apartments and into the buses, which looked like some animal had chewed on the seat fabric. Hey I was not complaining as long as we got to Mina thats all that mattered.

6th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Wednesday 2nd November 2011)

The last day in Medinah Munawarrah, how short our stay was. This city definitely would not leave our hearts. I went to Fajr with brothers Faisal and Shahed (who very much resembled Syed Ahmed from the Apprentice). We sent Salaams to the Prophet PBUH and the two Caliphs for the last time on this journey.

Departure from Medinah was for 3pm. I therefore did not wish to rush things, so prepared myself for Ihram state (body) before Dhuhr. In order to be in Ihram state I cut my nails, removed any unwanted hair, ensured that I had a wash (can use any soap or shower gel) and opened the two unstitched pieced of white cloth (which look like two ordinary white cotton towels). I prayed my two rakat Tayyihatul Masjid Nafl prayer (the prayer on entering the Masjid) and prayed Dhuhr in congregation and Asr too on my own as I would be travelling later. As I was relaxing having my lunch after Dhuhr, the rest of my room hajjis were getting acquainted with their Ihram towels.

After we boarded coach 3 at 3pm, the count began as usual on the coach, who was here, who was not, and who should not be here! An hour later around 4.30pm we got to Dhul Hulaifah, this was the meeqat point from Medinah to Makkah. This is where I prayed my two rakat salaat and verbalised my intention for Ummrah by saying “Labbayak Allahummah Ummrah Shaban Bibi”. It was an emotional time too, thinking about my Grandmother who I have never met, and know only of her from my Mothers recollection who inadvertently was very young when my grandmother passed away. May Allah rest her in Peace and make the grave easy for her, Ameen.

There was much to appreciate at the service station when we took a break around 11ish; you definitely can smell the toilets before you see them. Queues were long there too, and after 30 minutes of waiting, done my business and prayed Maghrib and Esha combined. The brother from Luton took the Jammat and MashAllah this made the journey so worth it, as he was blessed with a beautiful voice.

We had an overnight travel to Azziziyyah, leaving at 3pm and getting to Azzizah by 2.30am, almost 11.5 hours. I was sitting next to Brother Altaf, he was keeping the rest of us well entertained, especially with his healthy supplements, apricots, nutrition bars, nuts etc. Anyone would think we were going to the Himalayas and back. Though it is best to be prepared than not.
During the 11.5 hours, the brothers were giving the Tarbiyaah its due recognition:

“Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk Labbayka Laa Shareeka Laka Labbayk Innal Hamda Wanni’mata Laka Wal Mulka Laa Shareekalak.”

(Oh My Lord, I am responding to You, there is no partner for You. All praise, grace and dominion belong to You. You have no partners).

The above words have been reverberating in the deep ravines of Makkah for centuries. These words that came out from the lips of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) were inherited by generations after generations. Year after year these words are transmitted in harmony to the heavens through millions of throats with the same rhythm, frequency and amplitude. These sonic waves, originating from every nook and corner of the world, get condensed in the valleys of Makkah and reach Allah.

Hajj is the symbol of absolute submission to the will of God. It is unconditional acceptance of the command of the Creator. The ecstasy experienced by the pilgrim in the presence of his God put him under safe heaven by protecting him from all mundane desires.

MashAllah brother Musleh who was sitting behind me was giving it large with the Tarbiyaah, as was his competitor the black cab taxi brother Hajji (whose name eludes me). It was beautiful saying the Tarbiyah and recognising the unity amongst the brothers on our journey to Makkah. To respond to Allahs call, SubhanaAllah, we on this coach trip were so blessed.

The sisters did mention that they could do better with the Tarbiyyah than the brothers if there were only allowed to say this aloud, though my suspicions are that this was the only time they could not hear themselves talk for a change!:-)

5th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Tuesday 1st November 2011)

We were early risers at room 1404 with Shaheh bhai taking the lead to get up and go. After Fajr there was no rest and after breakfast we were getting ready to go to Ziyarrah. Coaches were all set, and Akluma and I were on coach 3 of 4 coaches for our group of 200 or so.

We visited Masjid Quba, the first Mosque in Islam where we all prayed 2 rakat nafl salaat as the Prophet PBUH said this is equivalent to the reward of Umrah. I was holding the Al Muntada flag for all Al Muntada Hajjis to gather after their prayers.
Masjid Quba.

The Quba Mosque (Quba' Masjid or Masjid al-Quba, Arabic: مسجد قباء) in the outlying of Medinah in Saudi Arabia, is the oldest mosque in the world. Its first stones were positioned by the Islamic prophet Muhammad on his emigration from the city of Makkah to Medinah and the mosque was completed by his companions.

According to Islamic tradition, offering two rakaʿāt of nafl prayers in the Quba Mosque is equal to performing one Umrah. Quba Masjid is the first mosque built in the history of Islam and was built as soon as Muhammad arrived on the Hijra. Muhammad PBUH used to go there, riding or on foot, every Saturday and offer a two rak'ah prayer. He advised others to do the same, saying, "Whoever makes ablutions at home and then goes and prays in the Mosque of Quba, he will have a reward like that of an 'Umrah." This hadith is reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah and Hakim al-Nishaburi.

We later visited the famous Uhud Mountain where the Battle of Uhud took place. This is where I recollected the thoughts of the battle between the Muslims and the Mushriks of Makkah . The playback in my mind of the archers, Khalid Ibn Al Waleed (in his Jahilliyah period), Hamzah and the story of Mus’ab Ibn Umayr, and the wounds of the Prophet PBUH took during the battle; it truly brought the tears rolling down my cheeks.

On the way back, I purchased some black seeds, not sure what to do with them, at the time thought it was a good idea as Mother loves Black Seed Oil, it is of course a Prophetic Medicine.

As it was getting close to Dhur, we had to abort plans to visit Masjid Qiblatayn (the Masjid with two Qiblas).

Later in the evening we were packing again, and this time getting our suitcases ready for storage in Makkah. We had to be very measured in what we took to Mina, so I packed the bare minimum. Had already organised my toiletries into Non-ihram and Ihram so knew which were to be taken. Later did not calculate correctly that we were spending more time out of Ihram then in during Mina stay, doh, so had very little “normal” clothes and toiletries for this part of the journey.

4th Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Monday 31st October 2011)

Brother Adeel who I met at my new job a month ago was also staying at my hotel and we met up for Tahajjud prayer around 3.30am. It was great to see him, how Allah swt brought us together in no other than in Medinah. Allah is the best of planners. We stayed right up to the end of Fajr where we embarked on going to the Ar-Rawdah, however this was closed, as people from Fajr where still in there. So we aborted this mission and ended up going back to our hotel for breakfast.

Al Muntada has their first group session at 11am. We were briefed by Shaykh Abu Hanifah on the rights of Umrah. We were also provided a Qur’an by Saheeh International as a gift from Al Muntada. Alhamdulillah. As dhuhr was approaching I went to the Masjid on my own.

Medinah as I recall when I first encountered this city 16 years ago, has not lost much of its appeal, it’s tranquilly is there for all to see and feel. It truly is a welcoming city like no other, and this has been the case right from the days of the Prophets (PBUH) Hijra (migration) to this wonderful city where the Ansar (the people of Medinah) who were so welcoming of the Prophet (PBUH).
After Dhuhr, we were looking for the date market, so we could buy some blessed Ajwa dates (Prophet PBUH favourite dates).

Ajwa (عجوة) is a soft dry variety of date fruit from Saudi Arabia. It is cultivated at Medinah Monawara. A delightfully soft and fruity date with fine texture. The Messenger (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said, “Whoever has seven Ajwa dates every morning he will not be harmed on that day by poison or magic.” [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (5445) (5768) (5769) (5779)].

The Messenger (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said, “Ajwa dates are from paradise.” [Tirmidhee (2068) he said hasan Saheeh and it was authenticated by Shaikh al-Albaani].

I went near the entrance of the Ar Rawdan in time for Asr Salaat, and to my astonishment, I could see the barriers to the Ar Rawdah being opened up by the security guards. This meant one thing; I needed to put myself in a place so I could be fortunate to enter this blessed area. And Alhamdulillah 15 minutes later, a 100 meter sprint and the crowd put their breaks on, and looked down at the carpet beneath them; it was the green carpet that the Ar –Rawdan is so re-known for. I was so blessed to have done Nafl salaat and prayed by Sunnat and Fard Asr prayers at this blessed area between the minbar and the Prophets house. I could have stayed for Maghrib but thought it best to give another brother an opportunity to pray here too.

Brother Adeel had advised the date market would be close to Gate 6A. (Tip#2: This would be further to the left of Gate 6A after two crossings; around 10 minutes walk from the gate and should cost around 50-60 Riyals/kilo). See for further information on Ajwa dates.
After Asr I went to the Baqi Cemetary which is located south east of the Prophets Mosque.

Baqi Cemetary
Literally "al-Baqi" means a tree garden. It is also known as "Jannat al-Baqi" due to its sanctity, since in it are buried many of our Prophet's relatives and companions.
The first companion buried in al-Baqi was Uthman b. Madhoon who died on the 3rd of Sha'ban in the 3rd year of Hijrah. The Prophet (s) ordered certain trees to be felled, and in its midst, he buried his dear companion, placing two stones over the grave.

On the following years, the Prophet's son Ibrahim, who died in infancy and over whom the Prophet (s) wept bitterly, was also buried there. The people of Medinah then began to use that site for the burial of their own dead, because the Prophet (s) used to greet those who were buried in al-Baqi by saying, "Peace be upon you, O abode of the faithful! God willing, we should soon join you. O' Allah, forgive the fellows of al-Baqi".

The site of the burial ground at al-Baqi was gradually extended. Nearly seven thousand companions of the Holy Prophet (s) were buried there, not to mention those of the Ahlul Bayt (a).

Among other relatives of the Prophet (s) who were buried at al-Baqi are:
- All of the wives of Muhammad (also known as Mothers of the Believers), including Hafsa, Zainab etc., except for Khadijah bint Khuwaylid and Maymuna bint al-Harith,
- His daughters: Roqayyah and Fatima Zahra (in an unknown grave as she didn't want the people who hurt her to know where she was buried)
- Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, uncle of Muhammad
- Fatima bint Hizam, known as Umm ul-Banin, who married Ali after the death of Fatimah; mother of four children who died defending Hussain ibn Ali in Al-Taff Battle in Karbala
- Hasan ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad, son of Fatimah and Ali. The Prophet said that Hasan and Husayn bin Ali are the Masters of Youth of Paradise,
- ‘Alī ibn Ḥusayn, known as Zayn al-Abidin, grandson of Fatima Zahra who is the only adult male that survived Al-Taff Battle because he was sick and couldn't fight.
- Muhammad al-Baqir, son of ‘Alī ibn Ḥusayn, the fifth Imam according to Shia,
- Ja’far as-Sadiq, son of Muhammad al-Baqir, the sixth Imam according to Shia
- His aunts Safiya and Aatika, and his aunt Fatima bint al-Asad, the mother of Imam Ali (a).
- The third caliph Uthman was buried outside al-Baqi, but with later extensions, his grave was included in the area.
- In later years, great Muslim scholars like Malik bin Anas and many others, were buried there too.

Thus, did al-Baqi become a well-known place of great historic significance to all Muslims.

After Esha, Akluma and I met up for dinner. She spent some quality time with the Swansea crew and I met up with Adeel and his chums from Al Hiddayya. We managed to sort out some misunderstanding between the two of us as all couples do, InshaAllah this would prove to bring us closer during the rest of the Hajj journey.

In the evening I paid for the Qurbani for my wife and on behalf of my maternal grandmother, my “nani”, Shaban Bibi, who I was performing the Hajj Tamattu for. We provided Al Muntada with the money who would use a 3rd party agent to slaughter on behalf of us. It cost 410 Riyals/sheep (around 70GBP).

The Fifth Pillar Of Islam - Hajj 1432 (2011)

A journey like no other, it is the ultimate journey of the heart. A journey so solitary yet done in unison with over 3 million people, it is truly a spectacular event to answer the call of Allah (swt), to renew one’s faith and Glorify the oneness, the Al Khaliq (The Creator) , Allah (swt).

3rd Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Sunday 30th October 2011)

It was the 3rd day of the sacred month of Dhul Hijjah, and more importantly for my wife, Akluma and I, it was the day of our departure to the sacred land of the Hijaz (known to us today as Saudi Arabia). It is fascinating that this is the only nation that is named after a family, Al Saud.

There was much anxiety in the air, even though this would be my second Hajj, with my first voyage to the Hjaz for Al Hajj 2 years prior in 1430 (2009). I was anxious as if it was my very first travel abroad. Akluma also was very anxious, this would be her first trip to the Hijaz full stop, and with all the Prophetic history surrounding this amazing land, no doubt, what she was feeling was truly normal. With the flight hours away in the early hours of Sunday morning, it was much helped by the winter GMT adjustment which benefitted us by an extra night hour, and co-incidentally (Allahu Alum – Allah knows best) this happened a few hours before our imminent departure. This was one of the many blessings we had experienced on this amazing Hajj journey of the Hearts.

After the usual early morning last minute packing on Sunday, followed by a few hours sleep as we both were excited at the break of dawn we got up ready to be escorted to the airport by our beloved reliable sister Neha. My sister was quick to earn her hasanat (reward), by agreeing to drop us Hajjis to be at Heathrow Terminal 1, which we arrived in good time at 5.45am.

It was sad leaving the Ahlul Ali behind. My dear father was wide awake to send his farewells, and my beloved mother and sister afa said their farewells the night before. Mother did give me a sense of her motherly acknowledgement as I said my Salaams (Peace) on the way out of her room with a nod and a light murmur. It was so handy having an international airport on ones doorstep, something I have to say I take for granted as many over the UK travel to Heathrow for their International departures. Alhamdulillah (All Praise is to Allah), Allah has made this part easy for us.

We were greeted with warm welcome from Al Muntada Hajj group, namely brothers Mustafa and Jameel . The whole process from arrival to check in was very well organised, we were all provided with as much information as possible. I prayed Fajr with some brothers in T1 and collected Riyals from Travelex (Tip#1: if you book online it is far cheaper than on the counter, though you do get a much better rate in SA so best to change a few pounds in the UK).

Whilst we were waiting on the departure lounge, we met the “Swansea crew”, which came as a pleasant surprise even if we did know they were in our group. I was introduced to brothers Arjun and Hasan, with the former being related to my wife, this in itself was a blessing having booked independently not knowing of either party booking with Al Muntada. I was re-assured that my wife had someone she knew which will enable her to feel comfortable with the whole Hajj journey.
As we were about to board our plane, which was 2 hours delayed. I got speaking to Brothers, Bhodrul, Waqeel and Imran. MashaAllah they were solid brothers. What touched me was the re-collection of the story of the Battle of Uhud by Bhodrul bhai in respect to the great courageous Sahaba Mus’ab Ibn Umayr.

Mus’ab Ibn Umayr – Battle of Uhud
At the Battle of Uhud, Mus'ab realized the great danger facing the Prophet PBUH. He raised the standard high and shouted the takbir. With the standard in one hand and his sword in the other, he plunged into the Quraysh forces. The odds were against him. He was suddenly surrounded by enemy forces. A Quraysh horseman moved in close and cut off his right hand. Mus'ab was heard to repeat the words: "Muhammad is only a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him," showing that however great his attachment was to the prophet himself, his struggle above all was for the sake of God and for making His word supreme. His left hand was severed also and as he held the standard between the stumps of his arms, to console himself he repeated: "Muhammad is only a Messenger of God. Messengers have passed away before him." Mus'ab was then hit by a spear. He fell and the standard fell. The words he repeated, every time he was struck were later revealed to the Prophet and completed, and became part of the Quran.

It had been noted that 10,000 angels came to his Janaza (Islamic funeral). This re-collection brought tears to the eyes of Bhodrul Bhai and the rest of us could not but be moved by this story. It just shows the level of emaan the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) had, and what love for our beloved Prophet (PBUH). SubhanAllah (Praise be to Allah).

I met a former Tajweed student, Altaf Abbas from our Tayyibun Class of 2006. Incidentally he was really good friends with another good brother I knew, Liaquete Khan who I play indoor 5 aside football with regularly. It was a further co-incidence that he just happened to be sitting next to me on the plane too.
Another blessing was having Shaykh Abu Saed, from Willesden on our Hajj group. The Shaykh, was also well known in the Islamic circles, and more recently on Islamic Q&A at 8pm on sky channel 813 – Islam Channel. It was great to have him, as he was one my favourite Q&A shaykhs, and some brothers and I would watch the Q&A programme with much anticipation to see this Shaykh which brought so much joy and much talk the next day at work. Alhamdulillah. The Shaykh came with his wife and his two daughters. He also happens to come with his brother in law, Shahed Choudhury, who was also my room-mate in Medinah and Makkah.

Whist we sat in the plane getting ready to depart, there was announcement that the lavatory was blocked from the previous Hajj group, well no doubt this is a hazard and will take time to clean out. Our flight, a BMI chartered flight from Heathrow to Medinah took approximately just over 6 hours, which was good. Got to our 4 start hotel, Hotel Dar al Eeman Grand Hotel which looking over our 3 day stay here, found that this was the residence for many of the well known UK Hajj groups, such as Al Hidayya, Amaana Tours, Nabeel Travels etc. There were Shaykhs from all parts of the World there too, as far afield as Canada (Shaykh Ala).

Shahed bhai came with us to the Prophets Masjid. After Esha, prayer Shahed bhai and I went to send Salaams to the Prophet PBUH, Abu Bakr RA and Umar Ibn Al Khattab RA. I met up with Akluma after as we took a stroll around the magnificent Medinah Al Munawarrah Masjid at 11pm (after our buffet dinner –yes we needed to burn some carbs off!). Akluma saw a great opportunity to enter the Masjid, which was closed after Esha to Sisters. MashaAllah, managed to get into the sisters section of the Medinah Al Munawarrah at the early hours of Monday morning approximately 12am. And how blessed she was to find the Swansea Crew of sisters, whom she managed to squeeze herself into the Ar Rawdah an Nabawiyah (“Gardens of Paradise”). This is a very difficult to pray salaat in this place in the best of times and more so during the Hajj season.

Ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah
The heart of the mosque houses a very special but small area named ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah, which extends from Muhammad's (s.a.w) tomb to his pulpit. Pilgrims attempt to visit and pray in ar-Rawdah, for there is a tradition that supplications and prayers uttered here are never rejected. Entrance into ar-Rawdah is not always possible (especially during the Hajj season), as the tiny area can accommodate only a few hundred people. Ar-Rawdah has two small gateways manned by Saudi police officers. The current marble pulpit was constructed by the Ottomans. The original pulpit was much smaller than the current one, and constructed of palm tree wood, not marble. Ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah is considered part of Jannah (Heaven or Paradise).
It is prescribed for the one who visits the mosque to pray two rak’ahs in the Rawdah or whatever he wants of naafil prayers, because it is proven that there is virtue in doing so. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that Muhammad (s.a.w) said: “The area between my house and my minbar is one of the gardens (riyaad, sing. rawdah) of Paradise, and my minbar is on my cistern (hawd)” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1196; Muslim, 1391.

And it was narrated that Yazeed ibn Abi ‘Ubayd said: “I used to come with Salamah ibn al-Akwa’ and he would pray by the pillar which was by the mus-haf, i.e. in the Rawdah. I said, ‘O Abu Muslim, I see that you are keen to pray by this pillar!’ He said, ‘I saw that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was keen to pray here.’” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 502; Muslim, 509.

Further information on the Prophets Mosque can be found on:

It appeared Shahed bhai who was staying with me and Faisal bhai in the triple room, may have got lost after Esha, as he managed to spend a large sum of riyals on taxi fares to come to the hotel, even though it was only 5 minutes from the Prophets Masjid. Funny enough all 3 of us were Bangladeshi, so we all brushed up on our mother tongue in Medinah!