Let’s catch up from where we ended in my first post (http://wp.me/p1bx2F-3).
We arrived at the residence at 4am. The Pilgrims helped one another to take the baggage to the designated rooms. After that, I went to my room # 9 in Flat # 2 to meet my pre-selected roommates who I knew long time ago plus one unknown Pilgrim. 6 tall men sharing one room. Can you imagine? Our feet crosses the edge of our beds! We have to bend our legs to avoid kicking the bed edge. But I cannot avoid one thing: the snoring syndrome. Oh my God, I need some sleep !
This was another patience test. We all live with certain luxury/comfort level. Here, we learn to adapt to a new situation. 6 (Six) men sharing one room and sharing 2 (two) bathrooms with another 14 (Fourteen) Pilgrims. Timing is everything ! I won’t go beyond this description.
I met sleeping bodies. They must be tired after performing the Umrah rituals which are the subject of this post.
At around 10pm, we headed to the Big Bus which would take us to the Holy Masjid in Makkah. After we made sure everyone was around, the bus doors were closed and we started performing the Talbiya (The Pilgrims Recitals): Oh God here we come, Oh God, we believe you are the only God.
It is worth noting that each Prophet had a different recital. Here are some examples:
- Prophet Jesus (Isa): Oh God, here I am, I am your servant and the son of your servant, here I am God
- Prophet Moses (Mousa): Oh God, Oh Gracious, here I am God
- Prophet Jonah (Younis): Oh God, the anguish reliever, here I am God
May the blessings of God be placed upon all his Prophets.
We drove on the roads and in the tunnels of Aziziya City to the Grand Masjid. All of us were eager to reach to perform the Umrah Rituals. In no time, we saw the tallest and biggest standing clock in the World and we realized we are very close to the Harram (Masjid).
My eagerness level was so high because the last time I performed Umrah was back in December 2003. The moment we dismounted the bus, my eagerness turned into happiness. I felt so happy to back to the House of God.
The entire landscape of the area surrounding the Harram changed completely due to the continuous expansion projects of it to accommodate the increasing number of Pilgrims. This year they are estimated to be around 4 (Four) million Pilgrims from around the World. On one side of the Harram, there were 25 construction cranes and on the other side there were 13 cranes! I no longer recognize the many places I knew before because I used to perform Umrah frequently when I used to live in Jeddah.
But there was something that did not change at all. The multi-nationalities of the Pilgrims. India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Turkey, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Britain, and the list goes on … all of them were wearing white cloths. Some of them were young and some very old.
Whenever I see old Pilgrims, I thank God for giving me the opportunity to perform Hajj this year. I know that millions of Muslims around the World are longing to be here but they cannot come due to several reasons.
We walked towards the Masjid and then reached one of its gates … since it is a Holy place, we entered bare footed, the level of our spirituality increased with each step we took. Then, there it was … the glorious Holy Kaaba.
We reached the area surrounding the Holy Kaaba and we experienced some unusual feelings … Only God knows what we experienced and I find it difficult to put these feelings in black and white.
We began marching around the Holy Kaaba starting from the Black Stone Corner. I was guarding my wife with my arms because the place was filled with Pilgrims. We marched 7 (Seven) times around the Holy Kaaba and then we went to perform the mandatory prayer of Marching. During the march, we recited and chanted different supplications to be more engaged in the process. Each supplication is carefully worded to make you weep and think again about your entire life aspects.
We prayed behind Prophet Abraham (Ebrahim) Site. Ismail is the son of Prophet Ebrahim (Abraham); they are the ones who built the Kaaba after receiving a revelation from God. When we pray, we begin with Neya (Intention), the intention of praying to be closer to God. After that, we say Allaho Akbar (Go is Great). This time my prayer was different. When I raised my hands and placed them on my ears to say Allaho Akbar, I said it with a shaking, broken and trembling voice. My eyes shed tears … It was a totally different experience.
We then drank from the Water of Zam Zam. This water has an amazing mix of minerals and tastes fantastic !
Then, we went to perform the March between Safa and Marwa. We have to do this for, again, 7 (Seven) times. The total distance of the march is around 2.8 Kilometers. Again, we recited some thought-provoking supplications.
After that, we performed the last ritual of Umrah: Taqseer. Here you cut a little bit from your hair and clip your nails. To me, Taqseer was the toughest part of Umrah. I struggled to cut some hair on the side and the back of my head because I have very little hair. That’s why I resorted to Plan B, I clipped two nails to finish the rituals of Umrah.
After Taqseer, all the worldly pleasures that were specifically prohibited by wearing the white cloths are yours to take.
You must be wondering: What is the significance of the number 7? Seven marches around the Holy Kaaba? Seven marches between Safa and Marwa?
Only God knows about this mystery. We believe in Tasleem or the complete Submission to God. It is something beyond our comprehension.
Maybe it is a test of obedience. Are you familiar with the story of the slaughter of Prophet Ishmael by his father Prophet Abraham? Think about the similarity between the two situations … keep on thinking …