When was the last time you went out collecting stones?
When we were kids, we collected countless stones with different sizes for different purposes.
We collected stones to throw them at trees in the neighborhood to get some fruits. We would compete to see who would get more fruits than the rest of the group. We loved the sweet taste of the raw dates, yellow, red and green. At times, we paid the price for our naughty acts. The neighbors would complain to our parents and when that happened, we got into big trouble! My father was so rough … his gaze was enough to make us cry and weep. I used “us” because my little brother got his share of the beating as well.
I still love dates so much, that is why I have three tall palm trees in my garden.
At some other times, we collected stones to catch some birds. I was very bad at using the slingshot. I never caught a bird in my life. To compensate for this inability, I became a Master in hitting empty Pepsi cans and scaring off cats! I know what you are thinking: “Mohamed, we never thought you were naughty as a kid.” Wait, it gets better. Please remember, I was just a kid.
Sometimes we collected stones to stone each other when we got mad. I will never forget the time when my little brother chased me to throw a big stone at me. He threw the stone and I ducked. I wish I didn’t duck because it hit a man who was walking by in his arm. I still remember how loud he screamed. Again, he complained to our father who apologized to the man and then said: “I assure you this would not happen again and these two kids will be disciplined immediately.”
My father smacked us few times and told us to go to our room. On that night, we didn’t have dinner and we didn’t point fingers at each other arguing about who started the fight. We, the big brother and the little brother, made a pledge that we will never hold another stone in our lives.
I had to break this pledge during my Hajj trip. One of the rituals of Hajj was to stone the Devil Symbols in Mina and to do that we had to secure some stones.
I should mention one thing here, not all Hajj Groups has this practice. Some Groups would collect the required stones using their staff and then hand it over to the Pilgrims. Our Group wanted us to secure the stones ourselves because we had plenty of time before the Hajj Rituals started and besides this activity would warm us up for the stoning ritual.
My wife and I left the residence around 15:00 in the small white Toyota Bus to go to the mountains to secure the stones. We arrived at the designated location in about 15 minutes. There were so many rocky mountains in the area and there was one big white Masjid as well. We dismounted the bus and pulled out our green bags to start the process of securing the stones.
Our set target was to collect 200 qualified stones for both of us.
Some Pilgrims decided to go to the mountains top to collect the stones but we decided to collect the stones from the ground. We collected a sample of stones for the stoning of the Devil Symbols based on the description that was given to us in one of the lectures. I went to the Scholar and asked to examine our stones sample. He started picking them up one by one. “This is not good, this one is not good either, this one too”, at this time I thought “oh my God, it seems we will start from scratch” but he interrupted my thought by saying “the rest are good.” I was relived. I went back to my wife and explained to her the criteria of a qualified stone:
- Its size should be approximately the size of a little marble,
- It should be a virgin stone, not a processed stone like concrete stones used in construction,
- And the best ones are black with white dots
I took one big stone and started digging in the ground in search for qualified stones. They were very easy to find on the ground. I was wondering why most of the Pilgrims climbed the mountains while the stones were abundant on the ground!
While I was in the process of digging, the Devil paid me a visit.
“Look at you; you are fully grown up, digging in the ground looking for stones, shame on you, don’t you have better things to do.” I stopped digging for a moment and started thinking about what the Devil said. I smiled and said to myself: “Nice try Devil, I’ll see you in few days and throw all these stones on you.”
We collected so many stones. I felt it would be wise to start counting the stones. I told my wife to count the stones while I searched for more. In Hajj, it is all about teamwork. Without teamwork, it wouldn’t be possible to do all the Hajj Rituals smoothly.
Many companies spend endless amounts on teamwork training on their employees to improve their operations to achieve higher profits. I think they should seriously consider sending their employees to Hajj to learn what is really meant by teamwork in this great spiritual journey. You will see teamwork everywhere. In the Residence, in the Bus, during the Rituals and even during the meals!
My wife and I collected more than 200 qualified stones; which was way above what we required for the stoning ritual. We split them in half and put them in the green bags.
We started taking pictures of the mountains and other Pilgrims for our Hajj Photos Collection. It was amazing how all the Pilgrims were engrossed in the process of securing the stones, some were on the mountains, some on the ground and, some talking to the Scholars to make sure they have qualified stones.
We felt great because at that time, we were ready to stone the Devil Symbols.
I hope that you will be blessed with this feeling in the near future after finishing securing the stones.