My experiences during Hajj 2010
Rifaquat Cheema, 722/L
We finally made it
back home to Wisconsin on 29th of November. Our
journey lasted around 3 weeks with the intent to
perform the Fareeza of Hajj; and with the
hope that our efforts will be accepted despite our
human shortcomings in the process.
I am not qualified
enough to explain each ritual of Hajj or to
convince anyone of its importance in our lives. So
I will just write my observations of the process
Just before we left,
Shabieh Zaidiís email was a beautiful send off
from the heart of a genuine friend. I appreciated
it a lot as it kept on reminding me of his words
throughout my journey. And Kazi bhaiís
presentations on Hajj focussed on the important
aspects of the essence of Hajj although we had
gone through the ritualistic aspects at our Masjid
here. And as I departed, I thought that I would
need everyone's prayers as I make my way to the
House of Allah.
I am sure I have lot
of sins in my account (being a weak human being),
so I requested for forgiveness of all my
intentional and unintentional acts which might
have hurt anyone.
I also resolved to try
my best not to repeat the intentional mistakes in
future. For unintentional oneís, I count on
Probably the most
tiring leg of the Hajj journey was long flight
from Chicago to Amman and back.
I must give full
credit to the Saudi government for taking care of
such a massive gathering in a very nice manner. I
am sure they are looking for opportunities for
continuous improvements in the process. It is
quite likely that minor details may not be brought
to the attention of the higher authorities and
there are many which may be beyond their
During our twenty days
trip, we first went to Madina. The Masjid-e-Nabawi
was very impressive and a sight to behold with its
beautiful interiors and exteriors. It is so well
The last time I saw it
was before its expansion. At first sight, I was
worried about possible security checks at every
gate with long lines, but my fears were allayed
very soon and found the entrances to be very
At Madina airport, our
luggage was brought to curb side
after immigration without any inspection and
ready to be loaded on our buses. This was very
The strange part was
that our passports were taken away from us at
Madina airport and we didnít get them back until
it was our time to leave the Kingdom. I found out
later that the passport always travelled with us
in the custody of bus driver.
When we arrived at our
hotel in Madina, even before our luggage was
brought to lobby, hotel employees were busy
selling us SIM cards for our cell phones. The
level of their room service was based upon how
many phone cards you bought from them.
Subsequently I found out that their earnings were
not too great and that won our sympathies for
Shopping in Madina was
fun, people were nice. Almost every shopkeeper
could speak Urdu.
The mosque was right
across from our hotel. Thus, making it in time for
all prayers was very convenient. Ladies always
prayed in the designated ladies section. However,
twice a day they were given the opportunity to
pray next to Rauda Mubarak. And during that
period, the area was blocked for men. This area is
known as the Riyadh-ul-Jannah, and is believed to
be one of the gardens of Heaven according to the
Hadith of the Prophet.
always crowded. So one day I decided to go at 1:00
am to observe the process and see how they manage
people in that area for an hour or so. I wanted to
pray there too, but could not imagine myself
pushing and shoving to make space for myself.
That small area has
standing room for barely three hundred people.
Police will let in three hundred, but only fifteen
persons can pray in front row. The rest must wait
for their turn. They keep on rotating fifteen at a
time. It took nearly half an hour for all to clear
out before they would let the next three hundred
I think if they let in
hundred persons at a time and allow them to pray
at the same time, the process can possibly take
less than five minutes. In this way, at least six
hundred can pray in half an hour. This can
possibly double the output. Having lines can also
help, but that need to be in culture of our people
and cannot be taught on the spot to respect the
ones ahead of them.
We enjoyed our stay in
Madina including all sightseeing. These visits to
Madina must be a big boost to the city's economy.
We travelled from
Madina to Makkah two days before the start of the
Hajj. We went straight to Azizia area where we
were staying. On the next day, we performed Umra
and discovered how simple the few important steps
The Saudi government
hands out books to explain each step of Hajj. I
think it is also the duty of all countries to
train their people before they send them for Hajj.
When we are on the
streets of our cities, we all know how to lead
into traffic and how to prepare to leave it.
However, we seem to lose this traffic sense during
tawaf. People do not seem to know how to enter
into the circular motion of the tawaf or how to
exit after completing the seventh round. This
causes utmost hindrance to an otherwise steady
When few persons try
to break the line and move straight in or out of
an otherwise circular motion, it brings a
commotion to an a otherwise smooth flow for a
minute or so. That is enough to cause a huge push
to those who are forced to pause caused by this
We observed that the
defaulters are mostly people from our native
countries i.e. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India
and Bangladesh. I don't expect them to know all
this, but a few days of training before departure
In Mina, we went to
our tents, which were quite comfortable. I had
assumed that every Haji in Mina would have an
assigned space in some tent somewhere. But I was
surprised to see a number of people spending days
and nights on road sides with no place to go.
Within a day or so, the streets were littered with
It is amazing to see
how four million people are moved from one
location to next to next within 24 hours.
Each area was
designated by numbers at Mina, Arafat and
Muzdalifa. The peak of our spiritual activity was
after noontime in Arafat. Every person had his/her
hands up in prayer and repentance Ė asking for
forgiveness from Allah. Rituals of salat takes
secondary place during the standing at Arafat Ė a
fareeza of a lifetime.
The rainfall on final
day of Hajj was considered as a blessing. But try
imagine walking through streets littered with
garbage amidst heavy rain and no drainage.
Upon our return from
Mina to Makkah, we put up next to the Haram
Shareef. I had a beautiful view of the Holy Mosque
and could see people performing Tawaf through our
room window. I would observe when the Masjid was
not very crowded to immediately go and avail every
opportunity of Tawaf. During our stay, I saw many
Hujjaj from Pakistan spending all day outside the
Mosque because their residences were too far to
travel back and forth so many times in a day.
I also had the good
opportune to meet brother Shuja Zaidi over a cup
of tea at his office in Makkah Hilton. It was a
short but very memorable meeting indeed.
I did remember all my
friends at every step and had many opportunities
to seek Allah's forgiveness with special Duas for
those who have asked for it.
May Allah accept our prayers and our manasik of
Hajj, and bless everyone to be able to perform
this journey. May He accept our endeavors and
grant us His blessings.