Friday, January 30, 2009

Diary of A Pilgrim - Mina On My Mind (III)

The Jamrah as it is today
The Jamrah in the 70s
The Jamrah in the 50s

Day Three (cont'd)

It was a bleak start to Day Three. With one lens missing and a nagging headache that persisted despite medication, I decided the safest recourse would be to remain in the tent, and say my prayers and doas.

As the day progressed, it was one misfortune after another. As if losing the lens of one’s spectacles wasn’t enough, my all-important Pilgrim Identification Tag and a brand new pair of flip-flops purchased just the day before to replace a ruined pair of leather sandals, also disappeared.

Without glasses I was as good as blind; without the tag I was a Tabung Haji non-entity. I could very well be left sick and penniless too, for only the tag could be used to seek medical treatment and to withdraw Tabung Haji savings while on pilgrimage.

For the uninitiated, Tabung Haji's functions in Mina were minimal; the bulk of the Hajj operations with regards pilgrim management were handled by Saudi Arabia's Muasasah Office.

The said Office also undertook provision of meals to Nusantara pilgrims. However, I must add (without malice, that is) that Tabung Haji-appointed caterers in Makkah and Madinah did a much better job in terms of food quality.

While in Mina, Tabung Haji was only allowed to offer medical and religious advisory services to Malaysian pilgrims; as such I had to wait until we return to Makkah to have a new tag done.

By noon, my headache had mercifully gone. With that, the gloom lifted. Myopia notwithstanding, I felt a lot happier. “Submission to the will of God” found a new meaning that day. It must be said that acceptance of one’s fate was a lot easier in the Holy Land.

God never felt closer and more real. Alone in my corner of the tent offering prayers and supplications, I was imbued with calmness and tranquility. It was a most peculiar, yet pleasing, feeling.

I would like to believe that Mina was where my spiritual journey reached its zenith. No word could explain how I felt. It is still impossible for me to translate this emotional intensity into mere words. Suffice to say the ‘rahmat’ (blessing) felt tangible, something you could physically hug and hold.

Stoning the devil was a foregone conclusion; I would be an unmitigated fool to attempt it in my current state of myopia, when I could hardly see the earth under my feet.

Anyway, the ritual is 'wajib' (must-do, with options) and not 'rukun' (pillar, some with options as well). Although a ‘must-do’, it is one that can be entrusted upon another person (like I did with Pak Abu), failing which one has to pay ‘dam’ (a pre-determined sum as penalty).

There were movement aplenty within the tents that day , with many pilgrims packing to return to Makkah after two nights in Mina. These pilgrims had opted for Nafar Awwal (literally, “to leave earlier”), thus must be out of Mina's boundary before dusk.

[Note: Nafar Awwal is when pilgrims complete two days of stoning and then opt to leave Mina to return to Makkah, which they must do before sunset. Those staying for the full, prescribed three days in Mina are deemed to have opted for Nafar Tsani]

The Nafar Awwal option was not encouraged by Tabung Haji; I think it was more of a logistic issue than anything else (the lack of adequate transport had a lot to do with it). Still, Tabung Haji did arrange for buses to carry the early leavers back to Makkah.

Although announcements were made about the availability of buses and departure times, some pilgrims still hauled their luggage and parked themselves at the camp gate, causing mini-congestion at the entrance.

Many pilgrims were eager to leave the discomfort of Mina for Makkah, thus the Nafar Awwal rush. On the other hand, I had this sudden urge to stick around in Mina a while longer.

Pak Abu agreed Mina had taught many good lessons. If one could look beyond the physical discomforts – the overcrowded tents, the lack of toilets, the throngs, the constant clamour and din, the barely-palatable food – Mina was a paradise, spiritually. Mina was proving to be one heck of a memorable sojourn.

Day Four

Thursday the 11th of December was a bright new day. A beautiful day too. The bus taking us back to Makkah would be leaving at 10 in the morning, giving me ample time to pack and say my goodbyes to new friends made in Mina.

As I looked around the tent, now half empty, with many pilgrims gone the day before, I felt a twinge of sadness and melancholy. After the torment of Arafah, I had not expected to be severely tested yet again in Mina. But He knew best, and that was good enough for me.

After all, the Hajj is a 'jihad' and its rewards commensurate with the level of hardship and suffering one is subjected to. I know He loves this humble servant still. Thank You, God.


mamasita said...

If only Jamrah kita boleh view macam those days in the 50's kan?

Alhamdullillah went through all the inconveniences in Mina with loads of determination and came out with lots of feelings of gratification and happiness.

I hope kitaorang yang cerewet and penakut ni can be just as resilient as you and Pak Abu when the time comes.
Thanks Hajjah.Thank you kat Haji Abu too.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

Alhamdulillah syukur, all went well, despite the tests. It is with Him we leave our fate. And He knows when to give and when to withhold.

Thanks for sharing Kak!!

Naz said...

Kak Puteri,
Reading all your entries ni buat I rasa macam I sendiri ada kat sana. You have a gift, Sis. Thanks for sharing.

Salt N Turmeric said...

Kak Puteri, I know I havent been leaving any comments on your Haj postings. I do read them. All. And enjoy reading them too. I like the way you tell the story as is. :)

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Mamasita - I think it's ok to be cerewet & penakut; we are but human. yang penting we know our own weaknesses and react accordingly when the time comes..

Kay - Indeed. we are so grateful dapat tunaikan Hajj sebaik mungkin, and that Allah tak bagi ujian yg berat2 sampai tak tertanggung.

Naz - the pleasure is all mine, naz. kak puteri pun sentiasa seronok baca yr celoteh...esp that mimpi belajar mengaji tu..LOL

Farina - tq for the kind words... likewise, I ni pun rajin ronda2 dlm cyberspace visiting other ppl's abodes without leaving my pawprint.. letih nak mengomen all da time kan? just baca and enjoy such lovely flow of words pun dah cukup sometimes.. :)

Kak Teh said...

puteri, dua tiga kali i cuba try tinggalkan komen. Hope this time I will succeed.
We pray that God grant us patience and tolerance and good health when we are there. I think this must be the biggest challenge. Masa umrah pun, i fear apa yang terdetik di hati. Banyak sungguh dugaan. But Alhamdulillah, you did it.

azhar said...

Salam Hajah,

I will be making my way home in a few hours too... Been quite a trip thye last 5 weeks in the southern continents..

My salam to Pak Abu


Kama At-Tarawis said...

Kak Teh - Hajj is a lesson well-learnt, I hope. After all the dugaan, semoga kuat sikit lagi iman... :)

Slam - welcome home from the snow and ice of Antractica... we'll do 'mamak' when you're back..

Pak Tuo said...

Kak Hajah,

I was rather puzzle with the first photo.My haj trip was in 2002.
All the 3 jamrah,akabar,ullah was still as it was ie.a big well and a pillar but from the photo it seems that the jammah haj today melontar di dinding.

Pleased clarified and correct me if I am wrong.Thats the impression I get from the photo.

It looks like a wailing wall to me.Excuse me I dont mean it that was but that how I look at the photo.

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikom Pak Tuo,
Yes, that is how the Jamrah looks now. All three of them. They are now each at least 50ft long and elliptically shaped. More space for pilgrims to stone, and avoid stampede, but then they still do, sigh..... When we were there this year, there are 3 levels, I tried the first 2 and didn't attempt the third level. That picture could be the third level, or taken a few years ago when the 2nd and 3rd level were not ready then. Yes, the first two levels will have roof. The stones from the upper level will not get to the lower level, as there are catchment at all levels. Hope that will help.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

thanks Pak Abu for coming to the rescue. Since I was "rabun-ed" and unable to melontar, I couldn't really answer Pak Tuo's query so had been meaning to ask you to explain. thank you Pa, may your golf handicap improve..LOL

Pak Tuo said...

Salam Pak Aji Abu and Mak Aji,

Thank you for the clarification.I guess the ends justified the means.The absolute numbers of Jamaah melontar on Hari Tashrik and the yearly unfortunate incident before must made the authority realised and need for another pro-active mesasurement.
Needless to say,may aLLAH s.w.t reward and bestow much happiness and love here and day after for the successful trip.

Labaikkaallah Pak Aji and Mak Aji.


I'm not a golfer Pak Aji,but insyallah my old boys alummni and I'm one of the urusetia is trying to organised a Friendly Golf Tournment.
Thus,would be delighted to call you in.
It is still at planning stage thus will contact.Is it ok you you,to extend our old boys invitation when the times comes?Somewhere between 10 to 15 fleet would do.

aaisyan said...

Now it is more easier to do the stoning at jamrah than before.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

aaisyan - tq for dropping by. yes, pak abu did say it was a breeze to melontar, even with the throng, because of the way the 3 jamarat were designed..

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikom Pak Tua,

You asked, "Is it ok you,to extend our old boys invitation when the times comes?"

My answer, "I looked forward to your invitation."