Saturday, January 24, 2009

Diary of A Pilgrim - Moon Over Muzdalifah

Knackered and drained in more ways than one, Muzdalifah offered a welcome respite from the torment and misery of Arafah for this weary guest of God ...

Taking a snooze after all the prayers, supplications and pebble-collecting. It wasn't easy to look for pea-sized 'batus' in semi-darkness.

My roommate Nor Aziah and her husband Ahmad, from Sungai Buloh, Selangor. The pint-sized grandma regaled us with witty, poignant tales of her year-long sojourn in New Delhi many years ago.

The boundary for collecting pebbles.

It was midnight rendezvous of the strangest kind; in a desert valley beneath a cloudless sky and not a twinkle in sight, the bluish-white moon casting a long shadow on the teeming mass of humanity below.

Weary beyond words, I reclined gently on a rocky mound, grateful to have found a nook to rest my aching feet. Improbable as it may sound, somewhere in my subconscious ‘Ole Blue Eyes was crooning “Blue Moon” as I gazed, mesmerised, at the most beautiful blue moon I had ever seen.

The ordeal of Arafah was still fresh in my mind as we left for Muzdalifah eight kilometres away not long after sunset, to collect pea-sized pebbles to 'Stone the Devil’ in Mina the following day.

Apart from a tree or two planted as landmarks for pilgrims, this stark, pebbly valley between Arafah and Mina is devoid of any vegetation. Neither was there any permanent structure, save for a couple of toilets with no more than 10 cubicles each.

Muzdalifah has a special mention in the Qur’an, where it is referred to as Al-Masy’ar Al-Haraam, indicating it as a sacred place where worship and devotion are richly rewarded.

There was no tent in Muzdalifah, just sheets of green tarpaulin neatly laid on the sandy, pebbly expanse to give a measure of comfort to pilgrims for the few hours that they spent in Muzdalifah before moving on to Mina.

The main duty of staying at Muzdalifah is deemed to have been fulfilled if one spends any part of the second half of the night there. Malaysian pilgrims under Tabung Haji usually spend four or five hours in Muzdalifah, departing for Mina after midnight.

Tabung Haji officials confided Muzdalifah had always been a logistic nightmare to them, considering the limited number of buses allocated (they’d be lucky to get 20) to move 27,000 Malaysian pilgrims from Muzdalifah to Mina 7 kilometres away, within the hours of midnight to dawn the following day.

Our allocated station in Muzdalifah was, thankfully, quite near a wash area so we didn’t have to walk very far for toilet and ablution. Upon arrival, we performed the customary two-raka’at sunat prayer and continued with our supplications and doas.

After the tribulations of Arafah, it was simply heavenly to experience the serenity of Muzdalifah. The evening air was windless and still, yet cool. Despite the crowd, a sense of peace and calmness prevailed. My spirit lifted considerably.

I took the opportunity to have a snooze while Pak Abu wandered off, torchlight and pouch in hand, to collect pebbles. Well aware of my now-acute headache, he later returned with pebbles enough for the two of us, bless his heart.

It is easy to lose one’s bearing in Muzdalifah. Apart from the aforesaid trees, a few signboards in Arabic, English and French (the three main languages used in the Holy land), minimal streetlight and a couple of toilet facilities dotting the barren landscape, there is nothing to differentiate one’s allocated station from that of the next group.

The presence of fellow Nusantara pilgrims (250,000 pilgrims from Indonesia alongside us) flanking us on both sides, made station identification twice as difficult when all one saw was a sea of white, although there were banners and flags to indicate the boundary between the two countries.

Thus, over the next few hours we were subjected to a series of announcements by Tabung Haji officials using megaphones, calling out the names of spouses, parents and relatives who had somehow gone ‘missing’ in the teeming mass.

They were mostly the elderly and the infirmed, many of them illiterate, who had simply become disoriented, clueless as to where their stations were, wandering in circles to find their way back. The announcements served to guide them back to their respective groups.

Except for the inevitable pushing and jostling (when will they ever learn?) when the buses started arriving at midnight to take us onwards to Mina, Muzdalifah passed without incidence for Pak Abu and I.

Pak Abu, however, was on the verge of losing his cool when some of the elderly pilgrims were rudely shoved and elbowed by impatient younger pilgrims, causing the hapless senior citizens, women amongst them, to lose their footing, nearly toppling over, in the rush to stake a seat in the bus.

Such behaviour, shameful and unbecoming, was contrary to God's command: "Take necessary provisions with you for the Hajj journey, but the best provision is right (good) conduct." (Al-Baqarah: 197).

It was two o'clock in the morning when we finally reached the tent city of Mina, tired and hungry, but happy to have arrived safely and in good time.

We were later to learn a woman pilgrim from Perak was inadvertently left behind in Muzdalifah. Her husband had gone to the washroom when everyone was boarding. Upon returning, he couldn't find her anywhere. Assuming she had left on an earlier bus, he hopped on the last one and left for Mina.

In the meantime, the wife was waiting patiently for him to turn up at their prescribed meeting place, to leave together. The strangest thing was, he walked past that very same place many times over searching for her yet saw nothing, when she was right there, praying and saying her supplications.

It was many hours later when he realised she hadn't arrived that he returned to Mudzalifah, to find one highly agitated, panic-stricken spouse, alone in the now deserted plain. Thank be to Allah (swt) she wasn't harmed in any way....




14 comments:

Pi Bani said...

Despite the Saudis always saying "Malizia baguz" because of the discipline of Malaysians, somehow one trait that the Malaysians always bring with them wherever they go is bab berebut. Berebut naik bas, berebut beli food (in fact baru time kursus haji pun dah nampak dah, during break, nak gi ambil kuih pun boleh berebut!!). Apa yang dikejar entah!

Being one who doesn't like pushing and being pushed, especially when I had to take care of my mother as well back then, I'd usually just wait - lantaklah korang nak naik bas dulu ke, nak grab makanan dulu ke...

But once while wanting to buy food (time tu even lunch and dinner kena beli sendiri), I just waited patiently for the other Malaysians to berebut-rebut. Adalah Pak Arab sorang dok kesian kat I, dia jerit (in Arabic) kat kawan dia yang tukang jual tu to bungkuskan food for me. The choice of lauk was just between fish or chicken, so the seller just asked, "Dajaj? Samak?" Nasib baik le reti sepatah dua cakap Arab so I opted for samak lah sebab dah tak lalu makan ayam. So in the end I got my food faster than those yang berebut.

Morale of the story? Sabar tu sebahagian dari iman... hehehe...

Raden Galoh said...

Salam Kak Hajjah,
I just read all these two postings of yours and a lump choked my throat as I controlled myself from crying out loud... especially when I reach the Arafah supplication...
Reading jour tribulations makes me think 'apa pula bahagian saya nanti'?

Bab tabiat org kita ni, ada di mana-mana kak. waktu umrah pun ada juga yang tak tahu jaga adab, masih pentingkan diri sendiri...saya pun menyaksikan beberapa babak yang mengaibkan jika nak disebut, tentang tabiat segelintir orang kita di Tanah Suci...

Memang benar, sabar itu senang disebut tapi paling payah di lakukan... ada pula yang kita ajak bersabar tengking kita balik tu...masyaAllah...takut.

Have a great weekend kak. Love you loads.

Kak Teh said...

Puteri, semuanya dugaan, kan? Anything can happen. Reading abt the lost wife, I can only imagine her anxiety. Alhamdulillah, everything was alright after that.
Thanks once again for sharing.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

Travel between Arafah to Minah with a stop at Muzdalifah has always been a challenge to the pilgrims. You are lucky to have arrived in Mina rather early. We got caught in the massive crawl and only arrived Mina around Subuh. Dehydration and fatigue by then had set in. It's the old and weak whom we feared so much for. Alhamdillilah, all of us made it safely.

mamasita said...

Another beautiful piece..Pak Abu is so thoughtful. And you pandai betul describe your experience there.
A very meaningful experience for you and ..us too ( as though we were there too.)

We Malaysians ramai yang takreti2 queue..Tabung Haji must take a serious note on this matter!!

D said...

In the holy land, the pilgrimage wakes us from our slumber... Hmmm, the Hajj is indeed very symbolic kan Kak Puteri? With eyes, we can't see; with ears, we can't hear; with brains, we can't think. Wallahu'alam.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Pi - Sebab Pi jaga mak tu Allah bagi berkat..:)

Raden - Kak Puteri pun pernah kena jegil dlm Masjid Nabawi sebab ikhlas nak perbetul yg salah.. apa nak buat. yg penting we do our part, tuntutan agama tu correcting mistake dlm ibadah.

Kak Teh - Indeed kak Teh, dugaan terlalulah banyak, just like this pak kadhi kawan kami yg tertinggal bini kat Muzdalifah ..LOL

Kay - ada among us yg sampai lepas subuh. bas kaput, jalan kaki. kesian. Habuan masing2 tu..

Mamasita - sekadar berkongsi pengalaman, semoga ada yg bersemangat nak pi haji bila dah dengar cerita, dan semasa badan masih sihat..

D - for me, D, throughout my time kat Tanah Suci, I felt very insignificant, hilang semua pretensions.. terasa amat bodoh pun ada.. hehehe.. suddenly i realised i ni takla terer mana.... hilang all the perasan feeling..LOL

mamasita said...

Salam Hajjah.
Nak kacau sikit..The blue moon?
Betul2 biru?

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Yes mamasita... betul2 biru.. amatlah cantiknay..

Aida said...

Kak,

No matter how much hardship we go through, I always feel that nothing can compare that with what our Phrophet(saw) and his congregation went through their first time.

And it just brings u closer to Him kan? Though tersedar kita tak terror, but at least boleh follow in the Phrophet's (saw) footsteps.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Aida - well said, that. Kita pi pilgrimage ada orang organise our perjalanan..that's why kak Puteri cukup tak suka dengar orang complain benda2 yg remeh temeh.. makan tak sedap la, kemah tak selesa la etc. kalau nak makan sedap dan duduk selesa, dok kat rumah lagi baik kan? LOL

Pak Tuo said...

Hajah,I kena tangkap oleh Polis Mekah kerana ambil photo Kabah.Naik juga kereta Polis Saudi.Punya lama kat balai polis tu menunggu I.O nya.

Bila jumpa I.O nya sepatah perbualan pun tak timbul.Apa yang dilakukan hanya relief the photo negative from my camera dan suroh saya beredah.

Another story,my cousin brother kena balon kerana dipanjat Kabah.Betul,dia panjat half way sewaktu tawaf.He's like the French spiderman and an active mountaineer.Malah kebanyakan gunung kat dunia in di panjatnya.
You could catch him at http://www.riamjeram.com/home.html

Beautiful story Hajah.Mak ji beli carpet tak?

Ya Ahaad,ya yaddun terimalah amalan kami

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Merasalah Pak Tuo jadi tetamu polis arab ya? ..hehehe.. I bawak camera all the time masa masuk masjidil haram, without knowing it wasnt allowed. agaknya sebab genuinely taktau kot tak pernah kena cekup dek mosque guards. sempatlah jugak ambik gambar baitullah dsb...

awatla pi panjat kaabah.. Masyaallah..

Kama At-Tarawis said...

PS:
Tak, satu carpet pun tak beli. Tak larat eh nak angkut carpet bawak balik macam Aladin & The 40 Thieves pulak.. takut Pak Abu marahpun ya..sure punya he would say kapet kat Udani di malaysia tu apa bezanya?? LOL.. tak pasai kena letiaq..