Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tales From The Holy Land

There's something about recent pilgrims that make you want to draw them close to you, to hug and kiss them and 'breathe in' their aura, so to speak. They look so good, radiant even.

And I love meeting returning Haj pilgrims, for many have that special glow about them. The peace and serenity they evoke make you feel comforted in their presence.

Last night Pak Abu and I went a-visiting, appropriately enough in the light of Maal Hijrah, to welcome A, an old friend who had just returned from the Holy Land.

A went for the Haj together with her sister, N, whilst her husband, K, a retired banker, held the fort back home. Barring unforeseen circumstances, K said he would make the journey next year, Insyaallah.

Both sisters and I went back a long way, some three decades in fact, to the time when we were under the employ of the same publishing Group; me in editorial, they in administration.

We have all left the Group since but our friendship has survived the test of time. We have been keeping in touch, meeting sporadically, usually for karaoke followed by teh tarik sessions at a mamak joint.

I must confess to one peculiarity (if you can call it such); I'm in the market for anything weird, strange, unexplainable. Give me the supernatural, bizarre, freakish and eerie anytime, and I'm sold.

Because of this I enjoy listening to returning pilgrims, for, almost everyone has a strange story to tell of their pilgrimage, usually from their own experiences. Almost always, it's the kind of stories that defies logic.

Because of this too I am an avid reader of that popular (some people call it trashy) Malay magazine Mastika, especially its Kisah Dari Tanah Suci (Stories From the Holy Land) collection.

My devotion to Mastika is, by the way, a long-standing joke in my family. To be fair, some of Mastika's articles do border on the ridiculous, to be taken with scoopfuls of salt.

Be that as it may, I don't have to justify myself about Mastika, or any other rags that I spend my fulush ($) on. I like to read and I read anything I possibly could, including food wrappers if they catch my fancy.

Like many returning pilgrims I had met before, Hajjah A too had had a couple of personal experiences to tell.

.... like the day in Makkah when she and hundreds of others looked up to see the clouds forming alif lam lam ha, the Arabic spelling for 'Allah'.

... or the day in Arafah when the clouds parted, revealing a cavenous opening in sky, a hole so big and bright like a shining tunnel, that terrified everyone .....

... or about a woman pilgrim in their group who, for some strange reasons, had simply refused to step foot inside Masjidil Haram despite having been in the Holy Land for over a week...

The woman's husband was at his wit's end of what to do until the ustaz accompanying the group offered to help, obliquely referring to an entity that had travelled with the woman from Malaysia to the Holy Land!

A prayer session was held to remove what was eventually identified as a jinn; the whole thing was captured on tape, guttural, changing voices et al, again scaring the wits off Hajjah A and company!

She also regaled us with yet another strange encounter, this time when she went for umrah years ago with her young son.

The boy had prayed beside a deformed man in the mosque and had felt discomfited by the sight. The weird thing was, only he alone could see the limbless guy.....

Even Pak Abu and I had had a couple of unexplained occurances during our Haj two years ago, the most vivid in Mina one morning after subuh prayers, when we left the encampment to find breakfast.

We had just taken our respective seat (we carried our own foldable stools wherever we went) by the side of the road leading towards Muassim Tunnel to enjoy our breakfast of Arab bread.

That was when I spied a deformed black (possibly African) woman carrying an infant, slowly crawling on all fours right in front of us.

Instantaneously I put down my bread and reached into my purse to sadaqah some money. It took no more than 30 seconds for me to pull a note out, only to find they had vanished into thin air...

Like they say, miracles are everywhere in the Holy Land. Everything is God's will and I, without a shred of a doubt, am a believer...

PS: Thank you Hajjah A for the lovely sajaddah, the attar and the henna. Using them bring back the beautiful, unforgettable memories of our own Haj..


Wan Sharif said...

"Give me the supernatural, bizarre, freakish and eerie anytime, and I'm sold"
Alamak.. that sound like me, at times..

Anonymous said...

Salam Kama
Me too Pak Wan. Tapi I ni penakut.
MIL went haj with 2 nieces (siblings) - In Mecca not a day gone by where the younger will show temper & tantrums towards the elder & no one else. All the while in their life it was the other way. After that trip, excellent relationship.

Anonymous said...

Kak, more cerita please.

Al-Manar said...


By pure chance I remember stepping into your doorstep when you were writing about your trip to Mecca. You gave vivid pictures that made think back in time. And I fave been in and out of here with or without you knowing.

Wish you Maal Hijrah and soon the end of 2010 - not getting any younger are we, but how lucky we are being allowed to keep adding one year after another with health and all.

Azizan Yaakob said...

thank you for always vist me. Your blog have been liknked to http://melayurayadaily.blogspot.comgood luck.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Wan - we like surprises, don't we? worse, we like to frighten ourselves silly ..lol

Anon 10.49 - alhamdulillah syukur! i suppose Allah had deemed it payback time, in makkah of all places, for the elder one kot.. heheh..

Anon 10.56 - i wrote some dulu. do check my past posts, especially the ones on my Hajj.

Al-Manar - thank you for keeping an eye on my humble abode.. heheh.. indeed we hv been so blessed.. Allah masih bagi masa untuk hidup..

Azizan - sama-sama kasih, dik.

jooli said...

My husband and I too went in 2008. I saw the clouds forming 'Allah' & 'La ilaha illallah' in midday, right after zuhr prayers in Arafah; they then slowly dispersed. I don't want to interpret what it means by seeing them.
I too love to hear stories from Makkah; and we could repeat those over and over without getting sick of them, ya? :)

Kama At-Tarawis said...

jooli - kita pilgrims pada musim haji yg sama rupanya..:D.. indeed we never tire of listening or recounting these haj stories kan?