Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
It is impossible to stress enough how much preparation each hajji should make. If you think travel in the U.S. is tough for Muslims, try Saudi Customs. Anything they find in your luggage that doesn't look right is taken out and tossed into the trash, no questions asked. Anything that looks illegal will get you sent to jail immediately.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Then, the gravitational presence of the Kaaba tugged at me and I was drawn into the tawaf. Immediately, I was caught in the press and flow of bodies. Heat and sweat engulfed me and the physical presence of the crowd of pilgrims pressing in around me became the direct focus of my concentration. I wiped at the rivulets that streamed off my forehead and walked forward swept along by the inundating flood of humanity in which I was immersed.
The crowd shifted and flowed around me - an organized chaos of particles they bumped along in a curved path around the Kaaba like electrons in orbit around a nucleus. Everyone was focused inwardly on their own individual recitations and concentrating on their own tawaf. In front of me an aged blind man, his pure white hair and beard glowing in the sun, leaned on a wooden staff as he performed his circuits unguided except by the sounds of the crowd and the movement of bodies around him. His free hand would rise occasionally, palm upwards in supplication as he would speak a prayer. What was it like to do this tawaf in darkness, with no visual cues, no images to process. Did he sense the looming presence of the Kaaba by his side, was he able to turn his consciousness completely inward without the incredible spectacle of the tawaf to distract him? I closed my eyes and for a few steps walked blind.
A swirling eddy of sounds came and went as people passed by or as I passed by them. Some traveled in groups loudly reciting quran'ic verses in unison, some whispered to themselves - others moved in silence and I knew their presence only by their touch as they brushed past. The sounds ebbed and flowed in my consciousness as if I was a leaf floating on a river of prayers - currents and eddies of supplications tugging my consciousness this way and that.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Hajj is hard on everybody’s body. If you have health problems, work closely with your doctor to try to be in the best health possible and try to have as many contingencies covered as possible.
· Divide your medications and testing supplies into two bags and store them in two different suitcases or bags. One may be lost or stolen.
· Make sure you have extra of all your medications. One hajj group experienced unexpected travel delays that got them back to the U.S. about 10 days later than planned.
· Get a health bracelet listing your medical conditions and all of your environmental, food and drug allergies.
· If you are diabetic, make sure you have tablets, even if they don’t work quite as well on you. You may not have refrigeration problems for your regular insulin, but you have to be prepared with something that will sustain you until the problem can be resolved.
· Make sure you carry on your person at all times any emergency medications such as nitroglycerin for your heart or an epi pen for life-threatening allergies. Do not expect that others will have the time to search for your emergency medications through luggage that has been moved and re-packed numerous times already. Do not assume you will only get sick when you are at your hotel and your luggage is easily accessible.
· If there are any specific treatments or tests you need to receive, make sure you carry a letter from your doctor stating what the procedures are. Make sure it stays dry and with you at all times.
· If you are paraplegic and have a special cushion for your wheelchair, try to bring an extra. Yes, one sister’s cushion was stolen right out of her chair when she was being transferred to another seat.
Finally, there is one fact that you and those traveling with you should understand and be prepared for. If you become ill, say, in New York when everyone is boarding the plane for Jeddah or in Mina when everyone is leaving to go the Arafah—they have to go. That is hajj. They cannot stay with you. It would be a difficult test from Allah to leave someone behind or to be left behind in the care of strangers, but hajj is exactly that kind of test. Trust in Allah. All of us have to trust in Allah.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Part of the preparation for hajj is to think of it as the last thing one may ever do in this life. There is no time left to hold grudges, to fill sorry for oneself, to complain about things undone or whine about how much is left to do. Preparing for hajj means reflecting on one's life, making amends where possible. It is time to begin to ask for forgiveness and to express gratitude to Allah.
Imagine having cancer and knowing it has metastasised, or spread, before you make hajj. This blog copies the letter of a Muslimah who had already had breast and brain surgery. Allah blessed her to remain symptom-free (of the end stages) until she left the U.S. on the first leg of her journey to Mecca. Her letter is full of such joy! She died shortly after returning home, may Allah grant her Paradise.
Release in a Muslim’s moment
Relief at the jamarat
UmmUmar © 2007
Labayk La Shareeka Laka Labayk
walmulk Laa Shareeka Lak
"I respond to Your call my Lord
I respond to You, there is no diety save You.
All praise, grace and dominion belong to You.
This is the true story of Habib Miyan that comes from BBC News and was told over a period of 9 months. It is a story of patience, charity, and Allah's reward. It is a story of patience because Habib Miyan waited over a hundred years before Allah answered his dua to make hajj.
It began as a human interest story. Many people read it and simply moved on to the next item. Yet it is a story of charity because for a few, Habib Miyan became an opportunity from Allah to seek His Blessings.
Finally, it is a story of Allah's reward for Habib Miyan, whose prayer to make hajj was finally fulfilled. Allah knows best the reward He has in store for the Muslims who made contributed money and any other manner of assistance to make this story--this lesson for all of us--possible.
Follow the story here, here, and here. The photo gallery is here.