Monday, December 26, 2011

Stoning of Devil; Hajj Trip - Part 5

After the Mahgrib prayer's over, we patiently waited for the announcement. Since the Nilam group is big, we were divided into smaller groups. When my group, known as level 5 and 6, was called, I picked up my bag of pebbles and my cane, or nickname by my roomies as transformer cane and headed to the front gate of the camp. My hubby was waiting for me at the tent near the gate.

Our group was led by a young man. Everybody was excited and eager to get the stoning ritual done. We started slowly and walked towards the Moassem tunnel. My first impression of the tunnel, whoa...very long. I started to count the big fans on top of the tunnel. Halfway through the tunnel, we, the old, sick and unfit, lost the leader and others. When I reached the end of the tunnel, I felt relieved. I was so relieved to be out of the tunnel, but it was still a distant far to reached the Jamrah

Along the way, there were many other pilgrimages from other countries heading to Jamrah. The most common groups were from Indonesia. As we headed towards the Jamrah, we saw more tents. Some were built very near to the Jamrah. In fact, there were hotels that, I was told, cost 5000 Riyal per night, and they only have to walk for 150meters, compared to me who had to walk more than 2 km to the Jamrah.

As we got nearer to the Jamrah, there were so many people outside the complex. Some were resting waiting for the next stoning ritual, which is scheduled the next day, and some were there sleeping at the roadsides.

Since it was still quite a distant to reach the Jamrah, I stopped for a while. While resting, I watched some groups passing by and they were very united and always ensure that their team members were together. Not like my group. Their leader always chanted 'Laibai Kallah' all the way to Jamrah.

I also saw the complex from far. It was four storey’s high. Directions were given to go each level. As my group was heading to level 1, we have ‘to climb’ the ramp on our way to the level 1. The ramp was quite steep, and when I got midway through the ramp, we took another break. By that time, my drink was almost finishing.

After a few minutes rest, we continue our walk to the end where the Jamrah Kubra was located. Before that, we passed by Jamrah Ula, and followed by Jamrah Wusta, but on this first day, we only need to perform the stoning ritual at Jamrah Kubra.

I was happy, as there were not many people. We could go right to the front of the Jamrah to perform the ritual. I took seven pebbles from my sachet, and said the prayer that we need to say. Well, we cannot throw all seven in one go. It has to be one at a time. For the ladies, we cannot raise our arm high when throwing the pebbles. After completed all seven, we walked to the side and said the dua for the ritual.

After that, my hubby took out the small scissors to cut off some of the hair. I did for my hubby, and then he did it for me. With this, it indicated the end of ihram and the man are allowed to wear normal clothes. The 10 restrictions were also lifted.

We then headed back to our camp, and on the way down from level 1, we saw the activities at ground floor were quite packed with people. Since my husband wanted to cut his hair shorts, we decided to stop by at the barbers stalled that were nearby. He went in for about 10mins and came out. 'I think I'll cut it in Mecca," he said as he was not really comfortable with those crowds.

On the way back, my leg sort of cramps, but I fought it. We walked very slowly towards the camp, and when I saw the tunnel, I know that we are almost reaching the camp. I looked at the fan again and started to count it. When we reached the end of the tunnel, I was really exhausted. When the THTS employee pointed the way to camp, I was relieved. I hurried my steps toward the camp, and when I reached my tent, I was glad. I was really, really glad that I made it.

Okay, I stop here and would write more on the stoning ritual for day 11 and 12 Hijrah late.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mina and its Challenges - Hajj Part 4

The trip to Mina didn't take long. It was another short trip to our camp, known as Maktab 100. Well, it is one big area and one could easily lose their way if you didn’t know your tent number and bed. I was assigned to tent "L", and it was quite near to the toilet. It was a big tent, and there were more than three hundred of us in there.

We were given sofa bed, blankets and pillow, but, unfortunately, there was no pillow for me nor for my roommate, "Yam Turkiye". "Ahhh... Problem. How to sleep without pillow," I told Yam Turkiye.

The main challenge in Mina is the toilet. The toilets were very limited, and we had to share the toilet with others from different camps. Phew! The queue can be very long if you go to the toilet at the wrong time. Most of the time, I went late at night, as there would not be many people.

There were only four sitting toilet out of sixteen, and these toilets were reserved for old folks and people like me. But there were times when people cut queue because they were in ‘emergency’ situation. Well, you could have easily gotten upset especially if you have been standing in line for so long, but you are expected to compromise and be patient. Normally, if people cut my queue, I would politely point her to the back of the queue, unless the person is an old person, or she started doing her emergency dancing.

While waiting for my turn, I would keep myself entertained by looking at other pilgrimages’ dresses and antics from other countries passing by our camp. Eh! I can only see them if I stand on the steps leading to the toilet.

The most common pilgrimages’ were from Indonesia and Turkey, but there were few times I saw pilgrimages from Chicago, US, Brazil, and UK. Some I didn't recognize their flag.

At Mina, my bed was known as end lot, because it is at the end of the row. Next to me was the entrance to the tent. However, the cover sometimes didn’t close properly, and it left some gaps. Next to our tent was the tent for men, and since we were still in ihram, we had to ensure that we did not expose our body parts. 

At Mina, besides prayers and zikir, we have to perform the stoning ritual, which took place on 10, 11,12 and 13 Hijrah. The distance from the camp to Jamrah and back is about 6km. Malaysian pilgrimages were slotted for the stoning ritual after the Maghrib prayer.

However, Yam Turkiye, my brave little Ustazah, went with her husband in the morning. When Mar, my other lovely and brave roommate heard about it, she also decided to go early, but for Datin and me, the oldies, we patiently wait for Maghrib.

There is a reason why people wanted to complete the ritual early. With the completion of the stoning ritual, and snipping off some of your hair or shaving the head for men, it marks the end of 10 out of the 13 restrictions. The remainder three restrictions are performing marriage, sexual activities, and action leading to sex , and we would be out of ihram once  we completed the Tawaf and Saie.

Okay, I stop here and will continue with Stoning of the Devil later.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Mabit di Mudzalifah

After the Mahgrib prayer, we were told to wait for the announcement for our bus. While waiting, we heard that there  are no water or drinks in Mudzalifah, and was told to pack some water.

Upon hearing that, my friends and I took two bottles of water and a packet of juice. I can't fit those bottles in my bag and had to carry additional bag to carry these bottles.  When my hubby saw what I had packed, he just shook his head, as I had to carry my chairs too. Since my bag was heavy, I swapped with my husband and carried his lighter bag.  Oh yeah, he also carried additional bag, but it was not food in there, but mats.

The trip to Mudzalifah was not long. It took about 15-20 minutes to reach there, but our bus had some problems.  Along the way, we smell burnt tire. Either the driver didn’t know how to drive, our something wrong with the brake. We prayed  that we reached Mudzalifah safely.

When we reached Mudzalifah, other pilgrimages from other countries were already there.  The bus dropped us at the roadside, and we have to walk about 200 meters to our designated place. As we walked by, there was food distribution. Everyone was given a packet that contained bread, biscuits, apple and a packet of fruit juice.

Mudzalifah didn’t have any tent like Arafah nor bench or chairs for us to seat. Only toilets are there, and they laid tarps for us to sit and lie down. The place is not a flat land but hilly and rocky.

We chose a place that was not far from the exit gate. We laid our mat and sit under the sky with moon and stars shining above us. In Mudzalifah, our activity is to collect pebbles.  After taking a ten minutes break, we started looking for pebbles. We have to collect seventy to eighty pebbles for us to use in Mina.

We were reminded to bring our torchlight for this activity, and the size of the pebbles that we need to collect  is small. It is only as big as a green pea. Since everyone was collecting for pebbles, it took some times to gather seventy pebbles.

After we had enough pebbles, we went back to our place and counted it to make sure we have more than seventy pebbles. I kept these pebbles in a sachet that we bought from home.

We were told to continue to zikir and to get some sleep. At the same time, we were also to do some reflection on what we have done, what we have lacked in our ibadah and to continue to seek forgiveness.

After two hours of sitting, and  with nothing much to do, my husband fell asleep. Heh! I took a picture of him sleeping in his ihram, lying on the mat using his bag as a pillow, but I can't share that with you.  I leaned onto my bag and after some time, I fell asleep too, but I was more of dozing on and off.

I'm not sure at what time the buses came because I didn’t bring my watch with me. We were woken up by an announcement that the buses had arrived.  Collecting our things, we started moved to the exit gate and waited patiently for our turn to board our bus to go to Mina.

The short time that we spent at Mudzalifah was one of the best times. It was breezy and not too cold and peaceful. I felt so relaxed, and I have not felt that in years.  Such a great feeling before heading to Mina, which has it, own challenges.

Okay, I’ll stop here and will continue with Mabit di Mina.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Hajj Trip - Part 2: Wukuf Di Arafah

Clear Sky in Arafah. 
After the Umrah, we have few days to rest before the hajj started. While waiting for the actual day, we were advised to rest as the activity will be very hectic and tiring.

For the next four days, we spent our day reading Quran, zikir and praying. Most of the time, my day started very early, that is at 3.15am. My room mate, Mar would be the first to wake up, and would be followed by me. At 4am, my husband and I would walk to the mosque.

Well, we like to pray at the roof top, but it’s cold. As I entered the mosque, I took off my slipper and headed to the designated women section. Normally at that hour, there would not be many people yet. I can choose where I want to be. I would set my praying mat and chair. Hmmm…. I had to use chair because of my knee problem and back problem. This is one of flexibility in Islam where you can pray sitting or lying on your back, if you are not well.

Once I settled down, I performed Solat Tahayatul Masjid, a special prayer to pay respect to the mosque, Solat Tahajjud, Solat Taubat while waiting for the Subuh (morning) prayer. One hour before the Subuh prayer, the first azan would be called by the Muazzin.

By then, people would start coming in. Sometimes I would have Arab ladies, or Turks ladies or Indonesian ladies next to me. Once I had an old Chinese lady next to me, and we shared foods.

The subuh prayer, would start at 5.25am and the second azan would be called. When the second azan was called, people started to get ready for the prayer. After the prayer, there would be Solat Jenazah, a prayer for the dead.

We would return to hotel after the prayer and then straight to the dining room for breakfast. Since we were still having our jet lagged, most of the time, we would be dozing off. We would only wake up around 9am.

While waiting for zuhur prayer, we performed solat Dhuha, zikir, read Surah Yaasin and Ma'thurat. By 11am, we would be heading to mosque again for afternoon prayer, and the routine continue for asar prayer. Sometimes I stayed until solat Isyak and sometime I went back to the hotel, but the mosque would be packed with pilgrimage. There were times when I had to pray outside the mosque.

On Wednesday, 2nd Decemeber after dinner, there's briefing on our trip to Arafah, Mudzalifah and Mina. We were told that we would be leaving for Arafah on Friday after 4pm, and were asked to get ready for the trip. We were told to pack our clothes in our hand luggage only. We were also given our tent locations..

On Friday 8th Zulhijjah, after the Asar prayer, we get ready for our trip to Arafah. All of us have to wear our ihram again, and the 13 restrictions that we have to avoid started. We were very careful about the restrictions, or else we would have to pay the penalty.

At 10pm, we received the call to come down to the lobby. We quickly grabbed our bag and headed down to the lobby. Before that, we ensured that our bags and our things were locked.

The trip to Arafah is not far. It is about 7km from Mecca, but due to everyone is heading to Arafah, the traffic was very congested. It took us almost one hour to reach Arafah.

It is a must for all pilgrimage to be at Arafah, even for a second. If you are not there, you Hajj will be void, and all other rituals that you do would be for nothing. Even those who were sick would be ferried down by ambulance to Arafah. This is known as Wukuf at Arafah, and it is between noon (Zuhur) until before the morning prayer on the 10th Zulhijjah..

Once we reach Arafah, we headed to our tent. There were 16 of us in the tent and each of us was allocated with mattress, pillow and blanket. There were two portable air condition to keep us cool.

At 3am, I got up and headed to the toilet. There were 10 toilets to be shared with hundreds other pilgrimage, and we have to queue. After I clean myself, I took my wudhu (ablution) and headed back to my tent. I prayed, zikir and read Quran while waiting for the Subuh prayer.

After breakfast, we took a slight rest before we continued with more prayers. We also have a special guest who joined us in the afternoon prayer and read the khutbah. He also lead the zuhur prayer.

The temperature at Arafah is known to go as high as 50C. As the day progress, the temperature rose. Most of us by now sat outside our tent and continue to pray and doa in silent.

After the zuhur prayer, the special guest led the doa seeking forgiveness from Allah. As we said our doa, without realizing it, we cried especially when we seek forgiveness for our parent. After the doa, most of my tent’s mate, had red eyes. Luckily we have our sunglasses with us, so the red eyes can be hidden.  Well, the doa was not only for us, but also for our parents, spouse, children, our sibling, relatives and friends.

We continued to say our doa until before the Maghrib. At 7pm, we get ready for our next stop, that is 'Mabit di Muzalifah' or Overnight in Mudzalifah.

Okay, I would stop here first and would continue with 'Mabit di Mazalifah' in my next update.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Hajj Trip - Part 1

I'm already home for a week, and I still feel tired. The trip was very hectic, but I have no complaint. The experience I had from this trip was very fulfilling. I left for Mecca on 30th October.

I received my flight detail and my accommodation information from Tabung Haji Travel Services to report to Tabung Haji Complex in Klana Jaya at 8.30am.

Few days before I left for the trip that is on 26th October on Deepavali day I went back to Kuala Pilah to visit my aunties and my hubby's grandma and auntie. We received quite a number of tips and advices from them, which were all very helpful. The trip was also for us to seek forgiveness from them.

On the way back, I stopped at my mom's place and took her with me to Bangi. My kids were very happy to have my mom over, and my girl shared her room with her grandma.

Since I was on leave on Friday, 28th October, and I didn't get a chance to visit my dad's grave on Wednesday, we made a quick trip to Seremban. As usual, it would be very emotional for me. As a common practice by us, Muslim, we recited Al-Fatihah and Surah Yassin. After that, my husband left me for me to have my time alone with my dad. If my dad is still around, he would be proud of his children. Two of his daughters were selected to be the guest of the Holy Land this year.

I didn’t start packing until Saturday. My mom was panicking when she saw that my bag was still empty. Well, I told her not to worry as I have all my things ready.

As the day progress my sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews came to my house. Some of them slept at my place. I didn't get to go to bed until 12 midnights because my kids were too excited to have their relatives over. At least, it helped them to forget that their parents would be away for a month.

At 3am, I woke up. My husband was already up at 2.30am, and I saw him going through the checklist to ensure nothing important was missing. We were required to wear ihram from home as we were heading direct to Mecca. I wore a white, three quarter length gown with pants and mini telekong. The only parts exposed were my face and my hand. My husband wore two pieces of unstitched white clothes known as ihram. One piece was wrapped around his waist, and the other was wrapped around his body. There is no other material can be wear. Not even underwear. He wore slippers with no sock covering his feet.

Before we left for Klana Jaya,  a doa was said by my father-in-law, and azan and qamat were said before we stepped out from the house.  My Bang Ngah drove us to Klana Jaya, and joining us, was my mother. My kids went with their uncle and cousins.

We were not the first to reach there, and since we reached there during subuh, I went to the mosque, to perform my subuh prayer first. We then waited at the tent before we checked in. While waiting, THTS gave us our id tag  and few other things. Oh yeah, we brought food for breakfast, but I didn't have an appetite to eat those foods.

At 8.30am, we were called in. I said goodbye to them, and at first I didn't cry, but when I kissed my mom and asked for her forgiveness, I cried. My kids didn't cry. They were excited to shake hand and to kiss me.

As I passed them into the building, I waved at them and dragged my luggage through the door. All the scanning of the luggage were done as we enter the door, and from there, we picked up our passport, and our boarding pass. We were then ushered to the hall on the first floor.

A final briefing were given by Tabung Haji, and at 11am, we left for the airport. Again doa was said, and azan was called by the Ustaz. We left on buses to the airport and was escorted by police to KLIA.

The flight from KL to Jeddah took eight hours, and when we reached Jeddah Pilgrimage Terminal, it was almost five o’clock. We were asked to wait for Immigration clearance. The immigration clearance process was very smooth. After the immigration, we then have to go through few more checking before we were cleared.

As we were heading to our rest area at the airport, there were foods, drinks and umbrella given freely to all pilgrimage. After waiting for four to five hours, we were then called to board our buses. Before we get into the bus, we have to leave our passport to the Muassassah, who were the team responsible for our stay during the Hajj period. They would hold the passport until the day we will leave for KL again.

The trip from Jeddah to Mecca took about 1 hour plus, and on the way more foods and water were given. When we reached our hotel, it was midnight. Instead of resting and sleeping, we decided to proceed with the Tawaf and Saie  so that we can complete our Umrah earlier.

We wanted to complete the umrah earlier because during ihram, there are 13 things that we must not do or avoid, or else we have to pay for the penalty.

After I changing my clothes and taken my wudhu, we headed to Masjidil Haram.  At that time, the area surrounding the Kaabah was still not packed with people. We quickly joined the flow and circulate the kaabah.  We circled in anti-clockwise, and our left shoulders must always face the Kaabah.  We have to circle the Kaabah seven times, and each round, there are different doa that we need to recite.

On the fifth round, I was pushed until my left shoulder didn’t face the Kaabah. Because of that, I have to do extra round, but overall I completed the ritual without any problem.

It was almost four in the morning when  we completed the tawaf.  At first, we wanted to continue to do our Saie, but my hubby has slight headache. We decided to  rest first and continue after breakfast.

We continued with our Saie at 9am in the morning.  If tawaf is going around the Kaabah seven times, Saie is walking seven times between two points. It started from Bukit Safa and ended at Bukit Marwah. The total distance for the whole Saie was about 2.9km.

After we completed the Saie, the next ritual is to cut at least 3 pieces of our hair from our head. With the cutting of the hair, we were no more in Ihram, and all the 13 things that we need to avoid are lifted.

We completed our Umrah, and it means that hubby can wear his clothes again, while I still continued to cover myself as required for women.  After the afternoon prayer, we went back to our room. We have four days to rest before Hajj where we have to travel to few places and complete the ritual.

Okay, I stop here first, and insya allah will continue tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thanks Roommates!!!


I have been home since Saturday, and I’m already back to work. Alhamdulillah, I didn’t face any major difficulties during my one month stays in Mecca and Madinah. I completed all the rituals as required with minimal difficulties. I have to thank my hubby, who was there all the time to assist me also my four room mates in Mecca and Madinah. They are wonderful people. Only Allah can repay their kindness.

I was glad that my roommates and I clicked immediately even though all four of us came from different background and age. In Mecca, two of my roommates were housewives, while the third roommate is a manager, but we are all equal.

The youngest in the room was 38 years old, but we called her Ustazah Kecil or Cik Yam Turkiye. The first nickname was because of her know ledges in Islam, while I’m not sure how the second nickname came about. Even though she the youngest, she is not afraid to give advised or shared her knowledge when it deems to. She is also very helpful and caring.

The oldest in the room was 54 years old and a Datin (equivalent to Lady). Eventhough, she is a Datin, she’s very humble and down to earth person. We respect her not only because she is older than us, but because of her involvement in the society. She also liked to share with us about her kids and her grandchildren. Oh ya! she was awarded AMN (Ahli Memangku Negara) for her leadership in BAKAT.

My other roommate is also highly knowledgeable in Islam, and between her and the Ustazah Kecil, I learned a lot. Hehehe....... She is also an IT savvy, so I don’t feel like a geek there. Since she works for Kelantan government, it was very interesting to understand what was really happening there. Among the four of us, she would be the first to head to the mosque at 3.30am in the morning. Sometimes she stayed at the mosque from 12am until 7.20pm. I admired her for her determination to stay in the mosque even though our hotel, which is Hotel Royal Eiman, is only 80 meters from the Baitullah.

We were in Mecca for three weeks and nine days in Madinah. Datin didn’t join us in Madinah as her husband has some urgent works that need his attention. The night before she flew home, we had pizza for dinner, thanks to Datin.

Since Datin didn’t join us in Madinah, we have a new room mates. Actually we already knew her in Mina. She is as good as Yam Turkiye in term of her knowledge in Islam, but a little bit reserve in sharing her knowledge. She would join the discussion when we asked her. She also clicked well with the three of us. In Madinah, she was also the earliest to get up and get ready to mosque. Normally, she would leave the room by 3.40am.

In Madinah, we stayed at Movenpick hotel, which was only 30 meter from the mosque, but due to limited space for women to pray in the mosque, she and the other lady would leave early so that they can pray inside. For me and Yam Turkiye, we normally left our room, earliest by 4.45am, and we would be praying outside under the open sky and cold weather.

In Madinah, I’m the oldest in the room, and Yam Turkiye is the youngest, but she played the role of a big sister to all of us. We didn’t spend all our time praying, or reading Quran. We also have time to shop, and most of time, we did our shopping in the morning or after dinner.

My roommates are good at shopping. They know where to hunt for good things, and they know how to bargain. Every time they came back from shopping, they would show to us what they had buy and how much. Sometimes I just smile looking at them.

The best thing shopping in Mecca and Madinah is that, the shop people speaks Bahasa Melayu, and it made it easy for us to bargain. At first I was surprised to hear them conversing and bargaining in Bahasa Melayu, but after some time I also spoke in Bahasa Melayu to them.

Okay, I think I stop for now, and would continue tomorrow for more stories from my trip.