12. “…Without seeing me.” (The Hajj Journal)

The grave of Prophet Muhammad in Medina
The graves of Prophet Muhammad (p), Abu Bakr and Umar

September 13, 2015

After Fajr, I decided to stay behind and gradually make my way to the graves of The Prophet (p), Abu Bakr and Umar. I had no idea where they were in the mosque. I saw a large hall across one of the inner courtyards and surmised that must be it. The gathering throng of people confirmed my assumption. However, the security guards were blocking the area off. One of the guards, a mustachioed fellow in the standard beige military garb, directed us to go to the west side of the mosque. I followed the river of people, not able to understand what was being said, but only knowing that they were all going towards a common goal. It was a good practice for Hajj. Continue reading “12. “…Without seeing me.” (The Hajj Journal)”

The Earth and Everything On It

Planet Earth

Here in Alberta, much ado has been made about the Premier’s recent climate change plan. Generally it seems to have gone over well, with major gas and oil companies like Shell and Suncor supporting it—except for a few (sometimes absurd) outliers. But I’m not here to talk about politics and plans. Instead, I’m here to talk about our shared inheritance: our planet. Continue reading “The Earth and Everything On It”

11. “A garden of Paradise” (The Hajj Journal)

A group of people standing in front of a sign.

September 13, 2015

By God’s grace, I’m still functioning after only about 3.5 hours of broken sleep. I slept for 2.5 hours last night, and woke up early so that myself, Sheikh Tamir, and a group of others could go to the Rawdah. It’s a special section in the Prophet’s mosque where the Prophet (p) said between his pulpit and his house is a garden from Paradise. It was incredibly packed, even at 3:30 AM. People were packing together to try and stand on the green carpet which marked Paradise. And I began to get frustrated, wondering why people were going through such effort to pray inside a space that, to an outsider, would just be a green carpet. But then I looked at it in a different way: this really was an analogy for religion. People of all races exerting themselves, sacrificing their comfort, just to reach a goal that, in this life, they can’t see, with people they don’t know, and what their heart can only feel.

Continue reading “11. “A garden of Paradise” (The Hajj Journal)”

Where Do We Go From Here?

Last night, Paris was hit with the worst attacks of terrorism since World War II. As suspected, ISIS claimed responsibility for these attacks as if it’s their own sick badge of honour. My prayers go out to the families of the deceased and to the injured. May they find a measure of peace in these difficult times. And also to the people of France as well; I pray that this cowardly act of barbarism doesn’t blind them to the humanity present in each and every one of us; I pray that they do not seek revenge against Muslims that, with them, denounce these radicals. Continue reading “Where Do We Go From Here?”

“What’s Medina like?” (The Hajj Journal)

Open roof prayer space in Masjid Nabawi

I know my entries focus a lot on the spiritual side of my time in the holy cities, but that’s not to say my day-to-day life outside of worship was just more worship. The question most people want to know—no matter where you travel to in the world—is “What’s [insert country] like?”. It’s in our nature to be curious, and when we meet others who have seen parts of the world we’ve only imagined, our curiosity is immediately piqued. To satisfy your curiosity, I’m including these entries that describe the day-to-day life in the places I visited. Continue reading ““What’s Medina like?” (The Hajj Journal)”

10. “The hats of Medina” (The Hajj Journal)

A large crowd of people walking through a mosque.

September 12, 2015

[My friend] Adeel said something interesting to me last time I saw him. He spoke about how life was back in Pakistan. Despite his criticisms, he said there was a sense of shared religiosity. People in Muslim countries share the same sacredness of ideals. Here in Medina, it’s easy to see that. Perhaps that’s why it’s always been a sacred place for believers. It’s not out-of-place to say salams to a stranger, or to make wudhu [ablution] in public, or to simply glorify God out loud. And despite what would seem like a homogenous culture, one look at the crowd and you’ll see the spectrum of humanity. I’ve seen jean-and-t-shirt clad North Americans like myself; the marvelous and colourful patterns of thaubs worn by Africans; kurta-wearing Pakistanis and Indians.

And so many hats! I’ve never seen so many different hats in one place. Ball caps, straw hats, kufis, [kefiyehs], square hats, oval hats, berets, turbans and so many others I don’t know the names of. I should have brought a toque to add into the mix and represent (though it would probably be saturated in sweat in an hour).

So many people, so many hats, so many faces, so many clothes. All under the umbrella of Islam.

Continue reading “10. “The hats of Medina” (The Hajj Journal)”

9. “Slower” (The Hajj Journal)

A clock sitting in the middle of a traffic circle.

September 12, 2015

Life moves at a different pace here. It’s almost like time is slower. I’m sitting in the courtyard of the Prophet’s mosque, and almost everyone seems to walk at just a tad slower pace then back home. I recently came from the shopping centre, and even there it’s not nearly as frantic or hectic as, say, West Edmonton Mall. People rarely seem to be in a rush here –even when crossing the street into oncoming traffic.

Continue reading “9. “Slower” (The Hajj Journal)”