34. “What better place to die…” (The Hajj Journal)

A field of burial mounds, with a small pathway to the left and the Prophet's Mosque in the distance.

September 26, 2015

I’ve been thinking about death quite a bit while I’ve been here. More specifically, I’ve been afraid of death. It’s easy to say you’ll have the attitude of, “what a better place to die than in Hajj”—I know I used to think that way. But almost every day has been a reminder of death. There was the crane accident that happened in Mecca when we first arrived, killing about 80 people, and just 2 days ago there was a major accident at the Jamarat—the cause of which is only hearsay at this point—which ended up with reportedly 700 people dead. Then after nearly every prayer in Mecca and Medina, there has been a janaza (funeral) prayer for someone who has died. Continue reading “34. “What better place to die…” (The Hajj Journal)”

32. “Eid – P1” (The Hajj Journal)

September 25, 2015

Yesterday was the longest day of my life. It began after Fajr in Muzdalifah (about 4:00 AM), [and after that] I was crammed into a bus to get back to our camp in Mina. We had the option of walking, but it’s a good thing we didn’t walk—we had a whole day of walking ahead of us. We got back to the camp around 6:30. It was the Day of Eid which, everywhere else in the world, meant a day of celebration. For us, it [was the beginning of the Days of Tashreeq, which means] it was a day of sacrifice and hard work. Sheikh Munir said that there’s no Eid prayer for pilgrims, because the world is praying Eid prayer for you. On this day, pilgrims do 4 things:

1.      Sacrifice a sheep, to feed the poor (this was done on our behalf, so we didn’t have to do it [ourselves])

2.      Stone the largest Jamarat pillar

3.      Shave the head to leave the state of ihram

4.      Perform Tawaf and Sa’i

Continue reading “32. “Eid – P1” (The Hajj Journal)”

27. “Pilgrims” (The Hajj Journal)

A wide view of the tent city of Mina, with rows of white tents in between streets.
Source: Wikipedia

September 22, 2015

We’re pilgrims now.

We’re all staying in Mina now, a city of tents that stretch as far as you can see. I continue to be impressed at how the Saudi Government has been able to handle the logistics of moving 2 million worshippers and ensuring the facilities are organized accordingly…

[H]ere at Mina, the camp is sectioned off by continent, and then broken down into streets and sections… Our tent has about 30 people in it, and is air conditioned. Today is mostly about resting up for tomorrow. We’re close to the washroom stalls—most are squat toilets, which are actually not that bad, and preferable in my ihram. The cushions are ironically more comfortable to sleep on than the beds in the Aziziya dorm. They’re pretty tightly packed though. Continue reading “27. “Pilgrims” (The Hajj Journal)”

22. “Jummah” (The Hajj Journal)

Minarets at the Haram

September 18, 2015

The sun is blazing above me and I’m drenched in sweat as I sit in the outside courtyard of the Haram. It’s Friday, so the shops are closed and the people gather for Jummah prayer. I’m wearing my prayer rug on my had to protect my nearly-bald scalp from getting any more burned than it is—a tactic I learned from seeing people doing the same… Continue reading “22. “Jummah” (The Hajj Journal)”

What’s Mecca Like? (The Hajj Journal)

IMG_8098

If Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps, Mecca is the city that never stops praying. At all moments in the downtown core, you can find people heading to Masjid Al-Haram (or just “The Haram”), the mosque that contains the Ka’bah. In addition to that, it’s also a bustling economic powerhouse with international franchises setting up shop just a short walk from the holiest site in Islam. It feels surprisingly close to a metropolitan city in Canada, like Toronto; people are always moving, always trying to get somewhere or get to something. Mecca never stops.

One of the people I met summed up Mecca brilliantly: “Medina is tranquility; Mecca is the power.”

Continue reading “What’s Mecca Like? (The Hajj Journal)”

17. “Five-Star” (The Hajj Journal)

 The Abraj Al-Bait Towers (Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel) in Mecca

September 13, 2015

So here I am. In Mecca. Just a few moments away from seeing the Ka’bah and doing Umrah.

But first: dinner.

We’re staying at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. And I must say, this is probably the classiest and ritziest hotel I’ve ever been to.

I don’t really know how to feel about that.

I mean, on one hand, the presentation/décor is fantastic (and it’s great to be at a buffet where I can finally eat everything). On the other hand, is it excessive? Is it the kind of excess Islam condemns? Continue reading “17. “Five-Star” (The Hajj Journal)”