13. “Small gestures” (The Hajj Journal)

On the rooft of Masjid An-Nabawi

September 13, 2015

When I went to maghrib prayer I decided to go up and pray on the roof. I was running a bit behind for [congregational prayer], and didn’t want to go through the crowd inside—and the courtyard was blocked in certain areas—so I decided to go up, knowing fewer people would be there. On the way up, I passed by a brother who said salams. Then he gestured that he needed help. He had his sandles in one hand and was trying to open the plastic bag they give you to put your footwear in, while also holding a tablet. He had a friendly, thankful smile. I tried to open the bag, but it was a dud (I got a few myself, [where] the plastic just does not open). I took the plastic bag I had on my sandles and gave it to him. He looked so thankful. We walked out on the roof together. He pointed at his tablet and mimicked taking a picture. [He gave me his tablet] and I pulled [it] out [of its case] and took a few pictures of him on the roof. Then he pointed at me, then him, then towards one of the custodians. I quickly knew that he wanted to take a picture with me. We gave the tablet to a custodian and got our picture taken together. We repeated the same process with my camera. We didn’t speak. The only full conversation we had was this:

Me: “Canada.”

Him: “Egypt. JazakAllah khair. (May God reward you)”

Me: “Waiekum. (And you as well)”

And then we parted with a smile.

The city is full of these small gestures. Whether it’s a simple “salam alaikum”, sharing your prayer rug with the brother beside you, giving an orange to a poor child, or buying a brother you just met some tea.

And we are told, “Any good you do, God is fully aware thereof.”

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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.

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