A few days later, the Hajj lasting for 5 days has finally begun. On the first day, at around midnight, we waited for the coach that the Saudi Hajj Ministry has arranged for us to go to Mina. In Mina, the tent city, we stayed in a tent on tatami-like mattress with around 60 other people. The condition was quite cramped as we expected, with long queues at the toilets. This was a real test for our patience. Inside the tents, everyone was living harmoniously, each minding their own worship, reading Quran and making Dhikr and Dua.
The next day, we left for Arafat early in the morning. Arafat, to our surprise, had an air conditioned tent for us to rest in. Mr Camel and I went to Mount Arafat (Jabal ar-Rahman) in the afternoon to make dua. On our way, we found many hajis from poorer countries who did not have a tent to rest in. They had to sit under the Saudi sun in around 40 degrees heat. There were also many beggars especially children along the way. We were really thankful to Allah for our life having grown up in a first world country. We felt the need to appreciate everything that we owned. Beside us were people who had nothing, children who couldn’t go to school and were begging apparatus for greedy adults. For us, those few days of Hajj was hardship, yet for many others, it was just their everyday life. Even though we all understand this concept in theory, when I actually saw this in real life, it was very difficult to see and experience.
Back to Mount Arafat, This was the place where Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) made his famous last sermon. It was his last public speech – a very meaningful speech. It was like a summary of what Islam meant. If you haven’t read it before, I truly recommend that you look for this on the internet. Hajis will go to Arafat on the day before Eid-ul-Adha. It is also known as the day of Arafat. This is the most important element of Hajj. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) had said ““The Ḥajj is itself ‘Arafāt. Whoever reaches the night of ‘Arafāt before the rising of the sun at dawn the following day has completed his pilgrimage.” On that day, Mount Arafat was very spectacular – it was covered by all the Hajis in their white Ihram. Under the Saudi sun, we couldn’t spend too long lingering on the plains of Arafat as we quickly became dehydrated and dizzy. After around half an hour, making dua, we had to return back to the tent to continue our worship.
It was full of people!
Normal days in Arafat. We visited again on another day.
In the next part, I will share our experience of the 3rd day. Keep checking the blog for more updates!