Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|03/19/01 at 11:55:22|
|I'm posting some interesting stuff I was reading as I try to compile my own umrah diary.|
This is probably the most well-known account of how Hajj changed someone's life:
The Pilgrimage To Mecca: By Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)
When Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was in Mecca, he wrote this letter:
Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming
spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and
races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad
and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week,
I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I
see displayed all around me by people of all colors.
I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca, I have made my
seven circuits around the Ka'bah, led by a young Mutawaf named
Muhammad. I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven
times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al Marwah. I
have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt.
There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world.
They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned
Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying
a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had
led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.
America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion
that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels
in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people
who in America would have been considered white - but the white
attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have
never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors
together, irrespective of their color.
You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this
pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to
rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss
aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for
me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to
face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and
new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is
necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form
of intelligent search for truth.
During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten
from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same
rug - while praying to the same God - with fellow Muslims, whose eyes
were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and
whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds
of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the
black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.
We were truly all the same (brothers) - because their belief in one
God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their
behavior, and the white from their attitude.
I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept
the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality
the Oneness of Man - and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others
in terms of their "differences" in color.
With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called
"Christian" white American heart should be more receptive to a proven
solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to
save America from imminent disaster - the same destruction brought
upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans
Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual
insights into what is happening in America between black and white.
The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities - he
is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the
American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path, I do
believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the
whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities,
will see the handwriting on the walls and many of them will turn to
the spiritual path of truth - the only way left to America to ward off
the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to.
Never have I been so highly honored. Never have I been made to feel
more humble and unworthy. Who would believe the blessings that have
been heaped upon an American Negro? A few nights ago, a man who would
be called in America a white man, a United Nations diplomat, an
ambassador, a companion of kings, gave me his hotel suite, his bed.
Never would I have even thought of dreaming that I would ever be a
recipient of such honors - honors that in America would be bestowed
upon a King - not a Negro.
"All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds."
|Re: HAJJ DIARIES|
|03/19/01 at 11:56:04|
|Here are some excerpts from a book by Reshma Yaqub:|
Rockville, Md., March 18, 1999. Hajj
begins long before the first steps are taken. I
have spent months reading, planning, saving.
There is no Fodor's guide, no Let's Go Hajj, but
there are books, web sites, people who have
already done Hajj. Typically, Muslims go on
Hajj with large groups organized by specialty
travel agencies, or are led by people who have
been on Hajj many times.
Not only is Hajj the most important journey of
a Muslim's life, it's also the most celebrated.
Within the local Muslim community, word
quickly spreads of who will become a hajji each
year. Well-wishers call and visit and tell me
what prayers to say when I'm prostrating to
God in the holiest of mosques. I'm asked to
pray for people's marriages, people's children,
people's jobs, for their long, healthy lives, for
their entrance to Paradise.
As I board the Saudi Arabian Airlines 747 at
Dulles Airport, I reflect on the Talbiyah, the
supplication that Muslims repeat en route to and
throughout Hajj, telling God that we are coming
Medina, Saudi Arabia, March 19-20. On
the bus from the airport to the hotel, a guide for
our Hajj group leads us in reciting the Talbiyah
in Arabic, beginning: Labbayk Allahumma
labbayk (Here I come, oh Lord, here I come).
At 2 a.m., at 3 a.m., at 4 a.m., I watch from
my hotel window as worshipers float through
the streets toward the Prophet's Mosque, a
majestic house of worship that contains the simple, green-domed mosque that Prophet
Muhammad built.. At 5, I walk the two blocks to join them for the dawn prayers.
When I arrive, the mosque is already full with several hundred thousand worshipers, so I
pray outside on the cool marble. I am touched when the woman next to me turns her
prayer rug sideways and pushes half of it in front of me. This happens every time I pray
outside. That, my heart tells me, is the spirit of Hajj and the spirit of my religion. That is the
kind of person I have come here to become.
Medina; March 23 -- Medina and Mecca are cities only Muslims can enter. The streets
are safe. I walk alone in the middle of the night without fear. At the KFC down the block
from the mosque, the cashiers often stack money on the counter and no one touches it
when they turn around. All the stores close at every prayer time so the merchants can hurry
to the mosque.
Medina; March 24 -- Today I will enter the state of ritual purity called Ihram -- and
officially declare to God my intention to perform Hajj. First I take a ritual bath at the hotel.
I'm acutely aware that this same step-by-step washing will be done to my body when it's
buried, when I return to God.
I slip on a jilbab, a loose, ankle-length dress, and cover my hair with a scarf. It's what
I've been wearing over T-shirts and drawstring pants since I left home, and what I'll keep
wearing, like most women here.
Amer, like every male hajji, wraps two large towel-like pieces of white cloth around his
body. That and sandals are all men can wear for the next few days. These white cloths --
great equalizers that make it impossible to distinguish between a doctor and a street
sweeper -- are what Muslims are dressed in for burial.
En route to Mecca, the chanting of the Talbiyah is louder now. It consumes the 12-hour
bus ride, a 280-mile trip south that would take a third the time if there weren't 2 million
people following this route. And this even though we're traveling in the middle of the night,
to avoid the crowds. We follow that strategy throughout this journey, and it saves us time,
but as a result we lose all sense of day and night and sleep. Luckily, patience is a condition
of our Ihram.
The several dozen American Muslims on my bus are drawn from every corner and
ethnicity of America's 6 million Muslims. They include a 23-year-old Islamic scholar from
Canada who has memorized the Koran, and a sprightly 68-year-old jazz musician from
We are so very different. But we become intensely attached and interdependent. No one
brings food or medicine out without first offering it to everyone around them. We carry
each other's bags, we help lift wheelchairs over steps, we track each other in the crowds,
we take old people to the bathroom. We become an integral part of each other's Hajj
Mecca; March 25 -- No Muslim can forget the first sight of the Kaaba -- a large cube
structure the size of a tiny house, the object that Muslims face as they bow in prayer five
times every day. The Kaaba -- which was first built by Prophet Abraham, and is
surrounded by the open-air Grand Mosque -- stands empty. It is draped with a black
cloth, which is covered with Koranic verses embroidered in gold and silver thread. The
Kaaba is not an object of worship; it simply signifies a direction, imposed by God to
maintain unity and uniformity among worshipers.
Still, it's nearly otherworldly to walk up to the nucleus of your faith, to be in the first 10
rows of worshipers facing the Kaaba, knowing there are Muslims worldwide who are
praying behind you.
I slip into the slow-moving crowd to walk around the Kaaba seven times -- a ritual called
Tawaf. In this mass of bodies, Tawaf takes two hours.
Arafat; March 26 -- The bus has brought me 12 miles southeast of Mecca for the Day
of Arafat, the most important day of Hajj. The plain is empty year-round, save for this one
day, when believers descend and congregate in tents. There's also a huge mosque here,
Masjid Namira, which stands empty except for today. Nearby is the Mount of Rahmah, a
rocky hill where Prophet Muhammad stood and delivered his last sermon, during his Hajj.
Here I stand and bow in prayer from noon until sunset, counting my blessings, listing my
sins, praying for forgiveness, reciting the Talbiyah. I pray for God to accept my Hajj, and
for my life to change as a result of it.
Arafat; March 26, evening -- This night is spent in the valley of Muzdalifah, north of
Arafat. The pedestrian traffic from Arafat is horrific. Two million people are moving on this
path in one unending wave. I peer out the window of my air-conditioned bus. People who
don't have $5,000 to pay for a tour like mine, people who have spent their whole lives
saving for this trip, are crammed into cars, vans, buses. And on top of cars, vans and
buses. Those who can't afford even that are walking.
Mina; March 27 -- Today is Eid, commemorating the Day of Arafat. I usually spend
this day at home feasting with family, visiting friends, exchanging gifts. Today I spend the
early morning hours in a bus to Mina, where I will stay in a tent for three nights. Mina, three
miles east of Mecca, is a temporary city of tents. The streets are filled with people who
don't have tents and who just lay down a blanket or a newspaper on the dirt floor to mark
their territory. We have to bring our own bedding because none is supplied here.
On the second night, Amer, Sajeela and I wise up and bring sheets and blankets from our
hotel in Mecca. But when we settle down, everyone around us gravitates onto the bedding,
and Sajeela and I end up with just a few inches of blanket.
Mina; March 28-29 -- We have come to Mina to perform a ritual stoning of the
Jamarats -- three round, walled basins, chest-high, a few dozen feet in diameter and about
500 feet apart. They mark the spots where Satan appeared to Prophet Abraham when he
was on his way to Mecca after completing his Hajj. The Prophet stoned Satan at each of
the three points before Satan gave up.
On this day, thousands of years later, I re-enact Prophet Abraham's trials, throwing
seven pea-size pebbles into the largest basin, shouting "Allahuakbar!" -- "God is Great!" --
with each toss.
On the afternoon of the third day that we prepare to leave Mecca to spend the night in
Mina, I break down crying, exhausted from the physical exertion, from not sleeping through
a night in as long as I can remember, from walking for hours with my belongings in hand.
But to my own surprise, my internal reserves don't dry up. I keep myself level with the
thought that the physical hardships endured by early Muslims, as well as by so many human
beings of all faiths today, are something that I should be compelled, at least once in my life,
to better understand.
Mecca; March 30 -- Difficulty awaits me at Jeddah airport. My ticket says Dulles, but
the computer says JFK. I recite the Talbiyah and remind myself that I've come here for
God, and he'll send me home when it's time. Peace replaces panic. I just think logically,
about the minimum I need to survive. Take me anywhere in America, I tell them. I'll find my
way. Miraculously the computer concedes. Twenty-four hours later, I am home.
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