A tad late but this story really does show that sometimes you can make all your plans and still things don’t turn out like you expect them to.
I almost didn't complete Haj
Susan Smith | Arab News
A group of us from Al-Muyassar Tours, led by Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef of Al-Maghrib Institute, almost didn't complete our Haj, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The Haj is (staying in) Arafat."
On the 8th of Dhul Hijjah, a day before Arafat as we boarded buses to travel to Mina, the wind picked up and drops of rain started to fall. In the middle of the desert terrain, we wondered if this was a sign. Did it mean that Allah would wash our hearts during Haj, forgive us and grant us Jannat Al-Firdaus?
Bulbous gray clouds gathered above and burst forth as we - and more than two million Hajis -drove, rode or walked to Mina. When we arrived at the tent city, the sisters in my group ran to our tent #3-032 on Street 53A of District 6, amidst torrents of rain. As we nestled in wet and giddy, we noticed that water was funneling into the corner of our tent creating a puddle. Most of it drained out as it funneled in.
What we did not know or realize was that while we were happy and dry, tens of thousands of "illegal" or unregistered Hajis were camping under bridges and overpasses, on the sides of mountains, in the streets and in the valleys. We received news that thousands were flooded out and more than one hundred had drowned. Some of the sisters in my tent shed tears at the fate of our "less fortunate" neighbors, but our shock turned to stoic understanding that those who died during Haj would be granted the riches of Jannat Al Firdaus. (Later, we learned that the deaths did not occur in Mina, but in Jeddah.)
The next morning, on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, we prepared to leave after Fajr to take the bus to Arafat. The plan was that we would arrive in the morning, settle in, combine Dhuhr and Asr, listen to the special Khutbah, and then, when the Khutbah ended, the clock would start ticking. From that moment until Maghrib, we would have approximately four and a half hours to pour our hearts out to Allah in sincere prayers. All of us in our group had prepared for it and this was the moment of Haj we were waiting for.
As the Prophet said, "The best Duaa' one can make is Duaa' on the Day of Arafat." Ayesha narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, "There is no day in which Allah sets free more servants from the fire of Hell than on the Day of Arafat. So we waited to take the bus to Arafat, which was four miles away. 9 o'clock, 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock, 12 o'clock. No bus came. Most of our group had departed by bus earlier, but our tent remained. Shortly after 12 o'clock, we turned on the transistor radio and listened to the Grand Mufti of Makkah deliver the Arafat Khutbah to the pilgrims. Meanwhile, we were still in Mina! What should we do?
Shaykh Muhammad gathered us together. The word on the street was that transportation was backed up due to the flooding. Parts of Mina were under 12-14 inches of water contaminated with sewage. Some frustrated Hajis were trying to board buses that didn't belong to them. It was a dangerous situation. Some of the brothers had already left on foot. The rest were preparing to walk to Mina, but the elderly and pregnant would have to remain behind.
We returned to our tent devastated. So close, but so far. Could it be that Allah would not accept our Haj after all of this? Some of us started to sob, particularly those too old or pregnant to walk. All of us made sincere prayers to Allah that He would invite us to come and stand in prayer and supplication before him on Arafat and that our bus would arrive.
Those of us fit to walk gathered bottles of water and prepared to go, leaving our sleeping bags and belongings behind, which we would need that night in Muzdalifah. We proceeded down Street 53A. Then the bus arrived.
In Arafat, the pilgrims started their Duaa', so on the bus our Shaykh instructed us to do the same. We arrived at 1:50 p.m., combined Dhuhr and Asr, and then proceeded to make Duaa' for 3 1/2 straight hours determined to make up for lost time. Our hearts softened by this ordeal felt totally vulnerable and humbled before Allah. We felt purified by the eradication of our sins (at least during those hours), since we thought that Allah had rejected us and then invited us after all. We glorified and praised Him, exalting His Beautiful Names, so grateful to Him for this most wonderful of invitations which requires total submission.
That day, I made sincere Duaa' for all Muslims. I prayed that Allah would increase us all in iman, would grant us goodness in this life and in the Hereafter. I prayed that He would protect us from the hellfire and grant us Jannat Al Firdaus.http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7§ion=0&article=130993&d=11&m=1&y=2010