Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 6 – Leaving for Makkah

My mind is racing. I wake up in the middle of the night and my brain is going a mile a minute. Leaving Madinah. Heartache. Making my first Umrah. What should I wear? Ya Allah, make my umrah easy. Don’t forget to switch the scissors to the other bag. The bus ride. Get snacks ready. Last salah in Masjid Nabawi. Will it be my last salah ever in this masjid? Ya Rabb, bring me back soon. Alarm set for Tahajjud. Why is tahajjud so easy here? Can’t forget to ask Sh Alaa about legitimate charity. Wish I could go back to Riyad-ul-Jannah. Pray just 2 more rakah. Wonder what will be for breakfast?.....on and on. I can’t sleep. So much to think about and so little time.

The bus ride from Madinah to Makkah was eventful. Before were were on the move, a man came on the bus. He showed us a letter, a power of attorney, and told us about his brother being held by Saudi police unjustly and he had to pay blood money to get him out of jail. The man was teary eyed and his voice cracked as he spoke. A lot of sisters on our bus felt pity for this poor man and gave him whatever amount they could gather.

I wasn’t one of them.

Earlier that day, I had asked Sh Alaa how do we determine what is and is not legitimate charity. His answer was straightforward. He said give to the people that don’t ask. He said that most of those who ask are professionals and they come during hajj time because they know people’s guards are down. I told Sh Alaa that it’s difficult to say no to people. His response was profound. He said that every time you give to the con artists, you take away from the legitimate poor. Those the people with a right upon the money.

After the man got off the bus, our bus drive reappeared. He said the man with the sad story about his brother was a cheater. La hawla wa la quwata illa billah.

It made me sad. Sad for the sisters who were cheaters. Sad for the fact that we have to be suspicious of Muslims. Sad that this man has so little fear of Allah, that he is willing to steal from those who come to perform Hajj.

But he’s probably justified it in his mind somehow. Maybe he feels we are rich enough to sit in an air conditioned bus, then he’s justified in taking money from us. There’s so much haram in our own lives that we try to justify. We try to convince ourselves that we will be the ones who will be excused.

And now we are sitting on the bus, ready to make our first Umrah. Sh Riad is our group leader! As the bus ride begins, Sh Riad tells about the rain that fell in Madinah earlier that morning. He said he hadn’t seen it rain in Madinah since he left many years ago. And he reminded us that rain was a sign. A sign of Allah’s mercy and blessings. A sign that our Umrah had already been accepted. You can hear the sobs, Subhan Allahs, and Allahu Akbars murmuring through the bus. A moment of relief in all the anticipation.

Our bus ride begins and we are soon approaching Abyar Ali, where will be making our intention to enter the state of ihram. She Riad passionately describes the meaning and the reality of the talbiyah:

“Labbayk Allah humma labbayk!”
“Here I am at your service, O Lord!”

The intensity of his fiery reminder, brings everyone on the bus to a standstill and most to tears.

“Here I am Allah! At your service! I have come for You, Ya Rabb! I am coming for You! I am here to please You! I have nowhere else to go, except to You! All other doors are closed, and on Yours are open! I am here!”

I can’t do justice to Sh Riad’s words. But it was moment that will definitely be unforgettable.

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