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The Imam's Daughter

My Hajj Journal: Part 2
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Monday February 3, 2003


2:06 am – Tahajjud in Masjid Al- Nabawi. But first a recount of yesterday’s events: After Fajr prayer, the women decided to go see the Rawdah (the original part of the Prophet’s Mosque), which we learned was at Gate 25. It is open to women from 7-9 am. We were a little disorganized so it took us some time to unite and do the head count and decide where to meet and someone went to check that the guys weren’t waiting for us in gate 7. After a lot of walking, we finally made it to gate 25. Then we just followed the crowd. (And what a crowd it was!! It was incredible. If you’ve never been in a mob, you will now. A lot of these women are so ‘possessed’ by the thought of praying in the same place where Rasulullah (SAW) prayed and to see where he is buried, that they turn into fierce warriors running to battle. They don’t care who they push, bump, or shove.) We suddenly found the opening of the partition that leads to the Rawdah. I thought I saw it so I immediately found an un-crowded spot and prayed 2 rak’ah salatul Duha. (But I was mistaken, it was not the Rawdah! I was still confused about the whole thing)Then I tried to get closer to the Rawdah. I followed the crowd and then they stopped. It seems they closed the opening to the Rawda. (No, it was just that the people who were in the Rawda take time to pray, make du’a, and get out so if I had just waited longer I could have made it.) But the people behind me kept pushing us. I said the du’as and salams to Rasulullah (SAW). Then I tried to get out. It was hard but I got out. Then we waited outside for the others. 


We went back to the hotel for breakfast 8 am. After breakfast we went back to our rooms and slept until 3 pm. (In Hajj, you sleep during the day and are up at night. But when you are coming from the US, you have jetlag that equals this same system so you don’t need to adjust to Saudi time.)


3:00 pm – I woke up to the sound of drilling. Prayed Duhr and Asr in my room. Dressed up.


4:30 pm – Had dinner in the hotel restaurant. Khaled had been out shopping and had bought a white dishdash (long Saudi men’s dress) and a colored hat (what do you call those in Arabic, forgot?) He looked handsome mashaAllah. After dinner we finally got a chance to call home. It was Sunday morning there and Heba and Feda (my sisters) were home taking care of her. Heba said she put her to sleep the first night by force and now Sumayyah hates her. Feda said Sumayyah misses me and keeps going to the attic to look for me. I miss her so much. I talked to her but she didn’t talk back. She kept crying. But it wasn’t a normal cry. It was a sad and depressed cry. I started crying after I hanged up. I feel so bad for her. That she is suffering from being away from me. I hope this is just because its still the first few days and she needs time to adjust. I am making du’a for her.


After that we went shopping. There are too many stores. Khaled bought more dishdash and Ihram (mandatory outfit for the Hajj rituals for men). We bought some gifts for Sumayyah and I bought clothes for Hajj (then ended up not fitting me and being see-through – white is not a practical color for Hajj after all, you have to wear another full layer under it which is difficult in the hot weather). There were so many things I wanted to buy – that is the problem with shopping. We got back to the hotel by 11:30 pm. I took a shower but couldn’t sleep deeply.


Then it was 1:30 am and time to get ready to go for Tahajjud. The women developed a strategy to see the Rawdah. We are doing Tahajjud in gate 25 to save time in walking and be the first ones to be let in. I hope we get to pray in the Rawdah and see the grave of Rasulullah (SAW) InshaAllah.


7:30 am – Alhamdulillah, I got to pray in the Rawdah! I couldn’t believe it. But there was a 5-ft wall in front of us so I couldn’t see the whole pulpit (just the top) or the grave of Rasulullah (that was off-limit to the women completely, as I learned when we got there). We were since 2:30 am in gate 25. We didn’t know where they would open the door, so I had the idea to sit in the middle. Then at 7:00 am, the Saudi women working there made 2 lines, so me and Mariam and Safaa went and stood between them. Then they opened the door at 7:15 am so we held hands and started walking as fast as we can without pushing anyone. Then we got there. It was crowded so we had to split apart. There was no space to pray so I just said salam and du’a. Then suddenly there became a space in front of me. So I prayed. I was trying to see the grave but the wall was covering most of it except the top. Then I was trying to get out, I went backward a little, then I saw a women worker and asked her how I should get out, then she showed me the exit sign. She then took my hand and pulled me towards the exit. I left and I was the only few out, it seems the others were taking more time. I left quick to give others the chance. The Rawdah carpet is the same pattern as the others in the mosque except it has a light green color instead of red. It was exciting but I think I could have been more emotional if we got to see the mumbar (the pulpit) and the door of the grave. This wall really ruined the experience for me.


Al-Rawdah (from the web)

Tuesday Feb. 4, 2003


4:30 am – I slept until 4:30 am and then went for Tahajjud. I had a camera so they wouldn’t let me inside so I had to stay outside and it was a bit chilly. Mariam was with me. (I felt bad that she had to stay outside because of me – sorry Mariam!!) We prayed Fajr, then went inside the masjid and read Qur’an. Then prayed Duha. After that we went for breakfast. The other girls went to try to pray in the Rawda again. (I didn’t see the need to pray there twice? But perhaps the first time you are a bit confused, even when you finally get there, so maybe the second time you would be more relaxed and can think more clearly and concentrate more in your prayer and du’a.)


9:00 am – then we took as shower to get ready for Ihram. We packed our luggage. Then  onto the bus to go to Mecca. Got stuck a few hours at the Medina exit checkpoint because one of the sisters didn’t have an entrance stamp on her passport. So we got out and ate and prayed in the building. I saw a group from Lebanon but not from Tripoli (where I’m from). We finally got to leave, then we went to Akbar Ali- Meeqat. We made wudu, made the intention for Umrah, then prayed 2 rak’ah, back on the bus, then we said the Talbiya until we reached Mecca. Now we are in a state of Ihram. No arguments. The mosque at Akbar Ali was beautiful with palm trees. The guys were wearing only 2 large white towels. The bus is deluxe even with a bathroom. But my back and legs are hurting me.


9:30 pm – stopped at a rest stop to pray Maghrib + Isha. Bathroom is disgusting. (passed on that, would rather hold it in.) The sinks for the women to make wudu in are outside. (Don’t women need privacy to make wudu?) Smells awful.


After prayer, they brought us tea. I miss sumayyah. I looked at her pictures and I miss her.

Outside the Haram, Makkah (from the web)

Ihram dress for men (from the web)

Wednesday Feb. 5, 2003


1:30 am – We reach Mecca. Check-in at the hotel, make wudu, then go to Masjid al Haram to make Umrah. We marched to the Haram in a certain order while reciting the Talbiya. It is a 2 min walk when there is no crowd. We go inside and then enter the tawaf area around the Ka’bah. It is smaller than I had imagined from the pictures. (This was because there were a lot of people so the empty space around the Ka’bah was small.) It is an amazing and emotional sight to see the Ka’bah. I immediately felt very small, very stupid, and very ashamed for my previous behavior and sins. It brought tears to my eyes.


Here in the Haram, I felt so close to Allah, the Prophets, that I’m standing where they used to stand and seeing the house of Allah. It also confirmed to me that Islam is the true religion – the TRUTH. Truly no room for any doubt at all. In the tawaf, it was me and Maryam (another one), her husband, and his mother, and my husband khaled. The girls in front holding hands and the guys in back protection us with their arms to our right and left. It wasn’t that crowded as long as you kept in the middle, near the Ka’bah, Hjir Ismaeel, and the black Stone was too crowded, less people in the outer circle. After the tawaf, we went out, prayed 2 rak’ah, then went down some stairs to drink Zamzam (i heard this is gone now, now there are zamzam stations along every row). It was a room full of water fountains. Some people were praying down there.


Then we went out and did the Sa’ee between Safaa and Marwa. Can you imagine an indoor mountain? A tiled mountain? It was 2 hills and you walk between them like Hagar did when she was looking for water. It was a long walk. (Total around 2 miles) Each time you reach the top of Safaa or Marwa you have to recite the Safaa and Marwa Ayah form the Qur’an and a du’a starting with a takbeera. My legs were killing me.


After Sa’ee we went to the courtyard outside the Haram, we had something to eat, and Khaled got his hair cut a little, leaving the shaving for Hajj. (One of my roommates cut a piece of my hair when i got back to the hotel.) Then we tried to get back in the Haram to pray Fajr but we couldn’t, people had already sat down in all the entrances. Se we prayed in the courtyard. I fell asleep while praying.


Then we went back to the hotel and slept. Breakfast was 9:30 but I couldn’t wake up. I woke up at 11:30. There was some foul and cheese left in the hotel restaurant, we ate and prayed duhr in our room. Then went back to sleep.


5:30 pm – Woke up. Prayed Asr in room. Ate some dates and went down to pray Maghrib in Haram. It was too crowded and we ended up praying in the street a little outside the Haram. We kept walking until it was too late and we couldn’t find a place to pray. Um Talal squeezed in a row but we had to pray standing. The people behind us started telling us to leave, that we were ruining their prayer. I didn’t know where to go, I started leaving to find a place to squeeze in but Khaled wouldn’t let me so I broke down and started crying. I couldn’t take it anymore. I just wanted to dig a hole and crawl into it I felt so badly. So we prayed standing (no room for sujud). Then we went in the Haram to the 3rd floor (roof) and waited until Isha and then waited until 9 pm until the crowd left. Then we went back to the hotel, on the way eating ice cream. Ate dinner 10:00 pm – the food was late. Then I washed my clothes (in the bathroom sink), took a shower, and tried to sleep.

The Ka'bah (from the web)

Walking between Safa and Marwa (from the web)

Drinking Zamzam after the Tawaf (from the web)

Praying on the Roof of the Haram (from the web)