Previous posts in this series: Parts 1 to 26
Just another face in the crowd
After getting some much-needed rest on Eid morning, we returned to Mina that afternoon. While I thought that my experience of being lost was unique, speaking to others about their experiences on that walk helped put it into proper perspective. I may have had an extreme case, but it was by no means the only ‘survivor story’ in our group. Everyone had their own special tests and trials. The chaos of that walk was so bad that many who were with the group even got lost – so I wasn’t alone in facing hardship. Alhamdullilah, I was grateful to learn these things, as they helped eliminate any element of pride that may have arisen from my experience.
The spirit back on Mina was amazing. There was a special closeness between the hujjaaj, with everyone wishing the others well. I had some good conversations, sharing thoughts, experiences, and lessons – with reminders about gratitude, repentance, and the equality of humanity.
These were the kind of deep, spiritual talks that would be pretty much impossible in any other circumstance. Yet here – in the simplicity of this tent, after the incredible 24 hours we’d just experienced – such topics flowed so easily and without inhibition. We were pure hearts connecting with each other on a level that was most unique, and I still treasure those moments and long for that kind of God-conscious companionship now – in the environment and times where I need it so much more than that day on Mina.
I imagine that this kind of bond, and this level of purity, will be the state we experience in Jannah; thus I regard these few moments as a sneak peek into the bounties that Allah is keeping in store for us, if we pass His tests in this world.
I’d written earlier about how dying on Hajj would be the ultimate way to go, yet it wasn’t what I wanted for myself at that point in time. For one of the old ladies in our group, it was time, and Allah granted her that tremendous gift of dying on Hajj. At 3AM that morning – which was the day after Arafah – she passed away. She was in a wheelchair, and had apparently been surprised to even get so far in Hajj – yet she did, and Allah granted her that amazing mercy of leaving this world completely pure. I later learnt more about her (via this news article), and it just deepened the awe of the situation, proving again how merciful Allah is.
The Janazah salaah was held at the haram in Makkah that night, but on Mina, we held salat al-gha’ib (Janazah salaah in absentia) in our tent, and were reminded of the glad tidings for those who die on Hajj. They’ll be raised in that state – still in ihraam, and still chanting the talbiyyah (drawn from a hadith about the one who dies on Hajj). May Allah grant the sister the highest place in Jannah, and help us all to live righteous lives which end in the most beautiful circumstances.
After a group programme of naseehah, dua, and collective dhikr (the latter being the classic Cape Town format – complete with bad tajweed 😉 ), I settled down for the night – with a trip to the toilet as my last action for the day. Little did I know that yet another valuable experience awaited me:
By this time, I was out of the state of ihraam and in normal clothing again – so I was wearing a kurta with pockets. For some reason, I decided to take my valuables with me to the toilet: my mobile phone was in my pocket, and my ID cards were in a pouch around my neck. I did my business in the stall (an Eastern toilet), and when I was finished, something slipped out of my pocket…my phone.
Now, to me, those toilets are so filthy that whatever falls on the floor there can stay on the floor there – I have no inclination to clean it up and keep it, even if it’s a phone. Well, I didn’t even need to ponder that option. One piece of the phone fell straight down that dreaded hole (from which there is no return). Then another piece fell next to the hole, before sliding into it. The phone battery fell next, but stayed put on the floor. I figured I wouldn’t need that bit anymore, so I pushed it in too – to finish the job.
It was a strange feeling – realising what had just happened. Normally, losing a mobile phone would be a disaster. But I felt no anger or frustration. I felt this immediate acceptance of what had happened. It was Allah’s will; and I accepted that.
The phone had served its purpose (especially for that long walk the previous night), and now it was time for me to part with it.
I quickly saw Allah’s tremendous wisdom in the situation: 2 days before we left home, my mobile phone suddenly broke – meaning I couldn’t take it on this journey. That phone held all my contacts, calendar information, and other valuable stuff on it – so if I’d had that phone with me on Mina, this story probably wouldn’t have had a happy ending. But Allah knew what would happen, and made the circumstances such that I had to leave my phone at home and take a cheap, practical model without any valuable information on it.
The motto of ‘it could have been worse’ also repeated itself here: I had only lost a phone, which I wouldn’t miss much anymore now that the main parts of Hajj were complete. But I had also taken 2 other very important items with me in the stall: my Hajj ID card (which is essential to direct you back to familiar faces if you get lost), and my camp admission card (which was my only way into the camp, and worth a staggering amount of money – given that this was a special services camp). If those items had fallen down that stinky black hole, I would’ve had major problems for the remaining few days of Hajj.
So, once more, what outwardly looked like a bad situation was actually a positive experience that Allah had put in my path to teach me important lessons.
- Never let your own experiences fool you into thinking you’re special. No matter how extreme your circumstances, others also have their own challenges. Learn from other people’s stories and share your own story – but don’t consider your trials as more worthy of attention.
- Unless you have deeply religious friends / companions, or attend some pretty special spiritual gatherings back home, you may not get another chance to discuss life, Islam, and other things in the way you can on Mina. Take advantage of the special conversations in this period, share your thoughts with others, and take lessons that you can apply with you in your ‘normal’ life back home.
- The ulama teach that the way you live is the way you’ll die; and the way you die is the state you’ll be resurrected in. Strive to live a righteous, God-conscious life and always make dua that your moment of death will come at a time when Allah is pleased with you.
- In Mina (and around any Eastern toilet), DO NOT take anything of value to the toilet. Leave it all behind in the tent. Your possessions are usually safe there.
- When unpleasant things happen, let your first (and instant) reaction be one of acceptance. It’s Allah’s will that’s transpiring, so thank Him for it and be grateful – whether you initially see it as a calamity or not.
Coming up next, insha-Allah: Boom
What happened next?
Update: The entire series (30 parts) is available at this link – post by post. Alternatively, you can download the complete series as an e-book in PDF format. Feel free to share with anyone you think may benefit.