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This is a special series of Blogs which describes my time and experiences during Hajj this year.
DAY 11 – 31 July 2019
Madinah Munawarah – Back to Makkah Mukarramah – Second Umrah
It was announced that we would depart from Madinah Munawarah just after Asr prayer and go back to Aziziya, Makkah Mukarramah. InShaAllah. Forty prayers in Masjid Nabawi had been completed.
Our group got this additional advantage that we were going back. Usually, either pilgrims land at Madinah Munawarah airport, spend eight days here and then go to Makkah Mukarramah. After Hajj, their return flight is from Jeddah. Or they land at Jeddah, go to Makkah Mukarramah, perform Hajj, go to Madinah Munawarah towards the end, stay there for eight days, and fly back from Madinah Munawarah or Jeddah, but do not come back to Makkah Mukarramah.
Due to our slightly different itinerary, we got the opportunity to perform another Umrah before Hajj. Allah be praised.
Leaving the holy city of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is not easy. We develop so much familiarity as if we had been living here for a long time. There is peace and calm all around and it gets into us. We feel relaxed and easy. Masjid Nabawi is just five minutes away. We can go there anytime, spend any amount of time there. We can actually spend the night sitting in the sahn of Masjid Nabawi and will not feel tired. This is Allah’s special Blessing and the presence of our Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) that Madinah Munawarah is like a Merciful Shade; Cool, Relaxing, Affectionate and Benevolent.
After Asr, left the Masjid Nabawi with a heavy heart. Offered Durood o Salam at the Roza e Mubarak and asked for permission to leave with tearful eyes. Requested for permission to come again soon; and got into the buses.
The buses stopped at Meeqat Masjid Dhul Hulifa. Men got down and changed into Ihram. Women covered their heads and got into Ihram. Some men prayed two rak’at nafl, some did not, because it was not appropriate to pray nafl between Asr and Maghrib.
Stopping at couple of places, we finally reached Aziziya around midnight. We decided to go to Haram Shareef and perform Umrah; taking rest would be done later.
DAY 12 – 01 August 2019
Umrah and Aziziya
We completed Umrah, prayed Fajr in Haram Shareef and returned to building. Took a shower, got out of Ihram and slept for a while.
Most of the things about residence in Aziziya were very good. The building was about 8km from Haram Shareef. It would be difficult to walk but we didn’t have to. Dedicated transport buses were available round the clock just outside the building. The buses from all Pakistani Pilgrims’ Buildings brought passengers to a large parking lot. From there, a common shuttle bus took us to Haram Shareef. The entire travel time was only about 20 minutes or even less if the first bus left the building immediately. Pakistani shuttle bus drop point was probably the nearest to Haram Shareef and was very convenient.
Transport facility was free. We understood its true value when buses stopped plying during Hajj days under instructions from Saudi Administration.
In the building at Aziziya, every floor had a water dispenser. Like here, a 19-liter bottle was placed over it by the building caretakers. We came to know after few days that the water in these bottles was actually Zam Zam water. It meant that we could drink Zam Zam all the time, and that we didn’t have to carry it from Haram Shareef. This was another blessing.
Zam Zam is a miracle. It has special properties. I had stopped drinking regular water right after reaching Makkah Mukarramah and drank Zam Zam only. Allah be praised. His arrangements are unique and unparalleled. It is a great blessing that you drink Zam Zam for 44 days; all the time and every time.
Food arrangements were excellent. We had a little bit of disorganization in Madinah Munawarah, but we never faced it in Aziziya. Food was always fresh, good tasting, mildly spiced and good quality. Food was served courteously and properly. No one developed any problem with food. Yes, hot Roti (Bread) was not served. If that was the case, the people would probably refuse to leave the dining area.
On the evening of 1st August, we got the news that Zilhajj moon had been sighted. Tomorrow, 2nd August, would be 1st Zilhajj.
Aziziya – Makkah Mukarramah
Upon the onset of Zilhajj, Hajj started feeling very near, though there were still seven days to go. As we were there for the purpose of performing Hajj, our excitement started building and we started waiting actively.
Hajj is a huge movement of people and resources. This year, around 186,000 pilgrims from Pakistan traveled to Saudi Arabia for Hajj. One flight load is about 300-350 passengers because the old gold Boeing 747, popularly known as Jumbo Jets which carried 460 passengers each have finally been grounded. During the last few years, these were mostly carrying Hajj pilgrims. It was a popular joke that the planes were not really airworthy, but they flew on the wings of the prayers of pilgrims, before and after Hajj. Anyway, it takes 600-650 flights to carry the pilgrims one way; 1200-1300 flights two way. For this reason, the Hajj cycle from Pakistan is between 60-65 days. Pilgrims start departing from Pakistan during first week of Zilqa’ad and finally come back in early Muharram. Individually, every pilgrim going by government Hajj scheme gets 40-45 days cycle. I and my roommates got 44 days; departed from Lahore on 21 July and returned on 02 September.
Zilhajj moon caused excitement, but it also brought anxiety at the same time. Lest we fall seriously sick or develop some other ailment or disability. What if we got totally indisposed and unable to perform Hajj?
We do come to Haram Shareef every day but should exercise some restraint so that we keep our energy saved for Hajj. Hajj is the ultimate goal and it certainly has quite a bit of physical labor. Someone said the news from dispensary was that over 2500 incidents of bone fractures had been reported up to now. No one confirmed it or denied it. What if such a thing happened to us? How shall we be able to perform Manasik e Hajj?
Excitement, fear, and prayers to Allah; these became apparent and visible after Zilhajj moon sighting.
Our respected men and women did not reduce their focus on food even now. Cold Roti, hot curry, fruit, yogurt and cold laban remained hot favorites.