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This is a special series of Blogs which describes my time and experiences during Hajj this year.
Aziziya – Haram Shareef
Whenever I come to Haram Shareef, I pray to Allah to get space in the Mataf.
Mataf, as you know, is the floor around Ka’aba tul Musharrafah, also written as ‘Sahn’ on various signages.
Sitting in Mataf is always beautiful and inspiring. Ka’aba tul Musharrafah is in front of our eyes; Tawaf and prayers are going on by so many people; it is an unparalleled scene which affects deeply. Almost 90% of the original manuscript (in Urdu) was written while sitting in Mataf.
Tawaf is a unique ritual. Moving around Ka’aba tul Musharrafah, saying prayers, reciting Qur’an, reciting Durood; everything is a spiritual beauty.
The scenario at Mataf keeps changing. Indonesians, Malaysians, Filipinos, Turk, Iranians, some Africans, and South Indians enter Mataf in groups. They are either dressed alike or have similar jackets or scarfs which identifies them as a group. One person leads the prayers; he would recite in a naturally loud voice and others will follow him. It is so very moving.
Pakistanis and Bangladeshis do not practice moving in groups. They do Tawaf either individually or may be 3-4 together.
Everyone has his own way, own style and own pace. Some move swiftly (more on that later), others move slowly and leisurely as if enjoying every step in Tawaf.
Pushing, shoving, getting over others’ feet, and getting ahead forcefully are common and continuous acts. At one time, Africans were considered to be known for pushing and shoving; this time I found Bangladeshis ahead of all others in this activity. They are not heavily bodied, but they compensated it with their agility, speed and stiffness. Afghans were in fair number and were also actively engaged in pushing and shoving. Pakistanis were not far behind; may be at number 4 or 5.
Another change was that women were also extremely busy in pushing and shoving; not just other women, but both men and women. It was a common scene that a woman would be leading a group of 5-6 men or men + women. She would walk in front like a Bulldozer, clearing the way for the group who would follow her obediently. Probably, this is what is called Women Power.
The number of women in our building is fairly large; may be almost as many as men. Women overtook men in the dining hall, in the lobby, in the buses and so on.
Another common scene in the building is seen in the dining hall. The lady of the group carries the tray, goes to counter and brings food for all men and women of her group.
After effectively tackling men of all shades from around the world, and for over 40 days, when these powerful women shall return to their homes, the power structure at homes shall change surely.
I am, in no way, against women. They are all respectable and I am a vocal advocate of their involvement in all family matters. However, it looked like that they were taking over some of their men’s responsibilities which did not feel nice. I don’t know what their men felt about it.
The Hajj Mission had been saying from the first training program that all women must carry two Abayas and should always wear Abayas when they go out. Kudos to our honorable ladies, they dismissed this campaign with scorn. A minority and younger women wore Abayas regularly; others did not bother with it. They kept wearing regular, household Shalwar Kameez throughout, and performed Hajj, Umrahs and Tawafs in the same way.
Women from the rest of the world remained stuck in Abayas or head-to-toe covering gears, but majority of Pakistani women kept wearing their everyday dresses. I am not sure that they even carried Abayas with them. Pakistani men, who can be quite conservative in such matters, also did not mind it.
By Allah’s Will, Tawaf runs continuously. It is paused only for the Farz prayer congregation (jama’at). As the time for prayer approaches, the security personnel in Haram Shareef start trying to redirect women who are doing Tawaf so that they would go behind men, in the space allocated for women. They are hardly successful ever. Women keep ducking them.
Prayer (Iqamat) is done almost immediately after Adhan. It was a common scene that men and women were finally praying together in Mataf. You would see women interspersed with men all over the Mataf. By the Shariah rule, this is not allowed.
I do not blame women alone in this problem. Their men are to be blamed more because they keep them along and do not ask them to go to women’s area.
A day before, just before prayer, a middle-aged man was sitting on my left side in Mataf along with his lady. I said to him it was not right. He said, “Yes. Actually, my prayer will be wasted. And not just me, but people on left and right will also be affected.” I was surprised. I asked him why wouldn’t he send her behind? He kept quiet. In the meantime, a religious police guy came and asked the woman to leave. Both of them left.
May Allah ignore our shortcomings and save us from committing mistakes. Aameen.