Sunday, March 2, 2008

And I begged to follow a Janazah in Makkah

Prior to going for Hajj, I had looked forward to being able to participate in a Janazah while in Hajj, and I was not to be disappointed.

But when it happened, it came in the form of a test, and caught me unawares.

Right from the first salah I said in the Haram at Makkah, after Salatul Dhur ,we had risen up to say Janazah for some muslims who had died that morning, and that sound of “Salatul Mawt, athabakumullaah" was to be come a refrain after almost every salah both in Makkah and Madinah.

At times it would be children, and the Imam would say Salatul Mawt 'alal tifl (the prayer for a dead child), and at times, it would be over five people all at the same time. This was not surprising in a crowd of over two million people of varying ages, different health ailments, and the additional rigors of the Hajj season, and also for a lot of people, it was an answer to their prayer to die in the blessed land, prayed upon by over two million muslims.

In the Sahih Hadith, we learn that he who participates in the janazah prayer receives one qirat of reward, while he who goes on further to follow the janazah to the cemetery, and waits until the corpse is buried, will receive two qirats of reward. So as much as I was able to participate in the janazah prayers daily at the Haram, I was looking forward to being able to follow the janazah to the burial ground , but try as I did , it proved difficult.

On one of the days prior to Hajj, I was in the market just by the eastern gate of the Haram, when I noticed a corpse being taken from an ambulance towards the Haram for Janazah. I joined the people carrying the bier ,and we wove our way through the crowds. Need I say, it wasn’t an easy task, as it was just few minutes to salah, and the whole Haram was fully packed.

Just imagine six people carrying a bier trying to make their way through the tightly packed crowd above from the market all the way to the front rows closest to the Ka'bah..

Stepping on people (May Allah forgive us, and shouting Tariq, Tariq, Tariq (path, make way), we slowly made our way through the crowd. In the midst of all this , Salatul Isha' started. Now imagine, how do you keep moving with a corpse in the midst of people praying salah around the Haram? Well, we did! As people made ruku', and then sujud, we kept moving and sweating ,until we got towards the front row nearest the ka'bah, and then were directed to a spot to lay down the corpse so the Imam could lead the salah janazah afterwards .
By this time, the Isha salah was almost over, and by the time I finished my salah, and joined the janazah, people were already moving out of the Masjid,and run as I did after the janazah was over, on getting out of the Masjid, I could not locate in what direction the corpse had been taken to.

This occurred several times. I would run after the bier after janazah, trying to get past a million people leaving through the over hundred doors, and I would get outside the haram, and the bier would be no where to be found.

On the day when I was to be tested, it was the night of the 12th of Dhul Hijjah, and I had left Mina at around 2am on the Almanasik bus to come and perform my Tawaful Ifaadah (the Tawaaf of Hajj), which is one of the pillars of hajj, and which I had postponed from the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, as I was not feeling very well on that day coupled with the fact that the Haram was overcrowded on that day with several pilgrims trying to do that Tawaful-Ifaadah too.
So on this day, tired after having walked all the way from our tents at one end of Mina to the Jamaal at another end (about 45 minutes walk each-way), I had arrived at the Haram at 2am, and proceeded on my Tawaaf which took over over one hour ,of moving at the slowest pace possible ,on one of the busiest tawaf days (more details of my Tawaaful Ifaadah will be posted later InshaAllah) .

Over an hour later, I also managed to complete my Saee (almost 2 hours too)resting at intervals ,and by this time, I was ready to drop asleep. Fatigued, weary, and tired, it was 5:15 am , just 15 minutes to Salatul Fajr. All I could think of was, “ I would pray Salah, and then drop to sleep immediately. Later, I would find my way back to Mina”.

So we prayed Fajr, and I made it through. As I was about to lie down, I heard the usual announcement; Salatul 'alal amwaat….athabakumullah . Greedy for some reward despite being tired, I managed to stand up for the Janazah prayer. We finished ,and I made to lie down again. It was at that moment that the bier of one of the servants of Allah who we had just prayed upon passed just next to where I was lying down.

This was what I had earnestly prayed for….but I was tired, feet swollen, sleepy! Should I lie down and sleep? Should I get up and follow the janazah? Just as I decided to lie down and sleep, the though came across my mind that Allah could be testing how much I wanted the reward of following the Janazah.

At that instant, I became re-energized, and I did not even know where I got the energy to stand up , grabbed my shoes ,and raced after the bier, which was by this time outside the Haram and moving far in the distance. I soon joined the carriers, and we proceeded outside the Haram, going towards Ajyad hotel. As we went along, some carriers joined, and some left, but I remained.

After some time, we got to an ambulance, and the corpse was placed inside the ambulance. Members of the family got into the ambulance along with the corpse, and as I made to enter too, the brother who appeared to be the spokesman of the family denied me entry. He spoke rapidly to the other members of the family in Arabic (I assumed he was asking them if anyone knew me),and they all shook their heads ,and so he told me Laa (no). I begged ,and begged, yet he refused, and seemed surprised at my persistence. Just as I was about to turn back, I saw him leave the back of the ambulance to whisper something to the driver in front. I used this opportunity and pleaded with another brother in the ambulance, who surprisingly told me to hop in. I did not need a second invitation as I quickly hopped in, and bent down in a corner, lest the first brother see me. In no time, the brother was back, the doors were closed, and the ambulance moved out from the Haram towards the cemetery.

As we were moving slowly in traffic, the ‘leader’ of the family looked up, and suddenly he saw me, and subhanallah, despite the pervasive sadness of their loss, he suddenly burst into a very bright smile, apparently at my insistence and persistence even without knowing the deceased..

After some time , we finally arrived at Jannatul Mua’lla , the main cemetery of Makkah,. This is where Ummul Mu’mineen Khadijah and many of the Prophet’s companions and children are buried. Sayyidah Khadija’s grave is in a corner, the remotest corner. The grave is enclosed by walls and is not clearly visible from the road. The cemetery, with its immense significance to Muslims, has retained its simplicity. None would know at first glance that it holds some of the people closest and dearest to the Messenger of Allah, prayers and peace be upon him.

We brought the corpse down and said Salatul Janazah again on the corpse. We then proceeded to one of the numbered graves, and carefully placed the corpse in it, and solemnly made dua. There were other families also waiting to bury their dead. (I shall provide more details on the graves later on, while comparing Mua’lla with Baqee).

After the janazah, the male family members of the deceased lined up to receive condolences, and I extended my own condolence, praying for the deceased, and asking Allah to bless me with the double rewards of following the janazah, and the privilege to say salaam upon Sayyidah Khadijah and other muslims in the Mua’llah cemetery.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hajj as if you were there (II)

My cousin who was also in Hajj put together some of the pictures he took during the Hajj ,and appended some descriptions to them.

Please click on the link below

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Getting rewarded with Mt Uhud in the city of Uhud

"Whoever follows a funeral procession and offers the prayer for the deceased, will get one qirat of reward. And whoever follows it and remains with it until the body is buried, will get two qirats of reward, the least of which is equal in weight to 'Mount Uhud' or he said 'one of them is like Uhud.' -Sahih Hadith

I attended a double-janazah in Houston today ,and the brother had lost both his father and grandmother within a couple of days. It reminded me of our mortality as all Janazahs are meant to do (even for hard-hearded souls like myself), but it also reminded me that the last Janazah I had attended prior to today was at the AlBaqiee cemetry in Madinah, and it brought tears to my eyes.

I remembered standing amongst the graves of the companions and the pious predecessors and making salams to them, and looking forward to a reunion in Jannah inshaallah.

In short it re-energized me to continue my blog on the Hajj experience,but this time I will jump ahead to talk on the unique experiences of praying Janazah in Makkah and Madinah and following the janazah to the Janat-ul-Mala cemetry in Makkah where our mother Khadijah was buried, and to the Baqiie cemetry in Madinah where lies Mount Uhud,which the Prophet used in his description of the reward for whoseover follows a Janazah.

Join me later today as I begin the narration again InshaAllah, and jazakallah khayran for all your emails and comments.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Are you too busy to worship Allah?

If you ever feel too big or too busy to worship Allah, then take a look at this picture.

You need Allah and Allah needs you NOT!

There are millions of other people who will worship Him if you refuse to.

Men and women, old and young, weak and strong, all calling upon Allah in different tongues!

Here we come, Allah, here we come!
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The First House Built for Allah's Worship on Earth

Can anyone adequately put into words the thrill that goes through your body as you behold the Kaabah?

The corner to the left of the door is the Hajar Aswad corner. The corner to the left of the of the Hajar Aswad corner is the Rukn Yemeni (Yemeni corner). If you are from Yemen and ever get lost in Hajj, just start from the Yemen corner and move on, you may get to Yemen one day!

The semi-circle to the right is the Hijr Ismaeel, and part of it was originally part of the Kaabah, so salah in that portion is like praying in the Kaabah, according to UmmulMumineen, Aaishah(Ra)
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I kissed the Black Stone

What is that act of eebadah, that when you are doing it, no one else in the world can do it until you have finished!

Its kissing the Hajar Aswad!

Note that we kiss the Stone because the Prophet did so,and not because it has any special powers.

The silver casing is not the Black Stone!

There are 8 pieces left of the original stone from Jannah,and they are arranged inside the silver casing.

Yes I kissed it. How? That is a story for another day!
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Drive through Tawaf?

If you ever thought you were special, Tawaf would destroy your illusions.
There are no fast lanes for American citizens, no drive-through lanes for people from red or blue states.
You have to struggle to do Tawaaf just like that poor guy from all those countries that Americans cant locate on the map( isn't that almost all countries?)
Now imagine getting to kiss the Black Stone amongst the millions of people here! I did and so did Sh. Muhammad alShareef!
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Early to Salah or Pray outside the Masjid!

Outside the Masjid Haram
If you are lucky enough to get to the Haram 1 hour before the salah, then maybe you might get a space here!

Amazingly, some pilgrims live here throughout the Hajj season, they dont bother about all the quad-rooms,hajj packages,etc.

May Allah accept our eebadah and theirs. Ameen
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See Makkah and live!

Seeing is believing. So while awaiting my next posts , I am going to serve you an array of pictures taken by my cousin during the Hajj. Its going to be a case of "Hajj as if you were there" InshAllah

Masjid Haram- Where the reward of one prayer equals 100,000 anywhere else! May Allah accept it from the Hujjaj and make it possible for those who aspire to visit His House.
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Wanna go for 2008 Hajj with Muhammad alShareef?

Muhammad Alshareef
Founder/Director of AlMaghrib Institute, EmanRush Audio &

Ma sha Allah, as i'm reading this i'm like, 'Y'know he's right, we did have dinner at Shareef restaurant in Mina.'I'm humming to myself, 'here we come, our lord, here we come'PS: For students and young professionals, our Hajj program for 2008 is already up and open for registration. Check it out:
The group i'm going with this year is offering almaghrib students a super awesome 8 month payment plan. Check it out ...

Alhamdulillah, this company is in sha Allah going to have access to the US Hajjis as well. So, North meets South - it's available to students and young professionals from Canada AND USA.Call them up and talk to them about purchasing a Hajj package from the USA.

Bello, keep it comin' in sha Allah

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