when Maulana Tariq Jameel met Amir khan
the message behind this video is awesome mashallah

Hajj Series 2012 Part 4: Madinah (Part 2)

Okay so I know Hajj passed a while back already, but I still need to finish what I started…

Through all the walking there was definitely sight seeing to be amazed by. The architectural work that’s been put into designing the Masjid-Nabi was pretty impressive. Getting to the masjid and leaving the masjid was also much more peaceful and easier than Masjid’Al-Haram because of its infrastructure. This is why this was the city that gave the Prophet(s) peace when it seemed they would not get peace, this is why this was the Prophet(s)’s city. After Fajr I would stay at the Masjid, and watch the domes slide open, other times I’ll be on the top floor watching the roof slide open from the sides, other times I’ll be outside watching the umbrellas open and watch them close later. I even started to explore the Masjid I wanted to know the whole place inside out, the upstairs, and main floor, but it was too huge for me to know. The colour scheme would also change depending on which part of the masjid you were in, if you were in the Ottoman part, the Saud part (which was pretty much 90% of the masjid), or the part of the Companions and the original masjid. It all was magnificent. 

However, in my last post I mentioned something else about Madinah, it was a spiritual, life changing experience. To be honest, nothing could hold back the frustration I had for myself, wasting all that time in my hotel when I was in Makkah. I told myself that I had to rectify Makkah. It was really helpful that our hotel wasn’t really pleasing, and shopping, although I did take out some time for it, it was a pain for me. I remembered the advice before I left for Hajj. The scholars of the past (not 100% sure) would usually  recommend not going to Hajj or Umrah with your friends or family (your spouse is something else), largely because they would distract from the experience. I mean, it’ll only be a while before your friend starts cracking a joke, or before you start loosing yourself. We can’t always be serious around our close company? So I took off deciding that time spent in the Masjid would be a better Idea, a bit far from my family. And that’s when the amazing things started to happen. 

It’s pretty saddening to think I’m writing all of this after a year, if I had written earlier things would have been in far greater detail. During this initial time, I tried my best to visit Riyahdul Jannah, and I figured out that going a couple of hours after Fajr would be when it would easy to pray in. And so Alhumdullilah, I was able to pray there more often than I would’ve believed. Which obviously meant that I was able to to visit the Prophet(s)’s grave as many times as well. I even prayed in the first or second row once, right behind the Imam, and there I met a brother from Manchester. Me, him and this elderly brother from Pakistan had a long conversation. It was interesting, because until he started talking to me, I had no idea he was could speak english (and his accent was a welcome addition). He talked about how lucky I was that I had learned about Islam at a young age, and how he now discovered the beauty of Islam. It was a most welcome exchange, and it lit my eyes. We talked about scholars from England and North America. The elderly brother brought his own experience and wisdom, and suddenly I was thinking if it was even halal to even be talking so casually in such a sacred place. There was a Janazah after Salah like always, and we parted after Dhur ( I met this brother again during Hajj, Subhan’Allah).

One day, we decided to visit Jannatul Baqi, so me, my brother and my dad took off after Fajr. The graveyard which has the lives of thousands of Sahaba, and many other contributors to this deen, had a silence of peace in it’s air. As we walked through the graveyard, we were taken by the sight of hundreds of pigeons that kept circulating the graveyard. This was right after Fajr, so for me it was easy to assume that the pigeons had started their morning flight or warmup but I was curious why they were all gathering at the graveyard, I saw no food there for them. It wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed, Subhan’Allah, I had never seen such a sight of this many birds. As they flocked about they occasionally dipped on ground level, and you wouldn’t realized how much I started to enjoy this. Imagine thousands of birds just flying towards you. I’ll admit I was scared that some of the pigeons were going to crash into me, although I kept ducking, but they never did. It seemed like a show, it captured our attention. I still wished we recorded those scenes, maybe not taking pictures on this journey was a wrong decision? Perhaps not.  We had begun to forget where we were, and once we realized where we were, we quickly finished our prayers for the graveyard and left. 

Another day we also had a tour around the city, we saw a glimpse of where Madinah University was and visited Masjidal Quba, and several other sights, including mount Uhad. It gave me a something to visualize but I knew the sites had changed drastically since 1400 years ago. I also recall us visiting the ‘doctor’s place’ for foreigners, and they would always seem to give the same medicine to everyone. I don’t know, but I wasn’t impressed, don’t know if they knew what they were doing. I even started to notice how many beggars there were, and some I knew were simply making a living out of this. I admit I was rude at times to them. But somethings disgusted me, how were there so many children sitting there without limbs? As far as research goes, there are a lot of children that do at a young age loose their limbs so they can help their parents or ‘owners’ practise the ‘art of begging’. I was also surprise by two beggars, one who after begging to my father for money, (it seemed like a sales pitch to me) my dad gave him money. The next day, while my dad went in to get food, he waited outside for my dad, eyeing him. He singled my dad out, and this made me upset. I knew there was something wrong with him, so I went to him, and asked him whats up. He immediately turned to me for money, so I asked him why he doesn’t look for halal means of getting money, as begging is considered disliked to haram. I was really upfront with him and he told me he couldn’t get help, because he is staying in Madinah illegally. I told him that this was wrong, and he quickly walked away from me. It wasn’t long when we were at the groceries, at Bin Dawood, when another Beggar came, took off his sleeve and revealed a bloody arm, ( so much gore) and you can see his bones. He was shoving his arm in our face, I felt like throwing-up, my dad gave in, gave him money and he left. Really? How could beggars with such a problem just come in a grocery store where you’re buying food and show their meatless, bloody arm like that? It definitely seemed like a fake to me, and all of these beggars were speaking urdu. My behaviour towards certain beggars was probably rude, and I’ve learnt to fix that, as I encouraged my dad not to pay any attention to them, he would tell me, “you never know who really does need help. They probably don’t even know if what they’re doing is right or wrong.” And he was right.

This eventually lead me to another discovery. Parents. Later on, as I will reveal, the biggest thing I took from my Hajj experience was that I needed to be there for my parents. I’ll admit, serving your parents dutifully is a difficult task. But I couldn’t help but say that I became closer to both of them during this time. It was war between me and my mom to sleep on the floor, and I would for the most part loose. My dad, who I vowed to never “leave him alone” always got me worried as he never realized at times where he was going (there was a lot of walking) and later on would reveal certain things about himself that shook me. If there was one thing I knew, it was how amazing my parents were to me. They never needed to bring their children to Hajj with them, but they did, and I needed to be grateful to Allah(swt) and them for it. 

During this time, I had brought a book about Umar (R) and I began to read the book and by the time I finished it before Hajj, I started to develop an attachment to Umar (R), and I realized he was a man I wanted to be like, a man that excelled in the Dunya, but was not absorbed by it at all to the extent where all he ever cared about was his religion. Certain stories in that book ring to mind, like when he fed a family in the night by making the food himself, weeping, at how he could’ve let the family go hungry, while the mother had been upset at Umar. Another story was when they conquered foreign lands, and Umar (R) received sweets and before he ate them, he sent a letter back to the governor of the land, who he had appointed and he asked if everyone in the land had access to such food. When he go the reply as negative, Umar(R) got upset saying something to the extent of (paraphrasing): How can you eat what your nation cannot? Eat only what everyone in the nation can eat! (Everyone should eat only what everyone can eat) Subhan’Allah, I was being educated on how a leader should be. He was so just in the manner in which he lead his nation. There were other incidents, such as when a companion had told him to dress better when they were about to meet a high figure from a different land (sorry my memory isn’t serving me right now) and said: “We were the most humiliated people on earth and Allah gave us honour through Islam. If we ever seek honour through anything else, Allah will humiliate us again.” Even when he entered Jerusalem for the first time, I can go on, and the way he innovated the social structures, and the Hadiths regarding Umar(r) during the Prophet(s)’s time. I fell in love with his legacy, May Allah(swt) be pleased wit him. He became a role model to me. He seemed hard from the outside but was so soft from the inside. Makes me upset when the term harshness is associated with him.

I had also begin talking more with the Shaykh of our group, and he wanted me to go on and do Hifz and if not, still go straight to an Islamic University the next year overseas (particularly to London). This is something else that Madinah did to me, I began thinking about my future. And I started to think, maybe he was right, I was lost to be honest, wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life. I didn’t want to waste my time on useless things, but I didn’t quite understand what sort of education could I possibly receive at  a secular university besides english, I never grasped the point of education outside of Islam. It was after Hajj where certain things started clicking for me, Alhumdullilah. And so I still had a couple of doubts about Islam. While my faith was strong, I still had questions. I didn’t fully comprehend the reality of Hellfire. This question was answered when I left the Prophet(s)’ Mosque one day and I saw a scene, that I never thought I would’ve seen. I won’t mention it, but it really left me dumbfounded and angry. I went straight to the Shaykh and I let him know what I saw, he tried giving another reason for the event. He was the only one I told what I saw, but for me at that moment it was too much to mention. However after reflecting on the incident and my own reaction, I knew that question was answered.

There was this one other incident that I noticed particularly. While sitting in the Prophet’s (saw) mosque, I noticed there were scholars giving halaqas after Fajr in either arabic or urdu. One of the urdu talks started to shed light on a matter that after I would return to Toronto would occupy my mind for a couple of months. It was the matter of fiqh, and I suppose aqeedah debates. This urdu scholar bashed the other schools of thought and I was disappointed in what I was hearing. What the scholar was saying would not in anyway benefit muslims in general with all due respect to him. I just had hoped that my father didn’t listen to him somewhere in the Masjid, and from the what my father talked to me afterwards or since then I’m pretty sure he didn’t, Alhumdullilah. 

While everything I mentioned so far started to help me spiritually;  spending more time in the masjid reading Quran and praying all added an extra dimension, but there was still more. I never mentioned how much I was excited to be praying behind big name Shaykhs. Seriously, although I was unfortunate to not pray behind Sh. Sudias, I was able to pray behind Sh. Mahir, Sh. Shuraim and others in Makkah. In Madinah, Fajr was led by Sh. Hudhaify ,and Maghrib was lead by Sh. Budair. Now Sh. Budair’s recitation in Maghrib was some of the most heart warming and trembling recitation I listened to. I was always sad at how short it was. I wanted him to lead Fajr. My friend who had gone months before me, told me he would lead Fajr when he was there and I assumed that the Shayukh switch Salah roles every week. I couldn’t wait for him to lead Fajr, so much so, that I would make Dua constantly for him to lead Fajr. There was even one instance where my thoughts were answered during his recitation, I don’t remember the passage and my thoughts, but I understood some words. I believe it had to do more with forgiving my sins. But it always feels comforting when your thoughts are answered through recitation. However I was getting worried, because every dua I was making in Madinah was coming true. I don’t even remember half the Duas I made in Madinah (I remember the ones after Madinah, during Hajj and after). I didn’t want the record of every dua being answered to be ruined because of this one dua. The second or third last day before we left Madinah, as I started praying, I was hoping Sh.Budair would lead the salah, and to my disappointment he didn’t, it was another week, but it wasn’t him. The second last fajr, my ears were clear, and as the the Shaykh started to recite, I couldn’t help but feel terrible. My dua wasn’t answered and I strongly felt that it wasn’t going to happen. The next day, the last fajr which was also the last Salah I would pray in madinah, as we were to leave right after that salah. I never really cared much about who was leading, because I was convinced Sh.Budair wasn’t going to lead. Finally, as I got my way to the masjid and joined the lines, contemplating about my last moments in this great masjid, Fajr started. The voice seemed different, but I was convinced, it was not Sh.Budair. It started with Surah Fatiha, and I was blown away. It was Sh.Budai, finally leading Fajr. Subhan’Allah. The beauty in his voice, Masha’Allah, the final Salah in Madinah lead by the man I always wanted to pray behind for Fajr. This was the power of Dua and I was going to see more of it. Goes to show, never loose faith in your Duas, have patience even when all seems lost.  It was fitting, and with that all my Duas in Madinah came true and I had a bus to catch. We were going to begin Hajj. And as I put on that Ihram for the second time, I became very uncomfortable. But I had no time too, there was a lot waiting a head for me and my family. 

It was time to bring on the Ihram…

Hajj 2012 Series Part 3: Madina (Part 1)

“Madina, Madina…” Yah, I think that’s how it went, the rhyme that was playing in our heads at that time. Honestly, that’s how chill we were, but I was stoked. Before even going to Hajj I was told by several people about how at peace Madinah feels when compared to Makkah. I knew that it was a chance for redemption where in Makkah, I felt lost. Yet, Madinah would be a life changing experience even before the life changing experience of Hajj.

So we got on the bus, taking one last look at our hotel and all the materialism that came with it. I knew it was going to be a good 4 hours long journey. The travel to Madinah itself was something else. The camels on the way seemed something from a dream, only because I’ve never really saw camels grazing around. But there was something else that took me by complete surprise. The Washroom Stops.

Subhan’Allah, so I don’t know how to describe this, but people have different reactions. So to make it simple, most of us had to use the washroom and the washrooms themselves weren’t ready to be used, but they had too. So essentially a washroom stall would look as if no one had washed it in months, with human feces in the corners, not to mention the excess dirt and mud that probably made it seem as if there was even more human feces or probably there wasn’t any, but the smell was awful. That wasn’t the worst of our problems though, despite the fact that there were thousands, if not millions of flies flying around in the washrooms, making it unbearable; there was hardly any water. We had to take turns waiting and filling empty bottles with water. The best part came after using the washrooms when we had to make wudhu. There were only a few taps working, and there was hardly any water  flowing through the taps. We had like 5 guys make wudhu at once off of these taps, 5 guys one tap. This was one of the first times I saw people desperate for water, and making wudhu smartly without wasting the excessive water we would normally waste. There were two types of reaction to this.

1.)   My dad was smiling like he’d normally do, telling me ‘we have no choice’, and then told me that people around the world have to LIVE like this. And this is what I accepted, sometimes we need to adopt a lifestyle of those that aren’t as fortunate as ourselves, but coming off of a 5 star hotel this was shocking… or refreshing to say the least? But whatever it is, we cannot be comfortable in our warm, clean environments lives. We need to get our hands dirty and leave our comfort zones, and its not just the comfort zone in our social lives rather I’m talking about our experiences in radically different environments. How do we react in these circumstances? With patience? Would we reflect and have gratitude towards Allah for blessing us with what we have? There was another reaction.

2.)   “Man, I’m Canadian. I can’t do this.” Essentially one of our group members, I can clearly recall was frustrated as with others. They were joking around but disgusted and were not able to contend with what was going on as easily as other members were. He was telling me how the flies carry the human feces that were lying around in the stalls and how when they land on you (with that many flies, there were a constant number of flies always landing on you) they leave remnants on you. What he was trying to say was something that professed his ego, and I’m only giving him as an example but there were many others like him, who basically said without being explicit: “I’m Canadian and I’m better to be treated like this”. I won’t lie this mentality was getting in my head and only after completing Hajj did I truly understand that this was all part of the Hajj experience. I was wondering why the government could not spend money on these stops, they definitely have the money. Even so, this is what Allah wanted us to go through, so we can taste a bit of everyone’s lives. But one thing was for sure; I did not drink anything again until we reached Madina.

The stops weren’t all that bad, given that I was able to see some amazing scenery. The mountains in the moonlight with thunder giving occasional sparks of light, was stunning. Yet, we arrived in Madina to the surprise of many. I say that because the surprise wasn’t that we arrived at Madina but rather where we arrived in Madina. As we quickly found out, our package while having a 5 star hotel in Makkah, had quite the opposite of 5 stars in Madinah. Our hotel wasn’t located in the more heavily invested area of Madinah. The walk to the Masjid’Al Nabi was 10 minutes which is a lot less to the minute walk from the clock tower. The area gave a vibe of India. Which saw people attempting to steal from us (my dad was once cut with a knife in a silent attempt to steal his pouch). When arriving I figured that from out of all the luggage bags, my bag has to be cut open (someone tried stealing from it). But Alhumdullilah nothing was taken. However we quickly realized the situation wasn’t a pleasant one on paper. Each room can accommodate 2 people, 3 max (if you want no room to walk). However given that we were staying in Madinah for 9 days my mom wanted us to stay together (as they had to share room with other members). The result? The five of us in one room with our luggage. Well, Subhan’Allah this was a drastic change, and honestly we couldn’t picture how we would be staying for 9 days and I believe 10 nights here. We knew we had to manage. It also became clear that we wouldn’t be eating in any fancy dining hall, rather we were given money from our group and were told to buy our own food for breakfast and dinner. The reason being that the group wouldn’t like the food that would have been provided. And so fast-food it was for the next 9 days.

Things were already radically different and honestly I can’t tell you if I actually liked it at first. After arriving to the hotel we left to the Prophet’s Mosque. By this point we did make friends with some other group members, two of them a couple in particular. They had been to Hajj several times before and came with us to the Prophet’s mosque. We went prayed Isha, and then commenced to pray in Riyadhul Jannah. The weird part was that I had no clue I was praying in Riyadhul Jannah, I was wondering why so many people were crowded in that area, and weird enough I was able to pray there with relative ease as compared to how hard it usually is. It was only after I prayed did I figure out where I prayed. I was upset though, because with the crowd there, I rushed my prayer and I did not have the concentration I would have if I knew. I probably would have prayed even more. I made a goal in my mind that I would come back often.

I saw no reason to stay in the hotel, it was nothing like Makkah. So I thought perhaps this was the opportunity I needed. I recalled how in Makkah I told myself that I wouldn’t mind coming to Makkah as a vacation, Subhan’Allah, my attitude at that time was really pathetic. Our family quickly identified spots where we would meet up after Salah, and we began to create a daily routine. However this time things were different. The first thing I noticed was the walking, now because a lot of the times my family was sick, me and my dad would have to go and get the food. In fact the first time we went in search for food with my brother, we had no idea where the fast food restaurants were. Instead we went searching for food in our less developed area (if you know what I mean) it took us an hour to find something to eat (I would normally never have been able to stomach that type of food). It took us another 30 minutes to get back to our hotel. And when we arrived we realized we had absolutely no eating utensils. We struggled to eat. I think that was the first time in my life that we had to go through that much just to find something to eat, and we had nothing to eat with. I put the chicken and naan in my left hand as a plate while using my right hand to eat like I’d normally would. After figuring where the fast-food restaurants were, it would be a 20-minute to get to the restaurants and a 20-minute walk back. I wasn’t used to walking prior to travelling but this was definitely setting the stage for Hajj. Eventually my family realized we needed to do grocery shopping and Madina’s famous Bin Dawood helped. We brought a cart (not the grocery ones) to keep our groceries in as the walk was as far as the restaurants. We made sure to get utensils to eat with and ate cereal, junk food and fruits if we weren’t eating something from the fast food restaurants. I also quickly found out that Hardees was the best fast food restaurant. This whole thing though made me reflect over how much we had to go through just to obtain food and how grateful we should be for having food to consume so easily on a daily basis. We should thank Allah each time we eat and really stop complaining over the small minute details over the food we eat. Eat what you have and be grateful. 

I know I’m talking a lot about the material part of things (although in a different sense) I’m forgetting the major aspect of Madina. The tremendous, spiritual, Iman boost I received. There was nothing like Madina and I’m going to reflect over these experiences in my next part.

Hajj 2012 Series Part 1: Coming to Terms with going to Hajj, and Travelling

I wanted to write this months ago, perhaps right after I completed Hajj, yet for whatever reason, I was unable to do so. Now, almost a year since I did Hajj, Alhumdullilah, and Dhul-Hijah starting today, I thought it was the proper time to reflect over one of the greatest blessings of my life. I want this to be detailed as I want to remember every bit, and so it will be written in parts, In Sha Allah.

I remember during Ramadan last year, when my parents would discuss and tell us how they’re both planning on going to Hajj. But knowing my parents, they always had this concept of doing anything new or important with their children. So when they asked me if I wanted to come I knew i may just be blessed enough to go. It was one day though, that we were discussing about going to India with my cousins, when my dad said, “and our family is also taking a flight.” He pulled out the five tickets for Hajj, which surprised everyone. At that moment until I left the plane I did not understand how big of a journey I was about to take. 

I didn’t take Hajj as seriously as I should have. My preparations were not what I wanted it to be. But deep down I knew the importance of this journey, it was a chance to solve my problems, a chance to come back with no sins, and a change to reach a level of iman like never before. It wasn’t just that during Hajj, I was about to be tested in about every single way possible, and Wallahi if you’re not patient during Hajj, you’re not going to have a good journey. The beauty of Hajj is going through situations you can never imagine to be put in, but having the patience to get through it without complaining. You literally get put in almost all circumstances of life. How does it feel without food or a bed? Nothing to clean yourself with, or clean clothes to wear. How to deal with people in such times, you learn life lessons, and new skills. And trust me there were a few shocking moments as well.

It was actually the second time in my life that I was going to be flight travelling. So I was excited, not to mention that I had no school to worry about. During the flight I was able to witness some stunning scenery from above, especially when we were landing on the Jeddah airport, the lights. One thing though that I always knew I would have a problem with was going to be my Ihram. You’re only wearing two pieces of garment, and Ihram, means to an extent, to enter into a state of prohibition. So there’s a lot of things you can’t do or use, by that, you cannot touch any hair on your body, face or scalp in anyway. You cannot cut your nails or wash yourself with anything (you can just stand in midst of a shower if anything), largely because you cannot apply anything with a scent. So it was pretty much a state in which you were meant to feel the natural dirtiness. I had to wear it for a day till I completed Umrah, but I knew I would have to wear it for a week during Hajj, and that got me a bit nervous.

When I was flying, during the first part. Well before taking our flight, I was wondering how praying Salah in the airplane was going to be like, or how difficult it was going to be. I didn’t want to miss a single salah because this was Hajj, and my previous trip to India hadn’t been good, to be honest I was afraid of even trying to get a spot so I can stand up and pray. But Alhumdullilah, the Imam of the group (whom my dad actually knew, when the imam was a child) made it a lot easier as he was able to get spot to pray. It was the first time I prayed on an aircraft, and I guess it makes your faith stronger.

Arriving at Jeddah gave me a glimpse of our Hajj group members, to whom we would get to know a lot better over the next month. The pathway to the busses that would take us to Makkah saw us going through giant tents. That’s when we had to wait in one of these last tents and keep in mind that we were all in the state of Ihram. If we loose our cool in ihram it can potentially nullify our Umrah. And so this is where the first experience began, where a more senior member of our group began to loose his cool. Now subhan’Allah, the innocent me thought that no one could get upset during hajj, as its against the rules of Ihram, but clearly I was wrong. He didn’t like the idea of waiting for our bus (to be honest it was hours of waiting time) and wanted to get right into a bus without much of a care for the entire group. He took matters into his own hands, and due to his persistence we were forced to get on a bus with another group, without our main Imam, this was like half of the group that were put into this bus. Now I didn’t want to be near this man due to his random outbursts, but like you will find out, during my hajj trip, whenever I didn’t want to be near a certain person the opposite would occur. Allah was definitely testing me as I had to sit beside this man throughout the entire ride on the bus all the way to Makkah. It was weird because my dad knew him as a customer, and he came alone to hajj without any family. But I’m not putting him at fault for his outbursts, he was old after all. Besides that, the bus was worn out, old, and filled with people. And guess what? The bus ride lasted 8 hours.

All in all, I think I accepted that Allah(Swt) had blessed and chosen me and my family to go to Hajj, and for that I was very grateful.