The #hajj, as a social phenomena, represents the most accurate sample data of the state of the global Muslim community. During this hajj trip we saw and heard of a number funny incidents, sad incidents or just very strange incidents. I thought I’d share some stories here.
A friend in my hajj group mentioned that he saw a person pull down his pants in the middle of the street, squat, and calmly proceeded to defecate. Then when he'she’d finished. he pulled up his pants and walked away. My friend is still scarred by this incident.
When traveling from my motel to jamarat. I tried to catch one of the scheduled frequent busses that drive up the mountain where I needed to go. Unfortunately there were too many people and not enough buses, out of the 4 times I was going up and down the mountain, 3 times I ended up walking the 40 minute steep Hill incline rather that fight my way through the hundreds of other pilgrims attacking the bus like a scene from World War Z.
It was drilled into us from early on that the journey of hajj was going to be very tough, not just because of the physical, hygienic and weather challenges, but also as pilgrims we were not allowed to argue, to get into trouble or any form of corruption. So as hard as it got, many of us bit our tongues, kept our heads down, and moved on. The best way to deal with being pushed and shoved during the busy rituals, or with being made to wait for 5 to 12 hours in the saudi sun, or any other issue was to view the whole thing from a bird’s eye view, as if you’re watching a documentary. It actually works if you focus hard enough
Another friend had the ultimate chain of challenges happen to him all at once. When he’d arrived to mecca for the first time and was doing his umra tawaf.
During the heat of the day, the great crush of people and the fatigue of travel, he felt a sharp pain in his back, he turned around to find another pilgrim trying to cut (and steal) his money belt. Once their eyes met, the thief apologized and just moved on to try and steal from another pilgrim!
By cutting the belt, the bottom cloth bit (usually worn like a sarong) came untied, so my friend couldn’t move anywhere because he was wearing nothing underneath! So had to to shuffle his way most awkwardly out of the scrum of people.
And of course to complete the trifecta, a bird pooped on his shoulder, so the poor guy had to go back to his hotel, wash (with water only, since he was in ihram he could not use soap) and come back to make tawaf all over again. It was a good day for him all up.
Another interesting phenomenon about the hajj was the number of beggars. Most notably the Kashmiris; Indians claiming to be from Kashmir who go from tent to tent, from hotel to hotel, either asking donations for schools or orphanages, OR just cry on cue and hope for some cash thusly. Everybody knows it’s a sham so nobody (from our group at least) gives them any money.
There are also the African beggars on the streets, from old niqabi ladies to 7 year old boys or girls. They are everywhere, it seems to be a hajj season thing because they don’t seem to appear otherwise.
There were several more similar stories that are funny, sad, disgusting and sometimes plain weird. They point to the clear variance in the levels of education, wealth, and allowed dignity.