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8. ARREST AND MORE REST


After a few days in Makkah, all my room mates and most of the original Hajj group became ill. Some of us got the cold and before long it had spread to the whole group. I bought a small stove and pans so that I could make lemon drinks and tea for the group. After a short while, I was making hot drinks for everyone which helped to improve their condition. This became my duty for the next few days until Hajj.

It was a beautiful afternoon in Makkah with a calm tranquil breeze blowing through the warm air. It was close to the days of Hajj and some of my colleagues - Sister Azrah and Brother Bashir from Stirling - asked me to join them in a fruit picnic outside Al Haram. The day was beautiful and there was plenty of time until prayers so I agreed. We thought we could sit and talk for a while, share a few thoughts about Islam and our experiences in Hajj so far.

As we sat down and spoke, the topic fell back to my expedition to find my parents. As I explained to them about my trip, they suggested I should try and contact them by phone or at least contact someone close to them. This way I could send a message to them to get in contact with me or at least look out for me.

At the time it seemed like a great Idea. I knew one of my dad's close friends who maintained a good contact with my parents. As we sat outside al-Haram, I typed out a quick text message in Turkish to my uncle. When I finished, I passed the phone to a small group sitting next to us who were from Turkey. I asked them to check it over since my written Turkish wasn't the best. One of the sisters in the group quickly obliged and nodded, approving the message and I pressed send.

Suddenly a policeman appeared who had been watching us. We were chatting and eating at the time and I assumed he wanted to join us or maybe wanted some fruit. I offered him some fruit which he politely refused using a few gestures. He then pointed to the phone and I wondered what he was on about. He took the phone off me and started inspecting it.

He then made another gesture towards me, indicating he wanted me to follow him. At this point, Bashir was in fits of laughter and unable to control himself. I looked around trying to read everyone's faces which had either an expressions of horror or laughter. Was I supposed to follow this policeman or was this all a bit of a carry on?

The policeman again indicated towards me to follow him and then made a gesture that he was going to handcuff me. I thought to myself surely I have done nothing wrong so what does he want with me? He was very polite and too gentle manner to be a policeman. Putting my cards on the table, he must have been a young sixteen, at a push, more like the age of my son. Did he really want me to follow him or was he just having a laught? Was he really arresting me? Did he want me to follow him to the police station? or was this some sort of misunderstanding?

I thought it was better to follow him; I didn't want to make things any worse - even though I didn't know what was happening or how serious things were. I was wondering what has upsetting the policeman; did I break some law or something? I was very perplexed and was actually a little paranoid.

I left behind my small group of friends who had stopped eating the fruit and were watching the situation develop. They too must have been confused about what was happening and were sitting with their jaws dropped. Well, everyone was except Bashir who was still laughing uncontrollably.

I followed the policeman past al-Haram to the opposite side. As the journey progressed, I was getting really worried, even though I knew I had done nothing wrong. I felt that Allah was testing me and I was walking into this unknown situation - not knowing what to expect at the end of this trip. Would the police be notorious like in some countries or polite and gentle mannered like this young man had been so far.

We arrived at the police station and I was taken to someone who must have been in authority, maybe a sergeant. The Police station was more of a porta-cabin that seemed to only be use at the time of Hajj. The sergeant was much older… probably in the mid thirties. He had an air of authority when he spoke with everyone in the room going quiet. From his body language and gestures he seemed much more aggressive which made me cringe.

After being given a short lecture in Arabic I was accompanied out of the police station by the same policeman. The gist of the lecture was, from my interpretation of it, that cameras are banned in Makkah and by extension so are the camera phones. I was told to take my camera phone, which had been de-assembled and was in a bag, and to keep it in my hotel room. The officer then tapped the skin next to his eye and then pointed at me. I think he meant that he would be keeping an eye on me and next time he wasn't letting me off so lightly.


We have to respect the law of Arabia, which is the land of the Prophet (pbuh). We should avoid taking camera phones and anything else which is contrary to their system. Camera phones are a part of everyday life at home and every new phone that gets sold usually has a camera built into it. What we take as being normal and acceptable may not be accepted in other countries where laws may be stricter.


In Arabia, the laws are stricter but at the same time promote the privacy of the individual that we must respect. Even the holy sites are protected from it. This is not like Disney land where people go and please their desires but has a deeper and a spiritual dimension to it. It is not a holiday resort but a place of worship and prayer!

It was a bit of a shock to the system because we live in such an open and liberal society in Scotland. However, it exposed my naivety and ignorance but as a Hajji and Muslim I should have known better. Some people smuggle cameras in and are crafty but in my case I had just overlooked things.

The prophet (pbuh) said that there would be different groups of people coming to Hajj. The rich will come there for holiday; the middle class were coming there for shopping and the poor would be coming for begging. During my stay, in Makkah I met with all these groups of people!

Hajj isn't a place where we should go for a Holiday. If you want to go on holiday go to Turkey or Egypt but don't come here. We shouldn't forget who we are or why we are coming here. Our minds should be clear and focused on the task at hand. By all means do your shopping and look around Makkah and indeed around Saudi but that shouldn't be the reason you are here.

We are all human beings and tend to have a lot of things to do, many goals to achieve in a single trip. When we go to Hajj we should be single-minded and completely focused on Hajj and only Hajj. There is usually time for shopping and sightseeing, if one so desires. Its also good to take gifts back to the people you have left behind. Whether its Zamzam, dates, prayer mats, athar… they are always appreciated by the people who receive them. It also contributes to the local economy of Arabia, which is surely a good thing but never get so absorbed in all these things that we forget the real goal of the trip.

The next few days were the lead up to the Hajj and our whole group was stressed out. They were all suffering from colds or some other ailments. I think it's a combination of different factors that contributed to this state.

Many people want to seize the opportunity and want to do too much when they get to Makkah. The fact that we have come from a not so sunny Scotland to the desert life of Arabia, it has an effect on the body. Allah has made the body so that it can adapt to the changing conditions but we must give our bodies time to adjust. Another factor was that we were all packed in the hotel rooms so that any colds and flues spread very quickly. Thirdly, illness is a means of purification, how many of our sins are forgiven when we are in this state of ill health.

I continually make everyone tea and hot lemon drinks. I use this remedy in Turkey and it worked for me. We would then muster our energies and travel to the mosque to perform our prayers before we returned to our beds. In our rooms, we would recover and read the Quran. We tried to build up our energies as much as possible before the days of Hajj. When Hajj starts, there is little time to relax and recover.

Brother Hassan had so much love for the Kabbah that he would spend a lot of time there not allowing enough time to recover. When the days of Hajj became very close, he became very ill and was unable to shake off the cold. This was also a test from Allah. As it so happened he became so ill, he had to be helped to the bus during the days of Hajj.

The Saudi authorities provide an excellent bus service to make it easier for the Hajjis to travel. This helped many people, especially the old, weak and ill who would otherwise not be able to complete their Hajj. Sometimes, people had families with them and this made it a lot easier for them to travel to the different areas. However, many people avoided using the transport and complete the Hajj by foot.

In our group, there was a mixture of people from different backgrounds. Some with families, some fit and able whilst others old and tired. Some wanted to perform the Hajj completely by foot whilst others were prepared to rely on the services provided by the authorities. In this mixed group, I was fully behind brother Abdur Raqeeb who had the intention of completing the Hajj by foot. The only problem was that this was his first time and he was as familiar to this territory as I was!

Tomorrow would be the big day, the first day of Hajj. We were all focused and ready to complete the Hajj. Many of us were performing the Hajj for the first time and were daunted as well as excited at the same time. There was a rush of adrenalin as we recalled all the steps we had to complete during the Hajj. There was a lot to remember and some of it I hadn't fully grasp. However, I was confident that during Hajj things would naturally fall into place.

I slept a light sleep that night where my fears and aspirations played their parts in my dreams. With the early rising the next morning, I would take my first steps of the Hajj - the pilgrimage to Makkah.

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