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Hajj – 5th Dhul Hajj: Medinah to Makkah (or not)

November 23, 2009

4:00 a.m. Woke up to pray at the Masjid al Nabawi. Took some photos of the dawn in bewteen prayers. The purple sky was so beautiful this morning:

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After Fajr, we went to the Janntul Baqi (“Garden of Heaven”) cemetary, which is just next to the Masjid al Nabawi complex. Many of the Prophet’s relatives and companions are buried here. It seemed to be quite large, but we stayed near the entrance, prayed for the dead, and headed back out. Here is a photo of on of the ends of the Jannatul Baqi, with the Masjid al Nabawi behind it:

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The Masjid al Nabawi looked incredible bathed in soft purple light:

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We walked through the Masjid, back to the hotel, as the sky became lighter:

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After breakfast at the hotel, I took a 2 hour nap until 10:00 a.m., when the Imam was going to have a meeting/lecture on the rites of Hajj to make sure everybody was on the same page. The meeting took place on the 14th floor of the hotel, I didn’t realize what a beautiful view of the Masjid there was from here!

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The plan was to leave tonight for Makkah, after Maghrib!

Spent the rest of the afternoon going back and forth between the hotel and Masjid al Nabawi for prayers. I attempted to go to the Rawdah again, and succeeded; this time I made my way to the Pillar of Aisha, which is of special importance (a great short reference on the Rawdah and some of its important points here).

After Asr, we packed, and I got ready for the Ihram. One first cleanses the body, then puts on two simple white, seamless cloths. One however is not fully in the “state” of Ihram until an intention is recited; we were going to do this latter part as a group.

Putting on the Ihram is tricky business in itself! The important point is to make sure the bottom garment is loose enough so you can walk, but not too loose (for reasons of modesty. One way to do it is to wrap the cloth around and around the waist. The advantage of this is that things that need to be hidden are well hidden. The disadvantage is that it can get difficult to walk unless you really wrap it loosely. One can use a belt, which comes in very handy. The second way to do it is to wrap it saree style, where you wrap it once around and then go back and forth in the front. The advantage here is that it is much easier to walk, but the disadvantage is, as I observed later, you are at MUCH higher risk of exposing yourself!

I decided to go the multi-wrap route. You have to spread your legs REALLY REALLY wide, like a sumo wrestler in preparation, while wrapping the Ihram. It’s better to keep it slightly loose even at the waist, because when you fold this part over the belt, it will tighten.

I had to redo it a few times to get the correct “tightness,” but eventually when I figured it out, I had a relatively easy time walking and had no issues with feeling secure.

Here I am in the Ihram:

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It’s very comfortable, and one does feel quite pure when in the Ihram. The purity of a newborn baby, also always wrapped in a simple cloth. And in the other end of the spectrum, it is the same simple cloth wrapped around the deceased.

There were some issues with our deoparture to Makkah (passports not cleared? buses not available? nobody was sure…) so I ended up praying Isha at the masjid after dinner – our last prayer here. I made a duah that we would have the opportunity to come back here again.

We waited.

And we waited.

And we waited.

But no sign of us going to leave. I tried to rest a little, but I couldn’t sleep, thinking they could call us at Any Time.

Turned out, we would not be going to Makkah tonight…

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