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Hajj – 9th Dhul Hajj: Arafat and Muzdalifah

November 27, 2009

4:15 a.m. I woke up more refreshed than I thought I would be, given I slept through the night mostly in 3 hour increments, waking up intermittently from people snoring, talking, praying, and the sounds of people and buses outside the tent.

I went to the bathroom (for #1; hooray for Pepto-Bismol!) and waited in line for about 15 minutes. Apparently some people had to wait for more than 1 hour! Some advice: if you have to go for #2, be prepared. Bring disposable toilet covers, tissue paper, and unscented soap!

Other random advice I just thought I’d add here. In the tent, try to get a place as far away from the entrance as possible to avoid people bumping into to you on the way out. Try to get a flat place if you don’t have a bed or cushions available. Bring a Quran and a book of duas.

Back in the tent, I had a small breakfast of a cheese danish and orange juice. After Fajr, we all got on the bus to leave towards Arafat. I took a quick picture of our tent area:


See the blue tents up on the mountain? Those guys are hard core.

Here is a video of one area of the “Tent City”; I took this later but thought I’d show it here):

We left around 6:15 am or so. There are tons of buses. It’s basically stop and go traffic. On the way, you see people piled up onto the vehicles:


I chuckled when I saw people traveling in a yellow schoolbus with the roof removed:

At 8:00 a.m., we reached the tents of Arafat. Upon entering Arafat, there is a sign – Arafat starts here:


In contrast to the tents in Mina, where one large mega-tent had many smaller section in it, here the tents were side by side but not part of a larger structure. Our tent had a tree right smack dab in the middle of it:


The carpets on the floor were still damp from the recent rain, but we again had the same cushions to sit on as we had in Mina.

We received a snack box with breads, jam, honey, apple, cookies, cheese, milk, and juice:



After eating, I headed up to a nearby hill, close to another hill famous in Arafat called the Jabal ar-Rahmah where the Prophet delivered his Farewell Sermon.

Here is a photo of the Jabal ar-Rahmah, with tons of worshippers on it:


Here is a panned video:

There were some camels on the hill, presumable to aid those that might have a difficult time climbing the mountain:


I made as many duas as I could, until it started getting a little too hot for me. I then went to continue my duas in the tent. On the way down, I saw across the hill, the Dar-el-Salaam tents. I’m assuming they were the VIP tents, cause they had these patio tables outside with umbrellas! I was half expecting a swimming pool there or something too!

Here is a photo of their tents:


See the area to the right of the photo? A closer view:


Back in the tent, I made duas until prayer time. The experience here was quite different from the other aspects of Hajj, as there is no tangible object of focus here, for example the pillars when stoning the devils, or even the Kaaba. Here there was a feeling of a direct connection with the Creator.

After praying, 4 Imams from the Adams travel group gave khutbas in succession. It was very emotional, and a lot of people were crying during the khutbas, including myself. This, combined with the simplicity of Arafat, and being in the state of Ihram, was unbelievably cathartic. No wonder the Prophet said that “Hajj is Arafat.” We were all now pure, cleansed, ready to start with a clean slate.

Afterwards, lunch was served, which was a huge plate of rice with salsa. We all sat around in groups sharing the meal:


There weren’t enough plates to go around in the beginning, and some people were getting upset about this, but eventually everybody was able to eat. I ate just a little bit, then went outside again for duas.

Around 3:30 p.m. the Imams gathered everybody for duas outside, and we prayed for about 2 hours standing. It was all in Arabic, and some people were bawling. I wish I understood…

At 5:30 p.m., we were back on the bus to Muzdalifah, and we departed shortly afterwards.

At 8:00 p.m., after much stop and go traffic, we entered the area of Muzdalifah, where we were to spend the night under the open sky and also collect stones for the Jamarat. What usually apparently takes 40 minutes took us 2 hours. We planned to drive up to the end of Muzdalifah, so that we would be closer to Mina and the trip would be shorter tomorrow when we had to leave. At 10:00 p.m., we arrived at the destination.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many people had the same idea as our group to stay at the edge of Mudzalifah closest to Mina, so this area was extremely crowded. There were people sprawled everywhere. I thought Woodstock must have been like this…

We walked around to look for a decent spot:


Eventually, we found a place not as crowded to lay our blankets. Here is the Imam with some other of the group members sitting and chatting:


We prayed Maghrib and Isha at around midnight. I tried to sit down and rest a little, but soon afterwards, our group started debating whether to stay or leave due to what some thought were unideal conditions for the women. Apparently, the women are excused from staying after midnight, and if they are married, their husbands are allowed to accompany them and thus are also excused. The intricacies of the rules depend on the particular school of thought in Islam that one follows.

Collectively, the group decided that it was better to leave. There really wasn’t much time for discussion unfortunately, as the Saudi officials were moving the buses and trucks away; our own bus was already quite far from where it had parked. Some of the group members started walking, and we had to make our own decision…. We decided to stay.

We felt a little abandoned, as now we essentially had to walk to Mina tomorrow morning instead of taking the bus…

I searched for pea sized stones and collected them into a ziploc bag, making sure I had well in excess of the number needed for the Jamarat for the next few days.

And then I went to sleep under the open skies.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2010 2:05 am

    "The intricacies of the rules depend on the particular school of Islam that one follows."It is "school of thought in Islam", not different schools of Islam which implies different kinds of Islam.There is only one kind of Islam and different opinions on certain matters.

  2. February 17, 2010 4:21 am

    Ah yes, thanks for the correction! I did feel something was not right when I wrote that, but was working kinda fast so I didn't give it as much thought as I should have.

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