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Hajj – 10th Dhul Hajj: Mina and Makkah

November 28, 2009

I woke up to the sounds of people milling about, packing, getting ready to leave for Mina. It’s about 4:30 a.m., and I can’t even remember how much sleep I got… it could not have been more than 3.5 hours. Strangely, as has been the case with many segments of the Hajj, I was astonishingly refreshed considering the lack of sleep.
In yesterday’s post, I forgot to include a short video of people sleeping here, so here it is:

I got up, and headed over to the bathrooms (again, thankfully, for number 1…). I waited, waited, and waited in line, and despite there being only about 10 to 15 people or so ahead of me in line, I was finally able to use the facilities after 45 minutes.
After Fajr prayer with the group, we all left Muzdalifah around 6:30 a.m. As written in a prior post, many of our group members had left the night before; our group bus was also no longer with us. Thus we began our travel by foot to Mina.
Similar to other areas one travels to during the Hajj, there are clear signs demarcating the beginning and end of each location; Muzdalifah ended here:
Hajj088
and Mina started here!
Hajj089
(see the top of the tents?)
We walked, and we walked, and we walked… along with hordes of other people, sliding in between buses and trucks; the air was filled with exhaust fume, we were so glad we brought our masks to wear… Here is Maryam:
Hajj090
and here is me:
Hajj092
Here is a video of our group walking towards Mina:

There are very helpful signs indicating where the tents are:
Hajj091
As we got closer and closer to the Jamarat area, one could see an endless sea of tents:
Hajj093
I think I have a panned video of the tents in a prior post as well.
There were also tents higher up in the mountains:
Hajj094
Some tents even had escalators!!!
Hajj095
After about 1.5 to 2 hours, we finally made it to our tent (which was basically at the OPPOSITE end, closest to Makkah):
Hajj096
There was some breakfast left in the tent, so I ate a little, and we decided to head over to the Jamarat after resting in the tent.
As we walked over to the Jamarat complex (which incidentally looks like a humongous parking deck), I encountered these rays of light (called Crepuscular Rays), also known as “God Rays.” I sung a choral “Aaaaaaah” in my head for dramatic effect 🙂
Hajj097
Here is one section of the Jamarat complex:
Hajj098
Inside, there are escalators to head up to the upper levels; we were able to go to the fourth floor.
Hajj099
As you exit the elevator, you have a walk a short distance to where the pillars are. Here is a photo showing the pillar from near the elevators… still not too close:
Hajj100
The “pillar” is the gray structure traversing the many floor and partially visible above the roof, in the middle of the picture.
Hajj100
We walked towards the Pillars, and luckily it was not crowded at all. Here is a picture of the largest pillar (Jamarat al Aqabah), which is the farthest of the three pillars and the only one to stone today:
Hajj101
Here, I waxed philosophical for a second; was it just coincidence that the 3 pillars have become larger and larger over the years, or is it a reflection of the increased influence of the Shaytan in the world? I remember, back when I was around 10, I had the opportunity to come here with my family for Hajj, and at that time, the Jamarat complex was two stories high and the pillars were actually pillar shaped and much smaller.
In any case, as we got closer and closer to the pillar to stone today, I started becoming more and more excited, more than I would have expected. I got close to the pillar, and threw my stones; I felt an odd sense of child-like excitement and jubilation upon throwing my seven stones.
Here, people throwing the stones:

A great improvement the Saudis have made is to have a one-way design so people start from the same end and finish at the same end. When it gets crowded, it’s still unpleasant, however much better than people going in all directions.
After we stoned the devil, we headed to the exit. We found a local to taxi us to the Haram for 20SR each. The road was very crowded, and it took us about 2 hours to get close to the hotel. We did make it in time for Juma prayers at the Haram; there was still plenty of space on the third floor. Looking down, the Tawaf area was very crowded as expected. After prayers, I and the hordes of Hajjis went looking for a barber to shave our heads. As part of the Hajj, an animal sacrifice was also required before shaving the head; this was arranged by our group, and we had purchased tickets to have the slaughtering performed on our behalf.
I attempted to go to the “Barber Row” adjacent to the Marwa side of the Haram, but there was too much of a crowd outside, that I could not make it there. Maryam and I went back to the hotel, to see if the barbers there would be available, but all the barbers in and near the hotel had very long lines.
While walking around looking for a barber, we saw some people on the side of the street shaving heads; we thought they might be barbers, so approached them. They turned out to be a group of Pakistani friends who had come to perform the Hajj together; the guy shaving actually was a cook! He was very nice, and said if we brought a razor, he would shave my head. We then went to the 2 Riyal store around the corner:
Hajj111
We got the razor, and proceeded with my head shave!
I had feared that, being an amateur, his shaving skills might not be up to par with professional barbers… I had seen people on the street with quite a few cuts on their heads, and these were from real barbers. Some of them looked like they just came out of a WWF match. I suppose the barbers were trying to do things quickly due to the sheer number of heads they needed to shave.
Well luckily, my amateur-barber-friend was quite good, and was able to shave my head really well with essentially no cuts!
In the meantime, Maryam also had her hair cut by a woman nearby.
After I got my hair cut, quite a few people started coming up to my amateur-barber-friend to ask to get their head shaved, but he kept on having to refuse.
Total time it took me to shave my head? 10 minutes! And no waiting in line! I was very happy 🙂
We went back to the hotel, and I took a shower… finally, after 3 days!!! It was so refreshing.
The rest of the day was spend with the usual prayers at the Haram. At 10 p.m., we decided to retire. Although many of our group members went to spend the night in Mina, we stayed in Makkah as we understood that for our school of thought in Islam, it was not required to do so.
I woke up to the sounds of people milling about, packing, getting ready to leave for Mina. It’s about 4:30 a.m., and I can’t even remember how much sleep I got… it could not have been more than 3.5 hours. Strangely, as has been the case with many segments of the Hajj, I was astonishingly refreshed considering the lack of sleep.
In yesterday’s post, I forgot to include a short video of people sleeping here, so here it is:

I got up, and headed over to the bathrooms (again, thankfully, for number 1…). I waited, waited, and waited in line, and despite there being only about 10 to 15 people or so ahead of me in line, I was finally able to use the facilities after 45 minutes.
After Fajr prayer with the group, we all left Muzdalifah around 6:30 a.m. As written in a prior post, many of our group members had left the night before; our group bus was also no longer with us. Thus we began our travel by foot to Mina.
Similar to other areas one travels to during the Hajj, there are clear signs demarcating the beginning and end of each location; Muzdalifah ended here:
Hajj088
and Mina started here!
Hajj089
(see the top of the tents?)
We walked, and we walked, and we walked… along with hordes of other people, sliding in between buses and trucks; the air was filled with exhaust fume, we were so glad we brought our masks to wear… Here is Maryam:
Hajj090
and here is me:
Hajj092
Here is a video of our group walking towards Mina:

There are very helpful signs indicating where the tents are:
Hajj091
As we got closer and closer to the Jamarat area, one could see an endless sea of tents:
Hajj093
I think I have a panned video of the tents in a prior post as well.
There were also tents higher up in the mountains:
Hajj094
Some tents even had escalators!!!
Hajj095
After about 1.5 to 2 hours, we finally made it to our tent (which was basically at the OPPOSITE end, closest to Makkah):
Hajj096
There was some breakfast left in the tent, so I ate a little, and we decided to head over to the Jamarat after resting in the tent.
As we walked over to the Jamarat complex (which incidentally looks like a humongous parking deck), I encountered these rays of light (called Crepuscular Rays), also known as “God Rays.” I sung a choral “Aaaaaaah” in my head for dramatic effect 🙂
Hajj097
Here is one section of the Jamarat complex:
Hajj098
Inside, there are escalators to head up to the upper levels; we were able to go to the fourth floor.
Hajj099
As you exit the elevator, you have a walk a short distance to where the pillars are. Here is a photo showing the pillar from near the elevators… still not too close:
Hajj100
The “pillar” is the gray structure traversing the many floor and partially visible above the roof, in the middle of the picture.
Hajj100
We walked towards the Pillars, and luckily it was not crowded at all. Here is a picture of the largest pillar (Jamarat al Aqabah), which is the farthest of the three pillars and the only one to stone today:
Hajj101
Here, I waxed philosophical for a second; was it just coincidence that the 3 pillars have become larger and larger over the years, or is it a reflection of the increased influence of the Shaytan in the world? I remember, back when I was around 10, I had the opportunity to come here with my family for Hajj, and at that time, the Jamarat complex was two stories high and the pillars were actually pillar shaped and much smaller.
In any case, as we got closer and closer to the pillar to stone today, I started becoming more and more excited, more than I would have expected. I got close to the pillar, and threw my stones; I felt an odd sense of child-like excitement and jubilation upon throwing my seven stones.
Here, people throwing the stones:

A great improvement the Saudis have made is to have a one-way design so people start from the same end and finish at the same end. When it gets crowded, it’s still unpleasant, however much better than people going in all directions.
After we stoned the devil, we headed to the exit. We found a local to taxi us to the Haram for 20SR each. The road was very crowded, and it took us about 2 hours to get close to the hotel. We did make it in time for Juma prayers at the Haram; there was still plenty of space on the third floor. Looking down, the Tawaf area was very crowded as expected. After prayers, I and the hordes of Hajjis went looking for a barber to shave our heads. As part of the Hajj, an animal sacrifice was also required before shaving the head; this was arranged by our group, and we had purchased tickets to have the slaughtering performed on our behalf.
I attempted to go to the “Barber Row” adjacent to the Marwa side of the Haram, but there was too much of a crowd outside, that I could not make it there. Maryam and I went back to the hotel, to see if the barbers there would be available, but all the barbers in and near the hotel had very long lines.
While walking around looking for a barber, we saw some people on the side of the street shaving heads; we thought they might be barbers, so approached them. They turned out to be a group of Pakistani friends who had come to perform the Hajj together; the guy shaving actually was a cook! He was very nice, and said if we brought a razor, he would shave my head. We then went to the 2 Riyal store around the corner:
Hajj111
We got the razor, and proceeded with my head shave!
I had feared that, being an amateur, his shaving skills might not be up to par with professional barbers… I had seen people on the street with quite a few cuts on their heads, and these were from real barbers. Some of them looked like they just came out of a WWF match. I suppose the barbers were trying to do things quickly due to the sheer number of heads they needed to shave.
Well luckily, my amateur-barber-friend was quite good, and was able to shave my head really well with essentially no cuts!
In the meantime, Maryam also had her hair cut by a woman nearby.
After I got my hair cut, quite a few people started coming up to my amateur-barber-friend to ask to get their head shaved, but he kept on having to refuse.
Total time it took me to shave my head? 10 minutes! And no waiting in line! I was very happy 🙂
We went back to the hotel, and I took a shower… finally, after 3 days!!! It was so refreshing.
The rest of the day was spend with the usual prayers at the Haram. At 10 p.m., we decided to retire. Although many of our group members went to spend the night in Mina, we stayed in Makkah as we understood that for our school of thought in Islam, it was not required to do so.

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