“Here’s a not-so hypothetical question!” I looked at my brother Mohamed with one eye brow up. “You know, hundreds of pilgrims die cramped in the humongous crowd of Mena during the stoning ritual. If your wife and I fall, who will you save?”
“I guess that’s why God gave me two strong arms! So I can lift you both up at the same time!” He replied.
“Well played Mohamed….”
Other than understanding why women need a mahram (husband or close male relative forbidden in marriage), evidently for situations like this one, I have learnt so much about the wisdom and blessings behind Hajj and umrah this year. and one of them is that it brings people closer. Up to five or six people a room, you spend day and night together and so a special bond is created that nothing and no one can break.
Ask anyone about their Hajj companions and they’ll smile from ear to ear for half an hour first before replying!
I’m staying with my brother and sister-in-law, and at the airport, I was delighted to meet a few of my dear cousins too. We left our kids, families and loved ones behind… And in this beautiful place, after Allah, we have no one but each other…
So this is basically how the day goes: We prayMaghrib (sunset prayer) at the mosque and read Quran till `Ishaa’ (night prayer) then go back to hotel for dinner. We usually return to the Holy mosque again for some peaceful remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and come home exhausted, shower and sleep for two to three hours.
We open our eyes with the sound of a VERY insistent alarm clock, all sleepy and groggy we debate and negotiate for a good twenty minutes on who should get up first to make wudu’ and give the other two a chance to sleep five minutes longer. We then head off to pray Fajr (early morning prayer) and stay in Haram till sunrise to pray Duha (approximately twenty minutes after sunrise) and go back to hotel for breakfast. This is when we sleep for another three to four hours and then go to the Holy mosque to pray Zuhr (noon prayer) then `Asr (afternoon prayer).
People are more connected with their inner beings here. They really and truly want to do everything right. The women at the mosque are very friendly and kind hearted. While most of my loved ones have figured out how much of a cry baby I am by now, strangers still haven’t. So random women come up to me while I’m making du’a, offer me a tissue and ask if it’s okay. I think I cried on half of the female Hajji population’s shoulders this year! There’s a unity of Islam during these days… The kind of unity that can make us the most powerful and respected ummah in the universe….
Anyways, now that my crying secret is out. Let me prepare you for the scary part of the journey, the stoning of Satan, where millions of pebbles (and sometimes flip flops!).fly right over your head. Even though it still happens on the 10th of Dhul Hajjah, I thought we should talk about it now, you know, just in case someone misses the pillars and stones me! If that happens, know that I’ll miss you all and that my will is in the second drawer of my night stand. Please tell my kids that I love them and that it was me who ate all the chocolates that day when I pretended they had gone missing!
Okay back to the “stoning of the devil” ritual. Pilgrims throw pebbles at the three stone pillars in Mina representing Satan . Most of us know the story behind it, right? When Allah ordered Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail, and on their way to carry out the unbearable task, Satan appeared three times in the same locations of today’s three pillars. Prophet Abraham stoned Satan when he tried to convince him not to kill his own son! Until the third time, Satan is knocked down like a silly idiot!
But did we ever think of the wisdom behind the story? I mean, we say it so casually!
Can I ask you something? Do you have a son or a daughter? One you’ve waited years for, and watched grow into an amazing, obedient loving boy or girl ? Do you have a beloved nephew or niece who bring so much joy to your heart? A dear child whose laughter is the only sound that keeps you going?
Would you be able to sharpen a knife and put it to your child’s throat? Would you be able to look in his or her eyes, knowing it would be the last time?
The last time to kiss them and hold them and breathe in their scent…?
And even more so, would you stone and curse the person who tries to stop you saying “Wait! How can you not have mercy on your own child? You must be hallucinating! God would never order you to end the life of an innocent pure boy!”
If God ordains it, would you really kill your own flesh and blood, your mom or dad or offspring and then live with the grave memory forever?
I’ll give you a minute to think about it…. But I want you to be honest with yourself…
Because this is what “Ram’y Al Jammarat”(stoning) is all about… Sacrifice…
It’s about understanding the reason behind your existence … Submitting to the will of God no matter what it is… The mission is total submission… “Islam”
God won’t ask you to slaughter your own child to test your faith. But he might take something away from you. A loved one… Money… Health… A safe home…
We all have something missing or will face a great loss one way or another… And then the devil will come to counteract…
You might be poor, and Satan will come in the form of unlawful wealth…
You might be single, and Satan will come in the form of passion and love out of wedlock…
You might be lonely or insecure, and Satan will come in the form of devious friends who love to drink and smoke up
You might be needing something and Satan will intercede to offer it in a beautiful wrapped up. Unless you close the door in his face and swallow the key, temptation WILL overcome submission…
Prophet Abraham was willing to give up what he loved the most for the sake of Allah… He was willing to sacrifice his Ismail…
If you had to… And if the One who holds your life in His hands wills it, would you give up your desires, dreams, wealth, pleasures or loved ones…?
Would you sacrifice your Ismail…?
Your Hajj Representative
Lilly S. Mohsen
First published in September 2015.