THE DAY OF ARAFAT
May 20, 1994 (Friday) (9th Zul-Hijjah):
We got up for Tahajjud after sleeping about two hours or less.
Close to Fajr time I felt some grumbling in my stomach and some pain. I hurried to the restroom. There were already so many people waiting. I needed water but had to wait.
Eventually I got the water and went inside a "latrine." It was made of steel plates with a hole dug on the floor.The door did not have a lock and there were both male and female Hajis outside. I held the door with one hand until I needed to use the water. Luckily there was no incident.
When I went back after Wudu to pray Fajr, the group had already finished Fajr. I did Fajr alone. We were ready to go to Arafat.
Our bus was number 3, parked about a kilometer away. We walked amongst cars, buses and so many people who were all trying to do the same thing. It was easy to get lost in such a crowd.
We all had to struggle to stay together. All the buses and people looked the same. There was no "address" to go to catch the bus. You had to follow the guide. We reached the bus, got on and left for a five kilometer trip to Arafat. As before, it was an exodus of over two million people and what a traffic jam!
I heard of two reports of a couple of persons falling off the overcrowded bus-tops and getting crushed to death.
The trip took us about two hours. Our driver Muneer who was from my home town Multan [in Pakistan] drove very aggressively. I don't think you can do otherwise. Doing otherwise would simply mean that you stand there for others to finish the Hajj season.
If there is a situation that calls for your help, do what you can. But while we must be considerate of others and take care of everyone and be courteous, there is a limit. If it is your turn to go, don't say or gesture others to go first. Take your turn.
We were at Arafat [at] around 7:00 a.m. in Ismael Farooque's tents. Al-Namirah Masjid was nearby.
Arafat is a vast plain about 15 km outside Makkah. Halting and standing in Arafat is the foremost Hajj rite. The Prophet is reported to have said: "Hajj is halting in Arafat." (Tirmidhi)
Stressing the importance and excellence of halting in Arafat, the Holy Prophet has said:
"There is no other day on which Allah relieves more people from Hellfire that He does on the Day of Arafat; on this day Allah draws nearest to the people and taking pride in His righteous servants, asks the angels: 'Do you see what they desire?' (Muslim)
Today is Friday on the day of Arafat. The Prophet also had his Hajj on Friday. A Hajj on Friday is commonly known as Hajj-e-Akbar.
These tents did not have any fans or coolers and were open from all sides. It will be a real test to bear the desert heat.
At nightfall we will go to Muzdalifa and spend the night there. There may not be any sleep till tomorrow afternoon until we go to the Makkah residence.
I read Sura Kahf (Quran 18: 1-110) and slept for half an hour till 8:30 a.m. It was really hot and hard to do anything. We prayed Zuhr (Juma) and Asr together with a Khutba by the Imam of the adjacent tent.
One person who dared to go to the Namirah Masjid was in very bad shape on his return. Water and ice were being poured on his body and his head. He was given fluids to drink. His body color was green but Alhamdulillah he eventually recovered.
My diarrhea gave me problems. I took Imodium. I should not have eaten yogurt and rice. Bathrooms were terrible.
I stopped eating at all and skipped lunch and dinner. I just looked at others, how they were munching curry and rice in such heat.
Time passed very slowly.
[At] around 4:15 p.m., the other tent's Imam gave an hour-long Dua repeating the same Duas over and over again. Our Maulana gave a lecture also around 5:30. He talked about the significance of Hajj, the remaining events, the real purpose behind Hajj rituals. He talked about [the importance of being] caring of each other.
We did Zikr till 6:45 or so, in part standing. Then we lined up to leave for Muzdalifa. Imam made a final Dua, we got into the bus and waited for sunset.
I saw so many old people outside tents and perhaps without transportation. Muneer was able to maneuver his bus out of the camp and joined the hectic traffic jam. The scene is hard to describe. We reached Muzdalifa eventually.
THE NIGHT AT MUZDALIFA
I did not know that we were to spend the night in the open air. No tents and no bathrooms!
Muzdalifa is a valley surrounded by rocky hills.I saw some people up in the mountains, perhaps trying to find a nice spot to spend the night.
There was a central facility and a Masjid but they were too far. It was easy to get lost. There were no streets or landmarks except buses parked everywhere in all manners.
We stopped next to a water truck. The local brothers obtained a large supply of water in plastic bags. Our staff had brought some rugs to sit and lie down [on]. We all had to make room for everyone on the rugs. The space was very tight.
We prayed Maghrib and Isha combined. Khalid was kind enough to give me his extra Ihram to put underneath. The ground was rocky and uneven and the Ihram really helped. With [the] prayer rug under my head and people lying close to me on either side, I tried to relax.
Finally [at] around 1:00 a.m., I slept, only to be awakened by enthusiastic elderly people, eager to pray Tahajjud [at] around 2:00 a.m.
Lights at Muzdalifa reminded me of football stadium lights on tall poles.