May 27, 1994:
Now that it is all over and I am up in the sky five hours to JFK, it all looks like a dream, perhaps a series of dreams and some nightmares.
The stay at the Jeddah airport was a nightmare. Never before had I been to an airport twelve hours prior to departure. Never before had I lain on a bare, cemented floor to rest or sleep.
We went through passport and airline inspections taking up about five hours. Then we waited.
When the time came, it was chaos at the boarding area. The passengers for a later flight also came and got mixed with passengers from our flight. Then we all tried to go inside the boarding area with all of our luggage. There was no one to help with the luggage.
Patience became a scarce resource. Tempers rose. The conflict mounted between those who desired a queue and tried to form one, those who believed in forming a queue but felt they would miss the flight, and those who lacked the concept of a queue. If I were traveling by myself, I would not have made it to the plane.
Our passports were with the airline officials and were returned to us inside the boarding area. At the last boarding gate, the Saudis were giving out free copies of the Quran.
Finally we made it to the bus which took us to the plane. The planes at Jeddah and Amman were delayed, but nothing appeared to be frustrating anymore. We were all happy, giving salutations to each other, congratulating everyone on the completion of Hajj. Hajj Mubarak! May Allah Ta'ala accept it.
When I reached New York, I spent the night with a friend. On May 28, I was back home and was welcomed by my family and friends.
My feet remained sore for several weeks. I lost my voice for over a month due to sore throat and cold. I had a strange cough for a month or more. I never had such a cough before.
The dream ended and became a reality. The Hajj is done with the Grace of Allah Ta'ala. Now the entire journey appears a dream. The day will come, insha'Allah, when I go back and visit Kaba and the Prophet's Masjid, again. Who knows, maybe soon, insha'Allah.
SAUDI ARABIA AND AMERICA-THE CONTRAST
The Muslim culture and way of living was not something new to me. I grew up in a Muslim country. Now I had a chance to visit the center of Islam, its people, the climate, and the country.
I have also lived long enough in the United States to know its people, the land, the culture, and its sociopolitical and economic system.
Both countries enjoy a wealth of resources. While America is known as the land of opportunities, Saudia is the [one of the] richest [countries] in the world. The two enjoy friendly relations. The Saudis have served the American government and its people well. A large number of Americans work in Saudi Arabia in high-tech jobs with generous salaries.
The United States is also viewed as the champion of freedom and democracy. It is the land of the free. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is a kingdom [where most citizens have] restricted political rights.
On the remaining aspects of life, it is very interesting to know (nothing new for me) that while Saudi Arabia is a minimal crime state, the U.S.A. is its opposite. You can walk on the streets of Saudia in the middle of the night without a fear of getting mugged, shot, stabbed or killed. Carry as much cash as you like and have no fear. It is peace!
The Hajj incidence are under special circumstances where it is impossible to catch a thief. On the other hand, the United States has the highest crime rate in the world. It is more criminal than its crime statistics indicate, since so many crimes are not viewed as crimes any more.
No one can dare think of walking in any downtown in the U.S.A. at any odd hour or even during daylight at many places, without a fear of getting hurt. What a contrast!
The answer to the ills of the U.S.A. (and also to those of Muslim countries) is in Islam. Will the Americans find the answer? I think they will. Americans are ignorant but not dumb. American media can play stupid. But we all know the saying that you can fool some people all the time, all the people some time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time! The time will come insha'Allah, when America will resound with the slogan of
Labbaik, Allah humma labbaik. Labbaika la sharika laka labbaik. Innal hamda wann'imata laka wal mulk. La sharika lak.