Diary of a Haji: 21 Days for the Holy Lands of Makkah and Madinah

By Prof. M. Ishaq Zahid (Creator of Islam101.com)

A Personal Word:

By the grace of Allah Ta'ala, I was able to visit the holy cities, Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia during 1994 and was able to perform Hajj.

It is a journey which I would remember for the rest of my life. I also hope that I will have opportunities to go back and visit the holy sites again, Insha' Allah.

It has deep spiritual benefits which change your life greatly.

I was asked by my friends at the Islamic Information and News Network (IINN) to write about my Hajj experiences to help others intending to perform Hajj in the future.

I was able to keep a diary of daily events during my trip that lasted twenty-one days.

Below is an outline of what I think this article should help in:

1. The intending pilgrims from the United States can plan better for the trip in the following areas.

a. the costs involved

b. health-related issues

c. what to take as luggage

2. The intending pilgrims need to understand the kind of physical hardships they may go through and mentally prepare themselves to accept such difficulties.

3. The article provides some insights on how to perform Hajj and when to go to the rituals to avoid unnecessary hardships.

4. The pilgrims need to understand that they are going there to perform obligatory worship, but will do so in an overall Islamic character. I hope that such cognizance will ease hardships for the pilgrims.

I also hope that Muslim governments and religious organizations will install programs to provide education and training necessary for the intending pilgrims before leaving their home countries.

5. I hope that this article will be read by some Saudis to think about improving the arrangements for Hajj, which is a great responsibility on their shoulders.

The experiences described here reflect my story. It should be kept in mind that Hajj is an experience taken up by over two million people each year. Considering the thousands of groups involved from all parts of the world, it is very likely that Hajj experiences differ greatly from one group to another.

However, all Hajis go through the same set of rituals and similar hardships.

I also would like to point out to the readers that the article should not be used to learn about the rituals themselves.

There are many good books available to prepare one for Umra and Hajj. Hajj is an obligation on every able Muslim. If you have the means to go, you must.

It is a command from Allah as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in the Holy Quran.

Only readers can tell if this was a fruitful endeavor. I hope it will be, insha' Allah. With any writing, there is always a possibility of errors, typos and omissions. I will greatly appreciate readers' comments and their personal experiences. I will incorporate these in the future revisions of the article, insha' Allah.


Arrangements you need to make before the trip

A good trip requires early planning, at least four months before the departure. The month of Shaban (before Ramadan) may be the time to start planning seriously.

Start with acquiring Hajj books and studying about Hajj. Obtain a Hajj guide to understand the terms and procedures.

A Hajj guide will help acquaint you with the Hajj places, sites and rituals. Start memorizing some of the supplications (Duas) in Arabic and understand their meanings.

Make contacts with travel agents and other groups for Hajj travel.

Obtain the required injections, cholera and meningitis, from the county health department or your private physician. A health certificate with these injections is needed for a Hajj visa. Make sure you have a valid passport. You may contact the Saudi consulate nearest to you to obtain guidelines for Hajj and Umra.

Below is an idea of how much money may be needed to perform Hajj, items to carry on and other relevant information.

The Budget

I went with a group to perform Hajj. The average group rate during 1994 was about $2,500 or above. The price may be higher in later years. The above included air fare from New York City, accommodations in Saudi Arabia and most meals. I strongly recommend group travel for Hajj. Here is what I spent:

$2450  air fare from JFK [John F. Kennedy International airport in New York City], all accommodations for about three weeks, all transportation in Saudi Arabia, and all meals. The price included bus transportation between Makkah and Madinah.

$68 for cholera and meningitis injections at county health department

$25 visa by the travel agent

$244 Hajj fee through the travel agent, includes the draft fee. The actual Hajj fee this year was $234.40.

$55 for two Ihrams and a belt. I purchased a five yard white terry cloth for one Ihram.

For the other Ihram, I purchased 5 yards of 100% cotton cloth. Terry cloth is towel-like and heavy.

Air transportation from my home town to JFK was extra.

I took about $1,000 with me, out of which $500 was in the form of travelers'  checks. I did not spend all of it. I think one should at least have about $200 as pocket money.

In conclusion, I think that about $3,500 to $4,000 should be sufficient to perform Hajj, Umra and spend a few days in Madinah. Again, these estimates are based on my 1994 experience.

The luggage, the carry-on  

I suggest traveling with only essential luggage. If possible, obtain 'Arabic dress'. In my case I had a Pakistani shalwar-kurta [traditional Pakistani men's dress] and a long Arabic shirt.

When I went to Madinah, I purchased an additional long Arabic shirt and trousers.

Although I took several pieces of underwear, pants and shirts, I did not use most of them. Mostly, I used shalwar-kurta, Arabic shirt and pants.

I had one medium-size suitcase and a carry-on. If you plan to purchase a lot of items, buy an extra suitcase there. The prices are good.

Don't forget to carry an Ihram, slippers and a waist belt before reaching Saudi Arabia. Hajj travel agents may carry Ihrams and belts.

Medicine and other items to take

Prescription medicine, if any



Imodium A-D (for Diarrhea)

cough and cold medicines

Vaseline Intensive Care for extra dry skin

baby powder


toothpaste and brush

dental floss


baby oil

safety pins (diaper pins are good, I am serious)

prayer rug

scissors to clip hair

nail cutter

a water-container for pre-wudu needs (useful at airports, etc. until reaching Saudi Arabia)

air mattress can be useful at Muzdalifah.

Suggested Books

The Holy Quran

Hajj Guides.


Passport with Hajj visa

Hajj draft

Health certificate

at least 12 passport-size photographs.

Diary of a Haji: Day 1

[Beginning of the Journal]

May 7, 1994:

My friends and family came to the Charleston airport to see me off.

I boarded Delta flights via Atlanta to JFK. I reached JFK around  7:00 p.m. At the Atlanta airport I was happy to see a good number of Muslim women travelers with Hijab.

At JFK, I needed to take a red/blue bus from the Delta terminal to the International terminal for Royal Jordanian [airlines]. At JFK I met Khalid (group organizer), Maulana and Sharif at the Royal Jordanian ticket counter.

We prayed Maghrib and Isha in the waiting area at a time when boarding for an Icelander flight was going on. It hopefully served as good Dawa to show non-Muslims the Muslim prayer.

There were about sixty-one people, including women and a  couple of children at the airport who were traveling in our group.

The plane left around 10:00 p.m. for Amsterdam. The seats were small and uncomfortable.

It took about eight hours to reach Amsterdam. The time appeared to be at a standstill. We were not allowed to leave the plane at the airport and just took some fresh, cool morning breeze from the open doors while the cleanup of the plane was under way.

Another six-hour flight brought us to Amman (Jordan).

Adding to the discomfort of the flight so far was a lack of air. However, another element which disturbed me greatly was the in-flight movies I had to put up with. To begin with, the movies were American not Jordanian. I was thinking of the slavery of the Jordanian mind to the West.

Jordan, of course, is not alone in such slavery. Most Third World countries do the same. I wished there were no movies. But if they did want to show something there they had a chance to show the Jordanian culture.

The torture was felt more because I was going for Hajj and did not want worldly distractions. The airline also knew that a good number of passengers were going for Hajj and could have adjusted their presentations according to the comfort of their passengers.

Diary of a Haji: Day 2

May 8, 1994:

At Amman airport [in Jordan] we spent about five hours before the next flight.

We found a place on the upper floor to put on Ihram clothes and slippers. We made Wudu, offered two Rakahs and made an intention for Umra. We then recited Talbiyah often. Umra is the lesser Hajj which can be performed at any time of the year.

The Quran enjoins:

    "...accomplish Hajj and Umra to please Allah." (2:196)

We had planned for Hajj Tamattu. In Hajj Tamattu, one can take off Ihram clothes between the Umra and Hajj. A Mutamatti pilgrim performs Umra and Hajj together in the same Hajj season, which starts with the Islamic month of Shawwal and lasts till the 10th of Zul-Hijjah.

The plane to Jeddah was much better. Seats were comfortable and they showed documentaries about Hajj. The flight had a computerized screen displaying current flight data such as the current location, altitude, and temperature.

It was a very strange feeling to be in Ihram clothes. I was concerned about getting naked and became very careful in my movements. I sat with a Malaysian dressed up in a suit and thought that he must be working in Saudi Arabia.

After talking to him I found out that he had done the Hajj before and was returning to do it again. Khalid, with his innate leadership qualities, took control of the microphone and asked everyone to repeat Talbiyah with him.

         "Labbaik, Allah humma labbaik. Labbaika la sharika laka labbaik.
Innal hamda wann'imata laka wal mulk. La sharika lak."

Recitation of Talbiyah elevated my soul towards Allah Ta'ala. I felt relaxed and content. The message of the Talbiyah helped me focus towards One God, the True God, Who has no partners, the Praiseworthy, the Merciful.

Diary of a Haji: Day 3

May 9, 1994:

We reached Jeddah at about midnight after a two-hour flight.

There is a seven-hour time difference between the United States (East) and Saudi Arabia. A bus took us from the plane to the immigration area. It took about three hours at immigration and customs. Our group leaders [took care of] all the conversation with the officials.

Khalid and [our] Maulana could speak Arabic. Khalid had spent about ten years in Saudi Arabia and was aware of Saudi customs and habits.

The Maulana is a graduate of the Islamic school of Dew Band, India. He is currently an Imam of a Masjid, among his other responsibilities. He is well-versed in Islamic Fiqh.

The immigration 'crowd' was handled by a group of Saudi youngsters in blue uniforms. Passengers from several flights got mixed in that crowd. We went through a couple of halls to get to the immigration counters.

There were separate counters depending on the nationalities. The service was not on the basis of first-come first served. If I can describe it by a self-coined technical term, I would call it a multi-queue with external priorities, where the priorities were determined and redetermined by the blue-uniformed youth based on nationalities and their kindness.

They were a nice bunch of kids [but] ill-trained for the job. I was selected to go to the counter about three times and then [sent] back.

Right next to the immigration was a desk to submit the Hajj draft and obtain required papers. Customs thereafter did not take long.

Once outside the customs, our group waited for the luggage carts to come in and take us for bus transportation to Makkah. The carts took our luggage to the bus terminals, about 500 yards away.

There, our group leaders went into intense 'negotiations' with the Saudi personnel to arrange for the buses to Makkah. One cannot just board any bus. It has to be an official bus.

Part of the time passports were taken and checked and rechecked and counted and recounted. It took FOUR hours to get inside a bus.

Once inside the bus, we were not allowed to get out while waiting to depart. Most of us just heard the Fajr Adhan and could not pray. The driver, when asked [about] getting off the bus and praying, just said no and 'Alhamdulillah, Khalas.' Some of us did not care [for] any impediments and either prayed while seated or went out to pray.

Our group took up three buses. When the buses finally reversed from the parking lot of the Jeddah airport terminal, we [breathed] a sigh of relief.

However, our relief was short-lived.

When the buses were ready to 'take off' for Makkah, we saw a group of Saudis walking back and forth in the middle of the road, playing with their walkie-talkies. One of them stopped us and asked the buses to be parked on the roadside and [for us to] wait!

Wait for what? That was not explained to us and is still a mystery to me. We waited and waited, sitting in Ihram garments, tired of the long journey from Charleston, JFK, Amsterdam, Amman, and to Jeddah.

I had left home in the morning of May 7 and now it was after the sunrise of May 9 at Jeddah airport. We remained in the buses for about two hours and were then let go. During our stationary state we saw many other buses leave, which frustrated us more.

Anyway, later on we were told that we were lucky that we were only stopped for a couple of hours. Most people who came from Pakistan were kept in that state for perhaps

eight hours or more. We were treated better (or punished less) since we came from the U.S. Most of us in the group were Pakistani and Indian nationals. Our group did have a few Arabs and a couple of Afro-Americans.

Alhamdulillah, the buses finally left Jeddah airport. We reached a place of 'Unified Agents' offices where we had yet another stop for more than an hour. Everyone received a bottle of Zamzam [water].

There were designated offices based on the country of origin of the pilgrims. Our group leaders went back and forth between a couple of offices, since some of us had U.S. passports while others had Pakistani passports with green cards. Eventually we 'received' our papers.

A Saudi worker was to accompany each bus to take us to our Muallim's office, the next step where our passports and other papers will be kept during our stay. (A Muallim is a knowledgeable professional who can guide the pilgrim during Hajj; also called a Mutawwif).

Muallim's office was in Makkah. Our U.S.-based group had made all of our Saudi arrangements through a Saudi agency which was headed by Ismael.

Ismael Farooque, with a couple of his employees was waiting for us at the Muallim's office. We did not have to wait at the Muallim's office since Ismael was kind enough to take care of the paperwork for us and directed us to go to the place where we were to stay.

We finally reached our abode at about Zuhr time. The place was a four-storey apartment complex. Each room had about six beds, and was air-conditioned. Each floor had two bathrooms with showers. One bathroom did have an American type of commode.

Ismael's workers were to unload all the luggage from the buses for us. I had a luggage cart with my Reebok shoes inside the bus which were not unloaded from the bus and I had to do without them during my stay.

Luckily I had a pair of sandals which turned out to be the right thing to use most of the time while going to the Masjids.

At about Asr time we decided to go for Umra.

I suddenly found a lot of energy and enthusiastically boarded the buses. The official buses had already disappeared and from now on we were to travel in the buses arranged by Ismael.

Our residence was about three kilometers away from the Holy Kaba. While going towards the Kaba, I had another chance to look at the landscape of Makkah. Even though there were so many high-rise buildings, they were unable to hide the bare, rocky hills which were all over Makkah.

It was a unique experience to actually feel about the lives of Abraham, Ismael, Hajira (peace be upon them) and Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon him).

I tried to imagine how the place would [have been like] about 3,000 years ago if I removed all the buildings, roads and cars.

I could then just see rocky hills with clouds of dust. The place would be without any vegetation or greenery or water. I could really then appreciate the trials which [Prophet] Ismail (peace be upon him) and Hajira (may Allah be pleased with her) went through.

I felt the immense greatness of Prophet Ibrahim. Only a Prophet of his caliber could go through such a test by leaving his young son Ismail and his wife Hajira in such a barren land with no water food or humans in sight.

While riding through the streets of Makkah, I felt the life story of Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon him) and the Sahaba (his Companions) Karam run before my eyes.

I felt the torture given by the Makkans to Bilal, Ammar and his parents and other Muslims.

I wondered about the places where they had lived, walked and preached.

I started to realize and appreciate their struggle to establish Islam. It was indeed a highly charged experience. Labbaika Allah humma labbaik.


Buses dropped us [off] on a road next to the Holy Kaba. We crossed the street while trying to stare at the Masjid-e-Haram as long as possible.

We passed through the outside gate and walked about a couple of blocks [of] long marble floor to get to the gate, known as Bab as-Salam.

We went up the steps and crossed a bridge over a huge crowd of Muslims performing their Sai. (The Sai is the devotional act of walking seven times back and forth between the knolls of Safa and Marwa. This act retraces the footsteps of Hajira (wife of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him), during her desperate search for water for her infant son Ismail after they were left in the desert by Prophet Ibrahim in response to a Divine vision).

There it was! The Holy Kaba, wrapped in black cloth with verses inscribed in gold.

It was a moment of great joy. Tears started flowing [from] my eyes. I tried to collect myself to join the Muslims performing Tawaf of the Kaba.

The Tawaf must start from the Black Stone (The Hajar ul Aswad-this is a Sacred Black Stone built into the south-east corner of the Kaba at a height of approximately four feet. Touching and kissing, or Istilam, of Hajar ul Aswad during Umra and Hajj are Sunnah). None of us dared to reach the Stone and kiss it. Instead we felt content to kiss the Stone by a gesture of hands from a distance.

The circuit goes counterclockwise around the Kaba and seven circuits need to be performed.

There is a dark marbled about one foot-wide "line" from the side of the Black Stone from which the Tawaf ought to begin. Each time we get close to the completion of a circuit, we watch the floor to see the line so that we can send our kisses to the [Sacred Black] Stone again.

The crowd was large and the pace was slow. There was constant pushing and shoving and the danger of stampede. One really has to watch out at the starting point of the Tawaf, which is also the ending point.

There, groups of Muslims try to stop for a moment to ensure that they see the dark line to start or finish correctly. It was also the place to make Duas (supplications). There were people who were trying to get out and groups of people trying to get in at the same location.

The crowd was heavy closer to the Kaba and was less dense as you moved to the outer perimeter.

Soon I had to give up staying with the group and had to complete the Tawaf on my own pace. Seeing the strength of the crowd, I gave up the idea of trying to touch any wall of the Kaba.

To make an attempt to kiss the Black Stone was tantamount to a broken neck. In one circuit, I was however able to touch the Maqam-o-Ibrahim (The Station of Ibrahim-this is the step-stone used by Prophet Ibrahim during the original construction of the Kaba. The stone carries the imprints of his feet, and is housed in a glass enclosure on the north side of the Kaba).

In the third or fourth circuit, I encountered a stampede which luckily did not get out of hand and I was able to remain in the upright position. I pressed on other people's feet and others on my feet. There are a couple of fingers of my feet which kept hurting for a long time even after my return from Hajj.

Going around the Kaba, I recited the Quran, the supplications, and the Talbiyah, Labbaika Allah humma Labbaik... 

There are some Duas which one should perform at the Yemeni Corner (the third corner), and the fourth wall. Like so many other people, I had a book of Duas which I tried to read in as much as possible. The supplications need not be in Arabic.

Here is your chance to speak to Allah Ta'ala as you go around the most sacred house on earth and pray whatever you want to. God will understand you in any language you speak. You don't have to even speak. He knows your inner thoughts and feelings. After all He created you.

There however come moments when you do want to say something and you don't know what to say or you can't find words for it or you want to say it with the best possible words.

Thanks to the unparalleled work of Muslim Traditionists, we have the books which have preserved the supplications, actions and methods of the last Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him). These are the best of the words to speak. It is a good thing to carry a book of Duas.

At the completion of the Tawaf, I exerted myself out of the mass and found a place to offer two Rakat of obligatory Salah facing the Kaba. There were so many people sitting around praying and waiting for the Maghrib Salah. It took some effort to pass through them and go to Safa for Sai, the next step in Umra.


After reaching Safa, I rested and waited for the Maghrib Salah.

The site for Sai is within the bounds of the Masjid ul Haram (this is the mosque around the Kaba also known as Haram ash-Shareef).

One can perform the Sai at any of the three levels. The third level is the rooftop, hot but less crowded. I felt confident about performing the Sai at the main level.

Sai consists of seven (one-way) trips between Safa and Marwa, the two ends of the hallways. The Sai must begin at Safa and end at Marwa. Both Safa and Marwa are small hills, now inside the building.

A few yards after starting from Safa, there are green marks where we should start running until the next green markers. This is most likely what Hajira must have done. Returning from Marwa towards Safa we run again between the two green markers.

The Isha Salah time came during the Sai. We all stopped and finished the prayer before continuing. While resting near Safa, a few persons came asking for monetary help. There were also funeral prayers performed after Maghrib and Isha. Later on I came to know that funeral prayers are a regular occurrence after every prayer. The dead are mostly the Hajis but also the Saudi residents.

During Sai, I thought about Hajira and Ismail. Sai commemorates Hajira's efforts to feed the young Ismail.That was when Prophet Ibrahim had left them alone in the wilderness of Makkah and had gone back to Palestine by the Decree of God. When their water supply was exhausted, Hajira went to the Safa hill to look out for water, a caravan or an oasis.

She ran back and forth between the two hills in search of provisions. Then the fountain of Zamzam was provided to them by Almighty Allah Ta'ala. It is that fountain that supplies water to the pilgrims who visit the Holy Kaba.

Saudis have built a pipeline of Zamzam water to Madinah, over 400 kilometers away from Makkah. Pilgrims visiting the Masjid-e-Nabawi in Madinah will find Zamzam water coolers there to quench their thirst.

So Muslim men, women and children, anyone who can afford the journey, pay their high regards and tributes to a noble lady by tracing her footsteps in a ritual that [has been] going on for centuries. May Allah shower His blessings on them.

When the Sai was over, I went out for the haircut. There are enough barber shops within the precincts of the Masjid. It was 10 Riyals (3.70 Riyals = $1.00). I had to go to the shops nearby to get the exchange, since the barbers did not accept dollars.

Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar, the Umra was complete. 

I could now come out of the state of Ihram and change clothes until the time for Hajj came. This was [because] we were doing Hajj Tammattu.

We remained together within the precincts of the Masjid while waiting for everyone in the group to show up at a prearranged location. We spent some time searching for an old lady who was eventually found downstairs near the Zamzam fountains. We returned home around 11:00 p.m. by bus, took showers, changed clothes and thus slept late.

Diary of a Haji: Day 4


May 10, 1994 (Tuesday):

I got up at the Adhan for Fajr and rushed to the Masjid thinking of it as a call for Iqamah. I enjoyed the local Masjid and the recitation of the Imam. I think Fajr was around 4:40 a.m.

While returning after Fajr, I saw a bus leaving for the Haram. Khalid was standing at the gate and asked me if I wanted to go with them. I told him that I didn't have any papers with me. He said not to worry, after all we were just going to the Haram. [We would] do an optional Tawaf, pray and return.

Imran, an electronics engineer and a manager, was in the same situation but wanted to go. We boarded the buses and reached the Haram [quickly].

After reaching [the] Haram, I realized that it may be difficult to perform a Tawaf due to the fact that there was a large crowd and my back and left leg were hurting. So I decided instead to do [Nafil] prayers, recite the Quran and just look at the Kaba and the Masjid. We were to return to the bus site around 8:00 a.m.

I went downstairs where the Zamzam fountains were located and drank to my fill. I also did Wudu using the blessed water and sprinkled it on my body and clothes in as much as I felt reasonable. 

Around 8:00 a.m., I returned to the bus site. Since there were three buses involved, some had already gone and ours was the last bus. We tried to do a head count and found out that Imran was not there.

Someone remarked that he must have or he had gone with an earlier bus, therefore, we felt comfortable leaving after waiting for him for a while. Reaching home we found out that he was missing. Just like me, he was not carrying his papers and even his slippers were with Khalid. We spent the rest of the day searching for him.

After a long search to find Imran, we finally decided to leave for Madinah [at] around 5:00 p.m. It was decided that our local group headed by Ismael would continue the search while the intending Hajis [would] go ahead according to the plan.

On our way to Madinah, a short while after we had left Makkah, the time of Maghrib came. We found a roadside Masjid in rather shabby condition, with no lights and water.

A few yards from the Masjid was an equally dilapidated place which the attendant described as a hotel. We did Wudu there using a bucket of water and turned car headlights on towards the interior of the Masjid and prayed.

Later on we stopped for the Isha prayer and dinner at a roadside complex. We ate lamb burgers.

We reached Madinah around 1:00 in the morning. We had to stop at a couple of spots for security checks.

The group consisted of mostly Indian [and] Pakistani nationals. Someone in the group started reciting some Urdu [and] Punjabi poetry, called Naat.

I had a brief discussion with the person sitting next to me about the contents of the phrases being recited and expressed concerns [about] certain phrases which were, in my view, tantamount to Shirk.

The Naat is supposed to glorify and praise Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon him) and in some cases it may cross the boundaries and reach Shirk.

I was thinking of Imam Muhammad Idrees Ash-Shafi who undertook his first trip from Makkah to Madinah at around the age of twelve. According to his own narration, he recited the entire Holy Quran about seven or eight times during his trip on a camel ride.

More importantly, I reflected on Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon him) and Abu Bakr Siddique's journey to Madinah to flee from the persecution of the Makkans. Madinah is over 400 km away from Makkah. It must have been a long trip.

I wondered about the paths traversed by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the Sahaba and their proximity with the current highway to Madinah.

Diary of a Haji: Day 5


May 11, 1994:

We reached our abode, an apartment complex similar to the previous housing arrangement. It was late at night and there were seven people in the same room with me.

An Arab brother was snoring so loud like a train whistle that it was hard to sleep. Soon the time for Tahajjud came and we heard its Adhan from the Prophet's Masjid. It was a new experience for me.

The Tahajjud prayer is an optional prayer which the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to perform regularly. While the Adhan is pronounced, there is no congregational prayer at the Masjid for Tahajjud.

[At] around 4:15 a.m., the Adhan for the Fajr prayer was pronounced. Even though the residence was at a walking distance of about a kilometer, we had our buses which could take us two-thirds of the way to the Masjid.

I went there for the Fajr prayer. The nearby streets were blocked [with] traffic and so we walked about one-third of a mile.

There were shops on the right side of the road and Jannatul Baqi (this is where Aisha and a number of the Companions of the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] are buried) on the left as we walked towards the Masjid. Masha Allah, the size and grandeur of the Masjid were impressive.

There were a large number of people praying on the marble floor outside the building. The air conditioning was so powerful that it could be felt [at] a distance from the outside.

There was a Salatul Janazah after the Fajr prayer which appeared to be a regular occurrence during Hajj. It was very inspiring to offer my first Salah there with such a huge crowd. I felt nearness to the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him).

I made an attempt to reach the area where the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) is buried, but there was a lot of push and shove. [I] decided to postpone my intentions.

[At] around 6 a.m., the Masjid area around the Prophet's (peace and blessings upon him) grave was blocked to allow women to visit the site. I decided to walk around in the building and visit different areas of the Masjid.

As I went around, I sat and recited the Quran at various places. Copies of the Quran were available everywhere to read. I also offered Nafl Salah many times at different locations in the Masjid. Then I lay down at a few places to stretch my legs and give [a] rest to my troubling back. I came back [at] around 7 a.m. and saw a lot of shops opening up on my way back.

In the Masjid, lying flat on my back, I marveled at the beautiful structure and design of the Masjid and reflected on how the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would have felt seeing such a lush design.

In his time there were no carpets, A/C [air conditioning] or lights. The place was small and there was no Zamzam flowing from Makkah to Madinah.

I also reflected on Ashab As-Sufa, the Sahabah who had devoted their lives [to] learning Islam. [They] used to live in a separate quarter of the Masjid. Abu Huraira was one of those Sahabah.

Most Sahabah and the Prophet lived in a condition of poverty and [did] not [have] much to eat. This was especially the case with Ashab As-Sufa.

Just a couple of days [earlier] I was reading some Ahadith in Sahih Bukhari (see the next paragraph) in which there was an incident reported about them.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on a request by a tribe sent about seventy Ashab As-Sufa to the tribe to teach Islam. When these Sahabah reached there, they were all martyred despite the assurances given by the tribe to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), who was so grieved on hearing the incident that he prayed Qunut for a month in the Isha prayer.

Narrated Asim: I asked Anas bin Malik about the Qunut. Anas replied, "Definitely It was (recited)." I asked, "Before bowing or after it?" Anas replied, "Before bowing." I added, "So and so has told me that you had informed him that it had been after bowing." Anas said, "He told an untruth (i.e. "was mistaken," according to the Hijazi dialect). Allah's Apostle recited Qunut after bowing for a period of one month." Anas added, "The Prophet sent about seventy men (who knew the Quran by heart) towards the pagans (of Najd) who were less than they in number and there was a peace treaty between them and Allah's Apostle (but the Pagans broke the treaty and killed the seventy men). So Allah's Apostle recited Qunut for a period of one month invoking Allah to punish them."(Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 2, no. 116)

The original Masjid including the living quarters of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), his wives and Ashab As-Sufa are all part of the current Masjid.

With my eyes closed, I journeyed back in time, about 1400 years, and felt the presence of the noble personalities sitting, walking, praying, listening to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) among them, preparing to defend the Islamic state and willing to give up everything for the sake of Allah Ta'ala.

Once towards the front of the Masjid, while lying down I looked up in admiration of the beautiful blue ceiling in that portion of the Masjid.

But then suddenly a small bird came flying in and I realized that it was the early morning blue sky. It was [the] most pleasing blue sky I have ever seen. The floor of the entire Masjid is covered with beautiful rugs. Every pillar has a plate with the name of Allah inscribed.

After going back to the residence, I tried to rest and then went back to the Masjid for Zuhr prayer around 12:30 p.m.

I stayed in the Masjid till 10:00 p.m. and offered the rest of the prayers of the day in the Masjid. I did go out to the shopping area and searched for a bookstore. There were plenty of shops for cloth, clothes and gold jewelry but hardly any bookstores.

I did eventually find a book shop and purchased some books including Sahih Muslim. There were a lot of Arabic books but not many in English. Two of the books I purchased were published by Darel Fikr Al-Islami, Beirut. One was on Hadith Qudsi and the other was a Fiqh/Hadith book by Imam Ibn Hajr.

While in the Masjid, I had a chance to visit [the] Prophet's grave. The crowd happened to be manageable at that time and I was able to stand there for a short while and offered Dua and Salam.

Hadrat Abu Bakr and Omar are also buried there alongside the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Afterwards I visited Jannatul Baqi, which is across the street from Masjid an-Nabawi.

Jannatul Baqi is a big graveyard where Hadrat Aisha, Uthman and a large number of other Sahabah are buried. There are no marks on the graves and no one there was willing to tell us which one belonged to whom.

These were highly emotional moments to feel the company of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the Sahabah. In my prayers I recited Surah Ad-Duha (Quran 93:1-11), Surah Alam Nashrah (Quran 94:1-8), Surah Al-Kauthar (Quran 108:1-3) and felt as if I was talking to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and I had his company.

While walking in Jannatul Baqi', I touched the ground and picked up some dust in my hand in awe. May Allah be pleased with all the Sahabah and forgive our sins.

We were concerned about the safety of Imran and prayed for him. We held a Shura to decide for tomorrow's itinerary, which included visits to various places in Madinah.

It is 12:28 after midnight and a brother in the room is snoring like a rocket. It is hard to sleep.

Pillars in the Prophet's (peace and blessings be upon him) Masjid were all decorated with beautifully calligraphed name of Allah inscribed on plates. I also saw the names of the Prophet and Sahabah written on the inside wall of the front section. The names in order from left to right on the same line were:

Abbas Hussain Ali Umar Muhammad Masha'Allah Allah Abu Bakr Uthman Hasan Abu Hurairah

Diary of a Haji: Day 6

May 12, 1994:

I may have slept for about forty-five minutes when I heard the Adhan for Tahajjud prayer. I went for Tahajjud and Fajr prayers and came back, and did my breakfast.

Around 7:30, we held a meeting to talk about Imran. What to do, how to inform his family and so forth. Imran's fate was still unknown to us.

We then went to visit Mount Uhud, the site of the battle of Trench, Masjid Qiblatain, Masjid Juma and Masjid Quba.

Mount Uhud: It is a small hilltop of what is perhaps left of the mount. I saw a graveyard where Hadrat Hamza and other martyrs of the battle are buried.

The Kuffar traveled over 400 km from Makkah to destroy Islam. It must have been a long journey, but they were determined.

My heart was filled with emotions. A young Saudi boy led a Dua to offer at the graveyard. It was interesting to see "Dua leaders" who were being paid for their services.

Site of the battle of Trench: The trench was not there any more, but we visited several small Masjids at the site. These were named after Hadrat Fatima, Umar, Abu Bakr, and others.

Abu Bakr's Masjid was being rebuilt. If I remember it correctly, someone told me that Hadrat Fatima's Masjid is where her tent was during the siege. It was close to the mountains on a high ground.

We tried to pray at each Masjid. Due to too many visitors and [the] small sizes of these Masjids, they became crowded very soon.

Masjid Qiblatain: It is the Masjid where during the Zuhr prayer, the revelation came to the Prophet to change the Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah. Qiblatain means two Qiblahs.

Masjid Juma: The first Juma Khutba was given by the Prophet in this Masjid.

Masjid Quba: It was the first Masjid of Islam in Madinah. According to a Hadith [in Ahmad, Nasai, Ibn Maja and Al-Hakim], a prayer in this Masjid is equivalent to an Umra in rewards and blessings. We prayed Zuhr Salah there and came home very sleepy.

The Asr time came and we went to the Prophet's Masjid and stayed there till Isha. It was

extremely hard to stay awake but I somehow managed. We came back at around 10:30 p.m. and had [slept] much better this time. [At] around 3:00 a.m. we went back for Tahajjud and Fajr.

Diary of a Haji: Day 7-9

May 13-15 1994 (Friday-Sunday):

Today we had a chance to pray Juma prayer at Masjid Nabvi. We went there [at] around 10:30 a.m. to find a suitable place. The Juma Khutba was only about 20 minutes long and was in Arabic.


We came to know from [the] Makkah office that Imran has been found alive and well. Alhamdulillah, all thanks are to Allah Ta'ala.

The story goes as follows: Imran was only about 10 minutes late to catch the bus the day he was lost.

Our leader, Khalid, was convinced by some others that he may have gone by an earlier bus ( a simple but costly mistake.)

When Imran did not see a bus, he went to the Lost Pilgrims Office [at] around 10:00. The office is located in the vicinity of the Haram.

The office did not have Imran's address registered with the Muallim, so they could not help him go back to his place. At one time when some of us went back to [look for] him, it appears that there was someone sleeping with a blanket covering his entire body and we did not feel [it would be right] to wake him up and thus missed him that time.

He slept in the Haram, did six Tawafs of Kaba during the period he was missing. Luckily he did have enough money under his belt [for] food.

He met several lost pilgrims from Hazarah, Pakistan and helped them in any way he could by talking to the officials on their behalf. By walking so much during that time, he had blisters on his feet.

When we asked him about how he got lost, he said, "I was not lost. I knew where I was. It was the other 59 people who were lost and I was looking for them."

[Once] during his plight, the Muallim took him to his house, washed his clothes and fed him. He emphasized the significance of having identifications on, especially the wrist bands. Imran was in Madinah late that night.

I spent the next two days going to the Prophet's Masjid and praying as before. On Sunday, I had a chance to call home from a post office phone. I was reminded by my family that today was my birthday.

Diary of a Haji: Day 10


May 16, 1994 (Monday):

I walked to Masjid Nabvi for Fajr with Maulana, but returned by taxi with Sharif and the Syrian brother. It was my last time to see the Masjid. We bade farewell to Madinah and left for Makkah around 7:30 a.m.

It is 5th of Zul-Hijjah and Hajj time was near.

When we reached the checkpoint on the outskirts of Madinah, we were told to go back and put on Ihram, since no one was allowed to proceed to Makkah without Ihram.

It was useless to argue with them about different types of Hajj, so we went back to Madinah and had to purchase about twenty Ihrams, since most of us had left our Ihrams in Makkah. We then bade farewell to Madinah again and departed for Makkah. We had three buses and a small van. I happened to get a seat in the van.

The van was very uncomfortable with a useless A/C [air conditioner]. We ate lunch at a roadside restaurant in our Ihrams. During lunch a sudden thunderstorm came with hail.

At a checkpoint, some people were walking to Makkah. I heard someone say that the bus they were riding [on] was not an officially approved bus and they had to get off that bus and get a ride.

The journey was long with so much traffic. It took us about twelve hours to reach Makkah. It was about 8:00 p.m.

Normally it takes about five hours driving between the two cities. We ate dinner around 10:00 p.m.

Some people went for Umra that night.

Diary of a Haji: Day 11


May 17, 1994 (Tuesday), 6th Zul-Hijjah: 

After my Fajr prayer at the local Masjid, I slept till noon.

The hardship of the trip was getting to my health. I had [a] running nose and sore throat. It was perhaps due to [the] A/C, hot climate and [the] people.

The lunch was rice, lentils and beans. Some went to visit [the] Cave Hira and Hajj sites including Arafat and Mina.

Those who went for Umra told us that the Kaba was less crowded around 10:00 p.m. after Isha, while there was a bigger crowd after Fajr. The place also gets crowded late at night.

The Imam of the local Masjid gave a lecture after Isha on Bida. I don't know what prompted him to do so. The lecture was in Arabic but one of us volunteered to translate it after the speech.

The Imam in his speech mentioned to refrain from sayings like, "ya Rasool Allah", "ya Ali", "ya Hussain", etc. Say your prayers to Allah alone.

Hajj schedule appears to be as follows:

May 19: (8th Zul-Hijjah) (Thursday) Put on Ihram, go to Mina and offer Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha and the next day Fajr prayers there. Stay at Mina in tents.

May 20: (9th Zul-Hijjah) (Friday) (The HAJJ day): Go to Arafat. Do Zuhr/Asr combined with the Imam with one Adhan, but two Iqamahs. Leave for Muzdalifa after sunset. Do Maghrib/Isha there with one Adhan and one Iqamah. Stay the night at Muzdalifa head uncovered.

May 21: (10th Zul-Hijjah) (Saturday): (Eid-ul-Adha day) A heavy day. Do Fajr at Muzdalifa, go to Mina, throw seven pebbles at Jumratul Ooqbah, do Zabiha (animal sacrifice), hair cut, and LEAVE IHRAM. Go to Makkah, do the Tawaf Ziyara, offer two Rakas, do Sai and then go back to Mina for the night.

May 22: (11th Zul-Hijjah) (Sunday): Rummy after Zuhr; spend the night at Mina. (Rummy is the act of symbolically stoning the devil [Shaytan] in Mina on the 10th through the 13th of Zul -Hijjah. This commemorates the tradition that Prophet Ibrahim was tempted three times by the devil, and rejected all three of his overtures by stoning him, and driving him away. These three locations are symbolized by three stone pillars in Mina).

May 23: (12th Zul-Hijjah) (Monday): Rummy after the Zuhr prayer; then go to Makkah residence.

Do farewell Tawaf before leaving.

Diary of a Haji: Day 12

May 18, 1994 (Wednesday):

I was tired but wanted to visit Kaba again. When I reached there, it was a few minutes before Asr. The crowd was light. The sun was shining as always and it was a daring attempt on my part to challenge the heat and start a Tawaf.

The crowd was small enough that I reached the fourth wall and touched it. It gave me a good feeling.

There were people inclined against the wall and weeping.

I had perhaps made a circuit or two when the Asr Iqamah was pronounced. I stood in the second row (actually a circle) around the Kaba. Facing Kaba was no problem. It was right there.

After the Salah, the security officers opened the gate of the semi-circular region of the Kaba, known as al-Hateem. It is part of the Kaba.

The people rushed to go in and offer Salah. I followed and went in. There was enough space when I was to make the intention of Salah, but by the time I finished my intention, there was no space in front of me to bow down and prostrate. There were women in front of me too. What am I supposed to do? I stood there in despair.

A South [East] Asian brother, perhaps an Indonesian was praying behind to the right of me. I gestured to him by the movements of my hands that when he finishes, [to give] me the space for me to pray.

That brother did four Rakas and then stood towards the front side and motioned [for] me to take his place and pray. I did only two Rakas in a short space. My prostrations were mixed with Allah's remembrance and a fear that someone may step on by neck.

I thanked the brother for his generosity and tried to get out. I wanted to stay but then I felt that I should let others come in.

I came out and finished the Tawaf while being very close to the walls of the Kaba and touching them a few times. I felt great when I went back and told others about [it]. This was the day before the Hajj. We were to put on Ihram for Hajj the next morning.

At night, we had a couple of guest speakers, the local Imam was one of them. He spoke on the significance of Kalima and repeated certain aspects of Bida from his previous speech.

The other person spoke on Hajj. Br. Shakeela (an Egyptian in our group) did the translation. We had our dinner [at] around 11:15, which was rather late for me.

Diary of a Haji: Day 13

May 19, 1994 (Thursday) (8th Zul-Hijjah): 

We prayed Fajr, [ate] our breakfast and then it was time to put on the Ihram for Hajj.

We made our intention, prayed two Rakas and left for Mina [at] around 10:00 a.m. The routes to Mina were extremely crowded and hard to describe. There were buses, vans, cars of all sorts and shapes.

There were people of all different shapes, sizes and nationalities, but they were all wearing the Ihrams. Only the females had some colorful Ihrams. All men were wearing the same two sheets of seamless white cloths.

On our way we passed a hilltop palace. We saw some buses in smoke due to the hot weather and the hard hilly trip to Mina. One of our buses had a clutch problem, but luckily near the tent site. Those people had to walk to the site and they reached there before we did.

Our area was flagged with Ismael Farooque's insignia. We were to share our area with so many other groups from other countries. The other group appeared to be mainly from Africa, perhaps from Sudan.

There was hardly any place to lie down in the tent. I eventually got a small mat to lie on. There were about seventy people in our tent. There were air coolers and fans running all around. It was still hot and it was hard to imagine how you could do without them. I should be thankful to Allah, since not every tent was equipped with such luxury.

We prayed Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha in the tent.

Diary of a Haji: Day 14


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.


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.

Diary of a Haji: Day 15


May 21, 1994 (10th Zul-Hijjah):
Eventually Fajr time came.

I did Wudu with the water from plastic bags. I did not go to the 'bathroom' even though I felt the need for it.

An old man did it behind the bus. I had taken an extra Imodium for my diarrhea just to be sure under such conditions.

I was very thirsty but was careful not to drink too much.

After praying Fajr, we collected small pebbles (70 or more) to be used for Rummy in the following days. Close to sunrise we got onto the buses.

Someone argued that we had to wait for the sunrise, which was wrong, but we did. That delayed us for a long while. We encountered a traffic jam and were at a standstill for a few hours.

More than two million people were trying to get out of Muzdalifa valley to go and pelt the

Satan at Jamrat ul Ooqba. We eventually got there and parked on a roadside.

We had to walk a good bit. We got a free water bottle on the way. We braved through the thick crowds going in and out. We went to the second level, threw seven pebbles with the slogan of "Allahu Akbar" and came back with push and shove through the crowd.

We then went for Zabiha (sacrifice) to a farm owned by Ismael Farooque. It was so nice to be able to do our own Zabiha. I ate some crackers and drank a lot of orange soda. Then we went back to our Makkah residence.

There we tried to find a barber. The barbers were only doing head shaves, which is what most people were getting. There were however a few like me who only wanted a hair cut.

We picked up the scissors and cut each other's hair and even paid for that self-service. We paid three riyals each. I then took a shower, brushed, shaved and got out of Ihram garments.

The Ihram garments were quite dirty by now. It was a highly relaxing moment.

The most important event, [the] stay at Arafat was over.

I tried to sleep for a while. I was so tired that I did my Zuhr and Asr in the room and got out of the bed close to Maghrib time.

After Isha we went to [the] Kaba for Tawaf ul Ifada (Ziyara) and Sai. (The Tawaf ul Ifada, which is also called Tawaf uz Ziyara, is performed by the pilgrim on the 10th of Zul -Hijjah as the last formal rite of Hajj in Makkah after changing into street clothes).

It turned out that after Isha was the perfect time to be there. The crowd was smaller than the one I had encountered during the Umra. Close to the end of Tawaf, however, the crowd had started building up. I suggest that one go to Kaba right after Isha to avoid [a] large crowd.

I prayed two Rakas, drank Zamzam [water] downstairs, splashed Zamzam on my body and did Wudu with [it]. Then I came out upstairs and [made] Dua facing [the] Kaba. Then it was time to do Sai.

I should have done Sai on the second floor. It was very hard to walk and [I was in] constant fear of stampede. It was eventually over.

We finished [at] around 2 a.m. We had to wait for everyone to come to the bus area. The buses departed around 3:00 and we got to Mina [at] around 3:30 am. We prayed Fajr [at] around 4:30 a.m. in the tents.

Diary of a Haji: Day 16

May 22, 1994 (11th Zul-Hijjah):

We left Mina at 7:30 a.m. for our Makkah residence.

There I slept till 11:00.  I shared the room with six other brothers. The one next to me was sick and coughing. By this time coughing and sneezing were widespread.

We went for Rummy after Asr. We walked through crowded streets and went to the upper level. There were people all around me. I could not see the end.

There was lot of push and shove as usual. Amazingly, there were beggars, men, women and children, sitting on the same ground where tens of thousands of people had crowded for the rituals.

You could not see the beggars until you were about to step on them. I don't know how they survived the stampede.

I was also wondering at the contrast. Here I was, in one of the richest countries on earth, which is also a Muslim country, and there were beggars. These people were not Saudis. They came from other lands and were victims of the economic hardships faced in a foreign land without proper protection from the Saudi government.

At that moment I also thought of the homeless in America, another rich country of the world.

Then I thought of Hadrat Omar bin Abdul Aziz's time when there were people who wanted to give Zakah but there was no poor person left to take it.

As I was walking towards the Jamraat, I saw the floor littered with razor blades left by the barbers who had shaved millions of heads yesterday. Be careful not to lose your slippers.

(The Jamraat are the three stone pillars in Mina which symbolically represent the locations where the devil [Shaytan] is stated in tradition to have tried to tempt Prophet Ibrahim in an effort to dissuade him from the path of Allah. The pilgrim symbolically stones these pillars on the 10th through the 13th of Zul -Hijjah in commemoration of the rejection of the devil by Prophet Ibrahim, and of his steadfastness to the cause of Allah. The Jamraat are located within a few hundred feet of one another in a line and are named as follows: Jamrat ul Kubra: The last stone pillar in the line. This is also called Jamrat ul Ooqbah; Jamrat ul Oola : The first stone pillar in the line; Jamrat ul Wusta: The second (middle) stone pillar in the line).

We passed through the dense crowds of Jamrat ul Ooqbah and ul Wusta and reached Jamrat ul Oola.

Seven pebbles for each Jamrat starting at ul Oola and working our way backwards. We reached home after three hours. I did my Maghrib and Isha and slept till 10:30 or so at the Makkah residence and then went to Mina.

Mina was cluttered with smelly and stinky garbage. At night the electricity went out [at] around 3:00 a.m. No more fans or coolers in this heat.

By this time, however, my body had adjusted somewhat and I could [bear] the heat for a while. We left Mina after Fajr and came back to Makkah.

A small number of people from our group headed by Maulana had stayed at Makkah and did not spend the night at Mina for the past two days or so. They felt that it is only a Sunnah, not Wajib.

Knowing the filthy conditions at Mina, I did not really want to spend the last two nights at Mina but went along with the majority.

Diary of a Haji: Day 17

May 23, 1994 (12th Zul-Hijjah):

[At] around 2:30 p.m. we went for Rummy again. On the way I saw an old man get hit by a bus.

The driver looked at him for a couple of seconds and then kept going. The man was in pain, but he was still standing.

This time the crowd was smaller. I walked through stinky, smelly places, the worst area was the covered area leading to the Jamraat.

At Jamrat ul Oola, I was able to reach the wall this time and threw the seven pebbles at the pillar with the slogan of Allahu Akbar.

The other two Jamrats were crowded and I had to throw the pebbles from a distance. I don't think all of my pebbles hit the towers, but they were in the right direction and that is the best one can do without getting hurt.

Our drivers and other workers had really worked hard for us, despite the lack of standards.

I felt relaxed and happy that Hajj was almost over. Only Tawaf ul Wuda was left which we would do on Thursday before leaving Saudi Arabia on Friday morning (this is the farewell Tawaf performed by the pilgrim just before leaving Mecca for his next destination).

At night, Ismael Farooque took us to his restaurant for [a] farewell dinner. We sat on the carpets laid in rectangular blocks in the open air. Barbecued spicy chicken, Kurrahi ghosht, Lassi (Alsi cola) and Nan [a type of bread] were served. It was good and relaxing.

Spiritually I was so relaxed and happy, but my body was not in good shape. My nose and throat had become worse.

Diary of a Haji: Day 18-19


May 24-25, 1994:

I took two grams of vitamin C. Manzoor Ali gave me a pack of lozenges for the throat.

According to Khalid, about six hundred people died yesterday at the Jamraat between noon and 2:00 p.m. According to another source, CNN back home had reported about 800 people dead.

I recalled a group of about twelve Nigerians at Jamrat ul Wusta, who were clenched together, their hands across the shoulders of the people in front of them, moving as one solid block away from the wall after finishing the task.

While they were coming out with full force, anyone who happened to be in their way could get hurt if they were not watchful. I was lucky to not be in their direct path and was able to notice them at the right moment to escape. One wrong turn and they could have crushed me.

Of course they were not trying to hurt others. With so many people there, the scenes change suddenly and you don't know what is coming to you in a few more seconds.

According to the Daily Arab News, 829 pilgrims died, out of which about 600 died just yesterday during Rummy at [the] Jamraat due to a stampede, heat, etc.

The total number of Hajis this year is 1,531,681 according to the Riyadh Daily. It stated that 995,611 came from abroad and 536,070 from within Saudi Arabia.

The Riyadh Daily and Saudi Gazette had no news of the death toll. The Saudi Gazette on its first page said that 2.5 million performed Hajj. The Riyadh Daily's Urdu [language] section stated that 2,067,681 is the total number of Hajis, [with] 1,531,611 from abroad and 536,070 from within Saudi Arabia.

The actual number is perhaps much bigger. [I] heard that when it came to be known that Hajj this year was going to be on Friday, a lot more people decided to perform Hajj at the last minute.

I took a chance [and went] to Jeddah, a modern port city with high rise buildings. On my way to Jeddah there was a landmark arc over the highway with a huge open book resembling the Quran.

In Jeddah we passed by the beach, a park and saw a water fountain shooting water towards the sky. [We also saw] beautiful roadways, bridges and multilane highways which only a rich country can afford.

On our way back we ate at a barbecue chicken fast-food restaurant. Newspaper report statements by various Muslim leaders [expressed appreciation to the] Saudi government for the huge Hajj facilities.

Improvement of facilities, bridges, new roads appeared to be an ongoing process undertaken by the government. It is difficult to say how much effort is being put into the proper education and skills development of Hajj workers and Saudi officials.

There appears to be a great need to develop and improve on interpersonal relations. Technology alone cannot solve the problems. A great deal of responsibility lies with the personnel.

The Hajis themselves do contribute to the Hajj gathering in many ways. Regardless of how much effort is put forth by the Saudi government and their personnel, not much can be accomplished without a proper attitude by the Hajis themselves. Most pilgrims come from the Third World.

Education of pilgrims by home organizations is a must.

Diary of a Haji: Day 20


May 26, 1994 (Thursday)

We went to the Kaba in the morning around 9:30 to do Tawaf ul Wuda. The crowd was bearable.

I prayed two Rakas, drank Zamzam [water], [made] Dua and then went around the entire Masjid to find a container to carry Zamzam [water] home.

Farewell Kaba, the House of God, where Abraham, Ismael, Hajirah, and Muhammad prayed. May peace and blessings be on all of them.

Millions of Muslims come here to pay tribute to these noble persons and glorify God. They come inspired and apprehensive, but leave (insha' Allah) with all sins washed away, happy and joyous, and spiritually elevated.

People have been visiting the Kaba for over 3,000 years. There were moments in the history of the Kaba when glorification of God became mixed with the glorification of idols and stones.

During the pre-Islamic era, the so-called Period of Ignorance, Arabs also started circuiting the Kaba nude. They put so many idols inside the walls of the Kaba.

Now that the region around it is filled with Muslims, the House gets its true respect from such a gigantic yearly gathering and then from others year around.

I was, however, in a state of shock when I came to know that there are still a few in the ocean of millions of worshipers, who come here to pickpocket and steal!

A man in our group had about $1,000 inside his waist belt. While he was doing his Tawaf, he felt some pressure from behind on his belt. After a moment he saw a man going away from his back. They glanced at each other for a moment. The other man's face turned color and then the man vanished in the dense crowd.

He later discovered that his rubber belt had been cut with a razor and all his cash except the American Express travelers checks were gone. The thief was smart!

I recalled a similitude of angels coming down to earth asking people to obey God, but the ones who refuse to obey would still not obey regardless of what signs were shown to them.

Another similitude is of rain that falls on barren land and stones. While the barren land suddenly becomes fertile with the rain, the stones do not produce any vegetation. These thieves are worse than the stones, since there are stones from which water comes out, as if from the fear of God. These thieves do not move even in the midst of thousands and thousands of worshipers chanting to glorify God.

Farewell Kaba! Glory be to Allah, the Almighty, the Creator and the Lord of the universes.

Let me take you back to my remaining activities of the day.

I came back to our residence around 12:00, ate lunch, took another shower, applied Vaseline Intensive Care for dry skin.

[At] around 4:30 after Asr, we were all set to go to Jeddah. Farewell Makkah! We reached

Jeddah around 7:00. The flight back to the U.S. was actually the next day at 5:00 am.

We spent the night at the airport.

Diary of a Haji: Day 21

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.


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.