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On pilgrimage together
It was certainly blessings from Allah that my wife and I we able to perform the Haj in 2011, ahead of schedule. My turn should have been in 2014 and my wife’s in 2016.
We wrote an appeal letter to Lembaga Tabung Haji, stating our reasons to go earlier: we had performed the umrah (some refer to this as the mini Haj) in 2006; we were physically and medically fit to undergo the Haj’s physical rituals; and we were able to finance ourselves for the duration of the Haj season. With Allah’s grace, our reasons were accepted.
Our group left Kompleks Haji Kelana Jaya on the night of Oct 29 and headed for KL International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang.
As our destination was Makkah, all the male pilgrims were already in their ihram attire. The clothing of ihram consists of two pieces of white unsewn cloth. One is wrapped around the upper part of the body, except the the head. However, when performing the tawaf (circling the Kaabah), the right shoulder must not be covered.
The other piece of cloth is wrapped around the lower part of the body (which is kept in place with a money belt).
The flight to Jeddah took seven hours. From there, we travelled to Makkah by bus and reached the Dar Al-Eiman Royal Hotel in Al-Safwa Towers just before 5pm. For Muslims, performing the Haj is the fifth and the last pillar of Islam.
We performed the umrah on the same night, led by mutawif or religious guides. Several compulsory rituals needed to be performed. First, we had to utter our intention in our heart to perform the umrah. We did this earlier while flying over Qarnul Manazil, Saudi Arabia, two hours before touchdown.
The second ritual was to perform the tawaf umrah by circling Kaabah seven times in an anti-clockwise direction. Upon seeing the Kaabah, I said to myself: “Thank you Allah for allowing me to be your guest”.
The other rituals were performing the sa’ie umrah at Safa and Marwah, cutting our hair (called tahallul) and reciting our intention to part from wearing the ihram.
For several days before performing the Haj proper we dressed in normally. Pilgrims spent the time intensifying their religious activities, praying five times a day, reading the al-Quran as well as reciting the numerous doa at the Grand Mosque, Masjidil Haram.
It was made known that a prayer done at this mosque is 100,000 times better than anywhere else. Pilgrims took every opportunity to drink the zam zam water after every prayer.
Pilgrims had to pay a token Saudi Riyal 355 (RM340) if they wanted to perform the Tamattu’ Haj. We also had to pay Saudi Riyal 430 (RM412) if we wanted to participate in what is called the qurban. This is in remembrance of the the ritual performed by Prophet Abraham on his son, Prophet Ismail.
On Nov 5 (9 Zulhijjah in the Islamic calendar), clad in ihram attire again, our group left for Arafah, around 12.50am. We uttered our intention to perform the Haj while in the bus and also reinforced this by reciting the talbiah during the journey.
We must be present physically, called wukuf, at Arafah as this is the first ritual activity for the Haj. Prophet Muhammad SAW had once said: “Hajj is Arafah”. In terms of timing, all the pilgrims must be at Arafah, even if it’s only for a second, between zohor (afternoon) on Nov 5 and subuh (dawn) the next day. At about 12.05pm, we started our wukuf with a sermon, followed by the zohor congregational prayer.
At Arafah, we raised our hands high and prayed to Allah for the well-being and betterment of ourselves and our daughters, Dr. Sarah (working in Newcastle, Australia) and Syazana (alone at home); family members and friends. It was during this time that tears ran down our faces.
At Arafah, our minds were not thinking of anything else but asking for forgiveness from Allah. After the isyak (night) prayer, we left for Muzdalifah. Here, we collected enough stones for melontar or “stoning the devil” ritual activity at Jamarah in Mina.
We reached Mina at about 4.00am on the same day. Pilgrims were required to be in Mina from Nov 6-9 for the melontar ritual.
As we planned to go back to Makkah for the night, we performed the molantar that day at Big Jamarah (Jamrah Aqaba) at about 11.50pm, followed by the cutting our hair. Since we had cut our hair, we can part with our ihram attire. We then walked towards Makkah with four other friends and reached our hotel about 70 minutes later.
The next day, we went back to Mina, riding pillion for Saudi Riyal 100 (RM96) each. We stopped at Jamarah and performed the melontar at Small Jamarah, Middle Jamarah and Big Jamarah. The rituals were repeated on the next two days.
We left Mina for Makkah by bus in the afternoon of Nov 9. To complete the Haj rituals, we still need to perform the tawaf haji and sa’ie haji. I did this with my wife on Nov 12, after the Isyak prayers.
After performing tawaf wada’, we left for Madinah on Dec 1. While in Madinah, we prayed at the Masjid Nabawi, including at the Raudhah. We performed the doa in front of the magnificent tombs of Prophet Muhammad SAW, Saiyidina Abu Bakar and Saiyidina Omar. I conveyed my friends’ greetings to the Prophet SAW.
For the next few days, the organiser brought us to visit the surrounding areas, such as Masjid Quba, Masjid Kiblatain, Bukit Uhud, Khandak and date orchard.
Before leaving Madinah, we were required to do the wada’ (goodbye) ritual at the Masjid Nabawi. We did it during the night of Dec 9. We left the hotel for Madinah Airport at about 2.00am on Dec 10. We landed in KLIA at about 9.25pm.
The Haj is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; it is something you remember forever. “Thank you” Allah, for accepting us as your guests during the Haj.
The writer at a camel farm near Makkah. Camel milk tastes just like coconut water
The writer and his wife at Kompleks Haji Kelana Jaya before leaving for Makkah
The freshly baked mushroom pizza with cheese is popular with pilgrims at Makkah Hilton Hotel
While in Makkah or Madinah, savour the Nasi Arab
Main entrance to Abraj Al Bait Shopping Center in Makkah, situated right in front of the Grand Mosque Masjidil Haram
20 Rejab 1436H