Hajj, Jan - Mar 2008

Hajj 2007

By Imam Yusef Maisonet

I will remember this Hajj for the rest of my life. In my forty years as a Muslim, I have never expected anything like this. Hajj 2007 was my third time on hajj. The first was by myself and the second time was with my wife. However, this time, hajj had a special meaning to it because I was making a historical hajj with brothers from the Latino community, and I was making this hajj for a friend that had his intention on making this hajj and died before he could accomplish his goal.

We spent the last six weeks in an Imam Training Program. I was already an Imam but I wasn’t certified. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi sponsored the program. This beautiful gift of hajj was a wonderful reward for finishing the program. We started our journey from Al Ain, UAE, where the Imam Training Program was held. As we arrived at the Abu Dhabi airport, we were all in a state of anxiety on making this historic trip. We were busy checking our bags that were giving to us. We had just enough clothes and toiletries to make this a pleasant trip.

We boarded on Qatar Airlines on one of their latest airplanes. It was beautiful just seeing all of these brothers and sisters going on hajj from the UAE. Our first stop was at Medina, the city of the Prophet (SAW). When we arrived, we were welcomed like royalty. The rest of the brothers who were attending hajj for the first time didn’t notice. Because I had come to this side of the world many times, I already knew what to expect -the waiting, the lines customs, and sometimes the dislike for Americans.

By Allah’s mercy, we were treated well with plenty of love. When we arrived at the hotel in Medina, we were the first occupants for the Hajj season. This brand new hotel was named Al Kareem Hotel. After putting our bags in our rooms, we headed to the Prophet’s Mosque to offer two rakat. We had time to visit the Prophet’s (SAW) tomb along with the tombs of Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab (R.A.). Al-Masjid an Nabawi was built by the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) himself next to his own house and now contains his tomb. After a well-deserved rest, we made Fajr prayer at the Prophet’s Masjid. After eating breakfast at our beautiful hotel, we took a tour to some of the historical places in Medina.

The first place on the list was Masjid Al Qiblatain. This mosque has two Qiblas and is situated in Madinah just a few miles from Masjid an-Nabi. It is one of the oldest mosques in the world, and it contains two mihrabs. One is in the direction of Jerusalem and the other towards Makkah. In this Masjid, the Prophet Muhammad received revelation to change the Qiblah from Jerusalem towards the Ka’bah in Mecca.

“Verily! We have seen the turning of your face towards the heaven; surely we shall turn you to a prayer direction (Qiblah) that shall please you (Surah al-Baqarah; 2:144).

Then, we went onto Masjid Quba. It is also about two miles southwest from Masjid an-Nabawi. It is the first mosque of the Muslims. It is said that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his companions built it with their own hands on their migration to Madinah. While at the mosque, we made two rakat nafl. Doing so is said to be equal to one Umrah.

Then, it was on to Jabal-e-Uhud, which is about four miles north of Madinah. The battle of Uhud was fought in 3 A.H. The Prophet’s (SAW) uncle, Hamza, and other companions are buried here. Afterward, we returned to Madinah. We had time to shop for some extra clothes before getting ready for hajj.

Labbayk Allahumma labbayk
Labbayk la shareeka laka labbyk
Innal hamda wan ni’imata laka wal mulk
La shareeka lak

Here I am at your service O Lord, here I am
Here I am. There is no partner to You, here I am
Truly, the praise and Favor is Yours, and the dominion.
There is no partner to You.

We headed towards Mecca to perform our Umrah. We went to a miqat outside of Madinah to take a shower. We put on our ikrams and made two rakat. We were performing Tamattu Hajj, which combines Umrah and Hajj with a break from our ikram in between. It took us three hours to drive to Mecca in the SUVs that had been contracted to drive us there. On our arrival, we went to the hotel to take our bags. Then, it was on to the masjid to make our Umrah, which consists of seven Tawafs, two rakat at the station of Ibrahim, drinking Zam Zam water, seven times back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, and then getting your hair clipped.

As we were making our tawaf and at the end of each circuit, we would say:
Rabbana atina fid dunya hasanatan wa fil akhirati
hasanatan wa qina adhaban nar.

Our Lord give us good in this world, and good in the hereafter,
and save us from the torment of the fire.

After the Umrah, we returned to our hotel and change into our regular clothes. We relaxed a little while we made every salat at the Kabah. Finally, the big day came on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah. We washed our bodies, put on our ihram, and made our intention by saying the talbiyah.

Labbayk Allahumma labbayk
Labbayk la shareeka labbyk
Innal hamda wan ni’imata laka wal mulk
La shareeka lak.

Here I am at your service O Lord, here I am
Here I am. There is no partner to You
Here I am
Truly, the praise and favour is Yours, and the dominion.

We went to Mina, and again we had excellent drivers. One of the drivers who was named Abdullah was an English student. During the hajj season, many students volunteer their time helping the Hajjis. We performed our Dhur, Asr, Maghrib, Isha and Fajr prayers at the proper times, shortening prayers from four rakat to two, but we didn’t combine our prayers.

On the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, we proceeded to Arafat at sunrise and made Dhur and Asr. We shortened the prayers. We combined them during the time of Dhur with one adhan and two iqamas. One iqama for each prayer. We stayed in Arafat until sunset making dua all day for our friends, family, and members of the Latino community but mostly asking Allah (SWT) to forgive us and have mercy on us.

Afterward, we proceeded to Muzdalifah where we combined the Maghrib and Isha prayers. We shortened the Isha prayer to two rakat. When we arrived in Muzdalifah, we couldn’t find the place that was reserved for us. Fortunately, we saw some of the brothers from the UAE, and we decided to camp with them after receiving their permission. After the Maghrib and Isha prayer, we laid out our sleeping bags and rested. Let me tell you it was cold.

Before sunrise, we proceeded to Mina where we picked up our seven stones to throw at Stone Pillar of Aqabah, which is the Jamarah closest to Mecca. With each throw, we would say “Allahu Akbar.” This year you could see the improvements made to make it easier to perform. From there, we went by SUV to the biggest surprise. We went to a slaughterhouse. Each of the fourteen of us had a sheep ready to slaughter. Some could not see themselves doing it, so they gave others permission to slaughter for them.

After we shaved our heads, we returned to the hotel to change from our ihrams into our regular clothes. Then, we performed the tawaf’s and sa’y. We would return to Mina for another two days to finish our stone throwing and to get to know each other better. After returning to Mecca to perform our farewell tawafs, we flew back to Al Ain UAE to pack our bags for our return to the USA. Meanwhile, we had gotten so close to one other during our stay at the school and from performing Umrah and Hajj together. It was hard saying goodbye, but I can safely say that this entire experience has given us all a sense of accomplishment. YES WE CAN!