Dhu'l-Qa'dah / Zil-Hijjah 1423 H
Volume 16-02 No : 194
Camps \ Workshops
The sun is playing hide and seek with drifting clouds as pilgrims have been streaming into the Holy City from all parts of the world. The temperature drops around the time of Dhuhr prayer and is followed by a fine drizzle and mild winds.
The pilgrims, draped in white clothes, are clearly overjoyed. “Rains are the harbinger of good tidings,” said an elderly pilgrim from Bangladesh as the rain was soaking him. He unrolled his plastic mat on the wet floor and joined the imam in prayers.
The men in charge of maintaining the Holy Haram have been working feverishly to clean away the fine dirt and slush that accompanied the drizzle. Within minutes, everything was crystal clear, much to the amazement of pilgrims from Third World countries. Dhuhr prayer over, the sun was still not out. Pigeons fluttered past the minarets and swooped down on any vacant space available in the precincts of the Holy Haram.
Spirituality combined with anxiety was writ large on the pilgrims’ faces. With just a few days remaining for Haj, the pilgrims’ minds are clearly focused on the rituals that they will perform in fulfillment of their obligations. “Of course, we are anxious. Being in Makkah is an overwhelming experience. There are too many people here. We come from a small town. Even performing circumabulation or tawaf is a big task,” confessed a strong, elderly Afghan who is here on pilgrimage for the first time. Women draped in their country’s best had tears in their eyes as they looked in awe at the Holy Kaabah.
“I am elated beyond words to see the Holy Kaabah. All our lives we have bowed in this direction. Only today did I finally have a chance to see the black stone,” cried an Egyptian woman. She could barely control her emotions. Her husband tried to help her but he too was having difficulty restraining his own emotions.
Makkah is buzzing with activity. The moallims, the men in charge of pilgrims, are working overtime to complete the formalities of the pilgrims’ time in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa.
“Everything is going smoothly. So far, so good,” said an attendant at the office of one moallim.
Traffic police are everywhere, monitoring and regulating traffic inside and outside the city. Additional checkpoints have been erected on the way and people’s identities are being carefully checked before they enter the Holy City.
(The writer is associated with the Arab News).