Waking up at 2:00am was working out really well. I guess because we wanted to maximize our time in the Haram and perform Mustahab Tawaf, we both motivated each other even though we were getting only a few hours of sleep each night.
I met Asif in the lobby and we made our way to the Haram. Today, the crowd at the Haram was significantly less and performing Tawaf was much easier. We decided that because we would have quite a bit of time before Fajr prayers, we would sit on the Mountain of Safa and recite Surah al-Baqarah as it was highly recommended.
We stayed near the Mountain to pray Fajr, as the Haram was filling up quite quickly and we weren’t sure if we would make it up to the rooftop. Some days the security guards would switch off the escalators going up, or switch them so that they would go down instead, and other days, entrances that were previously open would be barricaded. I didn’t quite understand what they were doing and why each day was different, but I’m sure they had an overview of the crowds and the flow, so they knew what they were doing. However, we never knew where and when we could get stuck!
The rush going up and down the elevators to different floors of the Haram
Asif decided he wanted something different breakfast this morning, so after Fajr prayers, we went to a small coffee shop in ZamZam Towers where we had tea and croissants. It was a good change! You’d be surprised at how people were eating pizzas and burgers so early in the morning, but their days had become nights and their nights had become days. Everybody was running on their own routine.
Back at the hotel, I rested until 11:40am. Even though it was Jum’ah day, I did not go to the Haram for prayers as it was getting quite packed and I would have had to leave much earlier to get a space inside the Haram. Those who came back later from our group said that even though they left the hotel around 10:30am, they got space in the shopping mall to pray. The Haram was jam-packed!
This afternoon’s lecture was more like a Q&A session on Fiqh Masa’il for Hajj-e-Tamattu which we would start for us, tomorrow. After lunch and some rest a few of us went to the Mini Market – Souk to look around. We got to the top floor of the Haram in time for Maghribain prayers, and then made our way back to the hotel for 7:30pm.
The evening lecture was by Shaykh Nuru Mohammad, an excellent speaker who was with another group but had come to our hotel to speak and given insight on our journey so far, and the changes we should consider making in our lives, as this was a life-changing journey.
We headed back to the Mini Market – Souk with friends to show them a few of the wonderful shops where they could purchase souvenirs and gifts for their families. Asif and I then went on to the Haram. There was hardly a crowd. It was the 8th night of Dhul Hijjah and many of the Ahle Sunnah had already left for Mina. It was so nice to just sit under open skies with the Holy Ka’ba in plain sight.
It’s midnight and we have just reached back to our hotel. It’s time for a short snooze before the 2:00am alarm goes off again…