We didn’t know where we were walking to….just that we were walking in the general direction of Mina. We had to be in Muzdalifa for a short time and also collect our pebbles, and whilst some of us (including myself) were feeling anxious at the change of plans, our leaders were quite calm, which meant things were okay.
Mustafa mama was leading the group of ladies towards Mina. A few minutes away from the gated area of Muzdalifa, we were told to stop on the side and begin to pick our pebbles. We were on a sidewalk of the main highway and at first I thought there was no way we would all find enough pebbles each in such a small place! However, all of us managed to fill our bags with 70 pebbles each, and some of us even had the Niyabat to collect pebbles for others who could not be there themselves. I remember thinking at that time, that the sheer amount of pebbles just on the sidewalk was quite a miracle in itself!
At around 12:30am, we began walking towards Mina. I didn’t know how far Mina was or how long it was going to take us to get there. Here was where I silently hoped that all the walking back home would pay off. We walked for what seemed like a really long time. All the while, our backpacks with us, and some of us sipping on energy drinks, mindful not to drink too much as we didn’t even know whether there were washrooms nearby!
At 1:30am, we reached our tents in Mina. These tents were quite different from those in Arafah in terms of how they were set up inside, and definitely not how I expected. They were nice. As we entered there were three rows with individual sofa beds on either side, facing each other. All of us ladies in our group would be staying in the one tent. Us 6 friends didn’t rush but managed to find a nice area where we took 6 single sofas in a row.
Our group leaders advised that we rest for a little while, and at 2:30am we would proceed to perform Rami; the stoning of the pillars. Today we would only be stoning one of the pillars, the largest one.
I didn’t know how we would even manage, we had been on the go since late last night and hadn’t had a proper dose of rest. But we took the advice seriously and rested our very sore feet before getting ready to walk again.
It took us just over an hour to walk to Jamarat al-Aqaba, the largest of the three pillars. To be honest, the strength and energy to walk so much and be awake enough was entirely divine! There was no way, that I would’ve been able to continue, had I not understood that this was all with the help of Allah (SWT).
After stoning the pillar, we returned back to our tents; another hour’s walk! There was 20 minutes leftbefore Fajr prayers would be Qadha, so we took turns and prayed in the little spaces there were in our tents and then fell asleep.
It was the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah today, and Muslims worldwide were marking Eid ul-Adha. We, in our tents, were not celebrating with sweets and decorations, fancy clothes or congregational prayers. Our celebrations were individual and very personal. Celebrations of a renewed soul and a second chance; we had been cleansed on the plains of Arafah, and this was a new beginning.
Many in our group waited anxiously to hear that the Qurbani (slaughtering of the animal) had been done on their behalf so that they could perform Taqsir and then be relieved of their Ihram. At around 9:30 am that call came. Some of us were so exhausted that we slept through the excitement of the ladies performing the Taqsir, and preparing to freshen up and remove the clothes of Ihram. I, along with a few others, woke up 15 minutes before the time of Dhuhrain prayers. I performed my own Taqsir and prepared for Salah.
There wasn’t anything specific to do in Mina, and nowhere really to go. There weren’t shops or malls, just rows and rows of tents and thousands of Muslims from around the world. The Wuquf in Mina was definitely proving to be the most trying time.
The men in our group were in an adjacent tent. Asif wasn’t feeling too well. Most of the men had walked over 12km that day from Muzdalifa to the tents, then to the slaughter house, then for Halaq (shaving of the head), and then back to the tents. All this had caused him a mild heat stroke. I couldn’t do much, and whilst several women had met their spouses or male family members and seen how different they looked after having their heads shaved, Asif was still deep in sleep. I wanted to ask him about his experience of performing Qurbani and how their stay in Muzdalifa was. I guess with time, I would hear all the stories.
Today, it was important to rest. Early in the morning tomorrow we would be walking to Jamarat again, to stone all three of the pillars. The distance and the heat would require that we have enough energy!
Just after Maghribain Salah, we had dinner. Hujjaj socialized, shared stories and got to know each other. Some rested, and others recited Qur’an. In all positivity, I guess we could sleep a lot earlier and get more sleep. And that is what we did…