When I didn’t hear from you until noon today, I wondered if I should start worrying. It is 7 pm in Mecca, and by now you should have returned from the Jamaraat, after hurling stones at the devil—or rather, the pillars signifying the devil. It’s a 105 F in Mecca today and an hour’s walk to the site, and then back. I am sure you kept water, salt tablets, an umbrella for shade, and had good walking shoes. Accidents happen at that site, and I am praying that you made it back safely, with the grace of God.
Thank you my dear for your text message. I will wait patiently for the details. For now, I am grateful to God that you returned safely to Mecca.
Pilgrims will tell you that miracles happen at Hajj. You pray for something and within moments, your prayers are answered. Almost everyone who returns from Hajj has a miracle story to relate. It happened to me over and over again when I did the hajj. Why don’t I share one, which is actually a miracle story in the reverse.
Dad and I were with a group of six friends at Hajj and on this day, the eight of us decided to go together to perform the Rami—hurling of the stones at the pillar. One of our friends Anwar, was in a wheelchair. We made the long walk to the Jamarat—the location of the pillar. When we got to the ramp going to the upper level, the cops stopped us.
“No wheelchairs on the upper level. Go down”.
Now what! The lower level was very crowded and none of us wanted to risk it.
We protested, reasoned, but rule is a rule, whether you agree with it or not.
Anwar decided to forego the wheelchair, and walk on the upper level. Better to walk than be pushed by the crowds. That was fine, but what do we do with the wheelchair? The cops refused to hold it for us. Then one of our friends, Shahid came up with an idea.
“I did my Rami today. You all go ahead on the upper level, I will hold onto the wheelchair and meet you below by the exit ramp.”
Nice of him!
So, the rest of us proceeded up the ramp. We got to the small Jamaraat and hit 7 stones at the pillar. No crowds. We prayed for God’s help in giving us the strength to keep the devil out of our lives and out of our hearts.
Then the middle-size pillar. Same ritual. No crowds.
Then the large pillar. Same ritual. No crowds.
Done with the ritual, we walked down the exit ramp.
Where was he?
We looked around.
We waited a little.
Did we get our signals crossed?
We waited and waited and waited.
After half an hour, we headed back to our tent. That is when we ran into a couple who gave us the news about Shahid.
“He was waiting by the ramp with a folded wheelchair, when he saw a woman who was hurt, lying on the ground, bleeding, and almost passing out. He rushed over to her, put her in the wheelchair, and with her family, wheeled her away to her tent.” We were still talking about it when Shahid walked in. He had settled the woman in her tent, and accepting her family’s thanks, had returned, empty wheelchair in hand.
Why did I say that this was a miracle story in the reverse? Think of the woman whom Shahid helped with the wheelchair. She will have some story to tell when she goes home. I can just imagine her saying, “….I was bleeding, I was ready to faint, how was I going to make the long walk back to my tent, I prayed to God to help me, and just then a man emerged from out of nowhere with an empty wheelchair and offered it to me. Imagine! Who walks around the Jamaraat with an empty wheelchair at 10:00 p.m.. God answered my prayers and sent me an angel of mercy. I surely would have been trampled had it not been for that angel. It was a miracle!”
The spiritual and positive energy of the Hajj brings out the best in people, they become God’s vessels for mercy to mankind, and those of us who receive that mercy when we least expect it, call it a miracle.
Son, did you experience God’s hand over you, sheltering you, easing your journey? Do you have miracle stories to tell to your little girl when you return, InshAllah? I bet you can’t wait. I know I can’t.
With all my love,
Audio book available, narrated by author: