We made our intention for Hajj, and the group and I made our way to Mina. I was very excited about what was ahead, but nothing could have prepared me for Mina.
As soon as we reached Mina, we were taken to our tent. I had never experienced such heat, and despite the fans set to, what I can only describe as, full blast, the heat continued to make me sweat. I neither had the strength to stand nor sit up. The thought of spending a number of days in Mina made me anxious. To make matters worse, my sleeping space in Mina was not big enough to allow me to sleep on my back comfortably, and I only had just about enough space to sleep on my side. And to add to all this, I was sharing the space with people who were complete strangers at the time. Catching a bit of fresh air outside the tent was not an option, the midday sun would have dehydrated me within a few minutes.
Having spent a couple of hours in Mina, the Shayk made an announcement. He explained that in a couple of days, we would form close bonds of brotherhood with those around us, and that we would yearn to return to our small spot in Mina after performing the various rituals of Hajj. I remember thinking to myself that yearning to return to this spot may be something that others would experience, but because I was finding it so difficult, I did not think I would be one of them.
Subhan Allah, I was wrong. During the days in Mina, I learnt that the difficult conditions I found myself in were luxurious to many people around the world. Having bonded with the brothers in the tent, and having taken care of the needs of each other, I became comfortable with my surroundings. The Shayk was right, after performing the various rituals of Hajj; I did yearn to return to my comfortable spot in Mina. As soon as I fell in love with Mina, it was time to leave; Hajj was coming to an end.
The black stone
Whenever family and friends spoke about the black stone, they told me that I would not get the opportunity to kiss it due to the numbers of people performing Hajj. They explained that during Umrah it was impossible, therefore, during Hajj it was unthinkable. However, I decided that I would try.
I left my wife at the hotel, as I knew it would be impossible for me to protect her near the black stone. Having performed Tawaaf, I made my way towards the back stone. Saying that there was a lot of pushing and shoving would be an understatement, and the crush I experienced whilst entering Raudah-tul-Jannah in Madinah did not even compare to what I was experiencing – I literally could not breath, and found it impossible to raise my arms in order to make space of my chest to expand. But I was committed and decided to continue trying.
I was constantly pushed away from the black stone, and at times towards it. There were plenty of occasions when the black stone was within arms length, but I did not get an opportunity to kiss it. I ensured that I did not push or hurt anyone whilst trying. I knew it would be wrong, especially considering the fact that kissing the black stone was not an obligation. Having tried for around an hour and a half, I gave up.
The following day, I tried again. I experienced the same crush as the previous day. But I was committed and would spend as long as it took in order to achieve by objective. I continued to be crushed and pushed away from the black stone just like the previous day, but I persevered, until suddenly I was pushed to right in front of the black stone. I could not believe my luck, and for a split second, I froze. Having regained my senses, I kissed the black stone and made my way out. I was in tears again and thanked Allah for such an amazing blessing. I immediately sent messages to my wife who was at the hotel and family back home, telling them what had just happened. Alhamdulillah.