Friday, December 30, 2005

The Re-birth – Part IV

"و أذن في الناس بالحج يأتوك رجالا..."

I have never in my life felt as safe as I did as when I was at 3arafa. There are no words that I can put together that would truly be reflective of my feelings then. 3arafa, the day you feel all your sins are washed off; you are reborn.

You literally feel the presence of Angels around you. No one will be able to truly appreciate what I mean other than those who have actually been there. Had I not already put on the 7ejab prior to leaving home, there was no way I was going to walk out of 3arafa not met7ajba.

"God is so merciful that He is willing to forgive me for ALL my sins, and I can’t put a piece of cloth on my head? I can’t cover my hair? 3aib 3lay ibsara7a."

There will never be another wagfa ib 3arafa again where I will not recall all the feelings of that day and lower my head thanking Allah for His Greatness.

"اللهم اعوذ بك من الفقر و من شتات الامر و من شر ما يحدث بالليل و النهار أمسي ظلمي مستجيرا بعفوك و أمسي خوفي مستجيرا بأمانك .."

This is where a huge dose of reality was handed to me. Looking around, you see many different people from all parts of the world and all parts of life. You see poverty in its rawest form, yet poverty moved by faith! Simply unreal.

This is where I felt how weak I was as a mortal. This is where it became clear that at the end, it doesn’t matter what educational degree I hold, what job title I carry, how much money I make.. it doesn’t matter what country I was born in and if I can speak languages or not. What matters is how my actions will have earned me a place in Heaven or not. Looking around, I realize those who have lived much more humble lives were on the same level as me standing there, possibly even higher when it came to what really matters!

Road to Mina:
Heading to Mina, anything that can go wrong went wrong. Our bus got lost in the midst of the human oceans of people walking around. It was barely moving as a result and what should’ve taken us 1 hour, at most, took us 9 hours! During that ride some people started to whine and complain that we were late, that we were on the bus too long, etc.

Somehow, I felt completely calm and serene. My mother looked at me and asked if I was ok. I replied, “Never been better. We’re going to narjim el shay6an. He’s trying to mess things up for us. La etkhaloneh yaghlebkom. Don’t sit here and whine. Read Quran, read du3a2, do anything constructive. Complaining will just give el shay6an what he wants.”

So we, as a group, started reading Du3a2 and the more we read, the faster the bus was able to move. The minute we all said out loud “Allahuma Salleee wa Sallim 3ala Mohammed, wa 2al Mohammed”, the bus moved and kept on moving. Sub7anak ya Rab!

Ramee El-Jamarat:
So many people gathered around, throwing pebbles (rajm el shay6an.) We decided to split up. Three of my aunts and I decided to battle this together. We held on to each other like a train. I lead the pack and walked into the crowd. Again, sub7an Allah, somehow the path opens up and we find ourselves against the railing, right in front of the wall. I grabbed my seven pebbles. As I looked up and aimed to throw, I saw many other pebbles flying in the same direction.

Somehow, as the pebble leaves your hand, your eyes follow it and you know EXACTLY which one your’s is and you see where it hits. You know right there and then whether you’ve hit it right or not. As each pebble leaves your hand you get more and more upset with el shay6an and you throw the next one even harder. You realize all those times el shay6an managed to convince you to sleep a little longer till salat el fajr passed you. You remember all those times el shay6an waswas lek and you realize how silly it was to not see it and stop el shay6an from having an effect on you!

Final 6awaf:
Right before we began our final 6awaf, it started to drizzle lightly. Smiling, we all looked up to the sky. El mo6ar khair, abwab el sama maftoo7ah! Then, it poured down!! Rain completely washed us. But that didn’t bother us, on the contrary, we were smiling like we’d never smiled before! Does this mean that Allah teqabal minna and is washing our sins?

Although we were worn out by all the events over the past few days, the harder it rained the more energy we had. We finished el 6awaf with greater ease than our first 6awaf when we arrived. Then, it happened. During our 7th and final sho6 around el Ka3ba, the rain stopped. I looked up and there it was. The most beautiful, huge, colorful rainbow right above el Ka3ba and the sky was orange.

Aneh 7ajjiya. How great it feels to actually BE one. It’s not just a word people use anymore. It’s a title I have earned proudly.

"لا اله الا أنت سبحانك اني كنت من الظالمين"

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Gather Ye Rosebuds...

she's gone. he wished that he could take it back. he wasn't sure why, but sometimes words came out of his mouth which sounded perfect at the time, but later on he realized that they were poisonous darts flying out, not words.

he cared for her deeply. he knew she was a good person. he knew that she wasn't like other girls. with her, there was no drama. she respected him as an individual, accepted their differences, and didn't seem to make the demands most girls these days make.

he tried to keep himself busy to stop his thoughts, but it didn't work. there she was again. when he's awake, he sees her in front of him, remembers her voice, her smile. when he tries to escape and sleep, she's there in is dreams. this is getting annoying. he's not the romantic type, he doesn't believe in any of this.

she was always there. whenever he wanted to share parts of his day, his frustrations, his dreams, his thoughts; she was always there to listen and try to comfort him. looking back now, he realized that there were many times when she'd come to him for solace and all he did was add to her pain. why? what made him do that? was he subconsciously trying to push her away? has he gotten so used to being alone that her taking over a part of his life was a threat he wasn't willing to succumb to? or was he so afraid of loss that he refused to commit?

doesn't matter now. she's gone. it's over. he had his chance. he blew it. "khalha etwalee, wana shako? alf bent bil 3alam."

his mind drifted again.. "bs mako methelha."

he picks up the phone. stares at it. it's too late. she's gone. he puts the phone back down and walks away.

not knowing what she meant to him, she died last week.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Mother Courage, a few weeks ago, wrote about Compromise, which is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time, but never got around to it. While each person will naturally relate this to whatever experiences they’ve gone through or are currently experiencing, please note that I’m talking about relationships in general and not just the ‘male/female’ relationship.

Once people surpass the ‘getting to know you' stage, they move on to categorizing. You have those who fall under ‘family’, ‘close friends – almost family’, ‘semi-friends’, ‘acquaintances’, ‘never want to see/talk to them’, etc. With some people, it’s easy to fit them into the appropriate slot. Others, though, it seems very difficult; they teeter-totter on the borderline and you never know when to make a final decision or where to place them.

There are people who enter our lives, people whose thought process we find admirable, whom we feel that we connect with, whose company we enjoy. Yet, as we get to know them better, as the novelty starts to subside, and we see more and more of the ‘full picture’ of that person’s personality, we find ourselves struggling. “Does this person add value to my life, or suck the energy out?”

It’s not easy to find people you connect or relate to. So, once you do, you hesitate to walk away. Human nature reminds us of the good times and we somehow sweep the bad under the rug and convince ourselves that there’s more ‘good’ than ‘bad’. Yet at the same time, with age and experience, tolerance levels get reduced greatly and priorities start shifting.

When do you stop compromising? When do you decide that enough is enough? There is no perfect person, so when do you decide whether their imperfection is something you can tolerate or not? Life has no guarantees. Life has no black or white answers. Life is too short to be wasted on the wrong people.

The dictionary says that compromise is: “a settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions.” The operative word here is ‘EACH’. I don’t think making the decision is the difficult part. If we dig deep down inside, we know whether the person in front of us is someone who is a good addition to our life or not. However, for some reason, once we make what we think is a ‘solid’ connection, it’s tough to break it off. We keep making up excuses and giving second, third, and twenty seventh chances; never quite realizing that if it was truly solid, no chances would be needed (at least not that many)!

When someone comes to us for advice, it’s so easy for us to give it; just like it’ll be easy for any of you to write a comment about this. But when it comes to your own life and the friends who cross your path, is it easy for you? Is it easy to draw the line and walk away once someone crosses it? Knowing the withdrawal symptoms you will face, how do you surpass that and move on? Just how much of yourself do you give up when you compromise?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Where there's a will, there's a way..

So I've finally been tagged.. and of all things to be tagged on, my ROOM!!!!! :| Well Doc, I'm not one to back down now.. you said room, you showed us one side of your room, now I get to pick my side to show:

I have officially fulfilled the tag! :D

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Pilgrimage - Part III

We started our 6awaf around el Ka3ba and it was not an easy task. Thousands of people all in one small location, all trying to perform the same duties. Somehow, sub7an Allah, we managed to find a slot and squeezed into the 6awaf ring. Once we reached the line where the 7ajjar aswad begins, we started our seven ashwa6:

« اللهم امانتي اديتها ، وميثاقي تعاهدته ، لتشهد لي بالموافاة ، اللهم تصديقا بكتابك ، وعلى سنة نبيك ،صلواتك عليه و اله اشهد ان لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له ، وان محمدا عبده ورسوله.. »

At first, it was tough to see where the black line by el7ajar elaswad starts. If you look down, you risk tripping, falling down and getting trampled on. Then we discovered that there’s a green light on top. If you just keep your eye on it, then you know where to begin each sho6.

We struggled to maintain our formation; people pushing from each direction. It was a raging sea of people. It wasn’t easy to keep your feet grounded as you felt a tide come in and lift you literally off your feet; you felt yourself somehow being pulled away from your group. The harder the forces against you, the harder you concentrated on keeping pace and keeping your ground. At first, I lost sight of what I was doing; I was too busy trying to not fall down. Fear took over for a few minutes, but then I remembered what I was there for. I’m in bait Allah; He’s protecting me and watching over me. What more could I ask for? What is there to fear? Nothing!

I lifted my head up high, held on strong, and raised my left arm forward to protect the women in our group from getting pulled away:

الشوط الأول: "اللهم اني اسألك باسمك الذي يمشي به على ظلل الماء كما يمشي به على جدد الأرض..."

الشوط الثاني: “اللهم اني اليك فقير و اني خائف مستجير.."

الشوط الثالث: "اللهم ادخلني الجنة و اجرني من النار برحمتك.."

الشوط الرابع: "يا الله يا ولي العافية و خالق العافية..."

الشوط الخامس: "الحمدلله الذي شرفك و عظمك.."

الشوط السادس: "اللهم البيت بيتك و العبد عبدك و هذا مقام العائذ بك من النار..."

الشوط السابع: "اللهم إن عندي أفواجا من ذنوب..."

I have no idea how, but the seven ashwa6 were done before we knew it. I have no idea how we managed to stay solid in our 6awaf and finish so quickly. We walked sideways and got out and dropped to pray rak3atay el 6awaf:

"اصلي ركعتي الطواف لعمرة التمتع لحج التمتع حج الإسلام لوجوبه قربة إلى الله تعالى"

The minute my forehead touched the cold ground, I didn’t want to raise my head. I was too ashamed, too embarrassed, too weak. Here I have over the past x number of years of my life taken so many things for granted, and now here I drop my head to Rab el 3almeen asking him to forgive everything. How can I dare lift my head? How can I dare even beg for forgiveness when I don’t even feel that I’m worthy of it? I felt all the burdens of my sins weigh heavily on my shoulders, forcing my head to remain down, while my tears dropped in repentance.

After I got done with the prayer, I went and drank from Zamzam water. As silly as this may sound, you feel the cold water going through your body as if it too wants to help in your cleansing.


The Sa3ee between Al-Safa wil Marwa was another task within itself. Don’t look around you, focus straight ahead, read the ad3eya, and walk the seven ashwa6. When you get to the area between the two green lights and men start to jog, at first this catches your attention and you wonder what it going on. Then you remember that this is where Hajjar ran when she was looking for water for her son.

Then it all hits you. Mentally, you remove the nice building structure, you remove the fans and the lighting, you remove every man made form of convenience and you try to think back of how 7ajj/6awaf was back then. Your mind takes you back to Hajjar and her struggle when her infant son was screaming for water. When, helpless, she ran between the Safa and Marwa looking for any sign of water, any sign of help. That is, until God's mercy let the waters of Zamzam flow from right beneath her son Ismael's feet.

Remembering her, her braveness and faith, and how she told her husband, Sayedna Ebrahim as he walked away from her and their son:

“آلله أمرك بهذا؟ قال: نعم. قالت: إذا لا يضيعنا”

Who am I compared to her? No one. What have I done compared to her? Nothing. What is my faith measured against her? Non-existent!! Everything about this place screams of God’s greatness and the miracles he has bestowed upon us; it screams of the greatness of the Prophets and el-mo2mneen; it’s a reminder for all of us that we are mere molecules of dust when our faith is measured against their’s.

That is the real lesson. Who cares about all the other things we complain about during our daily life? Who cares that my dad yelled at me, that my sister annoyed me, or that my friend didn’t return my call? Who cares that my boss doesn’t give me full credit, that my coworker doesn’t carry his/her weight? When it all comes down to it, none of that matters. We’re living a daily test from God. Are we prepared to see the results?

to be continued...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Chargers steal Streak!

All good things, eventually must come to an end. The Indianapolis Colts suffered their first defeat today, taking away hopes of a historic perfect season. My only solace is that their loss was handed to them by none other than, Drew Brees - how ironic! The Chargers dominated the game early. Though the Colts scored 17 straight points in the 3rd quarter (within 6 minutes!) and took over the lead, they couldn't hold on to it. It was Michael Turner who sealed the Colts' fate deep in the 4th quarter rushing for an 83 yard touchdown, giving the boys from San Diego a 26-17 win.

Stats: Brees completed 22 out of 33 passes for a total of 255 yards, while Manning completed 26 out of 45, for a total of 336. Rushing yards, however, were a different story. The Chargers rushed 206 yards versus the Colts' 24!!! The Colts lost 1 fumble and threw 2 interceptions, and lost 67 yards to 8 penalties. The Chargers, on the other hand, lost 2 fumbles, threw 2 interceptions, and lost 75 yards to 11 penalties.
    My message to the Colts: It ain't over till it's over. Rest up boys, and concentrate on the Super Bowl. You've done a great job so far! (chineh ga3deen yesem3ooni o waiting on me to tell them this!!)

    Saturday, December 17, 2005

    لبيك اللهم لبيك - Part II

    The Bahrain-Saudi Causeway: We left Bahrain around 12:30 pm on Monday January 17th, 2005. The whole drive across the causeway, I was lost in a different world. “What is it going to be like? I’ve gone to 3omra before, how difficult could this be? Will I know what to do? What if I forget something? What if I do something wrong? What if God does not accept my 7ajj?!!? What will happen when I return? How will it be coming back and facing the same life, from a different perspective? Will I change?”

    So many questions, but the overall emotion was that of fear and excitement.

    Dammam Airport: When we arrived, it suddenly all became too real. At first, it seemed like we were going on a trip and so many other people were there with their families doing the same. I looked at people’s faces. There were those who seemed like they had no idea what they were doing there, others happy beyond belief, some nervous, and others who just seemed to want to help in any way possible.

    Those in charge of the 7emla were great. They were organized, they had people all over the place, they took care of us and made us feel welcome and taken care of!

    Taif Airport: Once we got off the plane, I suddenly wasn’t sure where I ended up. It felt like a bus station! So many people everywhere, no organization, bags all over the place, children running around, complete chaos! Somehow though, we all got funneled into our appropriate busses and we made the trek to go and “na7rem”…

    E7ram: What an amazing feeling… to sit there and cleanse yourself physically, mentally, emotionally. To know that the minute you’re done with e7ram, you suddenly are a person who has to give up so many things: no getting upset or mad, no getting frustrated, no killing of any insects, no pulling any hairs out, no looking in the mirror, no to a lot of things, and yes to a lot more. Yes to purifying your soul. Yes to praying and remembering the teachings of Islam. Yes to being good to your fellow humans and helping out.

    It’s funny how this is how we SHOULD be every day of our lives, but for some reason, it’s so much easier when you’re in Hajj/close to Bait Allah. Now that we have cleansed ourselves, it was time to head to Mecca and start 7ajj.. this is it!! We’re going to Bait Allah.. I’m finally starting the 7ajj journey and there’s no turning back now. Suddenly, all fear was gone. I could barely contain my excitement. I couldn’t wait to see El Ka3ba!! I was dressed in all white, and that’s how I felt from the inside as well.

    El Ka3ba: We finally arrived at Bait Allah around 2 a.m. and organized in small groups. It was time to prepare to go in and perform the 3omra tasks first. We lined up and el murshid explained to us what we were going to do: “When we go in, we’ll line up. I will read the neya and you have to repeat it after me. We then will walk towards the Ka3ba in the same formation. Stick close to each other. Women, lock your arms together and don’t let go. Men, surround the women and try to protect them so others don’t bump into them. Let’s go.”

    As we started to walk in, my heart was beating so loud, I could barely hear anything. “I’m ready for this,” I thought, “nothing to fear or worry about.” Then, a flood of tears gushed down my cheeks. I was suddenly standing in front of el Ka3ba and I couldn’t contain myself. I felt 3athamat El Khaleq around me. I felt this great rahba that I can’t even begin to explain to you! As I said the neya I suddenly forgot about the whole world. Nothing existed in my mind except what I saw in front of me and the reason I was there. No work, no worldly troubles, nothing. All of that was a distant memory which didn’t seem to matter anymore. Why did I get so annoyed with my boss all those times? Why was I upset with my friend? Why did this and that get me frustrated? Those all suddenly seemed like stupid things which, in the bigger picture/in the big scheme of things, were SOOO irrelevant that I suddenly felt stupid for even getting bothered by any of it.

    We started walking towards the Ka3ba to begin el 6awaf…

    to be continued...

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    13 - 0


    The Indianapolis Colts had a busy week! They just won their 13th straight game this season, got their third straight AFC South title, and clinched the AFC's top playoff seed.

    With 3 more games left in the season, the Colts will host the San Diego Chargers (8-5) on December 18th. Good luck boys!

    Saturday, December 10, 2005

    Hajj - Part I

    As Hajj season gets closer, I feel a myriad of emotions upon me that I just can’t seem to explain. So instead, I’ll take you back with me on a journey that I embarked upon a year ago:

    February 2004: As people left for Hajj in 2004, every time I said bye to someone who was going, I felt this constant ache which kept getting worse with each goodbye. I was envious. I wanted to go! And as cheesy as it may sound, I felt a ‘calling’. For years of my life I always thought that I would eventually want to go when the time was right. Suddenly, it felt right! It was time.

    March 2004: Talked to my sister and told her that I really wanted to go. Upon further discussions, she was convinced and she decided it was time for her too. Next thing you know, a total of 6 family members made the decision to go to Hajj 2005.

    May 2004: The decision was made. Am I really going to do this? It’s not a small thing. With Hajj come a lot more responsibilities. This is a turning point in my life. To me, this isn’t something that I’ll do now and then come back from it the same person who left. Was I really ready for this shift? I thought I was.. but that’s not good enough! I had to be sure!

    June 2004: Yes, of course I’m ready.. actually I’m ecstatic and excited. I can’t wait to go to Bait Allah & join the millions of others to fulfill one of our religious duties towards Allah. Listen up everyone, I’m going to Hajj! I’m going to be Hajjiyah!!!!!

    September 2004: I’ve always said I would at7ajab before going to Hajj; that this is how I wanted to face Rabbee when I went to Him asking Him to forgive all my sins. This means I only have a little more than 3 months before I have to put on the 7ejab. To me, this is no joke. Once the 7ejab is on, it’s on for good! Am I worthy of wearing it? I don’t want to wear it as a symbol. I don’t want to wear it the way I see many women do, casually! I want to wear it as a sign of conviction, of belief, of succumbing to a greater cause.

    October 2004: That’s it, it’s almost final. We’ve paid the deposit to the 7emla we’re going with. This is happening! It’s real! I’m FREAKED OUT now. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for this. I want to be, but this is such a huge responsibility. What if I’m not up to it? What if I fail? I can’t fail!! Failure is not an option! I’m scared out of my mind!

    December 2004: It’s happening soon. I can barely breathe! I can’t think of anything other than this. I’m going to face Allah and live up to all of the mistakes of my past. I am going to face my Maker and ask him to not only forgive me for those mistakes, but to believe that I am a better person now; that I will not continue down the wrong path!

    January 17, 2005: I put on my 7ejab for the first time and declare to my mother that I am now officially met7ajba! We get our things ready and head out. We’re on our way to Mecca… on our way to the journey of peace!

    Stay tuned for part II: The Pilgrimage!

    No Time

    I find it very amusing how we never seem to have time for anything, yet we complain that we’re bored!

    First week back after vacation rushed by and it was a ‘busy’ week. First of all, I tried to catch up at the office with all the work that’s piled up awaiting my return. Second, I had a graduation to prepare for (WOHOOOOOOO! IT’S OVER!!!! That chapter is CLOSED!). Third, my sister’s engagement is upon us and those preparations never seem to end. Fourth, of course, is trying to catch up with family and friends (whom I vowed a few posts ago to keep in touch with more than before! Why do I make such public promises?? I never learn!)

    Yet, as busy as this week has been, I still felt bored; I still sent the occasional sms or email declaring ‘MALAL!’ So what does it take? Why does it seem that I’m not fulfilled?

    I’m on a hunt now to find something to keep me occupied where I don’t feel malal. I will try to see if it’s just the Gemini in me that’s constantly bored, or if I just haven’t managed to fill my time with the ‘right things’. I have a few ideas of what I want to do, but I’ll let you in on them when the time is right.

    Sunday, December 04, 2005


    HELP!! I don't want to go tomorrow!!!!! :( Don't make me go!!!!! :'(

    (Once I've gotten over the shock, we can resume our regularly scheduled blogging!)

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    I'm Baaaaaaaaack!

    I'm finally home.. and it feels good to be surrounded by all the familiar things again (with the exception of having to see my work place on the way home from the airport! yekh!). I soooo don't want to go back to work this coming week! :/

    (But, can I tell you a little secret? As glad as I am to be back at home base, something seems to be missing! :| )