Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hajj live blog: The female experience at Riyad-ul-Jannah

Oct 27th: Visit to Riyad ul Jannah. 

This is one of the most memorable experiences of my life, although I am still not sure if what I did was correct or not. Riyad-ul-Jannah is the place where the Holy Prophet is buried in Medina mosque. There is a green carpet here showing exactly the spot where if you pray its like praying on a piece of Jannah (Paradise).

The slot for women is literally an hour, I believe after Zuhr prayers and 1 hour after Isha prayers. Here too they take women via the back entrance and the view is completely blocked , probably because women become extremely emotional there and it is to avoid them from clinging to the spot. However, as a result its the most manic crowd I have ever come across in my life. I can easily confess that out of all of Hajj experience, this was the toughest for me in terms of crowds and their orderliness.

It was also a very interesting experience. I was really wary of the crowds and the stories I had heard from women regarding getting to the Riyad-ul-Jannah. I had therefore not even attempted. In my mind, I was content with giving salaam to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) from any location of the mosque. However, we are leaving for Mecca tomorrow and people started telling me that I may regret not going to the Riyad-ul-Jannah at all and I should just be brave and attempt it.

It really made me wonder that losing your respect and acting crazy and screaming and running - is that what the Holy Prophet would have wanted us to do. I would rather the authorities either open the place for longer hours so women do not have to act this way or they should not allow women at all.

My friend had saved me a spot in the first row during Maghrib and Isha prayers. This is the closest location to the door which opens to allow women to go to Riyad-ul-Jannah where the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is buried. She was giving me tips on where to enter from etc and an Emirati girl from Dubai overheard us. She was going to attempt going there after Isha and offered that I could go along with her.

That was a blessing in itself because otherwise they put women according to countries and the worse the country in economic table, the worse the women are treated. I am not sure if I should blame the security women entirely because it is true women were acting quite mad here so perhaps it is a bigger task than imaginable managing them. What was crazier was that we were acting no better. I noticed first hand racism here when the Emirati girl was treated as royalty because she could communicate in Arabic. The security women came and whispered in her ears and smiled and treated her softly. This girl was quite sweet though, she told me to stay quiet and pretend I was with her so that they treat me well too. I am half-guilty of taking this to my advantage. They even let us sit near the air-conditioning of the pillars while others were huddled on the carpet in groups. 

It doesn't matter though, because when the doors fly open, no one can control anyone. The girl with me locked her arms in mine and we RAN! It was funny and rude at the same time but it was probably safer to get their early and get out of there early which could have only been possible had I run...and so I did! We literally got out of there in 20 mins to half an hour - everyone else I knew had been stuck for hours. So I guess it wasn't bad at all...and I'm glad I found that Emirati girl (and now I feel bad I dont remember her name).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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