Angels of Arafat: How faith in oneself and others can help you sail through tough times

Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat. (AFP)
Updated 28 August 2018

Angels of Arafat: How faith in oneself and others can help you sail through tough times

MAKKAH: Hajj may have a different meaning for different people.

Besides prayers, days of intense physical activities are a humbling experience and teaches the faithful to survive in tough conditions.

In Arafat and Muzdalifa, I found the philosophy of life in a journey that lasted a day and a night.

Losing my way

Even though preparations start early, the day of Arafat is the most intense part of Hajj.

Our start from the Mina camp was delayed because a wind storm the previous evening had hampered preparations.

Due to slow-moving traffic, fellow pilgrims decided to leave the bus and walk toward Arafat. I joined them too.

But when you have millions of people walking around you in the same attire, keeping track of fellow pilgrims becomes next to impossible.

To me it seemed getting separated from the group and losing my way is where the actual journey of Arafat started.

Lost in Arafat

The heat in the Mount Arafat region was at its peak, so much so that I was not able to walk properly.

When the given address was nowhere to be found, I took refuge in a nearby camp housing pilgrims from Pakistan.

Pilgrims here not only gave me space to rest but also offered food and water and then guided me toward my destination.

On my way, I once again felt exhausted and this time decided to seek medical help from a nearby onsite government health care center.

At the clinic, staff were very responsive and efficient. They gave me ORS solution and I was back on my feet within minutes.

But, a few miles later, I felt exhausted again. With unbearable heat and surrounded by millions, I felt for a while that I wouldn't be able to survive and it was the end.

But there were more "Arafat angels" around to make things easier. The cleaner of a nearby camp rescued me this time around.

He took me inside a tent where several other pilgrims, separated from their groups, were trying to catch up with prayers.

Warm welcome

These pilgrims made me feel like a family.

This is when I decided not to waste time and energy in looking for my designated camp and instead spend the rest of my time here with the new Arafati family.

The group of people inside this tent were wonderful. None of us knew each other. All of us from different parts of world. We didn’t even speak the same language but we were all connected like a family.

The best part of the camp was a celebratory atmosphere about this special day in Arafat. They were praying as well as sharing food with each other. Some were reading the Qur’an, some were offering salat. And few were resting and having Kahwa.

The pilgrims also sang a very soulful Nasheed devoted to the day of Arafat.

Till this point I was worried about my health and whether I would be able to travel to Muzdalefa, our next stop.

But not anymore!

A Burmese family in the tent offered to give me a ride.

Hence, soon after sunset, we started a new journey with strangers. Noor and his wife and sisters were extremely caring.

We all traveled together. We spent a night at Muzdalefa together and by dawn we parted ways.

Lessons and reflections

Those 18 hours have been the experience of a lifetime for me.

A friend had rightly said: “Hajj is just a slight reflection of Youm Akhara (the Day of Judgment) when your loved ones will be nearby but you will still be all alone.”

During my Hajj journey, especially on Arafat day, I will never forget the souls as they came forward whenever we needed help the most.

I learned the most important lesson in life: How faith in oneself and others can help you sail through tough times.

Even if you are alone in the worst situation, Allah is there to rescue you. Just have faith!

Steps taken to meet growing demand of Muslim holy water

Updated 7 min 56 sec ago

Steps taken to meet growing demand of Muslim holy water

  • Saudi government takes special measures to ensure uninterrupted supply of the water to the Two Holy Mosques
  • Zamzam water is drawn from a 30-meter well in the basement of the Grand Mosque in Makkah

JEDDAH: The very mention of the word “Zamzam” evokes a feeling of awe in the hearts of the faithful. Zamzam water is considered holy in Islam. 

It is found in a 30 meter well in the basement of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, about 20 meters east of the Kaaba. The water is believed to possess healing qualities, and is treated with reverence by all Muslims.

The Saudi government takes special measures to ensure there is an uninterrupted supply of the water to the Two Holy Mosques all year round, and to pilgrims during the Hajj and Umrah seasons.

In addition to the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Zamzam Water Project, the Zamzam bottling plant operates with a separate mission under the United Office of Zamazemah in Makkah.

Zamzam water is produced by the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Zamzam Water Project, which is operated by the National Water Co., and whose new bottling plant can produce up to 30,000 liters per hour.

The construction of the new plant began in 2014. Originally consisting of two production lines, a third was added in 2017, which massively increased production capacity. With the water being dispensed into 200 milliliter bottles, it means that the plant can produce well in excess of 150,000 bottles per hour. 

The bottles are then distributed to pilgrims upon arrival in Makkah, and, under the Zamzam Water Additional Services program, are also made available near the central area of Makkah’s Grand Mosque and in other holy places, such as Mina and Arafat. 

Two further expansion phases are currently underway at the site, which also houses its administrative center, including the management and marketing departments.

Two weeks ago, meanwhile, the Saudi Shoura Council approved a new project proposal by Arbab Al-Tawaif Establishments. The project will aim to enhance the competence of employees in Hajj and Umrah services. 

It will also look to restructure Arbab Al-Tawaif, and transform its establishments from individual institutions into companies, working to ensure they provide better standards of service to pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia.