When I first arrived in Makkah, I was struck by the seemingly recklessness and the dexterity of the drivers in negotiating the winding and narrow alleys. No wonder the vehicles are full of dents and scratches. They seemed to communicate with each other via their vehicle honks. So you hear a lot of cacophony of honkings that add up to the permeatingly dusty atmosphere. Unfortunately you see very few Arabs in area within the viccinity of the Masjidil Haram – most of them I was told, live in the outskirts of the city in their sprawling homes. In contrasts, the constricting city centre are populated by the Pakistanis, Banglas, Indians, Indonesian, Myanmars, Afghans , and other foreigners. In Makkah we stayed in the Cox Bazarr area, a predominantly Bangladeshi area. If not for the constant streamings of people heading towards the masjidil haram, you would be forgiven for thinking that you’re in Dakka or Chittagong.
The masjidil haram is an awe inspiring building. It is amazing how it can hold 3 million people during the peak haj season. Unfortunately the pilgrims sometimes forget that they were there to seek Allah’s blessings. These days you won’t be surprised to hear all kinds of ring tones ringing and people jabbering on their phones in the mosque, even while doing the tawaf! At least in Malaysia, we are advised to switch off our phones while in the mosque.
When we first arrived, it was another 14 days before wukuf, the crowd in the masjidil haram was not so big. You still can find a place in the mosque, even within quarter of an hour before prayer times.The as the wukuf loomed you can feel the crowd increased in numbers significantly so much so that, on Friday you have to go to the mosque as early as 9.30am to get a place in the mosque. Zohor prayer time is at 12:15.That means you have to be in the mosque a good 3 hours beforehand. That is not a bad thing, you get to spend more time reading the quran, doing the zikir and contemplating or even sleeping!