To be in Arafah in person on the 9th of Zulhijjah is a compulsory part of the haj. Even merely passing through it for a few seconds would be sufficient. That is why, those who are unable to be there due to illness would be transported by ambulances and quickly shunted back to the hospitals. The critical time is after Zohor (noon prayer time) till maghrib (dusk prayer time). You had this feeling of helpness and total submission to Allah at this place and time. In the vast desert field called Arafah (well now the Saudi Government has transplanted a lot of trees, but the place is still extremely hot), millions of pilgrims would be wearing two pieces of unsewn white (women would be in their hijab) cloth. One piece is wrapped around the lower body, from the waist downwards and the other piece would be for the torso. Irrespective of race, colour, social standings or country of origin we are all the same. To protect us from the heat and the sun, we stayed in makeshift tents. More like camping sites of my student days camping in Bagan Pinang, Port Dickson. It was really a sobering experience. At one instant you felt really close to God but on the other hand you felt really small and really at His mercy. The Ustaz told us that it was a kind of small scale judgement day. Due to the sheer number of people staying in one place, public amenities like toilets and bathrooms are scarce. This is where your patience is tested. Many people told me, Haj is mostly about patience. Patience with the authority, patience with the various cultural idiosyncracies, patience in using public amenities and patience in performing the various rituals. Do not ever lose your patience, my brother warned me, or else your haj would be rendered useless. So to ensure you get the chance to use the toilet, you wake up at three or four a.m. Even then you still had to queue up. For Diabetic like me, I had to refrain from taking a lot of water or else I’ll be frequently running to the loo, pleading with those infront to allow me to jump the queue. Fortunately most of the pilgrims in our area were from Malaysia. They understood your predicaments. The downside is you get dehydrated, your feet and lips got chaffed and sore throat began to appear. So, patience my dear, patience. This is nothing compared to the hereafter. To represent my feelings in Arafah, I penned this little poem:
Di sini doa kuhimpun bergantang-gantang,
keampunan kupohon berhasta-hasta,
Airmata sebakku gugur berjurai-jurai.
Harapan dan kekesalan menjadi pegangan;
Harapan doa diperkenan tuhan,
Harapan taubat diterima tuhan;
Harapan zikir membawa keinsafan;
Harapan airmata meruntun keikhlasan.
Kekesalan atas kesalahan dan dosa;
Kekesalan menungkil istighfar;
Kekesalan menjurus keikhlasan.
Ya Allah ya tuhanku;
Aku berdoa penuh harapan;
Ku pohon keampunan penuh keikhlasan;
Terimalah doaku yang bergantang-gantang;
Ampunilah dosaku yang berhasta-hasta;
Makbulkan istighfarku yang berjela-jela;
Redailah zikirku yang bertali-tali;
Restuilah airmata dan keluhku yang berjurai-jurai.
Namun di bumi Arafah ini,
Ikhlaskah kekesalanku? Nasuhakah taubatku? Benarkah harapanku?
Hanya padamu Allah aku berserah,
Yang aku pasti;
Ya Allah yang maha pengasih, lagi maha penyayang, lagi maha pengampun ;
Demi bumi Arafah ini aku memohon.