Chronicle of the Haj: Mina

After Arafah, we moved to Mina, passing through Mudzaliffah.  Ideally one has to be  in Mudzaliffah after midnight and arriving in Mina for the fajar prayer.  But, as in Arafah, it is sufficient to be present in Mudzaliffah after midnight even for a few minutes. The sheer number of people and buses to transport them are  mind boggling. They were almost 3 million pilgrims and 6,500 buses. All these buses moved from Arafah to Mina and passing through Mudzaliffah within the same period. Imagine 6,500 buses transporting 3 million people within 12 hours. The traffic jams are massive by any standards. In our case, we left Arafah around 8pm and only reached Mudzaliffah quarter past midnight. We stopped in Mudzaliffah for 10 mins to collect some pebbles which were to be used for stoning of the jamrah in Mina. We only reached our camp in Mina around 7am the next morning – a six hour journey to cover a distance of about 2km. The bus had to crawl round and round in circles in trying to find the entry to our camp site (called Maktab). We were on the bus for almost 11 hours to cover a distance of a 13km. That was almost one hour per km! Probably the reason why there were many pilgrims who decided to walk. I was told our case was a special one as others only had to travel in 5-6 hours. People were saying, this was part of the trial and tribulations of the Haj journey and Allah was testing our patience.

The Saudi Government built permanent tents in Mina to house the pilgrims. You can see miles upon miles of the white tents in Mina.  The pilgrims stay in Mina so that they can perform the next obligation – the stoning of the Jamrah. The tents were pretty basic that can house roughly 150 people in each tent. Each tent was airconditioned and the roof was made of fireproof material. As in Arafah, we sleep on mattresses that were  arranged on the carpeted floor. There is no wardrobe or table and chairs – just rows of 3-inch mattresses.  Fortunately in Mina toilets were not as scarce as in Arafah but still you had to queue to use them especially in peak hours. The authority also provided plenty of bottled water – almost endless supplies actually.

Waiting area in Jeddah airport
Waiting area in Jeddah airport

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