I was asked by my non muslims friends to explain the tasks of the Haj. I hope they read my blog. We stayed in Mina as part of the requirement in performing the Haj as well as to enable us to perform another task – stoning of the Jamrah. Well, three of them actually.
Historically, when Prophet Ibrahim was obligated by Allah to slaughter his only son, Prophet Ismail, he obliged without question, with a heavy heart though. And Prophet Ismail was the one who encourage him to carry out the task. On the way to perform the task, they were taunted and persuaded by syaitan to disobey the order. Both of them got angry with the team of Satans and they threw stones at them and the bunch of Satans ran off. A few metres down the road, they came again and repeatedly persuaded Ibrahim and Ismail to abort the plan. Again they were stoned. It happened again for the third time and this time Ibrahim and Ismail were very cross with them and stoned them again. After the third time the Satan realised that it was futile to persuade the two devoted men. Hence there are three Jamrahs – the Jamratul Sughra (small), Wusta(medium) and Kubra (big).
The stoning of the jamrah was instituted to symbolically commemorate the stoning of the satan by the father and son. I was told by the ustaz, by performing the task, we are symbolically cleansing ourselves from Satanic influences. After all, the whole spirit of performing the Haj is to purify oneself. Of course we are not stoning the real Satans anymore!
Our camp is not that far from the Jamrah, I would hazard a guess of around one km. Definitely nearer than many others. We did not have travel past the famous Muassim Tunnel. The most auspicious time to perform the task is after dhuha, but due to the sheer number of people thronging the place, we were advised to do it at night, when the crowd had dwindled down. A few years ago the Jamrahs were just stone pillars. To avoid congestion these days the whole place has become a complicated five tier complex with designated routes for coming and going. I must recommend the Saudi Government for their effort in trying to minimise the human jams. I heard a Malaysian company was involved in the project. It is still work in progress though. The jamrahs were now three pieces of solid ellipsoidal pillars jutting through three floors. The size of each pillar now is about 30m in diameter.
For most of us, we had to perform the task for three consecutive days. On our first day, we left our tent in a group of around 200, around 10pm. It was a bit horrendous because we were herded by the security guards (I believed they were the Saudis army) through various gates before we were allowed to approach the Jamrah. It was on the ground floor. Fortunately the crowd was manageable. But still the whole process took us almost two and a half hours. We finished well past midnight. The next two days were plain sailing and we were directed to the first floor. It was interesting to see how people approach the jamrah and throw the stones. Some really attacked the jamrah like they were going to war, complete with battle cries and with rapid fire throwing, the seven pieces of stones were dispensed within a few seconds. I reckon they must be imagining that they attacking the real satans. Fortunately I was not in their paths. Some even threw slippers and water bottles. Maybe they were imagining that the biggest Satan – George Bush – was there!