Haj diary: Sharing a tent with 125 others
What ensued was the transformation of 125 strangers to friends.
Human nature can surprise you, often pleasantly. In the tent city of Mina on day one of the Haj pilgrimage, I was in for a special one.
When the 125 Hajis (pilgrims) of our group were told that we would be sharing a single tent - with each given a 5x2 foot bed on the floor - I envisaged cranky moods, arguments over space and people falling over each other.
Instead, I saw Hajis competing against each other in making the rest of the group feel comfortable. Each person in the group sacrificed his own personal space so as to give a little extra space to the other. They raced against each other in serving one another.
What ensued was the transformation of 125 strangers to friends. The tent packed with beds laid out one after another with no extra space for anything else had room to spare for several more!
I have never seen anything like it previously. Here were 125 people of different backgrounds and distinct issues in life getting along like they were family.
And we were just one group among the several that made up over 2 million Hajis - all coexisting in similar tents across Mina.
Haj lesson number 1: The key to coexistence is treating the other the way you want to be treated. If you do that, everything else seems secondary - ego, personal space, pride.
What happens today
»The over 2 million Haj pilgrims will head to Mount Arafah
»It is from here that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) addressed thousands of his followers 14 centuries ago for the last time.
»Also known as the day of repentance, Hajis confess all their sins to their Lord. Most of them break down while doing it.
»Non-Haji Muslims are encouraged to fast on the day as a show of solidarity with the Hajis.
»As dusk descends, the pilgrims will travel southwards to Muzdalifa, where they will spend the night in the open.