x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Haj diary: The smallest objects can bring great joy

Haj diary: Our Haj reporter Haneen Dajani found that her green straw hat that seemed relatively insignificant turned out to be rather useful during the sometimes dangerous jamarat ritual at Haj.

Muslim pilgrims cast seven stones at a pillar that symbolizes Satan during the annual haj pilgrimage, as part of a haj pilgrimage rite, on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca.
Muslim pilgrims cast seven stones at a pillar that symbolizes Satan during the annual haj pilgrimage, as part of a haj pilgrimage rite, on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca.

The secret of the green hat was well acknowledged by our group by the end of yesterday's Haj rituals.

Since Day 1, everyone had wondered why I was wearing a green straw hat to Haj.

"I'll wear it there in case I get lost, they can find me easily," I told my mother as I was packing.

It turned out to have a much bigger role.

As we continued our most critical Haj rituals two days ago, and drowned endlessly in the flood of pilgrims wherever we passed, one thing distinguished our group - my green hat.

Many became lost during the jamarat, so the tallest man leading the group waved the hat up high as we walked and the lost ones managed to find us.

I was so worried we would lose our main source of guidance when it fell off my head as my leg slipped between the train and the platform at the Arafat metro station.

I was pushed by the stampede into the train and my leg just slipped. Luckily a passenger grabbed me quickly inside and my hat was found soon after.

The hat also protected me as I performed jamarat on the last morning. A stone hit the back of my head and I hardly felt it under my headgear.

Jamarat is when pilgrims throw seven stones at the three spots where Satan tried in vain to talk the Prophet Ibrahim out of slaughtering his son Ismail, and where he tried to turn Ismail against his father, and where he tried to turn Lady Hajar against Ibrahim.

It is a pillar of Haj where many pilgrims have died in the past and I was terrified.

But it turned out to be the most fun of all. When you enter the jamarat area the scene fills you with fear and excitement.

You see so many arms moving back and forth as quick as the wind. The sound of the stones hitting the wall and pillars echoes in the air.

"How big are their stones to cause that pound?" I asked my friend.

The stones are supposed to be round in shape and the size of a hommos bean so they do not hurt anyone.

I wanted to make sure that my stones reached the area where we were supposed to throw them, so I took a spot in the first line.

That can be the riskiest spot, because stones were sure to be thrown my way.

But with the green hat, everything seemed possible.

I lowered my hat and body as if I was escaping bullets until I reached my spot, then I jumped up and down to throw one stone after the other, until I finished seven for each.

When I was done, I sneaked out again with head and shoulders low, struggling to find my friend Samira, a 24-year-old nurse from the UAE delegation, who was cracking up at my performance.

The person next to me was very serious as he kept chanting "Allahu Akbar" with each stone.

Another woman threw her stones very quickly in silence and rushed out.

It is sometimes the smallest objects that add flavour to what we do in life and turn a basic action into a joyful one.

hdajani@thenational.ae