x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Journey to Mecca: colours at fajr brighten the dawn

Haj diary: Our Haj reporter Haneen Dajani stays up late to catch fajr prayer at the Haram - the mosque surrounding the Kaaba.

Before arriving in Mecca, I made it my mission to pray every fard (obligatory prayer) at least once at the Haram (the mosque surrounding the Kaaba).

According to a hadith by the Prophet Mohammed the rewards for praying at the Haram are multiplied by 100,000.

I expected that doing so would be an easy task - I would already be in Mecca so I'd be right next door and what would be the point of praying anywhere else? Or so I thought.

When we returned to the hotel after performing umra at about 1am I decided to stay awake to catch fajr (dawn) prayer at the Haram.

I showered and unpacked and then went down to the lobby to look for some women to accompany me or a hotel car to take me. I found neither.

Since our hotel was more than an hour's walk away from the Haram, company was essential if I was to avoid getting lost.

Moreover, my father warned me never to ride a taxi alone in Mecca no matter what. I needed a Plan B.

I found two members of our group at reception and convinced them we could either walk all the way to the Haram or start walking and find a taxi as we went.

After a 50-minute journey involving first walking, then a taxi ride, and then more walking, we finally arrived at the Haram.

Worshippers were moving in all directions and through all gates, some had already set their prayer mats in the courtyard outside.

We decided to go to the first floor near the safa and the marwa to find some space. You can't see the kaaba from there, but the reward for praying is the same.

I was scared to lose my praying partners in the crowds so I told them to look for my flashy green scarf if they were to lose me.

I had chosen to take the scarf on my journey despite my Emirati friends warning me against wearing such colours at the Haram.

"It doesn't work," a friend and Haj veteran said firmly, adding that, besides, "it is in appropriate to wear colours or anything attractive".

She also scolded me for buying a colourful animated cover notebook to take with me - but I ignored that criticism too.

Well ... the scene at the Haram was nothing if not colourful.

Women from different hamlas (agencies) wore colour-coded scarves or ribbons or robes to spot each other. The uniforms varied between hot-pink scarves, red-head ribbons and neon-yellow cloaks.

With uniform or without, Al Hamdulilah (praise to God), we did not lose each other and my mission was accomplished.

hdajani@thenational.ae