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Haj reflections

Haj reflections

Siraj Wahab, a journalist with Arab News, gives a rare and personal glimpse of the Haj pilgrimage in Mecca.

December 9, 2008 11:47 by

“I lost my husband on Sunday in the crowd,” the elderly pilgrim cried. “I looked for him in Muzdalifah last night. He is a diabetic and I am worried. You must take me to Camp 64 so someone there can help me find him.” Taking the unhappy woman to Camp 64 was out of the question as it is close to Muzdalifah — far from where I was assigned to be.

I tried to point her in the right direction but she refused to go without me. “You are the first person who knows my language and my problem. If I lose you, I might never find my way!” she pleaded. “You must carry my bag. It is so heavy. You must help me just as if I were your mother. If you don’t help me, I will curse you.” The situation was getting serious. Not because she was threatening to curse me, but because she was so distressed.

My own parents had become separated when they performed Haj in 2001 and I remember how upsetting it was for our entire family. I wracked my brain wondering how I could assist her and then I had an idea. I rang up Abdul Aziz Chokli of the India Fraternity Forum and explained the situation to him. He promised to send someone to help and within minutes Zebunnisa Begum was being escorted back to her camp.

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