This is a continuation of the journal I kept while on Hajj, from Oct. 30- Nov. 20th.

Any remarks in parentheses are current comments. The day of Arafat IS the day of Hajj. Without staying in the plain of Arafat until sunset, you have not done Hajj, it’s that important!

The name Arafat seems to derive from the word ‘araftu’ which means ‘Don’t I know you?’. And it is said that when Adam and Eve came down to earth, they got separated. When they met each other on the plain of Arafat, they said, “Araftu?”, “Don’t I know you?”

There is a small ‘mountain’ on the plain of Arafat called Jebel Rahma, the Mountain of Mercy and it is said to be the place where Adam asked God to forgive him for eating the forbidden fruit, and where God forgave him. Many pilgrims climb it on the day of Arafat, but there’s no need to.  Anywhere you stand, or sit, or lie down supplicating to God, as long as it’s within the borders of Arafat, is fine.

The police close the roads so that no pilgrims can inadvertently leave before sunset.

It is also said that on the day of Arafat, God descends from the seventh heaven down to the first (the one with the stars in it) and listens to the prayers of His supplicants.

And in the Quran it says that when God was creating Adam, the angels asked if He was going to make a creature who would shed blood and make mischief in the land when they spent all their time worshipping God. God answered that He knew what the angels did not.

 On the day of Arafat, God turns to His angels and says, “See my worshippers?” I’m paraphrasing.

Nov. 15th 4:55 am

It felt like a slumber party last night. All the women were so excited like they were getting ready for a big ‘date’. They got up way too early this morning to get ready!

2 and 3 in the morning when we’re not leaving till after Fajr ~5:30.

They’re going to give the adhan for Fajr prayer soon.

I prayed some tahajjud, lazy beast that I am.

Many of the ladies are wearing white, like the men’s ihrams.

They look positively virginal.

I only have my 3 black abayas.

Last night I braved the washrooms and took a shower.

The way they’ve designed it, the showers are in the toilet stalls and even though the attendants try valiantly, keeping them clean is a struggle.

My sister in law and cousin in law stood outside waiting for the larger handicapped stall because there it’s less likely you’d touch the walls while bathing.

I just wanted to get it over with so I went into a relativley clean stall and got to work.

 The good thing about it was that the shower head was on a handle and you could take it down and aim it more precisely.

A quick rinse to get wet, a quick soap up, and then another rinse and I was done. (I’d washed my hair yesterday at the hotel!)

My sister in law handed me my clothes through the door and I was done while they were still waiting for the primadonna in the big stall. This primadonna took so long a lady outside banged on the door to hurry up and the primadonna yelled at her. I’m pretty sure that violated both their ihrams, but God knows best. (Geez, hear me talk! Wait till you see what I said in Muzdalifa!)

Nov. 15, 9:55 am

Originally we were going to leave the camp in Mina around 2 a.m. because some years it took the bus 7 hours to make the less than 10 km trip from Mena to Arafat, the traffic was that bad.

As it was we left by 6 a.m. and got here by 7 a.m. with all morning lingering before us until Zuhr arrives and the intense supplication begins.

We seem to be in a little piece of Arafat. Another gated compound. We’re in the relative lap of luxury by desert standards. I was expecting a white tent, not gold with white and red flowers on it. Beneath our feet are lush red carpets.

They warned us not to eat a lot at Arafat as the washroom facilities are terrible in Muzdalifa.

People are exhausted for the most part, many of them with the Hajji cough. I’ve been sleeping every chance I get and as a result feel pretty darn good!

But the heat!

It’s like a sauna!

I just drank a can of warm diet 7 up and it was surprisingly refreshing, and less problematic in terms of bloating than if it had been cold.

I’m waiting to pray Zuhr and Asr, then Arafat begins in earnest–this is just the prelude.