So little did we know.
We did not know which door we had entered the Haram from. But we figured that Jabal Kaabah would not be too hard to find. Sooo little did we know. Well, we circled the Haram a couple times before realizing that we were completely, utterly, and hopelessly lost. We ventured first down one street, then another. Nothing looked familiar. Makkah at night and Makkah during the day are two different cities. During the day, the streets are filled to capacity with humanity. With buses. With water trucks. With shops full of colorful hijabs waving in the air. None of the streets we ventured upon looked like the one that led us on our unique path to the Baitullah. We eventually hailed a taxi driver, a young Bedouin man with sharp features standing out startlingly against his kaffiyeh, to drive us to Jabal Ka’bah. He took us to the same street we were on five minutes before, and said: “This is Jabal Ka’abah, this is where it ends. Thats it.” There we stood in the middle of the street, wondering, peering this way and that. Wondering why the apartment building did not materialize itself. There were others who were equally as lost as we were. I remember an elderly Afghani coming up to my father and asking him for directions to someplace. Talk about the blind leading the blind! Obviously, we could not help him, and he was all alone. Separated from his group and/or family. We gave thanks to Allah that at least we were all together.
There was a building whose arches looked totally familiar…and we knew we were close. It was really only a matter of time. By this time it was 10:30 am. A full 24 hours in Ihraam clothing. Needing a shower. Exhausted from a good 10 hours of walking: tawaaf, sa’iee, wandering around Makkah. We decided we would look for a half hour more…and then throw in the towel, head back to the Haram. After all, what better place to be lost and ask Allah’s help?
Half an hour later, we were still lost. Went back to the Haram Shareef, made fresh wudhu, and planted ourselves in front of the Ka’abah. Prayed, cried, made du’aa. Were seriously scared we would never find our “home.” After Dhuhr, we sat on the steps of the Haram, and fell asleep, while the cleaners washed the already gleaming marble floors. For Asr salaah, us women again got separated from our father. After Asr, we waited for him to come back. 10 minutes go by. 15. 20. 30 minutes…and no sign of daddy. Big time panic. We looked at each other and had nothing to say. For women to be speechless, that is saying something. Wished for our brothers, who we had left behind at home, to be with us–to be lost with us, and yet enjoying the marvels of Haram. Then, all of a sudden, father ambles into the Haram, with a jubilant grin on his face. In fresh clothes. His own clothes.
Obviously, he had found the apartment. He said it was only a matter of making one more turn. He said that for a whole hour, from 9:30 to 10:30, we had been only 5 minutes from the apartment. So close…yet so far away. He took us back to the apartment, and we were like “What if we get lost again. Did he really find it?” Delirious is the only way to describe my own state of mind at the time. We made notes of little landmarks along the way. When we got to the building, we made sure to make a note of the obscure sign on the side of the building which proclaimed its exact location. And wondered how, but how! did we miss it? How could we have been so close, yet overlooked that one tiny little turn?!
Its like everything else in life. The truth can be staring you in the face, but if Allah does not want you to see it, you won’t. You will wander like a blind person…until that time when you will appreciate Allah’s Mercy most. There is nothing like the comfort of a nice shower. Your own clothes, whether they are gleamingly new or old rags. And there is nothing like Makkah.