With more than half an hour until the Adhan for Tahajjud on the first day of Eid here, the small back streets were alive with activity. I pass at least four Saaloons, (with a Sad alif, not as in the cowboy movies!) barber shops. Saaloons here are prolific, an indication of the importance so many men here place on appearance. The modern Saaloons situated in the larger shopping centres and ritzy malls are the ultimate in sophisticated décor, while these older back street ones still maintain an old naïve appearance. I find them "quirkily quaint" with entire walls papered to appear as a tropical beach scene, or a European forest, with the old style barber chairs and brightly lit mirrors. Walking by is like being drawn into the theatrics of the whole pampering, as the shop front is completely open with no attention or worry about privacy. So this morning as I passed about four of them, prospective clients were lounging on the battered sofas waiting their turn; all this at about 3.30am!
The many adjacent laundries were just as busy, the huge steam presses filling the surrounding air with hissing and that smell of freshly steamed fabric. Other small businesses were bustling too, as well as the lady vendors with their trolleys, predominantly displaying prayer mats, knowing that thousands will be outside for the Eid Salat. And some had gaudy, fluorescent coloured satin dresses in the hope of last minute sales for dressing up the little girls. I am intrigued by these lady vendors, they always seemed so clued to the market needs with their merchandize! Not to mention the strategic positions they occupy.
I cross that busy road mentioned a few posts back, where on the Haram side is a small triangular grassed area divided into four sections, each bordered by a low growing spikey hedge, with a reasonable sized tree in the middle of each section. This has become an opened air Funduq! SubhanAllah! There was no longer any grass due to the "residents" using this as their bed and their kitchen! Rubbish was strewn all about. And the trees not only providing shade in the hot sun, but also being the perfect hanging place for clothes and possessions. Already the huge vacant area which had recently been old buildings was full with cars and buses, and all spaces along the road side taken as cars cruised by searching for places to park. On previous Eids this street, along with all around Haram becomes impassable, the entire road choked with vehicles leaving no room for any to get through.
As I continuing on my way to Haram I pass the first of hundreds of the street cleaners in their orange overalls. I cry as I silently wish that I had millions to give them. This is their day, along with so many of the hard working low paid "guests" of receiving Zakat and Sadaqah. Alhumdulillah, throughout the morning many are seen quietly slipping money into the hands of many of the workers. May Allah Ta’ala reward their sacrifices.
Armies of Paratroopers, police and the National Guard were dispersed throughout the gathering worshippers, along with children dressed as butteflies, fairies, policemen, soldiers, princesses, spider man, brides and of course the small boys in their traditional Saudi thobes, mishlahs, the light overcoat decorated with the gold or silver, and the head scarf with the Uqal holding it in place. They all look so cute. Even tiny babies are dressed for the occasion, as young as three months in the full outfit, down to the tiny ring on the finger! Masha’Allah.
Brothers in their newly purchased gowns of so many styles. Some with folded creases obvious as the garment was straight out of the box for many who are visitors. Others in their personal tailor made variations on a theme. All pure white with white scarf, and cream with cream scarf, and the traditional red patterned scarf matched with white or cream, some embroidered colours, lapels, some cuffed, some not….apparently this is as much a fashion statement for the Saudi men as it is for the ladies and their creations!
The air was heady with the perfumes of the men as one walked by, as well as inside the mosque being scented with Bukhour throughout the morning.
Frills, flounces, feathers, beads, sequins, ribbons, bows, sparkles adorn the amazing creations worn by the young girls, all matched with the coordinated hair decorations and jewellery and handbags! As I sit inside Masjid Nabawi for these several hours I was sometimes musing to myself that it was akin to a fashion parade. Alhumdulillah, after Salatul Fajr most of these young girls began distributing dates and sweets in copious quantity. Some are offered in the plastic container while others were presented in fancy gold trays and I even saw wooden caskets being passed around! The aroma of the green Saudi coffee filled the air as the older ladies sipped and chatted over this.
One sister was constantly involved in the Khidmah of filling a container with Zamzam and negotiating between the densely packed sisters offering drinks to many who would find it difficult to go to the barrels due to the squash. SubhanAllah.
There was a large group of Turkish sisters distinguished by their white Hijab with a rose bud "blooming" from the top! A garden of swaying roses bobbing this way and that in the middle of Haram!
A mother with her toddler was nearby, the little girl so happily playing with her mother’s niqab for hours, looking so sweet as she placed this huge niqab on her cupid face, enjoying the attention from all around her as her black eyes sparkled from the eyes holes. I couldn’t help mulling over all the controversy sadly surrounding this piece of gossamer some sisters choose to wear.
The array of styles of abayas has become an amazing industry. Designers letting their imaginations really soar with the decorative touches adding so many variations to this basic black!
Takbeerul Eid was amplified in between Fajr and Salatul Eid, adding a sound layer to the gentle buzz from the thousands in this section, the majority being there for more than four hours by the time the Du’a was complete. Many began leaving at the beginning of the Khutbah.
I waited for a long while before moving thinking that all would be clear once I got outside! I had a shock to find it almost impossible to weave around the crowds still in the ladies section, let alone the general courtyard. So I found a spot sitting by the marble wall of the outer fence savouring this incredible special time. Nearby was a group of ladies, of African origin, with face markings indicating a traditional ceremony where they slash the cheeks when they are young girls as a mark of beauty. But what I had not noticed before with these sisters was that the bottom lip had been dyed green! So many cultural distinctions within the Ummah, emphasizing the depth and spread of Islam, SubhanAllah!
Reflecting on a Ramadhan sadly over, fluctuating between hope and fear of how I had spent this precious gift. May Allah Ta’ala accept our feeble efforts.
The Ummah around me was a jewel of such diversity, the facets so incredibly intricate and contrasting and yet united, all holding La illha illAllah Muhammadu Rasulullah in our hearts. How would Eid have been during the time of our Beloved Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam? What was he SallAllahu alaihi wasallam wearing, what were our Blessed Mothers, and the Sahabah RadhiAllahu anhum wearing, how did they spend their Eid?
I wandered my way though my brothers and sisters towards the Musalla area, taking the opposite way home to the way I came. Masjid Ghamama was where Rasulullah SallAllahu alaihi wasallam prayed the first Eid in his new City of Radiance. This morning it was adorned with the early morning sunlight attempting to sneak through a light clouded sky, with a soft haze caressing the million or so of the Ummah. Looking back towards Bab-Salam the Green Dome looked pale in this light, but the energy surrounding the entire space was vibrant and so oozing with love!
All good is from Allah Ta’ala whereas mistakes are from this humble speck. May Allah Ta’ala Bless all readers, bringing you all closer to Him and His Rasul SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. Ameen.