Days before my Hajj journey in 1996, I was warned about the dangers of the Stone Throwing, Rami Al-Jaamarat ritual. Told that it would be the most arduous and life-threatening experience of the rituals performed, I really hadn’t the faintest clue of what to expect. I was advised to pay off all of my debts and say goodbye to everyone, asking forgiveness from anyone whom I might have wronged in life. In a strange way it was a subtle reminder of death, of the possibility that I was giving my final goodbyes. I was on my way to be cleansed, or so I hoped that Allah the Almighty would accept my attempt. I was blessed to have an opportunity to make the pilgrimage and was pleased with an amazing trip! The House of Allah was an amazing Beauty. The cubic structure was much more massive than I expected and the pilgrims circumambulated around it while the structure stood absolutely still. It was a contrast that gave me a feeling of its greatness. Following instructions and going through the rites of circumambulation tawaf and sa’i were refreshing and though the area was densely populated, I felt a sort of ease and spiritual comfort getting through them.

Jamarat at Mina - Hajj 2006

Recently, the system for pebble throwing has become very organized, however, during the time I visited Makkah for Hajj, it was very dangerous. Many who entered the stone throwing area were never to return home. Over time, the pebble-throwing rite had gained the worst reputation. Out of fear, people hastily entered and attempted to complete the throwing of the stones, fearing for their lives. It was very cluttered and many visitors to the Holy area were not aware of how to keep themselves safe as well as others.

As I was entering the area for stone throwing, a man began to shout in Arabic, “MAWWWT YA HORMAAAAH, FEE MAWWWT JOWWAH!” Screaming out, “DEATH OH WOMAN, THERE’S DEATH INSIDE!” this fear appeal was to strongly discourage me from entering the area. Though I was a little nervous, I was stubborn and felt like I was capable and that I should throw my stones on my own. My brother stood close beside me and I felt protected. Apparently, just before we had entered, some had been trampled to death inside.

With so many people cluttered in that small area, I was feeling claustrophobic. Holding my pebbles tightly in my hand, with my brother stuck to me, I made my way to a place close enough to the front. If I was to throw from too far back, I could risk my pebbles not making it into the basin or hitting someone else in the head. One by one I’d pronounce “ALLAHU AKBAR!,” and lob a pebble into the basin. It was very difficult as so many people were pressed against me trying to do the same. Many were angry, feeling like they were throwing at Satan himself and thus shouting obscenities. That couldn’t be right, as the Hajj is to be peaceful and bad language should not be uttered. While holding the pebbles in my hand, I had opened my palm to take another out to throw it when someone forcefully bumped into me and shook a few out of my hand. I worried that I did not have a sufficient number to throw and so I began to lean down to the ground searching for the lost pebbles when I heard my brother screaming from the top of his lungs, “DO YOU WANT TO DIE? “ while struggling to pull me from my back so that I stood up again. I had forgotten about those who were trampled and those who had died. Only concerned just about the number of pebbles in my hand, I had taken a huge risk. When I had stood up and he carefully handed me a few extra pebbles he had. We continued for a few minutes and pushed through the crowds to exit to safety. When we came out, one guy in our Hajj group who exited with us found that his feet no longer had slippers on them. The guy carved slippers out of cardboard he’d found on the street. Another male in the group was wearing a woman’s bright pink slipper along with one of his slippers. He also came out with his glasses twisted on his face. We rushed out and gave Praise to Allah taala for getting us out safely.

There was much I gained from this experience and a few things that we should all bear in mind when it is our turn to throw:

  1. We must be mindful of our purpose as throwing the pebbles is a means of remembering Allah the Almighty.
  2. When selecting pebbles from Mina, we should select smaller pebbles, not huge rocks and stones. Throwing huge stones can result in injury to others.
  3. We are throwing pebbles at the pillars and not at Satan and we should not shout insults as we throw. Be considerate of the sacredness of the time and place.
  4. When throwing pebbles, they should not be thrown from a very long distance, so that the stones can properly fall inside the basin and so that they can accurately hit the target.
  5. We should be careful not to harm others by cursing, fighting, or pushing others at the pillars. We must be gentle with others and careful of their rights.
  6. Stones are to be thrown one at a time and not all at once.
  7. Throw your own if you are capable.

And forget not that Allah taala has assigned a great reward for the accepted Hajj as the Messenger of Allah Peace and Blessings be Upon Him said, “…There is no reward for the Hajj Al-Mabroor except Paradise.” From the word mabroor is derived the word “birr” which means righteousness and good behavior towards people, fulfilling duties towards others and giving them their rights.

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