If there was one moment that stood out from Hajj, it was the night I spent freezing in the valley of Muzdalifa. We obviously weren’t prepared, but my family and I didn’t know what to expect. We were told to only bring a few blankets. Our bus reached Muzdalifa and I looked out the window to see hundreds of people lying on the bare floor. It took our bus several minutes to weave through the valley and reach our campsite, and once we got off, I was shocked. This is where we would be spending the night? All I saw was dirt with some grass on it!

My family started walking through the sleeping pilgrims to reach the bottom of a large hill. We laid our blankets and I pulled a rock closer to me as a pillow. I looked around for miles and all I could see were pilgrims. Some had sleeping bags, normal blankets, and pillows (which I envied), but others only had themselves and huddled together. I knew sleeping under the stars was going to take on a whole different meaning. There was absolutely nothing between me and the sky.

I can still remember how cold it was in Muzdalifa. I had to go to the bathroom the entire night, but refused because it was freezing. Plus I’m a germaphobe. There were bathrooms, twelve in total, but they had the longest lines ever and were used by countless people. I remember seeing a group of men hiking up the hill and my mom told me that the men also refused to use the bathroom stalls. Instead, they resorted to rocks.

Alhamdullilah, even though I was freezing, I was able to fall asleep. My mom sat up the entire night because she was too cold to move and my poor father had only two towels with him. Someone, somewhere, told him that he could buy blankets in Muzdalifa. Not true, or at least it wasn’t in our area.

After we prayed Fajr, buses started to pull in to take people to Mina. Our bus was late by a few hours, and the sun rose to slightly warm us up. While we waited, I gathered rocks to throw at the Jamraat. The valley is covered in pebbles, so it’s not difficult to find, but I absolutely avoided the ones that were wet!

My stay at Muzdalifa was by far the most difficult part of Hajj, but alhamdullilah for it. Even though I felt as if I had nothing, my night there was necessary and stark reminder about our origins. I was a reminder that I am from the soil of this earth and will one day lie in it. I drove out of Muzdalifa and was truly grateful to Allah for so many things; for letting me live such a comfortable life back home, for ending the night, bringing the day and taking us towards Mina, and also for making it a once in a lifetime experience.

– Frah Abdi

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