spent the last month with more than three million people who
had all set the same financial goal.
The goal was to save enough money for the Hajj- the pilgrimage
to Mecca. Many had saved for years accumulating sufficient
for air-conditioned buses and two star hotels.
The pilgrims came mainly from Africa, India and its surrounds,
Arab countries, Turkey, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
When we landed in Jordan, the Russian pilgrims were delighted
to see us. They had been waiting on our flight for long hours,
but the pre-Christmas London fog, had caused delays. They
had waited in humility!
When we crossed the boundary-line for the pilgrims entry into
the precinct for Hajj, the entire plane load prayed in one
Thereafter money and material things, position and social
status fled off the recesses of our minds, and we joined a
mass of humanity in humility. We spent five days in the desert
sands, retracing the journey of Prophet Abraham, the temptations
that faced him in the desert, and drinking water from the
Well of Zam Zam.
When Prophet Abraham took his wife Hagar, into the desert
in the Valley of Becca, and left her there with his son, she
had begun a desperate search for water for the child. The
Well of Zam Zam dates back to that time, and the water is
free and flowing even today!
Yes, we Trinis sat squat on the desert sands and ate common
meals, and we slept on the desert sands.
But it was when we began the journey to the plains of Arafat,
to make confession and to plead forgiveness, that I saw the
hundreds of thousands who didnt save for air-conditioned
busses or tents in the desert, and who had made their way
on very lean camels who had walked thousands of miles, with
their necessities bundled on their backs, or in hardly road-worthy
vehicles, it was then that I caught a gist of mans relationship
I felt too that one had to be extremely pious to walk the
distance, in the desert heat by day, and in the desert cold,
by night. And from the luxury of our air-conditioned bus,
their faces, the faces of the pedestrians, was all I saw for
miles and I wanted to trade places with them.
The male pilgrims dress in two pieces of seamless cloth, and
nothing else; the women wear normal clothingall white.
In this sea of white, there is no class or caste, no dignitary,
no commoner. There is equity before the Law, a Law that has
existed even before society.
For days no one had to shop, or call home, and money was of
little merit in the vast desert. We developed a kinship and
a love for a million strangers a day, with whom we shared
desert bathrooms. We smiled a lot because of language barriers,
and we united in a universal bond, subtle and eternal.
When we returned to life at the hotel, the business desk was
an unfamiliar concept, and the one PC that was available,
didnt have an English keyboard. But with desert sands
in your clothes, and money well spent, why fuss about money