Friday, November 20, 2009

Praying in the first Saff in Makkah

In July 2006, I had the most wonderful experience of all my Umrah trips, I got to pray my Fajr Salah multiple times in the front Saff. By the front Saff I mean I was standing between the Rukn Yamini and Hajr Aswad with nobody between me and the Kaabah. I wish to share with you how I managed to do that so that you too can try and experience this. Note that this is only for men to try, since the guards do not let women pray in the first few rows.

One day I was praying Fajr in the front row of the second floor of the Haram (where people make Tawaf) and as I was looking at the beautiful view of the Kabah and its courtyard full of Muslims, I noticed that the rows start directly in front of the Kabah, I thought to myself if those people can pray there then so can I and I devised a plan to find a way to pray in the front row.

The next day I went to the Haram a few hours before Fajr to observe how the rows are formed. I noticed that about an hour before Fajr time, some Turkish men would walk with the Tawaf while not making Tawaf, each time getting closer to the Kabah, I began to follow them and then as they passed the Rukn Yamini, they stopped and stood facing the Kabah, I went and stood in between them, slowly more and more people joined our row as it got closer to Salah time, and every time a guard would pass by, he would ask "Fajr?" and we would reply "Na'am" (Yes in Arabic). Closer to Salah time, the guards would start pushing the women and Tawaf crowds away and formulating the Saffs, they would then protect us from people trying to push us out of our Saffs and taking our places.

Some of the bigger Turkish and Arab women would put on a fight but the guards would win. So when the time of Salah came, the guard would watch over us and we would watch each other as we took turns to pray our two Sunnah, then when the Jamaah started, we would stand up and pray the most memorable Salah I ever prayed. The first time I did this, as the Jamah started, a huge man who was walking past, shoved me and the turkish man next to me out of the Saff and took our place, without thinking we looked at each other , grabbed him and threw him back out, took our place again and prayed my first ever Salah in the front Saff of the Haram.

So here is the method in brief:

1) It worked for me because it was not Ramadan or Hajj, it will be harder at those times
2)Leave an hour and a half before Fajr Adhaan and start walking towards the Kabah, join the crowd and walk with them in Tawaf movement, as pushing your way through them is not a good thing to do.
3) As you get near the walls of the Kabah, stand on the tile line, that is just one Saff away from the Kabah, in front of you should be the royal rumble to kiss the black stone.
4) Since you are in a dangerous spot and will be standing for an hour, expect to be pushed, shoved, have your toes tramped, stepped on or ready to retreat should the rumble for the black stone turn No-Holds-Barred!
5) Do not think about sitting till a guard comes and asks you "Salah?" then reply in the positive, he will tell you to sit and will protect you while clearing up the Tawaf crowd.
6) Make friends with the people next to you so that you can protect each other from last minute chancers and bullies, I mostly sat next to Turkish old men who would protect me like their own son, may Allah bless them.
7) Keep your intentions pure and do it for the sake of Allah keeping in mind the reward of praying in the Haram combined with the reward of praying in the front Saff!
8) Do not even think about rushing to kiss the stone after Salah as that is what most of the people there are thinking, as you as the Imam makes Salaam to end the salah, you will notice the stone under attack from people willing to die or kill to kiss it!

That's about all I can think off on this topic, I hope it helps someone pray in the front row, because then I get to share in your reward for doing that. :)


Anonymous said...

Cool! Thanks for sharing. Barakallahu feek and may Allah accept from you.

umair said...

Is it better to pray in the first saff or not to push a muslim? ALLAH knows ur intent... Such a pity that Muslims fight with each other for these things in house of ALLAH not knowing that causing distress to a brother is such a grave sin...

Wael - said...

Fascinating. I had no idea it was so competitive and rough-and-tumble. And I echo Umair's thoughts, I wish it were not like this, with fighting and all. People ignore the spirit of Islamic teachings in order to gain something physically tangible. I don't mean you, but the "bullies" who try to shove others out of the line.