We arrived in Arafat on the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah. Leaving our bus, the arched pavilion at the entrance provided refuge from the morning sunshine. Along a path paved with rectangle stones and astroturf, our group of hujjaj walked past perched potted plants and fans. People sat and stood beneath outdoor canopies with fans that sprayed cool mist.
Hajj Pros’ Imam Sulaimaan Abdul Hamed gave a khutbah inside our tent, focused on the blessings of the Day of Arafah – while at Arafat – and the purification of the heart. Afterwards, we prayed Asr and I later stepped outside.
Outside the fence, a group of men passed, headed toward Mount Arafat. They’d walked from Mina. Two carried umbrellas, providing some shade for themselves. Across the road, I noticed groups of mainly Africans. Since the hujjaj at Mina had been separated by nationalities and tour groups, I wondered if that was the “Africa” section. Back on this side of the road, our group was mainly Africans in America. Bilalians.
I walked back to the garden area and found a chair underneath an outdoor tent. Before I left for Hajj, I collected duas to read on the Day of Arafah. I felt humbled that my friends, family and loved ones would ask me to stand before God and pray for them. I made dua for them first. Tears streaming down my face, reciting words from the hearts of Believers, hoping Allah (SWT) would shower them with his bounties. I prayed for my family and made dhikr.
Exhausted from our journey, I kept falling asleep. I’d wake up, pray, read the Qur’an, make dhikr and re-read dua from the Qur’an. And I’d fall back asleep.
The thunder reminded me of Allah’s might. I don’t think I ever feared thunder before that day.
The mood outside was festive. “They were kicking it,” my Hajj Baba Bilal Sabir later remembered at our From Hood to Hajj event at Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland. “They were having a good time, like it was a party!” It was like the calm before the storm.
The sound of thunder startled me. I later wrote in my journal:
“I woke up to pouring rain and lightning. It was not rain that was so powerful that the drops hurt, or with wind so strong it swayed the tents. It was like (a) sign of Allah reminding me of His awesome power. Half asleep, I said, “Allahu Akbar.”
Suddenly, as the clouds darkened and water dropped from the sky, people began to pray. We prayed harder, with more focus. We prayed our hearts out hoping Allah would move deeper in.
Juz’ 13 (12:53–14:52) includes Surah Ar-Ra’d. This 13th surah takes its name from its 13th ayah.
The thunder glorifies His praises, as do the angels in awe of Him. He sends thunderbolts, striking with them whoever He wills. Yet they dispute about Allah. And He is tremendous in might. — 13:13
Thunder is one of the many signs of Allah mentioned in this juz’. The earth, its mountains, rivers and fruits. The rain from the sky.
The thunder reminded me of Allah’s might. I don’t think I ever feared thunder before that day. Maybe it’s because I’m from California. The only Thunder I know is the Warriors’ mascot. But ever since that day, that blessed Day of Arafah, whenever I hear thunder, I pray. The surround sound booming in the blackness of midnight, reminds me of Allah’s might. So I seek His mercy and submit to God alone.
Allah says in the Qur’an, “He makes the signs clear so that you may be certain of the meeting with your Lord.” (13:2)
Some find the roaring sounds soothing. But it ain’t a sound that I can sleep to. The rumbling reminds me of my own mortality. Certainly, one day I will meet my Maker.
“He is the One who shows you lightning, inspiring you with hope and fear, and produces heavy clouds.” (13:12)
By this 13th night of Ramadan, the moon grows full. A sign that Ramadan always goes by so fast. The moon, and the sun, follow the path He directs. A reminder to myself to wake up and pray with increased might. The thunder is a reminder to glorify His praise, in hopes it will be us he will raise to jannah on Judgment Day.
The rumbling reminds me of my own mortality. Certainly, one day I will meet my Maker.
Giving glory to Allah for making us believing Muslims.
All Praise due to Allah for bringing forth the Recitation during this blessed month of Ramadan.
May Allah make us among those who heed and hope for his guidance.
May our angels guard us from evil jinn and devils and guide us to the path of those who are blessed, not those who earn your wrath or go astray.
May Allah keep us from denying our Lord and reaping the punishment of the forgetful who’ve suffered before us. You and only You know the Seen and Unseen.
May Allah have mercy upon our ancestors and provide us with righteous offspring that will carry forward the banner of Islam and one day seek forgiveness for our shortcomings.
May Allah give us goodness in this life, in the hereafter, and save and protect us from the torment of the fire.
May we recognize Allah’s signs and be mindful of His reminders.
Ya Allah, help us to change our condition so you will change our favor.
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Rasheed Shabazz is a historian, journalist and photographer based in California. He embraced Islam in 2004. Rasheed received his master’s in city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a Black Muslim Experiences Research Fellow with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), focusing on the impact of neighborhood change on African American masjids and the housing experiences of African American Muslims.