en zh es ja ko pt

Volume 25, Number 6November/December 1974

In This Issue

Back to Table of Contents


A Recollection

Virtually all of the travelers who visited Mecca were deeply moved by the Hajj. None of them, however, wrote more lyrically than Muhammad Asad, who was among the last of the pilgrims to make the Hajj by camel and from whose book The Road to Mecca this passage is taken.

"And as I stand on the hillcrest and gaze down toward the invisible Plain of 'Arafat, the moonlit blueness of the landscape before me, so dead a moment ago, suddenly comes to life with the currents of all the human lives that have passed through it and is filled with the eerie voices of the millions of men and women who have walked or ridden between Mecca and 'Arafat in over thirteen hundred pilgrimages for over thirteen hundred years. Their voices and their steps and the voices and the steps of their animals reawaken and resound anew; I see them walking and riding and assemblingall those myriads of white-garbed pilgrims of thirteen hundred years; I hear the sounds of their passed-away days; the wings of the faith which has drawn them together to this land of rocks and sand and seeming deadness beat again with the warmth of life over the arc of centuries, and the mighty wingbeat draws me into its orbit and draws my own passed-away days into the present, and once again I am riding over the plainriding in a thundering gallop over the plain, amidst thousands, and thousands of Ihram-clad Bedouins, returning form 'Arafat to Meccaa tiny particle of that roaring, earth-shaking, irresistible wave of countless galloping dromedaries and men, with the tribal banners on their high poles beating like drums in the wind and their tribal war cries tearing through the air: 'Ya Rawga, ya Rawga!' by which the Atayba tribesmen evoke their ancestors' name, answered by the 'Ya Awf, ya Awaf!' of the Harb and echoed by the almost defiant, 'Shammar, ya Shammar!' from the farthest right wing of the column.

"We ride on, rushing, flying over the plain, and to me it seems that we are flying with the wind, abandoned to a happiness that knows neither end nor limit . . . and the wind shouts a wild paean of joy into my ears: 'Never again, never again, never again will you be a stranger!' . . .

"The smell of the dromedaries' bodies, their panting and snorting, the thundering of their innumerable feet; the shouting of the men, the clanking of the rifles slung on saddle-pegs, the dust and the sweat and the wildly excited faces around me; and a sudden, glad stillness within me."

This article appeared on page 17 of the November/December 1974 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.


Check the Public Affairs Digital Image Archive for November/December 1974 images.