30 December 2006/10 Dhu’l Hijjah 1427

Dedication:  To speechlessness 

After finishing my tawaf al-ifada, I looked for a place to sit with a good view of the Ka’bah as my family proceeded toward Mount Safa and Marwah.

I found a spot next to an elderly Iranian woman on the steps leading to the center of the mosque.  Seated behind us were other Iranian women.  I sat and watched the Ka’bah until it was time for the late afternoon prayer.

(People often ask, “What do you think of when you see the Ka’bah?”  I cannot speak for others, but there were moments when I could not speak, when my mind was emptied of thoughts and noise.  There is a rustling; when all I see and think is the shining black image before me.  I felt tired; a wandering, wondering pilgrim; unable to formulate worded thoughts into silent sensible sentences; emptied but peaceful.)

The elderly woman beside me suddenly raised her hands, supplicating.  I turned to her and found her looking straight at the Ka’bah, her face full of pain.  I couldn’t understand the words she uttered other than “Khoda-ya! Khoda-ya!” but that was enough for me to say “Amin” and cry silently as I watched the Ka’bah and she cried aloud, begging, as if she was completely alone with her Creator.

The way she put her hands out, the way she called—it was as if her entire state argued, “You must listen to me!”

She began to cough violently.  I placed my hand on her back and offered her zam zam water hoping to get the blessings of a woman who knew how to petition God.

May I never forget, when emptied and out of words, her words.


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