The whispers, "Farrakhan-Amerikee" and
"Meel-yon March," rippled in dozens of accents and dialects through the record
crowd of whispers who had thronged the Grand Mosque seeking the "Lailat
Al-Qadr," the most important night in the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Welcome to Saudi," "I'm from Pakistan,"
"Please come to Dubai," "I'm from Egypt," "I'm Canadian,"
"I'm Nigerian," "I'm from Pakistan," "I'm from Bangladesh,"
"I'm from India, the pilgrims told the Muslim leader from the "United States as
they clamored to shake his hand. Others in the overflow crowd which occupied the terrace,
the courtyard, and surrounding areas of the holiest shrine in the Islamic world, simply
pointed to Min. Farrakhan when they recognized his face as he walked by, escorted by a
small contingent of police.
According to the Holy Qur'an, Lailat Al-Qadr (the Night of
Power) is better than a thousand months. The first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on this night. The month of Ramadan is when Muslims throughout the
world abstain from eating, drinking, or taking anything into their bodies, or sexual
relations with their spouses from the break of dawn until sunset.
Customarily, Muslims visit the two Holy Shrines at Mecca
and Medina during Ramadan, particularly during the last 10 days. Jordan's King Hussein,
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sultan Hasan Al-Bokiah of Brunei, as well as dozens
of close relatives of other Muslim heads of state visited Saudi Arabia this week for
prayers and to perform "Umrah---which is pilgrimage at Al-Haram, wearing simple
unstitched garments, performed at any time other than the official "Hajj"
Minister Farrakhan and his 24-member delegation, visiting
Saudi Arabia as the 20th stop on a 53-nation World Friendship Tour which began Dec. 1,
1997 performed Umrah on the night of Jan. 18 and the morning of Jan. 19, 1998, the 20th
night of Ramadan. During his stay in the kingdom, the Nation of Islam leader was greeted
by Mustapha Osman Ishmael, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic
of Sudan; Madame Yahyah Jammeh, First Lady of The Gambia; Ali Bongo, son of President Omar
Bongo of Gabon; and Hassan Mywinzi, the former head of state of Tanzania; all of whom were
here to make Umrah.
The optional Salatul-Taraweeh, is offered each night
during Ramadan, after Salatul-Isha, the night's final obligatory prayer. Muslims strive to
recite the entire Qur'an, by reciting consecutive portions of it on successive nights as
part of the offering of Taraweeh prayers. Praying at microphones just a few feet away from
Minister Farrakhan and Sultan Al-Bokiah's brother, the Crown prince of Brunei, the prayers
were led by Shaykh Saud Al-Sheraim and Shaykh Muhammad Al-Sudais, who brought many
worshipers to tears with several passionate "du'a," (supplications).
The inspirational service was punctuated often by the
sound of crying babies---in the arms of their mothers, or on the shoulders of their
fathers as the pilgrims performed "Tawaf," (circuits around the Kabah with it on
the left side)---and occasionally by Salatul-Janazah (funeral prayers), as the bodies of
deceased worshipers, with their faces turned towards the Kabah, were carried over the
heads of the congregation before the final prayer was said for them.
After a record number of 1.5 million
worshipers---including several members of Min. Farrakhan's delegation---thronged the Grand
Mosque on Friday, Jan. 23 for the final Salatul-Jummah of Zilramadan 1418 A.H., Mecca
police deployed additional security officers at all entry points into the city, as well as
along the streets around the mosque to control the heavy traffic. Officially, the mosque
has the capacity to accommodate about one million worshipers at a time.
In his "Khutba" (Salatul-Jummah sermon) Dr. Omar
Muhammad Al-Subayyel, the Imam and "Khateeb" (leader of prayer) of the Grand
Mosque called for an end to the bloodbath in Algeria. He also urged Muslims to unite under
the banner of Islam to liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and to counter the challenges
facing them, according to delegation member Shaykh Ahmed Tijani Ben-Omar, Khateeb of
Mosque Maryam in Chicago.
The Imam also deplored the banning of the Islamist Welfare
Party in Turkey. "They ignored international law when they chose to disregard the
interest of their people," he said referring to the ban on the popular party by the
country's secularist Constitutional Court, according to published reports.
During the last several days of Ramadan, officials
estimate that about 2 million pilgrims have visited Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca every day.
The faithful are encouraged by a Saying of the Prophet (PBUH), who is reported to have
said that an Umrah during Ramadan is equal to Hajj.
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