The Trip… (part 1)

Driving in Jeddah as salam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaah,

Now I knew it was going to be a long trip but Subhannallaah, it was like 23 hours!

I mean the whole ride to the airport my friend was steady grilling me on the names of the days of the weeks, months, holidays, etc. Finally, I had to let him know that after 6 months or so of living in Saudi Arabia it wouldn’t matter! It would have to become second nature since I have made it my home.

After the good-byes at the airport we were rushing along, knowing that our flight left in 2 more hours, a good thing too because the line up was at least that long! I mean there was close to 75 people in it and all of them looked like they had plenty of bags. A matron seen us coming with our daughter as we were about to get in the gruesomely long and arduous line when he said,

“You are on the 11:00pm flight?”

I responded in the negative and said, “Seven o’clock.”

Shocked he blustered, “The seven o’clock was cancelled.”

A few things raced through my mind, including that I had waited about a month for tickets, that I prayed for ease from difficulty and made Salaatul-Istikhaarah (a prayer where one is making a decision and supplicates, “Oh Allaah if this affair is good for me and my religion make its facilitation easy for me, and if it is not for the good of myself and my religion cause it to become hard for me, and remove it from me.”).

“There’s a flight at 6:00pm.” He said.

I looked back at the line and thought to myself that there was no way we would ever be able get through that line in an hour. I looked at him somewhat distraught I’m sure, and he gestured with his hand.

“C’mon! Quickly!” and we followed him as he whisked us ahead of everyone in line. Now I try not to have bad thoughts about people, but the looks on some of their faces spoke for themselves. I’m pretty sure some were thinking, “Who is this rich Arab being pushed ahead of all of us in the line?” I say that because since becoming Muslim I have grown a large and full beard and people often mistake me for an Arab. Saying things like, “Wow, where did you learn your English, it’s wonderful.” Only to become shocked to learn that I became a Muslim.

I can’t say that they all were thinking that, but let’s just say that the couple at the front of the check-in counter who thought they were next were more than a bit perplexed when the matron said to the nearest check-in kiosk agent,

“Take them next. Their seven o’clock was cancelled, and hurry, they board in ten minutes.”

Well now, this was shaping up to be a good trip so far after all, al-hamdulillaah (All praise is for Allaah). They didn’t even ask my wife to lift her Niqaab (a face veil that my wife CHOSE to wear before we were married).

Long flight from Toronto to England’s Heathrow Airport and I do mean LONG… I was happy my wife and daughter slept but I didn’t get a wink. Mission Impossible 3 was playing… who cares? The plane was absolutely the biggest I have ever been on! Still though, every plane I’ve ever ridden all serve those “gourmet” pretzels, which they must know taste terrible! I mean I still get flashbacks to being a kid and wondering what a Milkbone dog biscuit tasted like when I eat those “gourmet” pretzels. I think because the Milkbones were less salty that the Milkbones have a slight edge.

I’ve had lots of friends tell me about the hard times and ridiculous questions that the Customs officers at Heathrow love to drill new Muslims with. Oh yeah, I’ve heard a lot of the horror stories about missed flights, wrongful detainments, and all of that stuff, and all of this was running through my mind as we went through the hallways and long corridors, especially in light of that fly-ban on gels and other liquids. You know the one, Muslims planning to use explosive devices made out of sports gels and clear Gatorades, and the like. When I first heard about it on the news I remembered I hadn’t heard anything that preposterous since the famous heretic Hishaam Kabaani explained that, “Wahabis were preparing to smuggle nuclear weapons in the United States the size of potato chips.” What a quack! Well, we have to be just, the Ibn Laadin 9/11 attack orchestrated from a cave in Afghanistan easily wins the award for most ludicrous and incredulous conspiracy theory, and until I see some real “evidence” it will remain a ridiculous theory… but I’ll deal with that in another blog, now, back to Heathrow.

You have to take a shuttle bus to another terminal and then go through a security search before getting on another plane. On a pre-security security check I was told we couldn’t take toothpaste, rub a535, diaper-rash cream for the baby, as well as any cologne or liquids. I asked the lady if she was serious, she looked at me with a dead stare as if I was going to be a problem.

“Guess so,” I said, “here it is, all of it.”

The power of propaganda! I tell ya, never underestimate the power of a few good terrorist plots on the popularity polls! Knowing she was just doing her job, I gave it all up, rounded the corner and we could hear on the walkie-talkie of a nearby airport security guard, “2 adults and a little child… black dress… big beard…” No I’m not making this up because the security guard noticing that we heard turned down his radio and made cutting gestures with his hand across his neck like “They can hear us…”

We kept walking, unmolested, rounded the corner, went through some glass doors and there he was, some security guard waiting for us. I half-expected he was going to say something like when my wife and I traveled to Philadelphia and a US customs screener came to us and announced, “You’ve both been selected for random security screening.” It was said as if it was a raffle or a consolation prize!

We have nothing to hide so we were ready to submit to some more “random” checking, but this time I didn’t want to let them know I believed it was random. Before the guy could say a word to me I looked at my watch and said,

“Wow, it only took you one minute after hearing our description over the walkie-talkie to find us! Where shall we go?”

He looked more exasperated than serious and motioned us with his hand to the front of the line, once again we were moved ahead of everybody and people were looking at us begrudgingly.

“Here you go.” He said abruptly.

“Thanks… and sorry.” I stumbled.

May Allaah forgive me! Having such a chip on my shoulder and him looking at my daughter as if she was the reason we were bumped ahead in the line. He nodded appreciatively and left and they were searching our bags and we were removing our shoes. No setbacks, no ridiculous questions, no interview, no nothing! We were granted entry into the mall part of Heathrow airport and we were all starving and had to use the bathrooms!

(enf of part 1)

Published in: on January 30, 2007 at 11:28 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. As salaamu alaykum,

    May Allaah bless you and your family in your journey. It was nice reading your blog as it caused me to remember Allaah’s blessings upon me and my family since we made hijrah over six years ago.

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