My Umrah Journal - Madinah
Starting our journey from Madinah, after lunch, we reached Mecca little before midnight. On the way, we halted for an hour in a place called Zul Hulaifah. It is the Miqat point where we must enter into the state of Ihram before entering Mecca for the purpose of Umrah. Ihram means the state of purity one should follow with ablution and a dress code, before performing the Umrah or Haj ritual.
It was very late Sunday evening. Well, then it was our first night in Mecca. It was so hot and dry weather even in that late hour. Hot wind blowing on our faces, as we reached our hotel. Being in Ihram state, I was drowned in my own thoughts. I knew I can't wait to see Ka'bah, even though how very late and hot it was. I have seen Ka'bah pictures and the entire Masjid Al Haram and its rituals all live on TV but then being in Mecca and just a few minutes walk away from Ka'bah, I was very eager and excited for finally am going to get to see it directly. After having our dinner, we reached the mosque in some 15 minutes walk from our hotel. As we reached the lobby of Haram Shareef which was filled with people from various places of the world even at midnight, it was a delight to watch them doing their prayers. Before entering inside the mosque, our Alim gave us the basic idea of Umrah. He asked us to gaze down till we reach Ka'bah and recite holy verses. Then we all walked slowly lowering our sights, till we reached the place where we could see Ka'bah closer and clearer. This is especially for the first timers there. And it is among one of those moments and places where our prayers are answered. Inshaallah.
|Ka'bah, Masjid Al Haram, Mecca|
As we reached closer enough, we were asked to raise our heads. There I saw that black square building formed as a simple but attractive huge cube. Masha Allah! Magnificent view like it was welcoming us and trying to embrace us. It is the center of Muslim’s prayer around the world. I stopped there for a moment with my glistening eyes and raised my hands to ask dua and forgiveness. I felt the mixture of unexplainable feelings. I've been waiting for this moment so long and seeing in my dreams. The moment when I saw Ka'bah for the first time, my dream came true.
|Courtesy - Google|
We did our nafil prayers and then were ready to perform our first Umrah. Umrah is a journey consisting of Tawaf and Sa’ee.
Tawaf – there have been more religious histories to tell why we have to do this tawaf. And I’ve been trying to understand the philosophy of Circumambulation. It actually means to go round something, like orbiting. Like the planets orbiting the central Sun in the solar system.
Its like when we love someone, we would be going around that person to express our love and affection to prove that we are ready to sacrifice everything for our loved one. Standing in front of Ka'aba, I knew it was my time to showcase my love and detach everything from this worldly things just to be around Allah. One tawaf means taking 7 rounds of the Ka'aba.
Sa'ee – Walking for Sa’ee between Safa and Marwah hill, seven times to and fro, a long walk almost 3 kms. I was thinking how Hajira (rali) did manage to run in the exact place filled with rocks and hot sand then, without cooling air conditioners and all the facilities we are having now, to look for water for her son Ismail (as). This is where Zam Zam water sprang up on the spot where Prophet Ismail (as) kicked his feet and it never dried ever since. Drinking Zam Zam water heals any health related issues. Many people has witnessed this miracle.
After finishing the Tawaf and Sa’ee, we need to cut our hair. Only then it means we are relieved from the state of Ihram and means the completion of our Umrah. After that, we have to drink the Zam Zam water. They are kept all around the mosque in numerous cold, hot and plain water cans.
No matter how sick we are, the moment we go there, all our illness will vanish and a new vibe of energy blossoms in our body and soul that makes us wonder where did all these energy and fitness come from - to do all our rituals without any hurdles and weaknesses. It is indeed a miracle that many people witness in this holy land and especially with the Zam Zam water.
On my second day, I was so happy and blessed that I managed to touch the Hajr-E-Aswadh, the black holy stone in that crowd, without any hassle with the help of my brother, which is fixed in one of the four corners of Ka'bah. That is where we had to start our Tawaf. Before this journey happened to me, I had a dream like I was going closer to this stone and talking to it. And just as I dreamt, it all happened there. Indeed I did have my moment to say my greetings to it. My dreams were coming true and this journey brought me and everyone the undefined joy. Alhamdulillah.
|A View outside the mosque, Masjid Al Haram|
|A view inside|
One evening, after my Umrah rituals, when I was reciting Quran, an African lady came and sat next to me and was keenly listening to my recital. I became so conscious and smiled at her. After few minutes of listening, she asked me to help read the verses from the beginners' Quran she brought. We both didn't understand each other's tongue but still I felt so glad that in Masjid al Haram, Allah gave me that opportunity to help someone recite Quran. After half an hour of that reading session, she blessed me with a happy heart and left. One of the memories I will cherish for long.
For the 10 days we stayed there, I concentrated on focusing myself and dedicating towards Allah. Our only activity was to pray in the mosque and reciting holy verses through out the day. Sometimes, when I simply used to sit there watching the Ka'bah, I sensed as if it was trying to converse with me. It was a heavenly feel. Masjid Al Haram is always packed with people, but it is very clean and with beautiful fragrance all around, the entire mosque is just a bliss to watch. If we come little late for the prayer, we had to struggle finding our way to sit. Once my cousin and me, we both had to stand in a staircase and did our Salah since we arrived only couple of minutes late after the Azan - the prayer calling.
I felt like I found myself once again and relate a lot of things that mentioned in Quran. Alhamdulillah, by God’s Grace, I memorized a chapter in Quran and glad that I could get to see the places mentioned in the Holy Quran like Mount Uhad, Badr valley, Arafat, Mina. Arafat is the hill where the first reunion of Adam (as) and Hawwa (as) took place after coming down to this world. I also learnt that Masjid Al Nameera, an ancient large mosque in Arafat, can hold a million people inside during the prayer hour.
Umma and I along with one of our cousins who works there in Mecca, went to the wholesale fruit market to buy Dates. We witnessed variety of dates from low to high quality packed and unpacked, plus many other fruits imported from all over the world.
While Madinah is a clean and peaceful city, I found Mecca blowing hot and sandy wind. Mainly because it is situated in between the rocky mountains. There we could see many buildings emerging out of those hills. And almost through out the year, construction work is going on, expanding the Haram Shareef, as to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims who are visiting the Holy land each year. So they say, even every year you go to Mecca, you will get to see a different city.
We also went on a day trip to Jeddah visiting the floating mosque over the sea and also to Ta'if, a hill station and the winter capital of Saudi Arabia.
On our last day there, we felt that the trip should never end. While I am typing down my journal here, I know no perfect words I found to express my true feelings or simply, I wonder will I ever get one? It was altogether a very beautiful experience for all of us. I wish I can go back there again and esp. to perform Haj soon, Inshaallah. May Allah bless us all with good tidings and grant us the opportunity to go to Mecca at least once in our life time to witness this beauty. Aameen.
All the pictures used here for my journal are from my personal album unless otherwise it is stated.
Thanks for reading my Umrah Journal.