Monday, March 8, 2010

My Umrah Experience - Part 2

We arrived in Makkah around 10pm. The entrance to the Zam Zam Grand Suites was underground so I didn’t see what the streets of Makkah looked like and it was quite dark while we were driving as well. We checked in and got something to eat from the food court in the Abraj al Bait shopping mall which was in the basement of our hotel.

Because my daughter was sleeping, my mother and father in law went at around midnight to perform their Umrah and they came back at 2.30am. My husband and I left at 3am to perform our Umrah. The outside of the Haram was beautiful and I could feel a change in the air, Makkah was busy even at that time in the morning. I walked towards the King Abdul Aziz entrance and then took my shoes off, made my dua and kept my eyes to the floor.

My husband guided me towards the mataaf area and then told me to look up; I could see the Ka’bah in front of me, like I have never seen it before! I was taken aback, I felt like I was in a dream, all these feelings rushed inside of me, it was confusing, was this real or wasn’t it. All these emotions were overtaking me and I broke down into tears, sobbed like a baby, it was so surreal to be standing there, even now as I write this my eyes are filled with tears. It is the most amazing feeling, and it is difficult to put into words. The first dua I made was for Allah ta’ala to accept all my duas and ibaadah then I continued making all my duas which I wrote down on a very long list, May Allah accept all of my duas, inshallah. Ameen.

The Haram was empty, only a few people still performing their Umrahs and making Tawaaf. We started making our Tawaaf, I imagined it so many times before, but here I was finally making tawaaf.

Someone who was in our tour group who was quite learned told me that she compares going round the Ka’bah as to being in a big washing machine (I know that sounds funny). She said that to her the first few rounds are like your soul is being washed, your sins are being washed away, then the next few rounds is the rinse cycle where Allah ta’ala is cleansing you, then the next few rounds is like the spin cycle, where you can make a fresh start and do a 360 degree turn of your life and your heart and then the drying which is when you are done making tawaaf and then you contemplate what you have just accomplished and ask Allah ta’ala to accept it from you.

I thought it was beautiful. I performed my tawaaf and felt peaceful and content and in a world of my own, in my own thoughts while I was reciting. Really contemplating what I was reciting. It was amazing. Even when I was finished making tawaaf I still had the tasbeehs reciting in my head. I made my two rakaahs and then went to drink Zam Zam water. Thereafter we proceeded to the Sa’ee. It was amazing seeing the rock from the two mountains which were still preserved. Kept thinking how Hajar (RA) managed to run between these rocky hillocks! What perseverance!

The sa’ee was long but at the end of it I felt sad, I had completed my Umrah. My husband shaved his hair and then cut off a small bit of mine.

The next few days in Makkah were lovely, the Haram was so quiet, we managed to make lots of tawaafs. Went for ziyaarats around Makkah.

We also went to Taif for the day and was fortunate enough to perform another Umrah on our return. Alhamdulilaah.

There is such a lot of construction taking place near the Haram and around Makkah. Hotels being built and hotels being demolished but once you step into the Haram it is so peaceful.

My Umrah Experience - Part 1

All praises are due to Allah ta’ala, the Sustainer of the worlds, and may Allah’s mercy and peace be upon our leader, Sayyidina Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam, his family and companions.

Where do I begin, firstly to thank Allah ta’ala for this amazing opportunity and I need to thank my husband who through Allah ta’ala was the means of me being able to go.

It all happened so quickly and it also went by very fast. But what an amazing experience, something that I will remember for the rest of my life. I make dua that Allah ta’ala accepts all my ibadaah and duas while I was in the holy cities and now that I am back home again, Ameen.

In brief, we flew from Johannesburg to Istanbul then on to Madinah Munawwarah. Istanbul was beautiful, we visited the Blue Mosque and the Haga Sofia museum. Istanbul is a strange place, lets just say that they are in desperate need of some serious dawah work!

We stayed at the Movenpick hotel in Madinah which was right at the doorstep of the Haram. When we arrived the athaan had just gone for Tahajjud and all the people were walking to the haram so peacefully. Madinah is a peaceful city; I felt so content and connected. I kept on reminding myself that every step that I took on the soil of Madinah was possibly where the Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam had walked, the same path he took and that of the Sahaba radi allahu anhu.

The Imam of the haram recited so beautifully for every salaah, his deep voice and amazing recitals really moved me to tears. It was also so peaceful in the haram after salaah, I could really concentrate on reading my quran and performing my ibaadah.

Initially there were lots of pilgrims who had still stayed behind after hajj, but after a few days they had left and the haram was empty. Rania was also enjoying herself with the other kids and she would run across the marble floors.

We had an excellent walking ziyaarat in Madinah with our guide a capetonian who had been studying at the Madinah University for 9 years. We visited all the smaller masjids around the vicinity of the Haram. We visited Masjidul Quba and read 2 rakaah’s nafl salaah which narrated was equal to performing an Umrah. Mount Uhud was especially emotional, our guide told us that story of the sahaaba (may peace be upon the) it brought everyone to tears. We visted Masjid-e-Qiblatain It was here, where the Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam received revelation in the middle of a prayer to change the direction they were facing from Jerusalem to Masjid Al Haram. We visited the Al Haidery date factory and bought all our yummy dates from.

Because of the crowds I only managed to go to the qabr of our beloved Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam on my 3rd night. Ladies were only allowed to go at certain times. I managed to perform my 2 rakaats on the Raudah tul Jannah (light green carpet) and send my salaams to the Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam as well as Abu Bakr (Radhiallaahu Anhu) and Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu). It was so humbling to be standing there where the Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam stayed and where he was buried. The area was screened off, at first I thought to prevent the very emotional women from running and hanging on the gates but then I learned that the screens was a purdah which made sense because not everyone came to the grave with a niqaab.

I visited the qabr a few times in the 7 days we were there.

I loved the tranquility of Madinah, wish we could have stayed longer!
We wore our ihraams from the hotel and then went by bus to Bir Ali the meeqat. And made our intentions and performed the two rakaats for ihraam and then went on a 7 hour journey to Makkah. All the way I imagined how the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam made his long and tiring journey to Makkah as well. How long it must have taken them by camel with their caravans stopping when it was nightfall. How fortunate we were sitting in a luxury air-conditioned bus, Alhamdulilaah.

Bad Bad Blogger!

I have been such a bad blogger, haven't updated since December 2009!

Oh well will just have to recap the last few months....

By starting with my umrah!