"Labbaika Allahuma Labbaik, Labbaika La Shareeka Laka Labaik. Innal Hamdah, Wan-Ni'manatah, Laka Wal Mulk, La Shareeka Laka"Here I am at Thy service, Oh Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy Service, and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine Alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners.
We landed in Jeddah and got on a 6-hour bus trip to Medinah, all weary but still in high-spirits. I just loved Nabawi Mosque which was just beside our hotel. It was always immensely crowded particularly during praying hours but for some reason, there was a deep sense of serenity and tranquility about the place. I could pray at the mosque with thousands of other women, read the Quran, do a little bit of ibadah sunat and still felt rejuvenated afterwards.
The thought of being in the same building as the Prophet Muhammad's body (he's buried in the original part of the mosque) is quite a compelling thought, a chance that not all Muslims would have and I am eternally grateful for the experience. In front of the mosque's gates, there would be street vendors selling a variety of stuff after every fardhu prayers. Jubahs, rosary beads, scarves, prayer mats etc. so Ibu and I couldn't help but to sneak in a buy or two every time we went back to our hotel from the mosque ;)
But the heat, Subhanallah. Let's just way I'm very thankful for the sunblock, moisturizer and my sunnies. After a few days in Madinah, we went to Bir Ali Mosque for our miqat and to set our niat for our first Umrah in Mecca that was about to come.
In KLIA before departure
Jabal Uhud, where the infamous Battle of Uhud was being fought
It took us about 90 minutes to reach Mecca by bus from Madinah. Reached the city at around 11pm, freshened up at the hotel a bit and found our way to Masjidil Haram, the home of the Kaabah which was just right in front of our hotel. That moment when I walked into the mosque and saw Kaabah for the first time, that was quite a powerful and miraculous moment.
It was definitely breathtaking especially with sights of people still doing their tawaf around the Kaabah even if it was close to midnight. We preceded with our Umrah starting with the tawaf around Kaabah for 7 rounds and then Saie, walking between Safa and Marwah for 7 times too, back and forth. That was quite a journey, phew! Penat oohhh sesangatnya. And ended it with Tahallul which was done by cutting few strands of the hair to mark the end of the Umrah ritual.
Mecca is truly a city that never sleeps. People were doing their worshiping rituals at all hours, day and night. And there's just something about the Kaabah that makes it so stunning and calming even just to look at it. Physically, it's just a big black box but it has such effects on the pilgrims. The place could reduce you to tears, make you look at your ugly sins in retrospective, fill your heart with peace and a sense of awakening from deep within. But only if you fully internalized and appreciated the whole journey right from the beginning.
I love Masjidil Haram not only because of the Kaabah and the infinite benefits of the prayers there (every ibadah done in the Al-Haram area is one hundred thousand times more the pahala compared to elsewhere while Madinah's is one thousand times more) but also because of the people and the stories they tell.
In one corner you could see a father sitting in a circle with 3 of his young sons and teaching them how to read the Quran. In another corner you could see a mother playfully tickling her baby daughter and making jokes with her while waiting for the Zuhur azan to come. In front of the Kaabah, you could see men and women kneeling on their knees after their prayers, crying their hearts out to Allah while they put up their hands for doas. Some were begging for the Almighty's forgiveness, some were asking Allah if He would grant their wishes and dreams while others get teary just at the thought of God's greatness and miraculous power.
If a professional photographer could capture these beautiful moments in photos, oh how amazing they would be. I think that would be one of my dreams in the future, to initiate a photography series of Madinah and Mecca. So many stories to be told and moments to be shared!
Though I'd have to say the biggest challenge wasn't so much of the weather and the exhaustion but the people. Some Muslims who came to the Holy Land as Allah's guests could be pretty ill-mannered and how saddening, that was. I had been pushed and shoved a hundred different ways while I was in Masjidil Haram and Nabawi Mosque just because some of them couldn't be a little more patient and just wanted things to go their way. Sigh, selfish much?
Others would just throw their rubbish everywhere without any remorse even in the mosque, the place considered to be Allah's home. Good thing there were cleaners all around to clean up after their mess otherwise Masjidil Haram wouldn't be such a comfortable place for our prayers.
Saying goodbye to Mecca wasn't easy either. My heart swelled with despair and sorrow at the thought of leaving the place that gave me the chance to get closer to my Creator and find my peace. Before leaving the city, it's a must for all pilgrims to do Tawaf Wada' (farewell tawaf) and the doa being read really tugged my heartstrings.
"Ya Allah ya Tuhanku. Janganlah dijadikan tawaf dan ziarah hambamu ini sebagai kali yang penghabisan di Baitullah. Jika sekiranya ditakdirkan menjadi kali yang akhir maka hamba pohonkan syurga sebagai gantinya dengan kemurahan Engkau ya Tuhan Yang Maha Pemurah lagi Penyayang"Ya Allah, Oh my Lord. Let this tawaf and visit not be your servant's last time in Baitullah. And if it was destined to be the last time then I seek that you grant me Heaven as the replacement through your generousity, Oh Lord, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful.
The spiritual retreat had been a great one and my last prayer before I left the place was for Allah to accept the ibadah I did in the name of Him and for me to be given the chance to come back to this Holy Land.
We shall meet again with a renewed self and reaffirmed faith, Insyaallah.
Dinner at a seafood restaurant with a Malay family who has been living in Mecca almost all their lives
More photos on FB! :)