Thursday, May 31

Tidbits before leaving to Mecca

When I was packing to travel abroad for backpacking trip or any holiday, I normally had some idea in mind on how the trip was going to be. But this time around when the destination is Makkah Al Mukarramah, and the sole reason to visit there is to perform ibadah, I couldn't picture on how will I spend my time throughout the trip, honestly. 

Yes I made the appropriate preparations by reading the buku panduan umrah, attending the class organized by the agent some more. To be on the safe side for ignorant people like me ,the first timer reaching the Holy Land, my packing activity was guided by the 'list-to-bring' pamplet given by the agent. It`s funny that I felt like a beginner travelling. Hehe.

And only when I reached there, I came to realize of the importance of the early preparation is thoroughly made before reaching the Holy Land.

Some of the items are mentioned in the list, while some of them are not or if I can put it as, sendiri mau ingatla~. For the reason, I was called to share some essential things that popped up in my mind throughout my stay in Masjidil Haram for the female pilgrims to bring to Mecca . Here are the items, in no particular order.

1)Surah yaasin and al-Quran

Besides performing sunnah prayers, the Book is recited almost all time in the mosque, while surah Yasin is used during tahlil organized by agent, as well as when we are in the mosque. The arrays of  Al Quran are  kept everywhere on the shelf, but I figured that it is best if we bring our own Al-Quran, resuming the recitation  from where we left off and, who knows we might be able to finish them in Masjidil Haram? I forgot to bring mine tho, what a lost. I came to realize that how crucial for one to possess the knowledge or strenghten the skill in reciting Al-Quran before departure. Well, it is just a thought at that point of time, realizing that not all of us could recite al-Quran well, no?

2) Finger counters

The finger counter or tasbih can be used alternately between the al-Quran recitation and idle time before fard prayers, or, perhaps before we dozed off in the mosque, for that matter. Heheh. The variations of activity throughout the stay in Masjidil Haram will reduce the tendency to fall asleep. :)

2) Multiple telekung and multiple socks

I was planning to bring the telekung as minimal as possible, but I changed my mind at the very last minute. When we are in Holy Land especially when we are in 'ihram', the prayer dress (telekung)  is our primary attire, day and night. The whether in the country is hot and dry. And as for my experience, the telekung is best to be changed with a fresh one, daily. Two pairs of telekung is minimally acceptable, I figured.  Plus, wearing socks for performing prayer  is more handy as compared to wearing complete set of our telekung like we normally do at home. So if you got only one pair of socks in your luggage, you might want to think twice. :)

3) Lipbalm

No! It is not for looking gooood with our shiny lips, but the dry air will cause our lips to crack without using  it. Applying Vaseline will do fine, and even Tabung Haji also supplies its own lipbalm for the pilgrims. Just to be safe from violating ihram restrictions, we can use any type of halal lipbalm product but unscented one.

4) Du'a for easy journey
Praying for the smooth sailing journey is not necessarily exercised only when we are about to start the umrah, but it begins long before we are leaving our home to the airport. Yes, we don't know what trial He has to test us in the Baitullah, thus, be prepared with constant prayers as early as possible.

5)Younger age

When middle-aged jemaah saw me and the rest of my friends went to Mecca together, they went "untung muda2 dah sampai sini" . While we,on the other hand, amused when seeing kids as young as six years old and 12 year-old who were with us and uttered among ourselves 'untungnyer budak2 ni kecik2 dah sampai Mekah.."
The ibadah of umrah demands a high level of energy to complete all 5 pillars of umrah especially for tawaf and saie. Thus, it was seen that , the younger we could complete our fifth pillars of Islam (be it umrah or better be, Hajj), the better.

6) Water spray for ablution

Staying in the Masjidil Haram for long hours surely won't allow us to retain the wudu' that long. The toilet is located quite far away from the mosque. Thus we resorted to bring the water spray and water mist to be used as alternative of walking to the toilet. Trust me, it is a MUST HAVE item in your bag, everywhere you go.

7) The zam-zam water is provided all around the mosque. We felt less hungry when drinking the water , and normally we had the water intake before performing the 'tawaf'. I read somewehere saying that the zam zam water benefits you as what you wish (with Allah's permission).If you drink it for a hungry stomach, then you will feel full. If you drink it to get the energy, the you will be strong.

8) Record stuff

When we are in Masjidil Haram, every sound echoed around the mosque sounded so beautiful, be it by imam during prayer, during athan, or even when our mutawwif reciting the du'a. My word of humble advice, when you find it soothing in your ear, immediately record it, by all means.Because when we went back to our country, those voices that we are missing most and crying to hear them again. *sobs*

9) Encircling the Kaaba (Tawaf)

I still remember when I was 14, I love to wander around my school with my partner in crime when teacher was not in the class. Our mischievious behaviour pissed my teacher off, badly. One day, when the extra class was cancelled, the teacher announced to the class about the cancellation and added " haa Juliana, awak bole lah tawaf lepas ni". I only learned the word of tawaf from that moment, and who knows after 14 years down the road, I literally doing the 'tawaf' and enjoyed it most throughout the stay in Masjidil Haram.  Alhamdulillah.

It was narrated that The Prophet (peace be upon him) has once said

" everyday Allah s.w.t showers His 120 blessings and mercy at Kaaba. 60 for those who circumambulate, 40 for those who worship, and 20 for those who look at it"
Translation: "setiap hari Allah menurunkan 120 rahmat di Kaabah. 60 dapat kpd mereka yg bertawaf, 40 dapat kepada mereka bersolat dan 20 kepada mereka yg melihat kaabah"

So, let's maximize the circumambulation! Yes, it looks like a struggle to be in the compact crowd if we see from the top, upstairs of the mosque, but actually it is a movement with religious enthusiatism that only us who are in the crowd would feel it. 

10) Research before departure

Last but not least! When we were brought  on tour at the historical places i.e Jabal Thur, Jabal Noor, I found myself slightly at lost about the history behind it. Thus,I guess it is better for us to make some homework and equip ourselves with sufficient knowledge about the places before we reach there. (Ah ha~ Ju.Z is the best person at this:P). Besides saving ourselves from being lost like I was, the knowledge is helpful in order for us to feel closer to footstep and the life of Rasulullah s.a.w at the Holy Land.


Sunday, May 27

Ziarah to Madinah Al-Munawwarah

30th April 2012

9 days lapsed in Makkah Al Muqarramah with so many unforgettable memories . And it was time for us to bid farewell to the Kaaba. *sobs*

After having our last lunch at the Thawrat Al Monsia Hotel, we started our journey to Medina for another six hours in the bus, while listening to the preach from our young mutawwif, Ustaz Harist. 

The journey stopped briefly for Asr prayer and dinner in the middle of desert with a very little settlements around. The musolla was in the midst of renovation, thus we didn`t have options other than performing prayer on the ground, with the sky as the roof. Not to mention the hardship that we faced during performing the ablution while covering ourselves from the men at the open area. It was a sweet hardship in the end, tho.

And when our obligations was fulfilled,  it was time to eat- again~

                                                                        Nasi Yaman- a plate for five

We reached the Medina Al Munawwarah city at 8pm  and decided to call it a day in the hotel.

1st May 2012

It was the first 'ziarah dalam' to Raudhah,which is located in Masjid Nabawi. We were brought by our musyidah into the mosque and spent almost half of the day to get into the Raudhah. 

Raudhah is said as Garden of the Eden, and it will be lifted to the heaven on the Judgement Day. The Raudhah area is physically covered with green carpet while the rest of the floor is covered with red carpet. It has area of 144 square meter and more often than not, is rushed with hundreds of jemaah at one time. By logic, it is hard to get a space for prayer, let alone to sujud. But when Allah s.w.t allows it, the space will be enough for us to perform proper prayer in the dense area. So basically it depends to one's rezeki. At this point, all we had to do were to keep praying for smoothing our efforts and tawakaltuallallah~

The female guards were everywhere around the waiting area to closely monitor the behaviours of incoming jemaah. We were told that strict monitoring to all jemaah is a control measure taken to ensure that the purity of the makam from all khurafat and other sinful rituals.

 All jemaah were divided into clusters. As for Indonesians, Singaporeans, and us, the Malaysians, we were grouped into the Malay cluster.Oh yeahh.. the crowd of women jemaah to get inside the area were soooo big and compact, that even the Arabic female security guards were seen instructing in Malay when they screamed to us "ibu, thuthuk! thuthuk! (duduk)"  in order to ensure the queuing crowd was under control. And most importantly, every single of us who patiently waited there will get the equal chance to enter the Raudhah, for it is a mustajab spot for our du'a. 
Raudhah is situated between the mimbar of the mosque and the  makam of Rasulullah and sahabah (Abu Bakar As-Siddiq and Umar Al-Khattab), thus it is highly advisable for us to wish salam to Rasulullah, and sahabah before proceeding to perform prayer -or as the matter of fact, before the guards screamed and shoved us out to give way for the next crowd. Pfftt!~

And again, after the hardship to get into the Raudhah area, lies the sweetness of it at the end of the day. Alhamdulillah, Allah granted us the chance to be there longer than we were allowed.

                                                                          Masjid Nabawi night view
2nd May 2012

The second day in Medina was arranged with 'ziarah luar'. Most of this visit were to historical mosques. Firstly, we were brought to Masjid Quba, which is the first mosque built on piety by Rasulullah s.a.w as soon as he reached Medina for Hijra.  It was narrated that Rasulullah has once said that who left their home to this mosque in wudhu', thus they will  be rewarded  like that of umrah. And for that reason, our mutawif even called us in the room to ensure that we did perform the ablution before leaving our room that morning.

                                                                   Zera and Masjid Quba

The next mosque that we perfomed tahiyatul masjid prayer was in Masjid Qiblatain. According to the story from our mutawwif, the direction for prayer (qiblah)  for this mosque historically facing to Masjid Al- Aqsa, Palestine. And it was commanded by Allah s.w.t in His revelation to Rasulullah when He granted the wish of our Rasulullah s.a.w to face the same qiblah with Nabi Ibrahim a.s, that is Kaaba in Masjidil Haram.

Indeed We see the turning of your face to heaven, so We shall surely turn you to a qiblah which you shall like; turn then your face towards the Sacred Mosque, and whenever you are, turn your face towards it, and those who have been given the Book most surely know that it is the truth from their Lord; and Allah is not at all heedless of what they do 

                                                                                               Surah Al Baqarah :144

The ziarah took us to the Jabal Uhud, where Perang Badr took place. It is where the grave of Saidina Hamzah r.a and other syuhada is situated. Some of us managed to go closer to the little cracked wall of the graveyard, and when the wind blew, they could smell nice scent coming from the area. Subhanallah..

Afterwards we went to the dates farm. 

But most of the time there was spent in the shop rather than the farm itself. Hehe. So this is the place  to get the freshest and finest quality from various types of dates-according to Ustaz Harist.

The last visit was to the Pasar Kurma. When it was mentioned as 'pasar', my mind started to wildly imagine it as a crowded market like we do have in Pasar Payang, Pasar Selayang or Pasar Siti Khadijah for that matter. But I was totally wrong, for the said 'market' was only a few shop lots which sell almost similar items that are dates, raisins, nuts and many more.

 Oh wait, let`s not jump into conclusion that quick. Perhaps they are varies in term of the quality of the selling items. Ok2 .:p

No matter how small the pasar was, the shopping excitement was never being any lesser. We spent hundreds of riyals to get all the munchies for the guests back at home later.

The shopping spree wrapped up the ziarah of the day and for the trip itenerary per se. And to my surprise, my cash meter  reached almost empty by this point. Nevertheless, we were more than satisfied with what we bought for the trip to the relatives and friends. Yippi!~

Most importantly the ziarah throughout the trip has opened our eyes and heart  to see and understand better  the Islamic revolutions from Rasullullah s.a.w period via its treasures which still stand strong before our eyes.

 And yes, likewise the rest of jemaah who reached here, I pray that I will come back again,  as a much better muslim, sooner or later. Amiinn~

Wednesday, May 16

The shelters in Tanah Haram

Our  accomodations in Mecca and Medina were arranged by our travel agent. In Mecca, we stayed at Tharwat Al Monsia hotel which is 15 minutes walk away from Masjidil Haram. It is one of the closest lodging to the mosque, since the nearer hotels are being demolished for the mosque expansion.

We chose the room for 4 pax, thus our room was quite packed with beds and cupboard, and yet we felt comfortable throughout the stay, and it was worth our money.

There was television which shows the scenery in Masjidil Haram 24/7, which somehow helped us to expect how big the crowd was around the Kaaba for tawaf when we were about to leave our room to Masjidil Haram.

While in Medina, we stayed in Durrat Al Fayroz Hotel. The hotel exterior is modern and more luxury as compared to the one we stayed in Mecca.

But we missed somehing when we arrived in Medina, that is the warm service by the staff  at Thawrat Al Monsia.
This hotel is located 5 minutes walk away from Masjid Nabawi and nearby shopping spots.

 If I can describe better, the environment in Mecca felt like when we are at Jalan TAR , KL, crowded and dusty, meanwhile being in Medina felt like we are in Putrajaya. Clean, modern and well-planned urbanisation. The cleaning process was not covered in mosque only, but there were also workers with water tanker who clean the road toward the mosque.

                                                             The view from Masjid Nabawi

Nevertheless, the similarity of these city is that, both are Holy Land, and having our foot stepped onto the ground is a blessful gift of a lifetime. :))

Wednesday, May 9

Hitting 28 in Makkah Al-Muqarramah :Gift of a lifetime

I have a habit to scribble my wish everytime it popped in my mind. The reason being, so that I am aware that it was there, somewhere back in my mind. And when I successfully materialized it, the satisfaction is beyond an explanation. =). Back in 2010, I had once listed performing umrah in this wishlist, and honestly, back then it was more to fulfill the blank page with wishful thinkings rather than to actually materialize it. I mean, c'mon, who says berangan is not exciting? :p

It was one day when I was in the middle of abnormally heavy conversation with Zaira, she popped the idea of going to Mecca together. I was gobsmack! I`ve been waiting this trip with friends so long and spontaneously I jumped to my lappy googling for the date! The best part is, we managed to get our birthdays celebrated in Tanah Haram.Alhamdulillah.=))) The next thing was to recruit mooooore friends until it reached 7 of us.

22th April 2012

The travelling took 9 hours of long haul journey with endless food supplies in Saudi Airlines. The local time is 5 hours later than time in Malaysia, so when we arrived at 6 pm local time, it was already my time for a deep sleep but definitely I had no choice other than keeping my eyes wide awake.
          Sunset in Jeddah, from the window of Saudi Airlines  

We were welcome by the representative from Andalusia office, and brought to the hotel. Oh yes,it was a new experience of being in 'ihram', which we were confined by 13 ihram restrictions( pantang larang ihram) and only be free from them when we finished performing the umrah. After brief rest in hotel, we were brought to Masjidil Haram to perform our first umrah. It is a majestic mosque with luxury lights showering all over the places, and and when we walked further into the mosque heading to the center of it, standing strong before us was the Kaaba.

I`ve been seeing the depiction of Kaaba on my praying mat since I started learning to perform solat, and when I saw it with my naked eyes, it felt utterly surreal and little that I aware, tears started to run across my cheek. Indeed , the fascination was beyond words.

Unlike during Haj period,we were quite lucky that the restriction to bring the camera inside the mosque was quite loose during this period.

 Scenery while waiting for Azan

One of the precious things about being in Baitullah is that tears were seen everywhere. Seeing people shed tears around us was nothing strange, as compared to when we were in other mosques. It felt as if we were so fragile and close to the merciful Creator which enough for us to shed the tears for the feeling of grateful, fearful and guilty and so many mixed feelings. Eventually we could feel the serenity deep down in our heart like we never felt before we reached this Holy Land.

Ok, I guess that`s all I could describe briefly, because most of the time there, it was beyond words to express the feeling. For those who read until this line, may all of us be invited to the Holy Land one day. Aminn~

After Saie: The pilgrims stepped onto the piece of Marwah behind me

                                         After Isya` prayer, awestruck with the verrry large crowd

24th  April 2012

Apart from staying in  the Masjidil Haram for iktikaf as the activity for most of our time, we were also brought around the Makkah city to a few significant historical places. First we were brought to Jabal Rahmah, where locates the meeting  place between Nabi Adam and Eve.
                                                                                            On top of Jabal Rahmah

Afterwards we went to see the location of Jabal Tsur, which houses the hiding cave for Rasulullah s.a.w and dear friend Abu Bakr As-Siddiq from the enemies during the Hijrah to Medina. The tour was followed with the glance-thru tour alongside the camp site for Hajj pilgrimage at Arafah and Ma`la graveyard where the grave of Saidatina Khadijah, the wife of Rasulullah  is resided.

                                                                         Jabal Thur

We were also brought to the camel farm at Hudaibiyah, which is smaller than the farm that I had in my mind. If anyone is interested to taste the fresh camel milk, this is the best place to get it. The mutawif has warned us that the intake of the milk will 'wash' our digestion system. Wait, I was about to perform another umrah afterwards,errr,... I dare not to take the risk to take it even a gulp. Kui kui kui.

The female camel is a tame creature that it proned to rub whoever that close to them. So when one of us grabbed its attention, this was what happened. Haha!

27th April 2012

Another additional trip with an additional fee of 20 riyal was offered by the agent, that was the hiking to Jabal Nour. 7 of us grabbed the chance, regardless how badly unfit we were.*Tsk tsk..*The trip took place in the night, but this is how tall the mountain in daylight. Vertically high. This mountain resides the Hira` Cave where Rasulullah received the first revelation, that is surah al-alaq.

                                       source : Wikipedia

The hiking took approximately 45 minutes to reach the top. And for the record, we reached 1 hour later. Considering our low level of fitness, I think we did quite pretty well,no? :))

It was good to be on top of the mountain during night, for the wind was cold and refreshing. Then we proceeded to the Hira` cave. It was very small that we had to shrink ourselves in order to get through the big stone. At that point when we physically struggled to get into the cave, we were strucked with the emotional feeling knowing that the hardship our Rasulullah had undergone for our betterment today.

Shrink yourself, then only you can get thru..phew!

From the top of the mountain we could see the location of Masjidil Haram and the lights surrounding the world`s largest mosque.

After listening to the information shared by the mutawif, we proceeded to descend the mountain and left to the hotel. If you notice, the mosque looks extraordinary bright from the hill, some say that the light is not actually coming from the lighting of the mosque, but it is 'nur'. Wallahualam..

On the other hand,  here are some sceneries that were captured around Masjidil Haram.

                                                                           Zam zam Tower

                          Arabic fella was ready to hail the potential customers with their catch line "mari2 bagus2!~"

The door of Kaabah

After Dzhur prayer

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