It all started in 1986, thanks to the generosity of my eldest Brother Marhūm Hāji Yūsuf Dudhwālā and my elder Brother Hāji Ayyūb Dudhwālā. I was blessed with the opportunity to be part of Dārul Uloom Bury’s Ramaḍān ꜤUmrah group and my two brothers were overjoyed to finance my trip.
The group was led by the Principal of Dārul Uloom Bury, Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Yūsuf Motālā Ṣāḥib نور الله مرقده, and we were also blessed to have Shaykh ul-Ḥadīth (Marhūm) Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Islām ul-Ḥaq Ṣāḥib with us.
It was the month of July and a few days before the month of Ramaḍān, 30 students along with some teachers and guests arrived in Makkah al-Mukarramah. Our accommodation was arranged in a building a few minutes walk from the Ḥaram.
We had already changed into Iḥrām at Cairo, while awaiting the connecting Egypt Airlines flight. After freshening up, accompanied by my close friend Mawlānā Us̱mān Ganī, we presented ourselves to the House of Allāh, The KaꜤbah. The feeling was incredible. Mawlānā Aḥmed Miā of South Africa, together with a few other colleagues, guided us on this first ꜤUmrah. Being July, it was boiling hot and there were huge crowds of pilgrims who had arrived for ꜤUmrah.
We spent 20 spectacular days In Makkah, in the company of our respected teachers Qāri IsmāꜤīl Samniwālā (later to become my Father-in-law) and Mawlānā ꜤAbdur Rahīm Limbādā. Another very close friend Mawlānā Muḥammad Ādam of Bolton was also with us.
Due to excessive heat, our daily routine was to sleep a little while after Fajr, and after praying Ẓuhr in the covered part of the Ḥaram, perform Qaylūlah until an hour before ꜤAṣr, at which point, everyone would come to life. A quick shower, followed by Iḥrām, then a taxi to Masjid ĀꜤishah رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا, to pray 2 rakāts and make intention for ꜤUmrah. Taxi back to Ḥaram, ꜤAṣr Ṣalāh, Tawāf, then straight to Safā for SaꜤī, for a completion of ꜤUmrah before Ifṭār.
It was a remarkable achievement, possible only by the grace of Allāh سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ. This was our daily routine for the full 20 days. When we were part of the khidmah team for laying the Ifṭār dastarkhwān, etc, the SaꜤī would be performed immediately after Maghrib.
We went for Ziyārats of various Holy Sites including Mount Hirā’, ꜤArafah, Muzdalifah, Minā, and were fortunate to be hosted by Shaykh Badawī رَحْمَةُ الله عليه, one night after Tarāwīh. Besides enjoying the Tarāwīh of the Ḥaram, we continued the practice (from Dārul Uloom) of reciting some QurꜤān in Nafl Ṣalāh, in pairs.
I recall setting off for Madīnah in a coach after ꜤAṣr one day. It was extremely hot, and the heat had gotten to most of us. Although hungry and thirsty, we got through the last 2 hours of the fast. After making a very brief stop for Maghrib and very light Ifṭār, we continued on our way to Madīnah. We arrived long after midnight, prayed ꜤIshā, Tarāwīh and had a quick meal for Suḥūr at Mawlānā IsmāꜤīl Badāt’s house.
We spent approximately 12 memorable days in Madīnah. Words will do no justice to the feelings & emotions felt upon my first presence at the Blessed resting place of the Best of all Creations صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ.
We presented our Salāms daily to the Holy Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, Ḥaḍrat Abū Bakr رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, and Ḥaḍrat ꜤUmar رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, and visited Jannat al-BaqīꜤ nearly everyday. As part of the Ziyārats, we visited Mount Uḥud, Masjid Qubā’, Masjid al-Qiblatayn, and a few other places. It was a memorable journey, one that will be cherished for a very long time to come.