I begin in the name of Allāh, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.
Having performed my first ever ꜤUmrah in 1986 and Ḥajj in 2004 (not captured in writing as yet), I was blessed with another visit to The Holy Lands in 2009.
Upon my return, I informed ShuꜤayb Khān (editor of Asian Image) of my journey and offered to write him a piece, which was printed in the Asian Image newspaper at the time.
I take this opportunity to present the article to the readers.
As I start to reflect upon the memories of our visit to the Holy Lands from the 25th March to 19th April 2009, I need to make clear at the outset that the purpose of this article is to encourage all readers to try & visit the Holy Lands as many times as possible, especially those brothers & sisters who have not yet visited. I also need to emphasise the fact that, try as I might, words will do no justice to the feelings & emotions experienced on such a blessed journey. I request all readers to pray that our visit is accepted, and that we are blessed again & again with an opportunity to visit the Holy Lands, Āmeen.
As we were flying on Emirates Airlines into Jeddah, we needed to have entered into the state of Iḥrām before flying over the Mīqāt (the boundary for pilgrims), which is crossed before landing. Therefore, we put on our Iḥrām at Dubai. It was Wednesday 25th March 4:00pm local time and knowing that we were only 4 hours away from Jeddah, our feelings were amazing. Our group of 2 families, comprising 4 adults & 3 children just could not wait to reach Saudi Arabia.
Upon landing at Jeddah, it was as if we were in a different world. After a few formalities, our passports were returned to us, and as soon as we came out of the terminal, the heat hit us. Thankfully, our 12-seater Toyota Hiace, in which we continued on our journey to Makkah al-Mukarramah, was air conditioned. A point to remember here is, don’t forget to download relevant Naats and Nazams to enlighten your journey further. I had brought along a set of Junaid Jamshed’s CDs, which made the journey even more spiritual. We were all set and ready for an entrance into the Holiest City on earth, the yearning ever increasing.
We soon crossed Bawwābat al-Qurʾān (or Makkah Gate), a huge archway over the highway in the form of The Holy QurꜤān on a riḥāl, which signifies the boundary of the Ḥaram. We were surely now in Makkah.
It was 11pm when we entered the Holy City, with incredible feelings and emotions. It had been a long day & the heat had got to us, so we decided to take a rest, and perform ꜤUmrah nice & refreshed, in the morning.
The first sight of the Holy KaꜤbah was truly magnificent. We merged into the sea of people busy in Ṭawāf, seamlessly joining the flow. It was amazing; thousands of people from all over the globe, of different cultures, moving in one direction; truly fascinating. The seven circuits around the Holy KaꜤbah took around 30 minutes.
After offering our 2 RakꜤāt of Ṭawāf and quenching our thirst with the lovely cool Zamzam, we moved in the direction of mount Ṣafā (the mountain has been replaced by an artificial construction) to start the Sa’ī. Starting at the place of mount Ṣafā and finishing at (what was) mount Marwah, the Sa’ī was completed in about 1 hour. The first ꜤUmrah was completed successfully, thanks to The Almighty.
During our stay in the birthplace of our beloved Rasūlullāh صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, Makkah was generally crowded and busy, but not like the rush that takes place in Ramaḍān or the Ḥajj period. It wasn’t very difficult getting into the Maṭāf for the 5 Ṣalāhs. At night time, reaching Multazam, the area between Ḥajar-e-Aswad and the door of The KaꜤbah Sharīf, was not so difficult and, with a little bit of patience, it was easy to perform a few rakāts within the Ḥaṭīm.
The 14 days are full of memories that all seven of us will cherish for the rest of our lives. We managed to visit many historical places such as the Cave of Ḥirā’, where the first verses of the QurꜤān were revealed, and the Cave of Thawr, where our Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ rested during His Hijrah to Madīnah. We also passed by the plains of ꜤArafah, Muzdalifah, Minā, and performed Ziyārat of Jannat ul-MuꜤalla, the blessed graveyard of Makkah al-Mukarramah.
The Masjid al-Ḥarām, built surrounding the Holy KaꜤbah, is a magnificent example of Islamic architecture. The size is just unbelievable, with many extensions having taken place over time. The final one by the late King Fahd, with its open plan air conditioned areas, was truly fascinating. There is work still taking place, and credit must surely be given to the Saudi Government for maintaining the Masjid al-Ḥarām with its full glory.
The 14 days seemed to fly past at the speed of light, and after performing Ṭawāf ul-Widā (Farewell Ṭawāf), it was time to leave Makkah for the Illuminated City of Madīnah.