July 2, 2018
It was in the year of 2014, my wish to perform umrah (minor or lesser pilgrimage) to the Holy City of Makkah was granted by Allah.
After several ‘attempts’ by a friend of mine who was an ustaz reminding me to perform umrah while I could, finally, I was determined to perform it in that year.
I did set my target to go to the holy city by the end of that year based on my calculation through a package within my budget.
After setting that target, my prayer (du’a) was becoming more serious and intensified – to visit the Kaabah at Masjidil Haram in Makkah as well as to visit Masjid An-Nabawi at Madinah where the tomb of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) lies in a confined area in that masjid.
We do plan, but the plan of Allah is always better than ours.
To make it short, I did go to perform umrah earlier – on March 2014.
It all happened like that when one day I had a ‘teh tarik’ session with my fellow Muslims at a restaurant after the subuh (dawn) prayer at a masjid.
One by one of them later went back home after they finished their drinks and talks where only me and a fellow left talking to each other.
But, most of the time I was the one who listened to that fellow’s story who was heading a company in Labuan.
It all started when suddenly he asked me to join his group to perform umrah on March that year.
At first, I felt hesitated as I needed to do some preparation, as I had only few weeks left before the departure date plus I had already set my target to go to Makkah by the end of that year.
Before we left each other, I told him that I would decide later.
While, driving on that day I did receive a message through my smartphone from that fellow to ask me to give my travel document on the same day to his personal assistant (PA) for visa application purpose to perform umrah.
I was still undecided then, but later his PA did call me to give me that document to her at their office.
I was thinking then that it was too fast and without thinking any further, I decided on the spot to give my travel document to his PA and joining his group comprising some of his family members to perform umrah earlier than I expected.
When the day came, we all left Labuan in group to Brunei on ferry and stayed for a night over there.
In the next morning, we headed to the airport and departed for Jeddah around 11 AM. It was a 10-hour-long journey.
When we reached Jeddah, it was still in the afternoon, as Makkah (around one-hour drive from Jeddah) was five hours behind compared to the time in Malaysia.
While, in the airport, it was challenging where the airport was crowded with the Muslims from all over the world to perform umrah.
I waited for an hour in a line to pass the immigration in the airport.
After passing the immigration, we all went to perform solat before heading to Madinah.
In about six hours, we reached the City of Light, Madinah Al-Munawwarah where we only stopped once in the middle of the journey for us to perform solat.
I was excited and all of us did.
As soon as after we checked in the hotel, I immediately went to the Masjid An-Nabawi to perform solat.
We stayed in Madinah for about a week before heading to Makkah to perform our umrah.
For almost each day, I would try to go to the Raudhah (one of the Paradise’s Garden as told by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him in his hadith) inside Masjid An-Nabawi, which was located just next to the tombs of Prophet Muhammad, Saidina Abu Bakr r.a and Saidina Umar Al-Khattab r.a.
The area of Raudhah was separated with the other area in the masjid by the colour of the carpet.
In Raudhah, the colour of its carpet was green, while the rest inside the masjid, they were all red-in-colour.
We went to several places in Madinah including Masjid Quba and the surrounding area of Masjid An-Nabawi.
I went alone to visit the graveyard of Al-Baqi’ – where many of Prophet Muhammad’s family and companions as well as the righteous Muslims were buried.
They have been buried for over 1,400 years ago in the blessed cemetery, but their names are still being mentioned by the history both in the west and east until today.
However, most of the time, I spent my time in Masjid An-Nabawi, as two raka’at prayer conducted in the masjid was equal to 1,000 prayers in other places (except in Masjidil Haram) in terms of its rewards, as told in the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
I had an amazing experience in my first or second morning in Madinah where I was on my bed and felt lazy to go out for my breakfast at a higher level of our hotel.
How I wished if the breakfast was sent by somebody to our room.
Suddenly, not long after that somebody did send the breakfast in two big plates for me and my roommate.
Wow, I thought it was a kind of treatment that hotel would give to their clients.
I did not manage to finish my breakfast because the food was too much for me to finish. I thought to finish them later, but failed.
After eating and resting on my bed, suddenly, the phone in our room ringing.
It was from the manager of the hotel, asking me whether there was someone sending foods to our room and I said, “Yes”.
He later spoke that actually, they were wrongly sent by his staff as the foods supposed to be sent to another room, but then telling me that they were gifts from the hotel to us, while giving his smile in the end of the telephone I guess.
It is said that we must take care of our words in the area of Masjid An-Nabawi and its surrounding area, as our words were inclined to turn into reality.
It was a haram place just like Masjidil Haram at Makkah.
I yet spoke, but wish!
After a week in Madinah, then all of us left for Makkah in the afternoon after having our lunch.
Along our journey to Makkah, we stopped at Masjid Bir Ali for purposely to fix our niyyah or niat (intention) where at this masjid it was one of the locations for miqat where the pilgrims started to be in a state of ihram to perform umrah.
It is a place for miqat for those intending to perform umrah from Madinah.
The muttawif (our guide) led us to recite talbiyah in our way to Makkah. It is indeed a spiritual journey.
When we reached Makkah, I could see the clock tower next to the Masjidil Haram. It made me feel more excited as we all would perform tawaf or to circumambulate the Kaabah soon.
Our coach stopped around our hotel and we were busy to unload our luggage to check in our hotel. We stayed in a hotel around the clock tower. After checking in, then we had our dinner at its restaurant and after finishing our meals, then all of us gathered at the hotel lobby before we walked to get into Masjidil Haram to perform our umrah.
Indeed, it was a blessing for me and for all of us, as finally I was inside the Masjidil Haram going around it for tawaf with my group members including my fellow who was responsible to bring me to there.
I felt amazed when I first saw the Kaabah in front of me…
I used to watch it only through televisions, pictures and internet. But, it was in front of me right that moment. Allah is Great!
We completed our umrah with tahallul by cutting some of our hairs past midnight in Makkah time.
On the next day, I felt totally calm as I did perform my first umrah. Alhamdulillah. After the subuh or dawn prayer, I went to inside Masjidil Haram to perform a voluntary (nafl) tawaf.
After, finishing my tawaf, I then sat on a chair available in the masjid while enjoying my view looking at the Kaabah until it’s dhuha time.
At that moment, while looking at the Kaabah, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I ever seen in my life time. It was wonderful to look so many people from around the globe visiting and circumambulating the Kaabah.
We were in Makkah for about a week where we did visit some places around Makkah.
It was a sad moment on the last day we were in Makkah, as we were going to leave Kaabah and the Masjidil Haram soon after performing the Tawaf Wada’(Farewell Tawaf).
I did shed tears during the Tawaf Wada’ and I believed all of us in our group did shed tears too. It just happened naturally.
Earlier, one of our group members told us that the Farewell Tawaf would be a touching moment. Indeed it was.
We later left Makkah for Jeddah around 2 to 3 PM.
While, in Jeddah, we stayed for another night at the city where on the next day we did visit the Red Sea Beach before heading to the airport.
There were so many lessons I did learn from my spiritual journey to Makkah and Madinah.
The point is – we are just His servants no matter who we are.
May Allah give His blessings, forgiveness, rewards and bounties to that fellow and his family both here in this dunya and akhirah for his generosity on me and to the rest of our group members. Amin.