Assalamualaikum WRT WBT
I guess, tonight is the night where I finally get to update this blog of mine. A huge appreciation to my fellow readers whom have been very loyal and very patient with me. Its almost 5 weeks now since my last post. I do apologise.
How has every body been? I sure hope in the best of health. I havent been purposely ignoring this blog if that thought ever popped into your minds. As I mentioned in my previous post, I went for Umrah for 2 weeks. The other week.. well, lets just say I was suffering from the post-Umrah 'syndrome' i.e coughing, fever, sore throat -- the entire package.
Till today, my voice hasnt 100% recovered. Im still very reluctant to answer any calls (which might explain why I havent been accepting any calls from anyone for the past week. I do apologise).
Today's post will be a little personal. Im just giving everyone a heads up. If you are expecting a general tazkirah like I always do, then I sure hope you will not be so disappointed with this one.
People generally assume that when one comes back from the Holy Land of Makkah and Madinah, there are bound to be changes. Changes 'should' be seen in how the person talks, how the person dresses and how a person views life. Although, by default this should be true, it isn't usually the case.
Every person's experience being in Masjidil Haram, being in Raudhah and being right within arms reach of Kaabah is different. I would like to write my experience here today, because I have this feeling that, if I dont write it down, it'll seem like a dream, that it will seem what I went thru was just my mind playing tricks or just something conjured up by my imagination. I am writing this down so that the memories I have, will be forever recorded in my mind and in my heart. This post will be divided into two: Madinah and Makkah.
I have been refraining myself talking about my experience for a week now. Without a voice, you dont really have a choice. You cant tell people how you feel, what you experienced, how it felt just being there. Although, the best time to actually write is right after a certain event happened, I didnt think my time in the Holy Lands should be spent on writing feelings and experiences in my blog. My time was for Allah and Allah alone. So here goes..
From the airport, we took the bus to the city of Madinah. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. It was about 4 in the morning. Tired, sleepy and wishing for a bed, the city was a blur. The first thing I saw was the signboards of the shops. Squinting away as the signs passed by, I tried to read whatever I could understand. I sat up when our guide said "To those who have never been to Madinah, there you can see the minarets of
MashaAllah, from afar you can see how the Masjid was lit up. I didnt know what to feel. I was just stunned that we were finally there in Madinah.
Along the way, I didnt get to see the whole view of the Mosque. The only thing we saw were the tip of the minarets. The sense of reality didnt really hit me, even when we checked into our rooms. At that time, the bed was what we were looking forward for. Just a good lie down. I couldnt even think straight. We were too tired, lacking in rest and a good night sleep.
Right after breakfast, we gathered with the group and set off to Masjid Nabawi. Again, I didnt know what to expect. Before this, the only exposure I had to it was from stories, from snaps of photos, but never was I able to imagine how it would look as a whole. And MashaAllah, was I in for a surprise.
As we walked to the mosque, we finally reached the gates, I was welcomed by the feeling of surprise. It was HUGE! The first thing that caught my eyes were the tents. I never imagined how big they were. I had heard people talking about these tents that can be retracted when it was night time, but MashaAllah, I never thought they were that big. AND, never in my mind did I think the massiveness of the Mosque itself.
The first destination was of course, Makam Nabi. It took nearly 20 minutes just to get there. You can imagine how far we had to go, and how HUGE the mosque actually was. It was far. I know I can try to describe it all I want, but how you imagine it and how it really is will be totally different. You have to go an see it for yourself to actually understand.
From the pictures, I can assure you that it doesnt seem to bring the Mosque any justice. Its tall and beautiful minarets, its beautiful carvings, the abstractness of its tents, MashaAllah. its unforgettable.
Our hotel was somewhere at the east side of the Mosque. And Rasulullah's resting place was on the west side. So as we walked along the Masjid grounds (all covered with the tents), it was cool and very calming. Although the people were so many around us, the Mosque was so huge, it didnt seem that many. There were still big empty spots all around the grounds. Did I also tell you that the grounds of the Masjid were all in marble? Beautiful shiny and cool marble all around. So people just sat where ever they want. As we were walking, we had to go thru people who were sitting down, people who were with their families, husbands who were waiting for their wives, and even people just sleeping.
So we said our prayers and our guide brought us a little closer to Makam Rasulullah s.a.w (which was basically the opposite of the Baqi' Cemetery. In Masjid Nabawi, if you look at the roof, the green dome marks where Rasulullah is buried. Beside our prophet is Saidina Abu Bakar. And beside him is Saidina Umar Al-Khattab.
During our first visit to Rasulullah's resting place, we didnt get a chance to go very near. However, for me, this was close enough. I could still feel so close to him, I could still feel a jumble of emotions. During this time, all I could think of was "Ya Rasulullah, I feel so ashamed. I am ashamed of all the things I have done, that do not follow your Sunnah. Ya Allah, please make me among those who will be under Your protection, those whom will get Rasulullah's syafaat during the day of Judgement." and so much more.
Thinking back on the memories I have about being in Madinah, there are too many for me to tell people. Some are sad, heartbreaking. Some are inspiring. Some just makes you feel so grateful. I will not write about all of them bcos for me, there are some things best left in your memory, bcos some of them were Allah's way in teaching you to be patient.
A few things that really made a stamp in my mind were the things I never expected. For instance, Raudhah. Before actually going there, I kept hearing stories on how Raudhah is, how to strategically get the chance to go in and pray, how small it was and how fortunate it is to get a chance to go in.
Even after having prepared myself with these types of stories, the actual experience is something altogether different than whatever you had in mind, whatever you expected. I will tell you my experience of going into Raudhah. Here is my story.
Before actually going to Madinah, Mak and Ayah always told us to pray and keep praying for the chance to go into Raudhah, bcos only those given permission by Allah will have such an honour.
For those who do not know, Raudhah is a small area between Rasulullah's house and his mimbar when he was alive. Rasulullah s.a.w has once said how this area is Raudhah (which means garden) from the Gardens of Jannah, where ones prayers will be maqbul. Which explains why everyone is always praying for a chance to go into this small but very important and meaningful area.
In Masjid Nabawi, what separates and distinguishes the area of Raudhah and the rest of the Masjid is its carpet. The area of Raudhah in marked with a beautiful soft green carpet with flowers. The rest of the Masjid is covered with red carpets (as seen the picture above). Females were not allowed to bring any cameras or hand phones so Im importing pictures from the web.
My family and I (females only ofkos) only got the chance to enter Raudhah on our 3rd and final night in Madinah. We were informed that the nisa' were only given the chance for Ziarah (which is the term they use) between 9p.m to 12a.m. And since it was our last night in Madinah before heading off to Makkah, it would be our last chance no matter what. So we stayed back after Isya' prayer. As everyone was reading Quran or just talking among each other, waiting for 9p.m., one of the female guards came to my grandma and asked if she wanted to go for Ziarah.
Before I go into the story, let me tell you about these female guards. They are the ones wearing black from top to bottom, covering everything except their eyes. They usually stand at the entrance of the Masjid to check our bags for any cameras or hand phones. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be strict or kind based on situation. AND to our surprise, they can speak any possible language including Malay. Haha. There was this one time when we came to the Masjid at around 3a.m. for qiamullail, and this guard greeted my grandma. "Ibu, apa kaba?" Hehhehe.. we were really surprised. But ofkos the pronunciation was a little pelat and a little more towards Indonesian. But they understood us when we talked in Malay. Surprising but true.
Ok, back to the story
I guess the lady guard came to my grandma cos she was in a wheelchair. So when we answered yes, she told us to go to gate number 5. We had no idea what it meant, but we went to the direction she pointed us to. Again, I had absolutely no experience in how everything was going to go, so my sisters and I just followed mak to gate 5. When we reached there, we noticed that there was a long line for those with wheelchairs only. Which ofkos means, the 3 of us (me, Aimi and Aida) had to separate with Mak.
Having no idea what to do, being the eldest among the three, my sisters looked at me on how to proceed. Haha scary experience I tell you. Looking around, I had this feeling that people were gathering together according to Country. Its pretty difficult to ignore the facts when you see a whole bunch of Turkish ladies (and I mean a LOT) sitting down together and calling their friends to come and join them. So I decided to look for those from Malaysia (which can easily be recognised since majority of them wear Telekung).
We found a small group of 20 Malaysians and sat with them. I asked the Makcik in front of us on how things are actually done during this time, and she told me that the guards will call us according to turns based on our country or our language. So she said that we'll just wait until they call us Malaysians and walk with the group. Oh okey.. so there is a system.
But while sitting with the small group, I found myself thinking. During prayers, a LOT of Malaysians were among the Jamaah. So it was weird that there were only 20 lining up, couldn't be! As a precaution, I wanted to go around the Masjid to see if there was another bigger group of Malaysians. But seeing my sisters scared faces, I told them to go and I'd be the one to stay put. So they went and called to me when they confirmed my instinct. So we moved right in front of gate 3.
While waiting, there were a few ladies who got up and left the Masjid. When asked why, we heard them say something like "ala, nanti mesti mcm semalam, diorg bagi kite laaast sekali masuk" (translation: "huh, this is going to be like yesterday where they let us into Raudhah last") which was ofkos with an unsatisfied tone. As if it was going to take too long and they didnt have the patience to wait.
But again, since it was our first time, we didnt comment and tried not to have any bad impression with the situation at hand. In front of every 'group', we saw a lady guard who was holding up a sign. Ours wrote "Bahasa Malayu", so we assumed we would have to follow her instructions. During this time, I saw something very impressive and very moving. It was during this time I felt proud being a Malaysian.
When you are mixed with all the races, all types of people around the world, you will notice how people behave. Whilst looking around us, I noticed how well behaved the group of Malaysians and Indonesian were compared to the others. When the lady guard told us to sit "ibu-ibu, dodok", everyone sat. I looked around the lady guards were all saying the same thing to the other groups, and yet they were ignoring them. They still stood and talked among each other. Some where on their feet ready to run.
Our group were all still sitting, which was why we were able to see everything that happened next. Gate 3 was right in front of us, so we saw a figure of someone behind the gate, ready to unlock it. I guess everyone else saw it too. That's when all the running and shoving started. Just imagine, we were perfectly waiting in line in front of the gate, sitting patiently. But as the gate was opened, people came running from both right and left of our group, fighting their way into the gate. I was so shocked!
The people in our group started to stand up seeing this commotion. In my head it was "Emmm.. it is the norm? Are we supposed to run and fight?" But as we stood, the lady guard in front of us told us to Sabr and sit back down. So it confirms my assumption that these people who are running and shoving weren't supposed to do that.
So we waited until the lady guard in front of us started moving into the gate. Bare in mind that the pushing and shoving were still going on from every direction.
Aimi, Aida and I just walked along with the crowd having no idea what to expect when we actually reach Raudhah. During this point, somehow or rather, we ended up just a few metres away from Raudhah. Three of us being the tall ones in the crowd, we could see the room where Rasulullah s.a.w and Abu Bakar and Umar were laid to rest, which is where all there of us started to get emotional. We said our Salam to our beloved Prophet and his friends.
I'm not sure how to explain what happened next. The place allocated for the nisa' in Raudhah is very small. It was only like 6 saff for prayer where each saff could only fit 10 people in a row. So you can imagine how small it was to accommodate the vast number of people coming in.
As we came into the area (which was not yet Raudhah), we were FORCED to move forward. Ya Allah, this was the start of a very painful and upsetting experience. It was bizarre on how we ended up in the crowd. As we looked around us, we noticed that there were no Malaysians other than us. Somehow or rather, we were separated from our earlier Malaysian group and was among the group that shoved and pushed however they felt convenient for them.
|You can't see the shoving here, but basically, |
this was how it looked like
Since we were tall, we could see the lady guards who were standing on chairs to control the crowd. They were shouting to tell the crowd to stop pushing forward because there was no space, and the people in front were praying. But nooo.. these people just ignored the instructions and pushed on forward.
My sisters and I are big and tall, we thought people wouldnt dare to push us. But again, no.. they kept pushing us forward. But we did hold our ground for 20 minutes, till the point our feet hurt from all the restraining. Allah really tested our patience during this time. I guess it was His way of testing us if we really wanted to go into Raudhah and to test if we have what it takes to be Sabar in the process.
My sisters and I were crying all the way. As for me, personally I cried because I was near Rasulullah. Yes, Rasulullah's makam was just beside Raudhah. I also cried because I felt it was impossible to have a chance to pray in Raudhah with this situation we were in. I cried because I really wanted to, but might not have the chance. Secondly, I cried because I felt so ashamed with how the rest of us were acting. Pushing and hurting others just to get a chance to pray in Raudhah. That's not how it's supposed to be! People should be ashamed! Rasulullah was just there beside us! We shouldnt be acting this way!
Thirdly, I was crying because it hurt. My sisters kept asking me "Kakngah, kenapa mcm ni?" (Translation: "Kakngah, why is it like this?"). I had no idea.
When people still kept pushing us, I turned around to the person pushing and asked them nicely to stop. I told them to Sabar, I told them to wait because people in front were praying. I also told them to read the sign above us that asks us to not push and be patient. It was in every language, so everyone should try to understand. I was crying when talking to the people around us who still kept pushing.
We still held our ground, not allowing people to pass us because there wasn't anywhere to go even if we let them pass. So since pushing didnt help their cause, some resulted in tickling us. Astaghfirullahalazim. What people do when they are selfish. My sisters were all crying and telling me how it hurts. I had had enough, so I told those who were still pushing and tickling to go on ahead of us. We couldn't take the pain anymore.
As this was happening, we were still forced by the crowd to move forward. Crying was now something of a norm to us by then. We could always find things to cry about. But we were saying istighfar every step of the way. This went on for more than 45 minutes, till Aida noticed something.
"Kakngah, cuba tengok carpet" (Translation: "Kakngah, look at the carpet"). All three of us looked down, and MashaAllah, we were in the green carpet area! Ya Allah! Thank you!
So I told my sisters to doa and ask Allah for whatever they want. With the pushing still going on, we already accepted the fact that we might not have the chance to pray. So we said our doa as best we can and moved on. We were so exhausted. Even our walk was slow because it hurt too much from all the pushing around us. But we were all grateful for the chance to say our doa, no matter how hard it was to get there.
We understood and accepted that we weren't given Allah's permission to pray in Raudhah. We were sad, but we accepted it.
As we walked towards the exit, we talked about how our slippers were with Mak and the fact that we might have to walk barefoot back to the hotel. Walking thru the Masjid, we were led towards the gate we came in. It was during this point where we noticed the earlier Malaysian group. They were still waiting patiently for their turn.
In my heart I knew that our earlier experience in Raudhah was Allah's test, and this was His way of rewarding us for being patient, He was giving us a second chance. So I asked my sisters if we'd like to try again. There might be the possibility we'd be able to pray. They agreed.
So we went back in line with the Malaysian group to wait our turn. But I told my sisters that since we already had our chance the first time, we should let the others go in first, we can go last. So we waited, and waited. We noticed how the lady guards let all the other nationalities to thru and kept our group at bay. Alhamdulillah, no one resisted, no one protested. Again, I felt proud being a Malaysian.
At precisely 12a.m., the lady guards gave us the chance for our groups turn. MashaAllah, I was surprised with the situation. No pushing, no shoving, no shouting, no fighting. Everyone was considerate. It was totally opposite of what we experienced in the first round. I was crying just by noticing this. We were right at the back of the crowd. Like I told my sisters, we should let the others go in first because we've been inside before. So when the turn came for us to pray, I told my sisters to pray first, I'd wait for them to finish.
As I waited, one of the lady guard called me "Sister, go pray in front". I looked at her, disbelieving what she said. Could there be a chance for me to pray at the front? She repeated her statement two times, and came to me to show the place she meant. I had to clear my head to believe this. But I went to the place she pointed. And praise be to Allah, I prayed in the 2nd Saff from the front. Alhamdulillah. You don't know how grateful I was, how moved and how appreciative I was for this chance.
After we prayed and said our doa, I heard the lady guards say "Ibu-ibu, cepat keluar. Iran mahu masuk" (Translation: "Sisters, please exit quickly, the Iranian group is about to enter"). Having the terrible first experience with the other nationalities, I finished my doa and headed out.
We walked slowly back to the hotel. Barefoot. Hehhe. As we walked, we reflected on what happened. I saw smiles on my sisters' faces. The ending of the day was something worth remembering. It was an event and experience to be remembered till the day we die. Allah's test on our patience, and Allah's reward right after.
The walk to the hotel was a very long one. So as we were talking, we played a game with the floor. No touching the lines, just as a way for us to pass the time, an effort in ignoring how our feet hurt from the pushing, and how far the hotel was.
We reached our hotel room at nearly 1.00am. Still ecstatic from our experience, but exhausted by it too.
That's basically my experience entering Raudhah. Im sure everyone has their own cherished experience, and I know everyone is affected in their own special way.
Allah did give us a hard lesson to learn. No matter how hard it was for us to go thru the first experience, it has made me matured in so many ways. It has made me understand the meaning of Sabar and the meaning of being grateful. Allah has taught me what it means to go thru hardship first before He gives his reward. I understand this, literally. I now understand this concept and it will forever be stamped in my mind. Thank you Allah for this experience. I always find myself with tears when telling my story to others or just remembering it. It is something I will NEVER forget.
My last Subuh prayer was also an emotional one. One of the saddest and hardest thing I faced in Madinah was saying goodbye to Rasulullah s.a.w. I pray I will get a chance to go and visit him again.
I also pray I will be among those under his syafaat in the Day of Judgement. That I will be among his Ummah. As Maher Zain's song goes, I hope when he sees me, he will smile. InsyaAllah.
Ya Allah, keep me in this path. Protect me and make me strong.
That's basically my story in Madinah. There is so much to tell. Especially during our visit to Uhud. Im going to have to write about that one in another post. I'll also do another one for Makkah :)
Hope you gained some insight and gained some new knowledge thru my experience. I hope there were some lessons learned, some examples to follow. Thank you for reading.
Till next time, InsyaAllah.