The Journey of a Lifetime: Pilgrimage to the Holy Lands of Saudi Arabia
Journeying to Saudi Arabia is one of the most blessed and humbling experiences in a Muslims life. The pilgrimage is undertaken with much planning, love and support from family and friends back in your home country. Those that have been, will certainly understand the impact each journey to the Blessed Lands has on the soul.
From OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa, I journeyed to the blessed lands of the Beloved Prophet (SAW) and the Prophets (RA) before him(SAW) and the Mubarak House of Allah.
From South Africa to Saudi Arabia my intention was to perform the Umrah pilgrimage. We arrived in Madeenah, (after an 8 hour journey) for the first time -is a memory etched in my heart that I will never forget.
The peace and tranquility in the air almost overtakes the mind and the soul. Knowing that you are in close proximity to the Most Beloved of Mankind is a humbling experience that brings tears to the driest of eyes.
Masjidun Nabawi, situated in the Haramain area of Madeenah, is a city that never sleeps yet peaceful in all its character. I stood in awe when I first entered the Haramain. Performing salaah here was a profound experience. It was here that I met the friendliest people. I did not understand their language and they did not understand mine, but our love for the Prophet SAW had bound us together. And it was in this masjid where I had been afforded the opportunity to perform salaah on a piece of heaven, LITERALLY. This is a piece of heaven on earth and is known as the Raudatul Jannah or the Rauda Mubarak. This area is situated closeby to the grave of the Prophet (SAW) and His companions (RA).
In Madeenah, we also made Ziyarah of notable landmarks in the history of Islam. This included a tour of the areas where various battles that took place during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as well as, Masjids that were frequented by the Prophet SAW, and even the water well in which Muhammad (SAW) saliva had turned the water sweet.
The Ziyarah was an enlightening experience that shed light on much of the history I had learnt and heard about throughout my childhood.
After 9 wonderful days in Madeenah we had donned our Ihraam and set forth to perform the pilgrimage of Umrah as we departed for Makkah. It was on this last day, that I had decided that Madeenah had captured my heart.
The trip from Madeenah to Makkah by taxi had taken us 4 hours with a half hour stop halfway. The journey, although hot, was comfortable and exciting as this was to be my first time in Makkah.
We had witnessed a caravan of camels between Makkah and Madeenah.
We had arrived in Makkah whilst the Maghrib salaah was being performed by a voice we knew all too well, Imam Abdul Rahman Al Sudais.
As the well known Imam’s voice glared melodiously with the words of Allah, through the City of Makkah, my excitement and heart paced as I was eager to get to the Haramain.
After settling into the hotel, we had performed our first Maghrib salaah in Makkah. We freshened up and we had set out to complete our Umrah.
The first time that I had laid eyes on the Mubarak Kaabah, my heart skipped a beat. To this day I cannot describe what I had felt that moment.
I was in awe of the beautiful Kaabah as I raced to recite the duaas I had written on a piece of paper prior to the journey. One cannot possibly think because of the mixed emotions one feels at this moment, and so as I made my duaa, knowing full well the promise of Allah; that these duaas would be accepted and my wishes fulfilled. Many of those duaas (if not all) had been fulfilled as I look back on what I had asked for that day. And I am thankful to Allah alone for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Because every visit to the holy lands feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We then set out to perform the tawaaf around the Glorious Mubarak Kaabah and made Sa’ee which is the walking between the two mounts of Saffah-Marwa.
Performing salaah before the Kaabah is something I cannot fully explain to this day. It is the sight and symbol of our Lord. It is praying before The One that created you and all things around you. Performing salaah here is an experienced unmatched to the salaah performed back home. The experience feels like a renewal and testimony of your faith. Words will never be able to truly capture the experience of it all.
Makkah is somewhat different than Madeenah. Madeenah has a peaceful and tranquil vibe in the air and amongst its people. Whereas, Makkah is a bustling city with traders all around. The people, of both Makkah and Madeenah; were welcoming, helpful and expressed a sincere love to the guests of their country.
Makkah, although busy, caters for all the people that visit this city. People from all walks of life.
I had met wonderful people here too. People who were different to me. People who spoke different languages. People who were of different nationalities. But all of these people from all walks of life, shared the same religion of Islam that I do. They were all there for the same reason as I was. And these people, though different, were JUST LIKE ME.
As we prepared to leave the blessed lands, with mixed emotions we bid farewell. The feeling of leaving felt awful and almost wrong, but I was also excited to see family and friends that awaited our arrival back home.
The entire pilgrimage to the blessed lands was a wonderful experience. Though I had loved Makkah so very much, I had left my heart in Madeenah.
And home is where the heart is.
And someday I know that I will return to my home, in Madeenah. (IA)