It’s been a few days since I returned and now that I’ve had time to rest and do my cleaning up, the experience has begun to settle in me. There’s so much to talk about so I’m going to try to arrange my reflections as best as I can in chronological order – Pre-Umrah, Umrah and Post-Umrah.
I mentioned this in my first post (MY UMRAH – The Beginnings) that I started talking about going for an umrah about 2 years ago. Some might consider this as being given ‘hidayah’ or guidance but really, I think this whole journey began much earlier than that, probably as young as when I started learning about Islam.
As a Muslim, we abide by the 5 pillars of Islam followed by the articles of faith.
So, if we look at the pillars of Islam and articles of Faith, I believe that ever since I began learning about Islam, I must have expressed my intention to go on a pilgrimage at an early age and perhaps, God must predestined me to visit his home. The question would have been, WHEN?
Fast forward to about several years ago, something happened to me in the mosque. I remember I was performing the ‘iktikaf’ early before Friday prayers and was all alone in the mosque. My eyes were closed when suddenly a loud deep voice called my name out asking me to repent before it was too late.
I was jolted out of my rest and searched around me but there was no one around. I knew I had heard a voice and it wasn’t my imagination because the voice left my heart beating profusely. I wasn’t sure what that was but I was sure that it had to be a sign from God.
So, to say that I perhaps only made plans to go on this umrah 2 years ago would perhaps have been unfair but 2 years ago, I made a resolve that I had to go would be more apt. I made my bookings quite late actually, on Deepavali (what a way right? Festival of Lights) and immediately after I made my bookings, I began to physically and mentally prepare myself which was why if you had been following me on Instagram, you’d have noticed me going on runs.
Not that it was necessary but I really wanted to prepare myself well. I knew that there was going to be a lot of walking involved with the circumambulating the Kaabah plus walking/jogging/running during the Sa’i. Hence, I really wanted to be physically ready and began my runs with my intention focused on God. I suppose in doing so, I was also mentally preparing myself for this journey.
Besides my own preparation, I also had to attend two classes to learn about performing the umrah organised by the travel agency. This was essential towards preparing all pilgrims for the DO’s and DONT’s especially when one is in ihraam.
Once classes are complete, all that’s left is to pack your bags.
The 5th rule not mentioned in the photo above is ‘Proper Procedures’ – One needs to perform all of the above in accordance to proper procedures which have all been listed out in the photo.
One of the most important things to take note of when you’re in ihraam, is that there are DO’s and DONT’s as well. If you break the rule, you have to pay ‘DAM’, which is a penalty. There is the small penalty and the big penalty depending on the seriousness of which rule was contravened.
It all sounds like a lot to do but really if you think about it, it’s really about exercising one’s self control at a higher level, above and beyond what Muslims usually do which is why I think God made performing the Hajj the last one on the pillar for Muslims.
I haven’t been on the Hajj yet but the Umrah is a smaller version of the Hajj. It is perhaps half of what Hajj pilgrims have to go through, which means that the challenge, is only half as well. When I have the opportunity and should I be invited, then of course, the next phase will be to perform the Hajj.
Having gone through the umrah, like all who have been there, I definitely want to go there again. I haven’t had the opportunity to do several things yet like praying in the Kaabah at Hijr Ismail and Multazam.
Do I feel different now that I’ve been on an umrah?
I certainly learnt a lot more about my religion and because of a higher appreciation for Islam, that’s probably why I feel different.
Have I changed?
That’s perhaps too soon to answer and is best not answered by me. I have to let others who interact with me be the judge. I’m not sure if change is a good word too, I’d rather use improvement.
What are my future plans?
I definitely want to go for my Hajj and perform another umrah again, where possible, once a year for my spiritual retreat. I don’t think there is a better way for a spiritual retreat than to go for an umrah. Only this time, I’d like to also visit Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, Israel which is another revered mosque in Islam. It being the mosque where Prophet Muhammad had ascended to the Heavens.
But besides that, I’m probably gonna take up Arabic classes and attend religious classes once again. I’m also considering pursuing a proper studies in Islam to fulfill a wish my dad once had of me. While I wasn’t prepared in the past because I was too young and rebellious, I think I’m a bit more open to the idea now.
How things will change or evolve over the coming year or the future, that is something for me to work on. But for now, I’ll need time to come out with my list of things to achieve by the end of 2016 and also to reflect on my 2015.