MY UMRAH – MADINAH


The first stop for my umrah was Madinah, the city Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had migrated to due to extreme torture and hatred towards Muslims in Makkah.

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King Abdul Aziz International Airport (Hajj Terminal)

The journey took approximately 5 hours by bus from Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport, a special airport which is used specially for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. All praise to God, immigration clearance didn’t take long compared to a friend of mine who had to wait 5.5 hours to clear. We took about 1.5 hours.

The scene at the airport itself gave us an indication of how packed this umrah was going to be. Our flight from Singapore which had a stopover in Dubai, mostly consisted of pilgrims from Indonesia.

As we arrived in Madinah, I continue to have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was appreciative and excited at the opportunity to be here, to be able to be in the presence of God’s Prophet to mankind, Muhammad (PBUH) and on the other, I worried about unpleasant experiences.

But all that changed the moment I laid my eyes on Masjid Nabawi, one of the most majestic and one of the three highly revered mosque in the world (Masjidil Haram in Makkah and Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem are the other two).

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Masjid Nabawi

I did not let slip the opportunity to perform my isyak prayers there when my roommate asked if I wanted to join him and his brother there before the group had a proper tour. Walking to the masjid, I was beaming with excitement and immediately, I fell in love with the mosque the moment I stepped into its compound.

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The intricate architecture was breathtaking, the marble floor was cool to walk on and I looked forward to pray at Masjid Nabawi at every prayer because the entire atmosphere was unlike any other I’ve been to. There were areas within the mosque where one could sit to read and be corrected on your Quranic readings by a tahfiz al-quran (expert at Quranic recitations) but the highlight of the mosque is the resting place of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his two closest companions who later became the Caliphs after his passing, Sayidina Abu Bakr and Sayidina Umar as well as a small area within the mosque referred to as Raudah.

It is an obligation for every Muslim to greet Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his two companions when you are in Masjid Nabawi, and so that’s what we did after our prayers. Immediately, you realise that your faith is being tested as large groups of people would start moving in the same direction.

Some at slower speeds and some at faster speeds, either hustling their way through the crowd or following the flow of the crowd. If you’ve ever been to a sell-out concert, that’s how it’s like, except that instead of hearing people hurling vulgarities at people who push and shove, you hear people reciting verses from the Quran or ‘Sabr!’ (Patience).

And this scene is how it’s like on a daily basis. Besides paying your respects to the Prophet and his two companions, everyone also wants to pray in the Raudah area. The many columns in this area represented many different things that have happened during the period of God’s final messenger, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), stay in Madinah and is also one of the reasons why his companions wanted to pray at those areas.

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Masjid Nabawi open area

Besides that, it has also been mentioned that Raudah will be one of the gardens in paradise and prayers or supplications made in Raudah will be granted. Therefore, it is no wonder why everyone wants to have the opportunity to pray and supplicate there. And all praise to God, I was given 3 opportunities to pray and supplicate in Raudah. I hope my prayers and supplications are accepted as much as I hope everyone else’s is.

Aside from Masjid Nabawi being the centre of attraction in Madinah, there is also another special mosque, one which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had built himself when he first came to Madinah, Masjid Quba. This Masjid is a little further from Masjid Nabawi and is also the first mosque you’ll see when you enter Madinah.

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Masjid Quba

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Masjid Quba main prayer hall

Life is Madinah was slow paced and I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t feel the need to rush to pray as I always had more than enough time to find a comfortable spot in the masjid, to read the Quran or to just perform the ‘iktikaf’ by either resting or reflecting on my life or to pray. In fact, I actually realised that I didn’t even visit the malls or restaurants in the area until I was asked along because otherwise, I would have just sat in the masjid.

So, when people tell me they love Madinah, I understand why now because I love Madinah too. I love it because of the slow pace and also because it is where I get to be close to the Prophet. I truly hope that perhaps, you’d have the opportunity to one day be ‘invited’ and be able to visit and pray in Masjid Nabawi.

The Straight Road of Islam


It’s 6:00am here in Irvine, California and I have just completed my Subuh prayers this morning. As I was making my way back to the bed for another short nap before breakfast and replying to messages on my cellphone, I was reminded of something.

I was reminded of Quranic verses and words of the Hadith ringing in my head when I was sleeping. These verses and words kept replaying in my head over and over again just before I woke up for Subuh.

Those verses and words weren’t having a discussion, they were an instruction and it was very clear on what it was and I would like to share with everyone on what those things were in a much simpler illustration.

Imagine Islam as a very straight road, very clear on the rules and regulations with a very clear destination. There may be diversions created along the road when you meet a roadblock, but even so, the road diversions are clear and you may only take and remain on that road of Islam. To begin, you recite the ‘Shahadah’ and that’s probably your ignition key as well to start your body as the vehicle.

So, now, imagine if one decides NOT TO WALK on that road but instead, walk parallel to that road, heading in the same direction. For whatever reason that individual does so, that individual is still not on the Islam road because when you walk parallel to that road, you are following your own set of rules and that doesn’t make you Islam.

And if you began on the Islam road and decide to go off-road, you have in no other better terms, ‘strayed off the straight path’ and would be better for you to go back on the paved road because it is better for you, in Islam. And when you do go back to the Islam road, because you have gone off-road, your tyres and vehicle are dirty and thus needs a bit of cleaning aka ‘Repentance’.

Islam as the Road

Islam as the Road

And what if you meet the roadblock and decide to create a new diversion because the diversion  created for you didn’t appeal to you because there were too many people waiting in line to pass or there were too many checkpoints to go through? Then you would have innovated and thus, ‘Bid’ah’ and to get back onto the Islam road, you need to perform, ‘Repentance’.

I don’t want to take on too long or too much of your time reading this but this was definitely what I believe I was asked to do when those Quranic verses and words of the Hadith were ringing in my head.

Just before I part, here are some Hadiths and Quranic verses to reflect on:

Abu Hurairah (R.A) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Do not ask me unnecessarily about the details of the things which I do not mention to you. Verily, the people before you were doomed because they were used to putting many questions to their Prophets and had differences abou their Prophets. Refrain from what I forbid you and do what I command you to the best of your ability and capacity”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

“And let those who oppose the Messenger’s (Muhammad (PBUH)) commandment (ie: his Sunnah – legal ways, orders, acts of worship, statements) (among the sects), beware, lest some Fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing, overpowered by a tyrant) should befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them”. (24:63)

“(And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger (PBUH)”. (4:59)

Irbad bin Sariyah (R.A) reported: One day Messenger of Allah (PBUH) delivered us a very eloquent Khutbah on account of which eyes shed tears and hearts were of tears. A man said, “O Prophet of Allah, this is as if it were a parting advice. So advise us”. He (PBUH) said, “I admonish you to fear Allah, to listen and obey even if an Abyssinian slave is appointed as your leader because whosoever among you shall live after me, will see much discord. So hold fast to my Sunnah and the examples of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs who will come after me. Adhere to them and hold to it fast. Beware of new things (in Deen) because every Bid’ah is a misguidance”. [Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi]