Okay so I know Hajj passed a while back already, but I still need to finish what I started…
Through all the walking there was definitely sight seeing to be amazed by. The architectural work that’s been put into designing the Masjid-Nabi was pretty impressive. Getting to the masjid and leaving the masjid was also much more peaceful and easier than Masjid’Al-Haram because of its infrastructure. This is why this was the city that gave the Prophet(s) peace when it seemed they would not get peace, this is why this was the Prophet(s)’s city. After Fajr I would stay at the Masjid, and watch the domes slide open, other times I’ll be on the top floor watching the roof slide open from the sides, other times I’ll be outside watching the umbrellas open and watch them close later. I even started to explore the Masjid I wanted to know the whole place inside out, the upstairs, and main floor, but it was too huge for me to know. The colour scheme would also change depending on which part of the masjid you were in, if you were in the Ottoman part, the Saud part (which was pretty much 90% of the masjid), or the part of the Companions and the original masjid. It all was magnificent.
However, in my last post I mentioned something else about Madinah, it was a spiritual, life changing experience. To be honest, nothing could hold back the frustration I had for myself, wasting all that time in my hotel when I was in Makkah. I told myself that I had to rectify Makkah. It was really helpful that our hotel wasn’t really pleasing, and shopping, although I did take out some time for it, it was a pain for me. I remembered the advice before I left for Hajj. The scholars of the past (not 100% sure) would usually recommend not going to Hajj or Umrah with your friends or family (your spouse is something else), largely because they would distract from the experience. I mean, it’ll only be a while before your friend starts cracking a joke, or before you start loosing yourself. We can’t always be serious around our close company? So I took off deciding that time spent in the Masjid would be a better Idea, a bit far from my family. And that’s when the amazing things started to happen.
It’s pretty saddening to think I’m writing all of this after a year, if I had written earlier things would have been in far greater detail. During this initial time, I tried my best to visit Riyahdul Jannah, and I figured out that going a couple of hours after Fajr would be when it would easy to pray in. And so Alhumdullilah, I was able to pray there more often than I would’ve believed. Which obviously meant that I was able to to visit the Prophet(s)’s grave as many times as well. I even prayed in the first or second row once, right behind the Imam, and there I met a brother from Manchester. Me, him and this elderly brother from Pakistan had a long conversation. It was interesting, because until he started talking to me, I had no idea he was could speak english (and his accent was a welcome addition). He talked about how lucky I was that I had learned about Islam at a young age, and how he now discovered the beauty of Islam. It was a most welcome exchange, and it lit my eyes. We talked about scholars from England and North America. The elderly brother brought his own experience and wisdom, and suddenly I was thinking if it was even halal to even be talking so casually in such a sacred place. There was a Janazah after Salah like always, and we parted after Dhur ( I met this brother again during Hajj, Subhan’Allah).
One day, we decided to visit Jannatul Baqi, so me, my brother and my dad took off after Fajr. The graveyard which has the lives of thousands of Sahaba, and many other contributors to this deen, had a silence of peace in it’s air. As we walked through the graveyard, we were taken by the sight of hundreds of pigeons that kept circulating the graveyard. This was right after Fajr, so for me it was easy to assume that the pigeons had started their morning flight or warmup but I was curious why they were all gathering at the graveyard, I saw no food there for them. It wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed, Subhan’Allah, I had never seen such a sight of this many birds. As they flocked about they occasionally dipped on ground level, and you wouldn’t realized how much I started to enjoy this. Imagine thousands of birds just flying towards you. I’ll admit I was scared that some of the pigeons were going to crash into me, although I kept ducking, but they never did. It seemed like a show, it captured our attention. I still wished we recorded those scenes, maybe not taking pictures on this journey was a wrong decision? Perhaps not. We had begun to forget where we were, and once we realized where we were, we quickly finished our prayers for the graveyard and left.
Another day we also had a tour around the city, we saw a glimpse of where Madinah University was and visited Masjidal Quba, and several other sights, including mount Uhad. It gave me a something to visualize but I knew the sites had changed drastically since 1400 years ago. I also recall us visiting the ‘doctor’s place’ for foreigners, and they would always seem to give the same medicine to everyone. I don’t know, but I wasn’t impressed, don’t know if they knew what they were doing. I even started to notice how many beggars there were, and some I knew were simply making a living out of this. I admit I was rude at times to them. But somethings disgusted me, how were there so many children sitting there without limbs? As far as research goes, there are a lot of children that do at a young age loose their limbs so they can help their parents or ‘owners’ practise the ‘art of begging’. I was also surprise by two beggars, one who after begging to my father for money, (it seemed like a sales pitch to me) my dad gave him money. The next day, while my dad went in to get food, he waited outside for my dad, eyeing him. He singled my dad out, and this made me upset. I knew there was something wrong with him, so I went to him, and asked him whats up. He immediately turned to me for money, so I asked him why he doesn’t look for halal means of getting money, as begging is considered disliked to haram. I was really upfront with him and he told me he couldn’t get help, because he is staying in Madinah illegally. I told him that this was wrong, and he quickly walked away from me. It wasn’t long when we were at the groceries, at Bin Dawood, when another Beggar came, took off his sleeve and revealed a bloody arm, ( so much gore) and you can see his bones. He was shoving his arm in our face, I felt like throwing-up, my dad gave in, gave him money and he left. Really? How could beggars with such a problem just come in a grocery store where you’re buying food and show their meatless, bloody arm like that? It definitely seemed like a fake to me, and all of these beggars were speaking urdu. My behaviour towards certain beggars was probably rude, and I’ve learnt to fix that, as I encouraged my dad not to pay any attention to them, he would tell me, “you never know who really does need help. They probably don’t even know if what they’re doing is right or wrong.” And he was right.
This eventually lead me to another discovery. Parents. Later on, as I will reveal, the biggest thing I took from my Hajj experience was that I needed to be there for my parents. I’ll admit, serving your parents dutifully is a difficult task. But I couldn’t help but say that I became closer to both of them during this time. It was war between me and my mom to sleep on the floor, and I would for the most part loose. My dad, who I vowed to never “leave him alone” always got me worried as he never realized at times where he was going (there was a lot of walking) and later on would reveal certain things about himself that shook me. If there was one thing I knew, it was how amazing my parents were to me. They never needed to bring their children to Hajj with them, but they did, and I needed to be grateful to Allah(swt) and them for it.
During this time, I had brought a book about Umar (R) and I began to read the book and by the time I finished it before Hajj, I started to develop an attachment to Umar (R), and I realized he was a man I wanted to be like, a man that excelled in the Dunya, but was not absorbed by it at all to the extent where all he ever cared about was his religion. Certain stories in that book ring to mind, like when he fed a family in the night by making the food himself, weeping, at how he could’ve let the family go hungry, while the mother had been upset at Umar. Another story was when they conquered foreign lands, and Umar (R) received sweets and before he ate them, he sent a letter back to the governor of the land, who he had appointed and he asked if everyone in the land had access to such food. When he go the reply as negative, Umar(R) got upset saying something to the extent of (paraphrasing): How can you eat what your nation cannot? Eat only what everyone in the nation can eat! (Everyone should eat only what everyone can eat) Subhan’Allah, I was being educated on how a leader should be. He was so just in the manner in which he lead his nation. There were other incidents, such as when a companion had told him to dress better when they were about to meet a high figure from a different land (sorry my memory isn’t serving me right now) and said: “We were the most humiliated people on earth and Allah gave us honour through Islam. If we ever seek honour through anything else, Allah will humiliate us again.” Even when he entered Jerusalem for the first time, I can go on, and the way he innovated the social structures, and the Hadiths regarding Umar(r) during the Prophet(s)’s time. I fell in love with his legacy, May Allah(swt) be pleased wit him. He became a role model to me. He seemed hard from the outside but was so soft from the inside. Makes me upset when the term harshness is associated with him.
I had also begin talking more with the Shaykh of our group, and he wanted me to go on and do Hifz and if not, still go straight to an Islamic University the next year overseas (particularly to London). This is something else that Madinah did to me, I began thinking about my future. And I started to think, maybe he was right, I was lost to be honest, wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life. I didn’t want to waste my time on useless things, but I didn’t quite understand what sort of education could I possibly receive at a secular university besides english, I never grasped the point of education outside of Islam. It was after Hajj where certain things started clicking for me, Alhumdullilah. And so I still had a couple of doubts about Islam. While my faith was strong, I still had questions. I didn’t fully comprehend the reality of Hellfire. This question was answered when I left the Prophet(s)’ Mosque one day and I saw a scene, that I never thought I would’ve seen. I won’t mention it, but it really left me dumbfounded and angry. I went straight to the Shaykh and I let him know what I saw, he tried giving another reason for the event. He was the only one I told what I saw, but for me at that moment it was too much to mention. However after reflecting on the incident and my own reaction, I knew that question was answered.
There was this one other incident that I noticed particularly. While sitting in the Prophet’s (saw) mosque, I noticed there were scholars giving halaqas after Fajr in either arabic or urdu. One of the urdu talks started to shed light on a matter that after I would return to Toronto would occupy my mind for a couple of months. It was the matter of fiqh, and I suppose aqeedah debates. This urdu scholar bashed the other schools of thought and I was disappointed in what I was hearing. What the scholar was saying would not in anyway benefit muslims in general with all due respect to him. I just had hoped that my father didn’t listen to him somewhere in the Masjid, and from the what my father talked to me afterwards or since then I’m pretty sure he didn’t, Alhumdullilah.
While everything I mentioned so far started to help me spiritually; spending more time in the masjid reading Quran and praying all added an extra dimension, but there was still more. I never mentioned how much I was excited to be praying behind big name Shaykhs. Seriously, although I was unfortunate to not pray behind Sh. Sudias, I was able to pray behind Sh. Mahir, Sh. Shuraim and others in Makkah. In Madinah, Fajr was led by Sh. Hudhaify ,and Maghrib was lead by Sh. Budair. Now Sh. Budair’s recitation in Maghrib was some of the most heart warming and trembling recitation I listened to. I was always sad at how short it was. I wanted him to lead Fajr. My friend who had gone months before me, told me he would lead Fajr when he was there and I assumed that the Shayukh switch Salah roles every week. I couldn’t wait for him to lead Fajr, so much so, that I would make Dua constantly for him to lead Fajr. There was even one instance where my thoughts were answered during his recitation, I don’t remember the passage and my thoughts, but I understood some words. I believe it had to do more with forgiving my sins. But it always feels comforting when your thoughts are answered through recitation. However I was getting worried, because every dua I was making in Madinah was coming true. I don’t even remember half the Duas I made in Madinah (I remember the ones after Madinah, during Hajj and after). I didn’t want the record of every dua being answered to be ruined because of this one dua. The second or third last day before we left Madinah, as I started praying, I was hoping Sh.Budair would lead the salah, and to my disappointment he didn’t, it was another week, but it wasn’t him. The second last fajr, my ears were clear, and as the the Shaykh started to recite, I couldn’t help but feel terrible. My dua wasn’t answered and I strongly felt that it wasn’t going to happen. The next day, the last fajr which was also the last Salah I would pray in madinah, as we were to leave right after that salah. I never really cared much about who was leading, because I was convinced Sh.Budair wasn’t going to lead. Finally, as I got my way to the masjid and joined the lines, contemplating about my last moments in this great masjid, Fajr started. The voice seemed different, but I was convinced, it was not Sh.Budair. It started with Surah Fatiha, and I was blown away. It was Sh.Budai, finally leading Fajr. Subhan’Allah. The beauty in his voice, Masha’Allah, the final Salah in Madinah lead by the man I always wanted to pray behind for Fajr. This was the power of Dua and I was going to see more of it. Goes to show, never loose faith in your Duas, have patience even when all seems lost. It was fitting, and with that all my Duas in Madinah came true and I had a bus to catch. We were going to begin Hajj. And as I put on that Ihram for the second time, I became very uncomfortable. But I had no time too, there was a lot waiting a head for me and my family.
It was time to bring on the Ihram…