Posted on a later day, 10.29.13, I chose to keep the dates in mark with their corresponding dates from our Hajj trip for convenience. You can see a link of all the post-trip posts by clicking here and scrolling down. Click here to see the previous day’s post and click here to see the next day’s post.
Friday October 11.
At this point, I’m trying to make the most of the last few hours we have remaining in Madinah of the trip. It went by way to quickly, yet at the same time, I feel like no matter how long of a trip one comes here for would not be enough. There’s just something heartwarmingly magnificent about Madinah.
We got to pray jummah in masjid al-Nabawi today. Slowly over the last day and a half, the crowd had dispersed as more and more people headed to Makkah. Today for jummah, however, it was incredibly crowded– all the locals must have came. Although I understood no part of the khutbah [sermon], as it was in Arabic, it was still something to pray jummah here in masjid al-Nabawi. There has just been this sense of something greater than life that just encompasses you every time you set foot, or even see masjid al-Nabawi. A sense of peace. Of belonging.
Before leaving Madinah for Makkah, we had to be in the state of ihram, as we were leaving with the intention of doing umrah and hajj. We were supposed to leave for Makkah after asr, with the target goal being around 4:15 pm at the latest, but we didn’t leave until around 5:15 pm.
As soon as the bus started moving, Qari Basit lead our group in a dua [which became customary every time] and led us in a repetition of talbiyah [pilgrims repeat this, almost like an intention, and it is repeatedly invoked during hajj, upon putting on the Ihram, etc.] which gave me yet another indescribable feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was becoming real. We were starting the part of the journey to complete the very reason we were all here.
Labbayk, Allahumma Labbayk.
Labbayk, La shareeka laka, Labbayk.
Innal-hamda wan-n’imata laka wal-mulk.
La shareeka lak.
Qari Basit would lead our group in the talbiyah before we left for any part of the umrah/hajj destinations and we would continue it throughout the journey. Similarly, anytime during the duration of the trip, people seemed to be getting agitated, impatient, or even just randomly, some group leader would start the talbiyah. Loved every second of it. There is just something beautiful about it, and even more so when the whole group is in unison.
Getting to miqat [where pilgrims must not cross before they are in a state of Ihram if they intend to enter Masjid al-Haram for Umrah or Hajj] took minimal time: we were there in 15-30 minutes to make niyat and pray. Which was something I tell you.
For this masjid to be a miqat, it was very small [at least in the women section] and people were literally praying on top of others… there was just no room. Chaos, pandemonium, whatever. An experience is what it was. The number of buses outside [multiplied] by the n number of people per bus… it was just something. It was almost like a preview of the crowd we would face in the Haram. I don’t know how everyone was able to get in there, pray, and make their way out and find their own bus in the chaos… but they did. Scores of people were lined up to pray outside, at every spot they could: grass, walkways, etc… absolutely amazing. I saw my dad’s aunt sitting on a railing to pray because she couldn’t find a chair to sit on in the mayhem. For my mom, we carried a collapsible chair everywhere with us.
Side note: the bus driver gave us all a piece of paper with our bus number on it so it would help us find our way back on this stop and any other along the way. Too bad it was in Arabic and I don’t know how one is even supposed to systematically do that in a sea of buses.
We didn’t end up leaving from the miqat until around 7:05 pm, and not very much later we approached what I thought was a check-point. Instead, when the driver opened the front door and the one in the middle, men from outside started throwing in boxes of meals for everyone on board and some books. Which is apparently not weird at all. Besides, I get they are in a hurry and whatnot, but why in the world are they throwing food?!
We took a break around 10:15 pm to pray isha in a “service area” type of thing and got a reality check. To put it mildly. I was luckily able to avoid the eastern style bathroom again but it’s condition was… bleh [at best] to put it nicely. Flushes don’t work, smell out of the door. Reality check 101 that’s for sure. Oh the things we take for granted [in the USA]. Hand sanitizer and hand sanitizer wipes just became my best friend instantly, so it is a good thing I packed lots and lots of it. Those that went to make wudu before praying, I don’t know… I’m pretty sure they were in a more cleansed state beforehand…
I can’t believe the first leg of this trip is already over. May we get an opportunity to come back again and again. Madinah truly captivated me. Everyone says it, but you just don’t understand until you are there and you feel/experience it. You can’t describe it, you can’t explain it, you just simply feel it. And you never want to lose sight of it.