My first (and hopefully not the last!) umrah was a very VERY beautiful experience. I mean, when you ask in general what was it like, I cannot give you anything that you cannot google. The procedure of umrah has not changed since eternities ago, maybe the architecture has changed much but that is something you can look up on the internet.
The beauty of this trip was experiencing it, and beyond description of words. You have read about these places and the history behind each ritual, you have seen pictures of the places, and the change of it from time to time, but if you have never been there you have no idea. To think that Rasulullah s.a.w. used to walk where we walk, stand where we stand, and we touch the ka’bah that was built by Adam a.s. and Ibrahim a.s., and to look at the grave of Rasulullah s.a.w. and the strongest of the Sahabah r.a.
However, there were a few little incidents that might be interesting coincidences (if you believe in coincidences, that is, because I don’t).
Royal Bank of Scotland Online Customer Service
If you don’t feel like coming to the branch or reading help manuals, you can opt to do an online chat with a random customer service officer (CSO). Before I went to Umrah, the day before that was, I contacted the online CSO to set my debit card so I can use it abroad. Some random English name came up and asked what I needed.
I thought to myself “oh man, it would be so nice to coincidentally find a Muslim CSO to help me with this, so he gets the barakah as well.”. Right when I had that thought, suddenly the chat ended abruptly. Maybe connection problem, I don’t know. Then I tried to reconnect, because my problem wasn’t solved. As soon as the chat was connected, the CSO said “This is Mohammed, how can I help you?”
“Not on the flight’s list”
When I was already at the check in counter, I just realized that my ticket has someone else’s name on it. Plus, the guy at the counter said that my (real) name is not on the flight list even after checking many times with different name variations. Another guy had the wrong last name. They dealt with his problem first since it seemed easier, which lasted for like around an hour or so. The clock was ticking.
I tried to have good faith. I thought to myself that Umrah is Allah’s invitation. If He invites me, nothing in the heavens and earth would prevent me from going. If He did not invite me, He knows my intentions.
A few minutes before the other guy’s problem was solved, I tried texting people on the top of my Whatsapp list. The only one who replied in that instance was a good friend called Mariam, who was fasting with her friend. Alhamdulillaah, she was fasting and it was approaching Maghrib! So inshaaAllah their du’as are very likely to be accepted and she (and her friend) agreed to pray for me. Not to mention, there was a very special incident that involved her which reminds us to the power of du’a (click to see the story), and it just had to be her again who reminds me the power of du’as.
When it was my turn, and the lady on the counter checked, my name showed up. Nobody knew how it disappeared, and nobody knew how it suddenly showed back up. I think I do, though.
While in Makkah, most people want to touch and kiss the hajar aswad. The black stone from jannah! But then, “most” means hundreds or even thousands, and the thing is relatively small. Not to mention, people push like crazy from all directions so coming towards and away from it is terribly difficult. Many stories of people going for multiple hajj and umra, and not being able to even come close to it.
May Allah bless my parents for sharing the best and easiest way to touch it.
It was after Fajr jamaat when I told my friends “guys, lets give it a shot”. But seeing the disgustingly large crowd, they said that it was impossible. I begged them to join me, saying “lets try for 15 minutes and if we fail then we go Allah knows our intentions”. They chose to leave and try some other time. I did not want to give in to this.
I knew that I can perhaps join the fight and push, but then I realized that I was here for Allah. Certainly I do not want to do anything with the help of Shaytan, or else, even if I touch the stone, will that make me feel any better? So, as my parents told me, I just trusted Allah and I told myself that I don’t want to hurt anyone in the process. If He wishes me to touch it, Allah will make people push me towards it. If not, He knows my intentions. So I just waited patiently, sometimes letting people cut infront of me.
Allaahu Akbar, it took me less than 15 minutes to get there. I touched it, kissed it, and stopped simply because I know people are waiting and I don’t want to do dzulm to anyone. I did not push anyone, infact people were pushing me towards it. And when I wanted to leave the stone, it was as if people made way for me!
Praying in the Hijr
The Hijr Ismail is that D shaped thing, that if you pray in it then its as if you pray inside the Ka’bah. If you cant pray there, at least to complete your umra you should pray in that particular corner but not within the D thing. Tons of people crowd the place as well, and it is hard to even enter much less pray there. People even pass infront of each other praying!
But after touching the Hajar Aswad, my spirit was high. I might as well try pray at the D thing as well! So I gave it a go. I queued nicely, with the same intentions as trying to approach the hajar aswad. I thought that if I make other’s affair easy, then Allah will make it easy for me. So when this random guy was praying, and I saw people might cross infront of him, I tried to block the way so he can pray in peace and people had to find another way. You know how tempting it is to just pass infront of him hoping to catch someone else’s spot when they are done (cz the deeper they are inside, the likelier it is for them to be done). But that’s not what I should do. Not until when he did salaam, I moved to the side.
Right after that, an old man who also just has finished praying, touched my hand. He pointed to the ground he was praying on and said “use”. I thanked him and prayed my two rakaats. It was always as congested as ever, but nobody even passed infront of me! After doing two rakaats, I called to an old lady who was close to me and asked her to use the spot.
Praying at the Rawdah
This is in Madinah, in Masjid Al-Nabawi. The carpets of Masjid Al-Nabawi are red, but there is a very special area where the carpets are green. The hadith tells us that if you do two rakaats shalat there, its like praying two rakaats in jannah! Allaahu Akbar! ME WANT!
But it is congested as expected. People are more chilled, though, unlike in Makkah. One must pay attention to their feet, to watch if they have managed to enter the green carpet. Some wait until they find a good spot, but others just pray right where they are. If they are lucky, others will try to block the way for other people to pass infront of them while praying. So I, and a few others, tried to support people who are praying by blocking people from passing.
Then I thought that the congestion broke a bit, and there was a little space infront of me. Not exactly enough for me to do ruku, but inshaaAllah people around me will help make it easy for me. However, Allah decreed differently. The people’s help was not needed. After takbir, from the corner of my eyes I realized that the congestion magically turned into a very orderly shaf! And after I finished my salaam, it turned back to a mess again hahaha.
I prayed there multiple times, and this never happened again. I always had to struggle a bit, wait longer, try to be patient if someone blocks the path of my ruku or sujood, etc.
These are just a few little incidents that were interesting. Some lessons that I got were as follows:
– Remember that you are there for Allah. Do not use the help of Shaytan at any times either in losing patience, abusing others, etc
– Trust Allah in your du’as. There are no limits to du’as. Allah would either grant them or give you something better.
– There is no harm in helping others in goodness. When you give something in goodness to someone, you did not lose anything and infact you gained more than what you give.
Im no expert of umrah or anything. I just went once. But these are what I have concluded, and I hope it could be useful to those who read J