It was 26th October when we departed for our first journey to KSA to perform UMRAH, a mini pilgrimage. Please note that this blog isn’t about how to perform pilgrimage nor it is about posting pictures of the holy sites tough I’ll post a few but not much. The reason behind it is that I just want the share the experience and the sense of tranquillity and peace which I felt after performing UMRAH. We had bought the UMRAH package from a local travel agency which included airline tickets, hotel bookings and transfers to and from airport as well as between cities. Even though I had performed Hajj with my family when I was only ten years old, it was the first time after twenty one years when I departed for such a spiritual journey. Believe me, these types of journeys have their own uniqueness.
We depart with just two unstitched pieces of clothes for men only called EHRAAM (Usually made up of towel like cloth as can soak the sweat easily) as we go like a dervish in front of our lord to ask for blessings. Even though we were late and almost missed the flight as there was a huge traffic jam on the way, we felt tensed, prayed that we reach on time but there was a strange belief that we won’t be late. Anyway, we reached and the time we got our boarding passes, the boarding began and we didn’t had to wait in the waiting lounge, we went straight to the plane. It was a three hour flight to Jeddah and as we reached there, we had perform ISHA prayer we before the immigration, we had to wait in the waiting lounge.
Arrival at Jeddah and Departure to Makkah
The time we got out, it was nearly twelve at midnight. Fortunately, my paternal uncle also lives and works in JEDDAH and he called us earlier that he’ll take us to the hotel in MAKKAH. I slept on the way as the journey was an hour from JEDDAH to MAKKAH. The time we reached the hotel, it was a little mishap as the contract of the hotel we booked had finished but we still got the room. Even though we were tired, we decided to proceed for UMRAH as it was late at night and we were in EHRAAM which includes restrictions. We departed for the UMRAH in AL HARM and as we got the site of the Holy Ka’ba, the feeling we had, the spiritual happiness and satisfaction we felt is unimaginable and can’t be explained.
Arrival at Makkah and Performing UMRAH
Anyhow we performed UMRAH and as we were about to complete our last round of SA’EE which means to walk briskly and run at a certain points between SAFFA and MARWA hills, it was FAJAR time so we prayed FAJAR and made the last round afterwards. After doing that, we prayed two extra NAWAFFIL after UMRAH completion and sat near the Ka’ba for some time. I must say, Ka’ba has its own attraction. No matter how long you look at it, it feels like “I don’t want to go anywhere! Just let me stay and look at it forever!” But ultimately we had to leave and get out hair cut which is mandatory after performing the UMRAH.
Makkah Day 2
We took a rest after coming back to our hotel room as it was Friday so we had to leave early for the JUMMAH prayer in the afternoon to get a good spot so that we can view Ka’ba. We woke up at 10:30 a.m. next morning, took a shower and went for the JUMMAH in regular clothes now as the restriction for the EHRAAM had ended after performing the UMRAH. We came back and had lunch and took another nap as due to the jetlag, we couldn’t have a proper sleep. In the evening, my uncle came to see us and we prayed MAGHRIB together. On the third day, we came to know that the construction of ZAMZAM well had begun and the area of MATA’AF neat Ka’ba was restricted. So it was becoming a little difficult for the pilgrims to perform UMRAH as less people could enter.
Anyhow, we needed a chance which we got on the third day to perform TAWAAFS and fortunately we performed three TAWAAFS which means 21 rounds around the Ka’ba. After the ZOHAR prayer, we went back to our hotel and had lunch. We had a four day stay in MAKKAH and we had to check out on the 4th day before 2 p.m. So we packed ourselves, took a few snaps of the hotel room before leaving and then waited for our SUV to take us to MADINAH.
Roof top of Kaba from the hotel room at Makkah Millennium Towers Hotel
Makkah Millennium Towers Hotel Reception Area
Arrival and stay at Madinah
The ride soon came and we departed for nearly five our journey on road to MADINAH where we had arranged a three day stay. We reached there in the evening and prayed MAGHRIB and ISHA at MASJID ANNABWI. Our hotel room was hardly 100m away from the HARM. During our stay there in MADINAH, we prayed NAWWAFIL at RIADHULJANNAH and the MEHRAB as well as got sights of the tombs of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him) and his beloved companions HAZRAT ABUBAKKAR SIDDIQ (R.A.) and HAZRAT UMAR (R.A.). On the last day of our stay in MADINAH, we even got to visit Jannat al-Baqi‘ after the ASAR prayer.
Created after FAJAR prayer (shades opening) and ISHA prayer (Hustle and Bustle outside the Mosque)
Our hotel room was hardly 100m away from the HARM. During our stay there in MADINAH, we prayed NAWWAFIL at RIADHULJANNAH and the MEHRAB as well as got sights of the tombs of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him) and his beloved companions HAZRAT ABUBAKKAR SIDDIQ (R.A.) and HAZRAT UMAR (R.A.). On the last day of our stay in MADINAH, we even got to visit Jannat al-Baqi‘ after the ASAR prayer.
RIADHULJANNAH and the Tombs of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and His Companions (RA)
More Pictures at MASJID ANNABWI
Leaving Madinah and sightseeing
The day we were about to check out and depart for JEDDAH to have a few day stay at our uncle’s place, we were also about to visit the sites in MADINAH which were usually Mosques.
Hotel room Eimaan Al Royale MADINAH
Coffee Shop at Eimaan Al Royale MADINAH
At first, we went to place near JABAL UHAD and prayed at the mosque there which was newly built.
Mosque near JABAL UHAD
Hill near JABAL UHAD
Down and up the hill near JABAL UHAD
Then we went to JAMIA KHANDUQ, the place where the GAZWA E KHANDUQ i.e. the battle of KHANDUQ was fought. Along with the JAMIA Mosque newly built, there are also seven other mosques named after the SAHABAS which who fought the war. The place where these mosques are built were basically the base camps of these SAHABAS and hence the mosques are named after them.Then we went for MASJID AL QIBLATAIN and prayed ZOHAR there. The reason it is called QIBLATAIN because it also included the direction of prayer to BAITAUL MAQDAS which was the previous direction of our prayer which after revelation in the Holy Quran was shifted towards the Ka’ba. After praying there, our next stop was Masjid al Quba. After visiting Masjid al Quba, we departed for Jeddah and reached there in the evening.
Mosques in Madinah
On the second day of our stay, we went further site seeing with the help of our uncle. First we went to JABAL AL RAHMAH, then after passing by the grounds of Arafat, Muzdalfah and Masjid ANNIMRAH, we went for site seeing on the cave of Hira or GHAR E HIRA which the first verses of the Holy Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him). It takes a huge effort reaching to the top especially after climbing a steep hill towards the staircase leading to the cave.
Cave of Hira
Jabal Al RAHMAH
Going Back to Pakistan
After such a wonderful spiritual journey, we finally had our flight back to Karachi in the afternoon. So soon after having breakfast, we left for the airport. In the end, I must say it was a wonderful experience of spiritual cleansing. I guess at least once a year, if possible, one must go there to find internal peace.