To me, Madinah is the most beloved city in the world. As I walk through its streets with big hotels and little shops, I enjoy the atmosphere and surroundings. Oh my lovely Madinah, you have been so kind to me, again.
I am in Hajj and like so many others, that doesn’t just mean I’m going to Makkah but Madinah as well.
It’s possible to visit Madinah before or after the days of Hajj. For the second time, I’ve chosen to go to Madinah first. This way, I will have to pass by the miqat of Dhul Hulaifah to enter into the state of ihram instead of flying over one.
Walking through Madinah is in a way a visit to the history of Islam. We went to the hill where the battle of Uhud was fought, standing on the rocks where the archers stood who minutes later changed the outcome of that struggle.
We prayed two rak’ah (prayer units) in Masjid Al-Qiblatain, the mosque where the physical direction of the prayer was changed from Jerusalem to the Ka’bah in Makkah. We prayed another two rak’ah at Masjid Quba, the very first mosque to be founded by the Prophet – peace be upon him – before he arrived in Madinah. And now I am walking to the big Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi – the Prophets’ Mosque – for the morning prayers.
As I walk in the footsteps of the Prophet – peace be upon him – with so many other pilgrims surrounding me, I realize that this might even be the best investment in my library I have ever done!
Most people invest in their library by buying more books. But that is just paper. As I walk here, all the stories I have read from the biography of the Prophet and his companions come to life. And when I go back home and read the same old books, I will read something very different as all the things I have seen become a part of my awareness of Islam and its rich history.
So if you want to invest in your library, if you want to memorize and better understand the Seerah, if you want your knowledge to grow and therefore your imaan (faith) make Hajj or at least Umrah! It will make you benefit more from each book on Islam insha Allah.
Arriving in Makkah
After our visit to Madinah, the city I love so much, it is time to make way for Makkah.
For some of the members of our group this is their first time to make Hajj. All their lives they turned towards the direction of the Kabah for their five daily prayers, now they are about to see it for the very first time. The sound of the Talbiyyah fills the bus as our driver weaves through traffic.
For those who have come to Makkah this year to seek the pleasure of their eyes, they will have a difficult hajj. With the huge expansion project going on, a lot of the mosque is not as beautiful as it soon will be. Easy to complain, but the fact that they can keep the mosque open for pilgrims during this enormous project is something I deeply respect.
And since we are searching for the pleasure of Allah, not ourselves or others, there is nothing to hold us back.
Yes, making tawaf is impressive, but what strikes me most is the sa’i. This is circuit you walk seven times between two small hills called Safa and Marwa. A part of the mosque and the sa’i circuit are built on top of these two hills.
In most of our deeds we follow in the footsteps of the Prophet, peace be upon him, but not for the sa’i. Here, you follow in the footsteps of Hajar, like the Prophet peace be upon him used to do.
Hajar and her son Isma’il were abandonment by Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, after receiving a divine command to do so. When Hajar heard of this commend she immediately decided to follow it and accept her new destiny. But now Ibrahim peace be upon him was gone, she was in need of drinking water for her baby-boy. She ran from hill to hill, hoping to find either a source of water or other travelers. By the 7th time, a well sprung underneath her baby’s feet.
Hajar had a lot of trust in Allah. Not only is her name remembered and respected to this very day, but also millions of pilgrims come each year to walk in her footsteps. Her actions are reflected in one of the largest pilgrimages the world has even seen!
When I walk the sa’i, the story of Hajar is at the top of my mind. Knowing she walked here, by a divine command and trusting in Allah makes the entire ritual much more emotional.
May Allah (SWT) forgive me my sins and yours.