In this article, Dr. Asad, a British Muslim, reflects on his Hajj experience, sharing his thoughts on Umrah and Hajj, as he goes through the spiritual journey along with around 2 million Muslims from across the world.
For the previous episodes:
OK, so let me start off with something a little controversial. Did I enjoy my 2nd Umrah last night? No…not so much! But, honestly, it was my fault. I had already done a Tawaf during the day, and I stupidly hadn’t realized how exhausting an additional Umrah could be at night.
Pay attention: Umrah is not just the Tawaf, it’s the Sai’ too (Safa-Marwa run seven times) the run is 450m each way …that’s almost half a km which amounts to a total of a little over 3km with lengthy duas at each end!) Don’t underestimate this part in any way!
So what did I enjoy? Honestly, the one thing that’s been giving us more peace than anything has been the opportunity to pray in the Haram in front of the Ka`bah (regardless of the time of day).
It’s so peaceful.
The one thing that put it all in perspective was the realization that millions around the world are praying in this direction at the same time.
My greatest appreciation came when I looked down at Kashan’s prayer mat next to me to see an image of the Ka`bah imprinted on it, only then to realize that I was actually sitting there in front of the incredible structure. It has an enormous presence in the center of the mosque despite being only 12 x 11 x 13m (roughly)!!
Praying in the Al-Haram:
It’s really peaceful if you can find a nice spot an hour before Fajr. There’s a quiet audible ‘hum’ In the background. Sounds very much like Lords on day 1 of a test match.
Where should you sit? I like to think of it as the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve always enjoyed the boxes on the 2nd tier. Gives you a chance to look down and see a whole cirque du soleil performance. Here is no different. On the 2nd floor, you get an amazing view of the Ka`bah and an incredible view of the Tawaf around it. It’s a vision in itself.
One of the nicest things to do whilst at the Al-Haram is to listen to Telawat by Mishary before each prayer. I would download the mp3 and stick it on my iPod nano (the advantage of the nano being that it also has an FM receiver which means you can listen to the khutbah in English at Juma).
Here’s the download link:
Hope you enjoy it.
I promised to discuss a couple of other interesting things today:
Did you know that if you are menstruating for more than 10 days it is considered an ‘illness’ and not ‘part of your period’ which means you CAN enter the Al-Haram provided you’ve washed (according to one imam here)? An interesting point for the sisters. Double-check this if you’re unsure.
If, however, you are on your period then view the Ka`bah from just outside Gate 1 (The King Abdul Aziz gate…great view). We’ve also been informed that being on your period does not affect your ability to perform Hajj which is great for the sisters.
The Inevitable Sore Throat
I did mention how you’re definitely heading for a sore throat here in Makkah. It’s true. Why? Many reasons really. Exhaustion, constant change from a hot and cold environment (Air-conditioned hotel).
My recommendation is that you keep a good stash of Paracetamol with you, keep some throat lozenges with you, don’t keep your room too cold and see I you can get hold of some Difflam spray. It’s really good stuff.
Later including how getting your laundry done can turn into an episode of the crystal maze!