Finally, the awaited day has arrived. The first Umrah for both Nura and Maggie. Maggie has recently reverted to Islam, but it is not clear for her what the Sunnah really means and how she should follow it. Nura is a teenage Muslim girl. She was born as a Muslim, but there is still much for her to learn.
Nura has always heard the word Sunnah at her home from her Muslim parents and brothers and thinks that the Sunnah is to have a long beard, among other fiqhi details. An opportunity to connect with Prophet Muhammad through visiting Madinah and Makkah is exactly what they both need.
Getting Prepared for the Umrah and Meeting at the Airport
They had made sure to pack all the necessary stuff for Umrah. “It will be quite hot,” cautioned Maggie’s Muslim friend Amina. “Make sure you have sunscreen, and a summer hat.”
Nura’s Mum had packed her suitcase for her as she had been to Umrah previously and knew what was the most necessary stuff to take along.
“Is everyone here?” Asked the group leader.
“Let’s embark on this remarkable journey insha’Allah. Everyone was so excited as this was the first Umrah for most of them. They all got on the plane after farewells to their loved ones.
It was going to be a long journey, but a very rewarding one they had heard from those who had the opportunity to have already made that visit. They had read a lot of material and watched documentaries on Umrah to get prepared.
Arriving in Madinah
The plane had finally arrived in Madinah. Both ladies had mixed feelings of exhaustion and excitement. Nura and Maggie were yearning to have a real connection with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
First Stop: Prayers at Masjid Nabawi
After they had got a chance to rest and have dinner, the group leader told them it was time for the Prayer of Isha’ at Masjid Nabawi: Prophet Muhammad’s Mosque (peace be upon him).
The Adhan (Call to Prayer) went off. Maggie recalls how: “It went directly to my heart, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I had never heard such a beautiful, soothing call.”
As for Nura, as she sighted the Masjid she was overtaken with awe and her heart started thumping with a spirituality she had never felt before.
They prayed Isha next to each other, after prayers Maggie and Nura got acquainted. Then, their female group leader, Haifaa, gathered them and the rest of the sisters from their tour group and told them she would wait for them to meet up with her after Sunnah Prayers.
Second Stop: Visiting Al Rawdah al Sharifah
“Sisters, I am going to take you now to Al Rawdah al Sharifah: The burial place of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as his blessed companions, Abu Bakr and Umar. “SubhanAllah, what an honor,” thought Nura. Maggie was overwhelmed with excitement as well.
“It’s going to be overcrowded, so please stay close,” advised sister Haifaa. Nura and Maggie stayed close and experienced a beautiful sense of sisterhood. Here they were in one of the most spiritual places on earth, although from different nationalities and age groups, but brought together by one faith.
The guard sisters announced the sisters can now enter, and everyone flocked in. Haifaa had pointed out that once the carpet color changes to green you would know that you have entered Al Rawdah al Sharifah, as it is a piece of Paradise! Pray and make dua and it will be answered by the will of Allah.
She told them that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would hear their salutations upon him “O Allah’s Prophet, may the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you.” As he said:
Of the best of your days is Friday, so send blessings to me frequently on that day as your prayers are reviewed by me.
They asked him:
“How can you review our blessings after your body has decayed, O messenger of Allah?”
Allah has prohibited the earth to eat the bodies of prophets. (Abu Dawud)
Then, she advised them to move rightwards by an arm’s length to face Abu Bakr’s grave and greet him and then proceed by the same distance to stand before ‘Umar’s grave and greet him, too.
Both Maggie and Nura had read a hadith that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
One prayer in my mosque is better than one thousand prayers elsewhere, except al-Masjid al-Haraam, and one prayer in al-Masjid al-Haraam is better than one hundred thousand prayers elsewhere. (Ibn Majah)
Third Stop: Miscellaneous Islamic Sites
The next morning after Fajr Prayers and breakfast, they got on a tour bus to visit miscellaneous Islamic Sites. Nura and Maggie got a chance to chat with each other. They were both eager to share their feelings about how connected they had felt to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) after visiting Masjid Nabawi and Al Rawdah al Sharifah.
They visited the site of the battle of Uhud as well as masjid Quba, which was the first masjid built by the Prophet Muḥammad (peace be upon him).
Fourth and Last Stop: Masjid Al Haram (Ka’bah) in Makkah
Watching the Ka’bah for the first time was an out of this world experience. They both felt so close to Allah and Prophet Muḥammad (peace be upon him) while performing the rituals of Umrah.
Imagine, getting to pray at the Ka’bah, and touch the black stone sent from Paradise! Prophet Muhammad made Umrah and Hajj in this same spot. Seeing so many Muslims gathered in one place was awesome echoing the voice of the call to prayer.
They had so many beautiful memories to take back home. Being able to experience being in the places Prophet Muhammad had been to (like Masjid Nabawi, Masjid Al Haraam, Masjid Quba, etc.) and feeling his presence at the Rawdah was such an amazing experience that they now felt so much more connected to Prophet Muḥammad (peace be upon him). For sure there would be many more Umrahs to come. But, first Hajj.