Muslim pilgrimage ~ Umrah in Mecca.

salam Alaikum dear brothers and sisters in Deen and hello friends,

We returned from our lovely Umrah ( muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia) trip just a couple of days back and I’m almost just, rested enough, unpacked enough and awoken enough to pen about my fantastic trip to Mecca.

We stayed a couple of Days in Mecca and then hired a taxi to drive us to Medina, where we stayed for a couple of days, again.

We have been performing an umrah, every year for the past 4-5 years and its always even more exceptional than the year before. The feeling that one experiences, just standing infront of the Haram (kaaba) is like nothing comparable. You dont SEE God but like someone once said,  “You are guests of Allah swt and you already feel it.” How beautifully said.

Preparations :- If any of you are interested in performing Umrah, I highly recommend reading this particular book “The Ultimate Guide to Umrah” by Abu Muneer Ismail Davids. An absolute must read for a layman or a seasoned traveller to Mecca. http://store.dar-us-salam.com/product/201.html

Airline :- We travelled by one of the local budget airlines, FlyDubai and it was indeed a good experience. Paying alittle extra for you baggage while booking is definetly a good idea.
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Jeddah Airport :- Although we had braced ourselves for the worst, going by all our previous experiences, at Jeddah airport ( in terms of time at the immigration, baggage etc ) ,we were pleasently surprised and relieved that the immigration done in a matter of 10-15 minutes.

Still, it is such a disappointment, straight after the baggage retrieval area, they tend to take the passports and hassel us, with waiting for the hotel representative or hotel taxi to give us the ok for leaving. It only adds to the confusion and inconvienence that one is already in Ahraam, travelling with a large family and would like to rush to the room of the hotel to rest himself and his baggage !!  The main reason they practise this is so that people dont go absconding once they enter the country. I understand that, however alittle bit of understanding/consideration for a “family” ~ would go a long way.

One of the best things I love about Dubai police and most Dubai government officials is how considerate and respectful they are. They are not arrogant and without bending the “RULES” they will oblige with sensibility if you are in a difficult situation.  Having visited various countries in the Gulf, I can easily say that Dubai police, surpasses all the others in efficiency and attitude.

Le Meridien Mecca :- Luckily for us, we were greeted by an english speaking receptionist, who could clearly see our annoyance at being hasseled with the taxi issue that we had just experienced. I am not even going to start with the taxi issue becoz it reaaaaaaaaally makes my blood boil. Lets just say, it was “THE” only nasty experience of this entire trip !!(thankfully at that )
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Saquib, the receptionist was kind enough to upgrade us to a suite which was nothing short of a delight ! We had two suites ofcourse. The rooms were clean, well equipped with all the necessary ammenities, fridge, kettle, hot water, good firm beds. And best of all, we were just two rooms away from the boys.

To Haram (Kaaba) :- The hotel is nearly at a 25 minutes walking distance  from Haram but the hotel provides a complimentary shuttle service to the Haram. Although we were told that there would be a service every 10 minutes, I dont ever recall having to wait for more than 2 minutes at either end for the bus. Thats how efficient they are. However, I would recommend that one opt for taxi’s after the Friday “juma salaat” ~ since every one wants to rush to the hotel around the same time on Friday afternoon after prayer, we had to let go of 3 shuttles before, we could find space in the 4th one.
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We spent most of the time running to and fro Haram, trying to join every salaat and ofcourse spending most of the time in the haram making tilawat.

We performed Umrah after Isha salaat. We were rested and fresh by then. Alot of people feel, just becoz they are wearing the Ahraam, they have to perform the Umrah as soon as they reach Mecca, which is not necessary. However, one has to be careful in what one says/behaves, not breaking/letting down of the hair (for ladies) etc, which can become a test at times hence people try to perform the umrah asap.

Haram (Kaaba) was absolutely packed with people. These pictures are that of after fajr salaat. Imagine how many thousands of people are there that early in the morning !!! Not only for the salaat but even in the Kaaba for tawaaf and tilawat. SubhanAllah.

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I dont even think, I can begin to write anything about the feeling one experiences being in the presence of the Kaaba. For any non-muslims, who might be reading this post, please know, that muslims DO NOT  “WORSHIP” the kaaba (black building in Mecca).  If you would like to know/learn more on this particular subject, please write to me and I will send you the best links to clarify your misconceptions.

I have always been blessed with tiny opportunities to help/ease others in small ways at Haram and I love that such situations present themselves to me. I feel so so blessed. I would always advise my brothers and sisters, who are/or want to visit Mecca, to embrace these opportunities which will just come as a surprise, without your expectations. But please remember, they are just “TESTS”.  I will be mentioning one such “TEST” in my future post.

Ofcourse there are several 5 star properties right infront of the Haram masjid gate where several food courts and shopping malls are also located.
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One restaurant that I really dig in Mecca is Taj restaurant. I love their bukhari rice (typically saudi pulao rice) with chicken tikka.  Their rates are reasonable and food tastes good and not too spicey or oily. You can also opt for a similar meal in the nearby mall food court at twice the price. (which is a case in any country).
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Most people often tend to see the glass as half empty, I on the other hand, have alot of gratitude for the Saudi Haram committee or Saudi Government. It is not a small task to keep such a huge place clean and tidy where people of all races and nationalities and habits visit. Some dont even have proper hygiene habits yet the army of workers in organe suits do an awesome job maintaining cleanliness in the haram, the masjid and even the toilet areas.

Providing Zam Zam water cooler machines in close proximity and also in thousands and thousands of mobile water coolers !!
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The escalator to and fro the basement ladies toilets is such a relief.

This year, we also experienced the water and air blower fans that provide much needed relief from the relentless sun.
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Also again, we noticed this year, they have provided these plastic roller stands for people to pull thru and keep thier shoes in. Lest they dont “loose” them and it can be carried in the masjid as well.
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Small things like these can mean alot in making a pilgrims trip stressfree.

I hope, you found this post informative.
My next post will be about our trip to Medina Munnawwara inshallah.

Second Umrah 2011

I know, I havent been around for so long. Alot of events have happened, since March 2011. One of which was samie’s surgery and the other was our Umrah. I think, I’ll dedicate both of these different posts with pictures. However in the middle of all this, one thing that was sorely neglected, was the boys’ studies. Just havent been able to give them the kind of attention, I used to give them.

Last year, after sam’s operation, we wanted to perform Umrah.  I believe, Umrah/Haj is the best way to reinforce our deen and emaan, provided finances are available. Samie has been in relatively good health, except for the swelling in his right lower abdomin, which has been giving him cramps recently.  We decided to perform the Umrah while the boys had their spring holidays of 10 days. So on 30th March, we visited Jeddah and the additional joy, was that Sam’s sister, sheema was joining us with her family too for a couple of days. The trip per se, was tiring but the joy and calm and satisfaction is truly beyond words.

On the first day we arrived, we rested and since we were in Ahraam, performed our Umrah in the evening after Isha. The crowd was huge. BaituAllah was blessed with thousands upon thousands of pilgrims as always.  I dont remember a moment in our tawaaf’s around the Kaaba, when I was not crying like a baby in repentence, in gratitude, in sheer joy, feeling like, what have I done to deserve this huge gift from Allah swt !! Surely He knows best. Inspite of all the overwhelming feelings, I remembered to pray for every single person I had known !! All of my Ummah, all of my newly reverted sisters and brothers and all those specially chosen dae’s by Allah. I was so overjoyed that I remembered to make duas for  absolutely everyone from family, relative, neighbours, friends, collegues and even for the taxi driver who had dropped us !!! 

My main worry was Sam. I had been such a pain for the kids thru out the air travel, making sure the boys did not let sam carry any of the luggage but thankfully Sam complained of no pains thru out the Tawaaf and sahi. I did my sahi with Sheema.  The tiny book that I carried with the english translation and proper pronounciation made it easy to connect and “FEEL” what I was begging of Allah for.

This time, all the boys including Sam, decided to go bald naturally becoz  it is Afzal.

For those of you’ll who plan to visit or wish to know more about what to expect in a similar travel to Mecca, apart from sheer exhilaration. I must advise you to really wear comfortable slippers or sandals, carry a small bag to keep your slippers in everytime you visit the haram and try to leave atleast 20 minutes earlier than the salat time so as to find a place as forward as possible. In every corner of Haram, you will find abundance of drinking water “the blessed zam zam” so dont worry about water. Please remember to wear clean ~ comfortable clothes as opposed to silkish or synthetic fabrics. Ofcourse we wish to be presentable in Baituallah but one must also consider the heat especially since we women wear an abaya. 

I wish to share my beautiful experience in the most supremely majestic of all places in the world with you. Please do share if you have had any experiences as well.

Here are just some of the pictures of that memoriable trip :

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Hajj 2010

I was sent the link to this particular site which has posted some fantastic pictures of Hajj and Hajji’s of this year 2010. For anyone remotely interested in Haj, please check out all their pictures on the link below. It is super amazing and breathtaking..

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/11/hajj_2010.html?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed2_HP

Picture borrowed from The big picture ~ Boston.com

I’m Back.

Hello friends, I’m back.

There are mainly two reasons why we dont update our daily dairies or blog :

  1. Just too lazy to feed it
  2. far too many things happening to keep track of.

Last couple of months have been so hectic. So many great and not so good things happened.

Before I go into all that, I’d like to share with you my new motto : “Life Is Good”

I think inspite of the scores and scores of incidents that happen in our daily lives, one thing we should never forget is to thank the Almighty for the blessings coz Life is Good. Look around you, perhaps look at the news and you’ll find plenty of reasons to be happy with what we have.

No the summer has not been a soul searching period for me, on the contrary, it was a period when I hoped to catch some time off to soul search.

The summer camp was good. I had not expected a great response coz most of the families were out, but considering I got as many children as I wanted, I am happy. We held the class two days a week and the program ended  in a month.

I also held a card making and alter art class for ladies every monday which was fruitful too. Although this was supposed to be for ladies, I didnt mind young- college- going- girls joining too.

As end of August approached, the delimma began, school Admissions !!

We need to have Eman in a special school which can cater to his specific needs.

Bilal and Sawaab are reluctant to go back to DASS for obvious reasons. Inspite of all the sheer nonsense going around Dubai that schools will be flying empty come september, I have still not managed to find a school that has any spaces available !! The good news though is that DASS has taken drastic steps to making very prominent and remarkable improvements. All the new teachers have been taken from the US, only three of the previous teachers remain, they now have a councellor and also a vice principal. Inspite of all this, some of the most notorious student faces are still lingering in there ! 

Inspite of a long and nerve recking wait, we finally got our umrah visa for saudi arabia. we left on 27th Aug and returned on 5th September. 6 days in Mecca and 3 in medina. We had prepared ourselves for some inconveniences but pleasently everything went so smooth. Alhamduallah, It was the most ELATING experience we had, although we were fasting, zam zam on the heads and sheila, made it easy. It is by far not easy to perform umrah in the month of Ramadan, that too fasting, but believe me, it is every bit worth it. I will be making a photobucket album very shortly for all the muslim brothers and sisters to view and perhaps get some information and advice too.

We are back now and still in a state of joy and sadness. Joy because being in the Haram, so close to Baitulallah is probably the best experience we have ever had and sad, because I regret why we did’nt do it earlier.  Inshallah we hope to go back every year in Ramadan.

Dear friends, here I have only placed very very few photos just to give you a glimpse of our journey, please do visit again, coz I will be placing the link of my photobucket album with detailed descriptions.

Our pilgrimage

Our pilgrimage

drenched in zam zam

drenched in zam zam

After the second umrah.

After the second umrah.

lost in pensive thoughts and dua.

lost in pensive thoughts and dua.

the side where hill marva is.

the side where hill marva is.