First look at the Kabah, Umrah… (part 1)

The Kabah in Makkah as salam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaah,

Everything looks so different here, you really do feel like you’re in another country. I wanted to make Umrah during Ramadhaan, and the brothers all advised me to go late at night because the end of Ramadhaan is almost as busy as Hajj. I really wanted to bring my family but I know it would have been too much for my daughter and wife, what I would soon find out is that it would be too much for me as well.

At my friend’s house I bathed, trimmed my nails and did all the preparations for Umrah, when putting on the lower garment it is important to spread your legs a bit while you’re rolling the garment down under your stomache, this allows for walking room. Also, in Jeddah, it is not strange to find people dressed in their Ihraams walking around, shopping, driving, eating in a restaurant, etc. We went to purchase some really cheap sandals because unfortunately, if you have a nice pair they will undoubtedly get stolen! I told the brothers, “No way! Your sandals will get stolen?” They assured me it often happens.

In the car, we had 4 brothers, including myself, all of us making du’aa. It was nice time and we made sure to go very early in the morning, about 2:30am so that it wouldn’t be too busy. Along the way I was observing the huge shadows of the smaller mountains that ran parallel to both sides of the highway, as we were driving and making our du’aa we drove under a huge Qur’aan stand made out of stone. I tried to get a picture but it was dark and didn’t come our right. You know? those Qur’aan stands in the Masaajid made out of wood usually, that keep the Qur’aan open and off of the floor when you’re reading it. Imagine one of those made out of stone big enough to drive under! I had to look back at it through the rear window of the car to make sure of what I was actually seeing.

As we were driving into Makkah you could see the numerous adds, restaurants, and lots and lots of construction. Along the road, you will also see a sign every so often that reminded you to make dhikr; saying things to remember Allaah such as: SubhanAllaah, Allaahu Akbar, La Illaaha illa Allaah, etc.

I felt a knot in my stomache as we approached seeing distance of Masjid-al-Haram; cars and people were everywhere. I asked where the Haram was and one of the brothers mentioned that it will be coming up on my right but we’ll only get a glimpse of it before we go into a tunnel. On my right I could see two of the minarets of the Haram, it’s kinda like you see it in the pictures except there’s everything else arround it, the palace, hotels, tall buildings, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and whoosh! it was gone and we were going under a tunnel.

Just to let everyone know, in case you never heard, you can’t just drive up beside the House of Allaah and park your car! Ha! there is no spot reserved for you. Why people far more dedicated than you and I came 2 weeks before, some months before and left their cars there! Suffice to say, you have to drive for a bit and then you will have to walk for a while, and even though it is about 2:00 in the a.m. it’s still 33 degrees outside!

We parked, put on our 1 riyaal sandals and began our hike. Along the street was a huge outdoor market with vendors selling everything on both sides of the road, all of them calling out to you what they were selling and saying, “Ten riyaals ya Haajee! Ten riyaals!” Everyone calling everyone “Haajee” while most of us were saying, “I’m your brother (Annaa ahkook)!” The one brother with us from Saudi Arabia who had performed Hajj and Umrah numerous times told us not to bother explaining we haven’t performed Hajj yet, because it will not stop them from calling us ‘Haajees’, I felt like I had walked for two miles with the street getting more and more congested until we were standing near skyscraper hotels and the brothers mentioned to me that the huge building on my right is the King’s palace. I pointed at it and said, “That building there?” The brother nodded and said, “Don’t point at it though, unless you’re ready to be questioned by the police as to why we’re pointing at the palace, not that it would be a lot of trouble because you’re Canadian on you’re first visit to Makkah, but it would delay us a bit.” I understood and just as we came arround the side of the palace, on the right opened the entrance way to one of the gates of Masjidul-Haram.

It was not at all like the photos, in the west, we see all the pictures, and the internet and satellite broadcasts and it all seems like a planet far, far, away. This was larger than life and all of a sudden, I had to catch my breath! I stopped for a second, and brothers who performed Hajj and Umrah who accompanied me stopped to see if I was crying. “Not yet, I told them.” Strangely, I didn’t feel like crying, I don’t think it registered in my brain yet where I was, “You’ll probably get waterworks when I see the Kabah.” I don’t think my freinds expected that as I heard one of them say that he liked to pray beside me in the Masjid in Jeddah since my crying in prayer often caused him to cry. I think I was still in shock, plus it was about that time I noticed a severe burning sensation between my inner- thighs from all the walking… ouch! We all went to the bathroom and stopped at the pharmacy so I could get some medicated powder!

As a side-note for you big people – like me – take it from experience, it is NOT a good idea to get a medicated powder if you’re already sweating and burning. The medicated powder ends up feeling like a minty sensation has been placed on your inner-thighs and when coupled by the burning from the friction plus the sweat, end up increasing the irritation! My advice if you’re already burning is to get some cortasone cream from the pharmacy. I recommend Panderm because it is a cheap and effective topical steroid that stops the immune system from reacting to the friction, and reduces the rash and swelling, plus it seems to hold up well under the heat. So people, powder plus panderm! As you’ll see, it could be the difference between a pain-free Hajj or Umrah or having to slaughter an animal because you couldn’t complete the walking due to the pain!

We left the pharmacy, and I bought medicated (stupid me) powder without any panderm (I didn’t know what is was called in Arabic and the pharmacist didn’t speak much English). The brothers all used the bathroom and we were on our way. We removed our sandals and went walking through the Haram for some time. We were getting close as the crowd began to thicken and I caught a glimpse of an opening in the wall and could see people swirling, but could not yet see the Kabah. One more pillar and there it was! Then it hit me, “I’m here! Oh my God it’s the Kabah! It’s beautiful!” The people circumambulating arround it in such a multitude that the swirling motion almost resembled a drain. I remember asking my friend in Canada who gave me Da’wah – a man I have rarely seen cry – if he cried the first time he saw the Kabah, he smiled at me and said, “Everyone cries the first time they see the Kabah.” I didn’t just cry, I cried hard, I mean I bawled! I don’t think I cried that hard since I had lost a daughter so many years before. The brothers near me stopped to watch me (You have to expect this and be patient. Remember that sometimes your emotional response has an effect on the Eemaan and emotional response of others. Don’t deny them of that if it increases their Eemaan!) I noticed them observing me but didn’t care as I had made it to Allaah’s House and remembered a lot of the wrong things I had done in my life, remembered Allaah’s favor upon me in choosing to guide me, and beg Allaah to forgive me as I had done so much wrong since accepting Islaam. I needed my sins forgiven and had just made Hijrah! I used the upper part of my Ihraam to wipe back the tears and lowered my crying to a slow, steady, yet constant sobbing as I got out my du’aa book… (end of part 1)

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Published in: on June 19, 2007 at 11:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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