Umrah: (Part 1) – The Preparation
We finally got invited to His house! We are about to embark on one of the most important journeys of our life, InshaAllah. To be honest, it still feels surreal and I’m overwhelmed with excitement and nervousness.
“And accomplish the Hajj and the Umrah for the sake of Allah.” (Al Quran 2:196)
Our planning for Umrah began late last year, when Masood and I seriously considered to make this journey with our family. Our purpose is to worship, reflect, repent for our sins, and prepare for Hajj, InshaAllah, by familiarizing ourselves with the place and rituals.
It was only a few days ago, when Masood showed us our passports with the Saudi Arabia visa, that it all started to sink in. I stared at the visa for the longest time: Allah has finally blessed us with the opportunity to visit the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Here in my hands, in the form of this visa, I am holding an invitation from Him to visit baytullah, or Allah’s house. For without His will, this would never have been possible.
But before we got our visas, there were certain formalities. First, we went to a local hospital and got the mandatory vaccine for meningitis – free of charge. All they asked for was our passport copy with the U.A.E. resident permit sticker. They handed us a stamped yellow card, as proof.
Next, we approached a registered travel agent to arrange for our visas. He took our passports, the yellow card, passport-sized photographs, marriage contract, No Objection Certificates (NOC) from our visa sponsors (Dubai Internet City people), and visa charges (AED 300/person). We had also asked them to arrange for our hotel reservations. Masood went to collect our visas after a week.
We are flying with Nas Air, Saudi’s first budget airline. Initially, we contemplated going to Saudi Arabia by bus. There are several huge, comfortable buses travelling regulary from Dubai to Jeddah, and is obviously much more cheaper than flying. But the 36-hour journey might leave us exhausted, too tired to devote our mental and physical selves entirely to worship and prayers.
I also bought myself a new abaya. But these were the physical preparations.
Since early March, I have been spending hours reading about Umrah and the history behind Hajj and Umrah. I Googled up blogs and read through people’s experiences. I also watched countless videos on Youtube relating to the Umrah and Hajj. With each post or article that I read and with each video that I watch, my excitement grows. And so does my apprehension.
How will I feel when I see the Ka’aba for the first time? Will I be able to remember and perform the rituals accurately? Will I be able to focus completely on my prayers? I have so much to ask from Him, will I recall each and every thing? Will I be able to make the most out of this short trip? Will Allah accept my Umrah and forgive my sins?
We are leaving this Thursday and shall return by Monday evening (Sharjah – Madinah – Makkah – Jeddah – Sharjah) InshaAllah.
I’ll be writing posts about our trip, InshaAllah, and will try taking loads of pictures to share with you all.