A part of the huge Masjid al Haram

Umrah: (Part 7) – Masjid al Haram

A part of the huge Masjid al Haram

“The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings. In it are clear signs: the station of Ibrahim. Anyone who enters it shall be granted safe passage. The people owe it to God that they shall observe Hajj to this shrine, when they can afford it. As for those who disbelieve, God does not need anyone.” [al Qur’an 3: 96-97]

3:30 am.  I entered Masjid al Haram for the first time, from Bab al Fath.  I consciously took the first step in with my right foot, while reciting the du’a.  I didn’t want to look up and see the Ka’aba from the distance, but few steps later I couldn’t resist the urge as I heard Masood say SubhanAllah, and I looked up.

There it stood – right in the middle of Masjid al Haram, at the center of the Earth, and in front of me – the Ka’aba.  I took a deep breath and felt the calmness and serenity seep into the very recesses of my soul.  My heart started to beat faster, and for a few seconds, I momentarily forgot all those around me, even myself.  I am in Allah’s house!

This is where I had been facing all my life while to offer prayers.

Tears veiled my view of the Ka’aba, as I followed Masood and walked closer towards it.  “Is this for real?” I asked myself.  “Has Allah really deemed me worthy to be standing here in His house?”  I felt so small.   There is a distinct green light opposite to the Black Stone, where the tawaaf is to be started.  We stood at the opposite side, so we walked all the way towards it.  Masood bared his right shoulder, held my hand and we started our tawaaf, with our left shoulders towards the Ka’aba and walking anti-clockwise.

There wasn’t much crowd.  This meant that we were very close to Hajar al Aswad or the Black Stone and had touched the Station of Ibraheem.  This also meant we weren’t pushed around and were able to concentrate on the tawaaf itself.  The weather was very pleasant and the coolness of the marble floor made it even better.  On the first round, I sought forgiveness for all the sins I had committed.  On the second round, I prayed for my family, including those who have already left this dunya.  On the third round, I prayed for all my friends and the people I know.  On the fourth round, I prayed for the Muslim ummah.  On the fifth and sixth rounds, I recited all the surahs and dhik’r I knew by heart.  On the last round, I prayed for myself.

After completing the tawaaf, we walked towards the Zam Zam taps and drank the cool water.  Then we offered 2 raka’at nafl.  By the time we finished the prayer, the adhaan for Fajr echoed throughout the masjid.  We found our way and walked towards Safa.  We had enough time to rent a wheelchair for Mom, her feet swollen and aching.  We didn’t know that there were free wheelchairs available and moreover, we didn’t know that passport is required to borrow one.  Since we didn’t bring our passports, we had to pay for the wheelchair.

Faj’r prayer was one of the best prayers I had ever had the opportunity to pray.  It was my first Fardh prayer in Masjid al Haram, and though I don’t recall who lead the prayers, I was deeply moved by the verses he recited.  The Imam took his time, reading out each verse with immense clarity.  I wanted him to go on and on.  I didn’t want this prayer to end.  There I was, offering my salah with thousands of others, with the Ka’aba right in front of me!

It got crowded just after Fajr prayers.
It got crowded just after Fajr prayers.

Immediately after the prayer, we proceeded towards Safa to start Sa’ee.  We had to walk from Safa towards Marwa and vice versa, completing seven laps.  I found this even tougher than the tawaaf.  But I shrugged off that thought, feeling all guilty, when I tried to visualize Haajar and her little baby, the prophet Ismael, alaihis salaam, in this same place thousands of years ago.  I was with my family, she had been alone with her infant.  I was walking on a smooth marble floor, she walked on the rocky ground of the desert hills.  I have been provided with an air-conditioned environment, she had to endure the hostile weather of Makkah.  I was able to stop twice and drink Zam Zam conveniently from the coolers, she must’ve been dizzy with thirst, her parched lips praying for Allah to help her and her infant survive.  How ungrateful I am.  How ungrateful have I always been.

Allah loved this act of hers so much that He ordained it compulsory among all the Muslims performing Umrah and Haj.

‘Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of Allah.” Al Qur’an 2:158

Ending up in Marwa, us ladies proceeded to the hotel where we cut about an inch from our hair, while the men went to the barber’s.  We had now completed our Umrah and prayed that Allah accept our deeds and forgive our sins.

Paid lockers outside the masjid - though I didn't see anyone use them.
Paid lockers outside the masjid – though I didn’t see anyone use them.

Masjid al Haram is the only mosque in the world, in my opinion, where men and women mingle all the time, hence the need for women to be with their mahram.  There are no separate ladies’ sections within the mosque – only bookshelves, about 4 feet high, serve as boundaries.  So Masood was always  close by, even during prayers.

Tips:

  • The ideal time to perform tawaaf is before the Fajr prayers.
  • Place your footwear in a bag and bring it inside the masjid with you, there are a lot of shoe racks within the masjid.  The thing is, there are a lot of gates leading out of the masjid, which means you won’t necessarily go out of the same gate you had used to enter the masjid.  This is very important during sa’ee – where you end up in marwa, momentarily forgetting where you left your slippers/shoes.
  • You can purchase an empty container and fill it up with Zam Zam yourself.  We bought ours for SR 15 / per gallon.  The brother selling it was handicapped, so we thought buying from him would help him.  The cab driver later scolded us for being too lazy to fill the water by ourselves.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and always say ‘Alhumdulillah‘ for everything, be it good or bad.  Whenever you get impatient with people or situations, make dhikr and seek forgiveness.
  • Try to offer all your fardh prayers in Masjid al Haram, for the reward of eac prayer is 100,000 times.
  • Make sure you offer the Janazah salah, which always follows the fardh salah.
  • There are free wheelchairs available, but you’ll need to deposit your passport with them when you borrow one.
  • Spend time in the masjid reading the Qur’an, for the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wassalam, said:

“A person who recites the Qur’an and reads it fluently will be in the company of obedient and noble angels, and a person who reads the Qur’an haltingly and with difficulty will have double recompense.” Bukhari:4937

  • Do NOT pass in front of a person offering salah, although a lot of our brothers and sisters think that it is okay to do so.  Narrated Abu Juhaim that the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wassalam, said:

“If the person who passes in front of another person in Salah knew the magnitude of his sin, he would prefer to wait for 40 (days, months or years) rather than to pass in front of him.  Abu An Nadr said, ‘I donot remember exactly whether he said 40 days, months or years’.” Bukhari:510

Our last prayer at the Masjid al Haram was that of Fajr, where we remain seated until 10 am reciting the Qur’an.  We somehow ended up on the second floor with a very good view of the Ka’aba.  Those few hours were the most peaceful and calm time of my time.  I didn’t want to leave this place nor wanted this time to pass.

We then went downstairs to make our farewell tawaaf.  Ihram isn’t necessary for this, nor is the need to recite the niyah out loud.  There is no need to do raml, or brisk walking.  During the last tawaaf around the Ka’aba, I started crying.  “Please don’t send me back out there!”  I pleaded to Allah silently.  I felt so shielded, so protected within the walls of His house that the thought of leaving this place frightened me.  But most importantly, I feared losing this feeling of extreme closeness to Him and of getting lost in the world outside.

But life is a test, I tried to explain to myself.  And Him sending me back out there is a test.

Reluctantly, with tears in my eyes and a very heavy heart, I walked out of Allah’s House.  “Please invite us again soon,”  I prayed sincerely, “And please keep this memory of love and fear of You fresh in our hearts always.”

29 comments

  1. I was in tears reading your account, mashaAllah. Now i’m longing to go there again.
    May Allah accept all your ibaadah.

    Ameen to your dua!

  2. Beautiful post. What date were you there? You can find all recordings of the salaat online, so you can re-hear those beautiful verses in Fajr salat!

    Thanks, Abid! Really?! SubhanAllah, that’s amazing. I’m going to check online now.

  3. assalaamu alaykum
    alhumdililliah … a beautiful post
    made me cry and made me yearn to experience for myself
    thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.

    Walaikum Assalam. May Allah bless you with the opportunity to visit His home soon. It’s a truly rewarding experience.

  4. I also got teary-eyed reading the Umrah posts. Mashallah it sounds like it was amazing! I will be doing Umrah in a few days inshallah and I took note of all your tips. Thanks for the great and detailed posts and pics!

    MashaAllah, may Allah keep you safe and accept your deeds.

  5. Asalaamualaykum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuhu ya Ukhti 🙂

    Welcome back, when did you get back. Well it’s not so much as a “welcome back”, I totally get how you are felling… your first week or two you would be feeling so down and everything is so alien. Reading your posts, brought back so many memories… sis how blessed you are, that you were able to go there – may Allah accept from you,and may Allah call us back for Hajj ASAP!

    When you wrote “I walked out of Allah’s House. “Please invite us again soon,”” – I did the same thing, during my farewell tawaf, tears after tears, and in the deepest of your hearts you ask Allah to please call you back..and how much you fear going back to the “real world”.

    *sigh*, may Allah keep us steadfast. Take care my sister,and stay in touch.

    Your sister, Qamar

    Walaikum assalam warahmatullahi wabarakaatuhu, dearest sister! Ameen to your dua. Every time I see pictures of the Ka’aba, I get all teary and I start missing the place.

  6. Masha’Allah very well written. I am going to perform Umrah tonight Insha’Allah.

    May Allah accept your deeds.

  7. Salam,

    Can u please tell me if it is a must to perform Umrah the first time we land in jeddah and straight from we need to go to mecca to perform our first omrah in our Ihram.I will be going inshallah beginning of next month and i am getting all sorts of different information . Please do let me know and do make dua for my husband and family who will be accomapanying me there Inshallah.

    Walaikum Assalam, sister Tahmina. The city of Jeddah falls within the boundaries of miqat, hence majority of people either assume ihram from the airport (place of departure) or in the aircraft itself (Saudi airlines, Emirates airlines and Pakistan airlines announce the arrival of miqat during the flight).

    However, there is another fatwa that says people who go for umrah by plane do not have to enter ihram except when they get off the plane to continue the journey on land.

    However, to be on the safe side, I do recommend that you assume ihram BEFORE arriving at Jeddah. It will be more convenient to do so in your place of departure, since aircrafts have very small restrooms. You are going for umrah, to the most sacred place on earth, so why take chances on the ihram?

    May Allah keep you and your family safe and healthy. May He make your umrah a rewarding experience. And may He accept all your deeds.

    Please pray for me and my family while you’re there.

  8. assalamu alaikum.
    you made me cry. ='( as i was going through it, its as if i was with you performing the religious act. such an inspiring, beautiful reading. i was deeply move.

    im surfing the net about topics on Umrah/Hajj because i am planning to have Umrah this year, inshallah. my knowledge about it is minimal that i have to search for info. i want to know what should be done, what should be recited, the proper dress code and others.

    this posts is very helpful, its informative.
    Alhamdulilah i found it.

    thank you for sharing it to us.

    May Allah bless you with goodness.

    Walaikum Assalam, Nur-aine. Ameen to your dua! I’m glad you found the post informative. May you have a rewarding and memorable experience in Makkah and Madinah, and may Allah accept your deeds.

  9. Well done on ALL Umrah of your posts! That was amazingly detailed 🙂

    I so want to go again! iA sooooon!

    Thank you, Sis! I want to go again too!

  10. Barakalahu feeki ya ukhti fillah…beautiful…i can almost feel and see …tears…subhanAllah…May Allah grant me the honour of visiting his house sooon…ameen

    Ameen!

  11. Hi, I was searching for some tips on performing umrah when I found your blog. I was so deeply touched by your experience and I hope and pray to Allah that I will be invited to his house. I will be going for umrah next month. I am not a perfect muslim, but I prayed every day that I will be invited to perform umrah and become a new person. Thanx for posting.

    MashaAllah! I hope you have a most rewarding experience, and may Allah accept your prayers and ibadah

  12. i am going to perform umrah soon,march.i was in tears and joy when i read ur article.i cant explain how i felt,knowing that i will be going to the house of allah soon.

    1. INSHAHALLAH I am planning to go to umrah in april … ur journey left me in tears too . May Allah give me pure Ibadat as He gave u ….plz guide me:

      is it ok to carry a bag inside Haram in which i can keep my books ?
      can girls wear socks while in Ihram ??…

      and is it safe to leave ur slippers/ shoes on racks inside Haram or should we carry a separate bag for slippers and keep it with us even while tawaf …. can i perform prayers with slippers bag hanging form my shoulder ????

      1. Sana, yes, it is okay to carry a bag inside Haram. Socks are allowed; in fact, I wore socks the entire time I was there. You can put your shoes/slippers at separate places within the rack – there’s lesser chance for someone else to find the pair that way.

        We left our footwear at one of the racks near the gate through which we had first entered, then proceeded to do tawaaf. After that, we stopped to pray Fajr then went to complete Umrah by doing the Sa’ee. Right after the completion of Sa’ee did we realize that we ended up at a different gate altogether! It was not easy to return and look for the gate (with the racks containing our footwear) due to the crowd performing Sa’ee. But we had no choice but to walk all the way back to our slippers.

        Here’s what I think is a better option: when you enter Haram to perform Umrah, locate the gate close to Safa and Marwa, and leave your slippers/shoes in the racks there. Check for ‘landmarks’ so you don’t forget 🙂

        It’s much convenient to perform tawaaf without the footwear in your bag. Also, do not bring too much load (heavy books) until you finish both tawaaf and Sa’ee. There’s a LOT of walking involved, and you need all the energy to focus on making dua and dhikr.

        May Allah make the journey easy for you, and may He accept your deeds and ibaadah. And please remember me and my family in your dua.

  13. Salaams
    Wonderfully inspiring. I’m about to go, so it was most useful reading.
    Only for a day, in transit. Inshallah I pray we can make the most of it. And pray to go again for longer.
    thanks
    salaams

  14. I recently experienced Umrah, Alhamdulillah. So many people asked me how it was….and as a writer myself I still found it difficult to describe. I simply replied, I don’t have words for the beauty I have seen and felt. They understood, of course. As i read your post I feel like they are my words. Mashallah! You have expressed this experience in such a beautiful was and I hope that many Non Muslims will read your post, Insh Allah.

    Thank you Sister.

    Salam Alaikam

  15. Walaikum Assalam, Shannon. It’s true; words aren’t enough to describe the exact feelings that go through a person’s heart and mind during Umrah or Hajj. May Allah accept our deeds and prayers. Ameen.

  16. Assalamaleikum Nadia, Masha’Allah you have a lovely blog. This year I had planned to go for Hajj with my husband and two kids (inspite of everyone advising us against it). However, it was not destined to be as there was some problem with the kids’ visa at the last moment and my husband had to leave alone. It was perhaps one of the most painful moments of my life but I know Allah has a reason for everything. Ever since I find myself constantly thinking about Allah’s house. We have made a niyyah to perform Umrah in Ramadan, InshaAllah. I know with the kids it’s going to be very difficult but all your tips will definitely be handy. Please keep me in your prayers and you will definitely be in mine .

    1. Walaikum assalam, Sadaf! How old are your kids? Perhaps, when you do Hajj or Umrah next year, they’re a little bigger and then it would be easier for you and your husband to manage them. You are right that Allah has a reason for everything. He will bless you more than you ever imagined.

  17. assalamuwalikum sister,,,,,allahamdulillah i got a chance to go for umrah in this ramadan….i was reading all your experience, it is really heart touching and when i was reading about entering masjid-al-haram and masjid-al-nabawi….i was thinking the..how i will be feeling when i will visit there and when i read about your farewell tawaf…i got tears in my eyes… allah bless all the muslim to perform hajj and umrah sincerely… ameen…and pray for me as well…if you have any more important information, just email me…jazak-allah-khair…

    1. Walaikum assalam! Ameen to your dua. I’m glad you found the posts informative because that is the reason why I am sharing my experiences, hoping that someone else will learn something out of it, inshaAllah. Your feelings when you see the ka’aba for the very first time is so special and no amount of reading or hearing about others’ experience will ever prepare you for that time.

      Everything I know and have experienced, I have written in the Umrah posts. What I know now is that a lot of construction/expansion work is going on so that there may be some inconveniences to be expected.

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