Archive for December, 2015

Captain’s log                                        Stardate: 81225.5 (Dec 25th, 2015)

DAY 7: 14-12-2015

This day takes us to Masjid Taneem. Also known as Masjid Aisyah, named after one of Prophet Muhammed’s (Peace be upon him) wife. It was said that during the time where the Prophet was performing his Haji, Siti Aisyah was on her menstrual period. And therefore unable to perform the Umrah, where together with the Prophet’s companions. She told the Prophet, who then told her brother to take her to the nearest point outside the Haram area. He took her to Taneem where she started her Ihram again before coming back to perform the Umrah. The reason why the mosque was also named after her as she had put her Ihram from this place once.

Because of the huge crowd gathered and lacked of space for our bus to park, we can only pass by while admiring the beauty of the mosque from inside the bus.

Once done, we return back to our hotel. Its only a short trip. We were given about 15 mins to rest before heading out to commence for our 3rd phrase of our Umrah practice.

Its all free and easy after that =)

DAY 8: 15-12-2015

We visit Masjid Hudaibiyah. Named after its land Hudaibiyah, it carries a significant phrase in the history of Islam. This occurs when Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) and his followers were been denied entry from Makkans for their journey into Mecca for their Umrah.

It was said the Hudaibiyah encounter not only gave Muslims courage to go ahead with the mission, but it also tested their courage and faith in Islam. Its a turning point for this history.

We then return back to our hotel and to commence our 4th and last phrase of our Umrah practice. And at the end of it all, we managed to head up to the 3rd platform that surrounds the Kaaba. From there, you can have a stunning and majestic view of the Kaaba.

Finally! I was hoping if we get the chance to go up. The circular platform was designed for wheelchair bound people. However, there are those who prefer to circle around the platform. To have lesser crowd   than the crowd at the main ground. But its always recommended to be on the ground floor where you can get close to the Kaaba, whenever possible. And also, you can get the feel of it during the tawaf.

Indeed, a majestic view from above. Masya Allah! A moment not to be miss!

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We soon called it a day and its free and easy throughout the day =)

DAY 9: 16-12-2015

This day is an exciting day for us as we will be visiting Jabal al-Nour hill. It carries a tremendous significant part in Islam history, and one of the most popular tourist attraction in Mecca. This is where Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) scale up the hill and had spend a great deal time in the Hira cave located there, meditating. It is also believed this is where he received his first revelation from the Angel Jibreel by God.

Why I say exciting was that we were given a chance to climb up the hill and to locate the cave. This, I cannot miss! Cause before this I was hoping if we were given a chance to go up there. And this is it! I ain’t gonna wait!

This is a once in a lifetime expedition. Hiking up there takes me about almost an hour. I took a short break in-between to catch the breathtaking view. The surrounding was majestic!

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Back then all these were just plain desert. With the mountains and hill still exist up to now. Just imagine, our Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) travel miles and miles from his home, and all the way to climb up to his hill. And stay in the cave. Meditating. Seeking peace.

Its an extremely strenuous climb. But I finally made it to the top and locate the Hira cave.

However, there’s a crowd gather at the entrance of the cave. As expected there will be. They will make their prayers, but have to go one at a time due to the small space, as what I had observed.

Because of that, I can only pray for our Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) from a distance. My thoughts and prayers goes to the Prophet. I may not be able to make prayer through the cave. But I’m still glad that I can get to see it and near enough for me to see it. I’m thankful for it despite the strenuous hike. This is what the Prophet had gone through.

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Tiring, but indeed a wonderful experience. Worth it! As long you are fit and capable, just go for it. At the same time, you are exercising. Really makes a good workout. And while you are reaching to the top, stop for a while and enjoy the breathtaking 360 view.

Soon after that we return back to our hotel where we had our lunch. Its free and easy after that.

DAY 10: 17-12-2015

The day where we shall leave the sacred land and to head back to Singapore. There’s no program during the day. Until 0300hrs, where we shall commence one last tawaf. That only. No need to perform the Sa’i. And no need to don the Ihram. We are allowed to wear any form of full clothing.

This tawaf is to make a farewell tawaf of the house before we leave. As said by the Prophet: 

“None of you should depart until he makes as his last act Tawaf of the House.” [112]

A sad moment for some of us, especially first timers. Like my mum, especially her. She feel like she doesn’t want to leave this place. She never felt this peacefulness in her. The calmness, ever since we landed at this sacred land. Away from stress, away from the tension, the pressure…

I couldn’t agreed with her more. The feeling is so tranquillity. Free from disturbance. The reason for being here, is not only to commit Umrah. But to clear our mind from all the stress and pressure. To relax the mind, and to just focus on this commitment.

But nevertheless, there will always be the say where we shall come back again. You can go multiple times. Some of them in my group had go more than once.

However, is always best to go for Haji if you are able to commit it, your intention is there and had enough cash. Then you can go for Umrah again whenever you want to as part of your travel.

So when the time hits 0300hrs, we proceed to perform our last circumambulation around the Kaaba. One last look at the most sacred Muslim site in the world. There will be the day where we shall come back to this sacred land and to commit as what our religion has taught us. Insya Allah.

We had our breakfast before boarding the bus that will take us to Jeedah  airport. Like how we had came here, we will stop at Dubai, before transit to Singapore.

Insya Allah me and my family will come back here again. It has been a wonderful experience for me. I had learn so many things. The Prophets, their mission, what they had been through.

Before this, I had little knowledge about it. Till where we had visited so many places. I began to understand more about the history of Islam, and hopefully I be able to study and understand more. There’s a lot of it. Not just this.

I never felt this close to learn more about it. To grasp it so I can share my experience to my loved ones and friends back home. I’m thankful of what I had learn and gain from this experience. Alhamdulillah…

And lastly, I want to thank so much to the staff of Shahidah Travel Pte Ltd, as well all the Ustaz who worked under this company for taking care and guiding us from the start to the end. Its been great knowing you all and Insya Allah we will meet again in the future. Really really appreciate!

And within the group itself, its been nice knowing you all and we have becoming good friends. Insya Allah we will meet again in the future. Do take care! =)

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Captain’s log                                    Stardate: 82012.5 (Dec 20th, 2015)

DAY 4: 11-12-2015

Continue from where I had left off. This is the day where we shall pack our bags and embark for Mecca. We all shall be in the ihram state where the men will wear a white, seamless garment. For the women, they are allowed to wear any form of clothing as long its covered from the head to toe. But the faces must be uncovered.

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I’m not going to lie. I was rather nervous and worried about it. I don’t know why. I just can’t shake the feeling off.

But then again, I had to tell myself. I’m here for a purpose. I have the intention to do so. I want to fulfil it. I have to believe in myself and have faith that I can make it through. Insya Allah….

Fast forward to the journey. The bus ride took us about 5 hours from Medina to Mecca. But at last we made it. By the time we reach was almost near 2200hrs. We check in to our hotel, named Hilton. And like the Oberoi Medina, the hotel was just next door to Masjid al-Haram with other hotels within the vicinity.

Yes. The Grand Mosque, the Great Majestic. Also called the Sacred Mosque. Its the largest mosque in the world and surrounds Islam’s holiest place, the Kaaba. Finally saw it for the first time! Its a beauty and stunningly majestic!

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Our Umrah cycle will be guided by a Ustaz who shall lead us from the start to the end. He will guide us along and all be moving together.

The moment I saw the Kaaba, I was loss at words. Never did I expect to see the sacred Muslim site in the world. Also considered as the “House of God.” Wherever they are in the world, Muslims were to face the Kaaba when performing their prayers. From where you were, the point of direction facing the Kaaba is called the qibla. A fixed direction towards the Kaaba.

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Pilgrims will have to move seven rounds around the Kaaba. This is called “Tawaf” (circumambulation). Muslims are to circumambulate the Kaaba in a counterclockwise direction. Moving harmony together while reciting prayers and supplicating to God.

Once the Tawaf is complete, we will approached this crystal dome which is near to the Kaaba. Behind the sealed casing was the footprints of Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) that was been preserved in a cast. Also known as Maqam Ibrahim. The footprint was believed to have been made by Ibrahim when he was lifting stone blocks to built the Kaaba.

While there, we shall prayed two raka’at behind the dome. But because of the crowd, we had to move to an open space not far from the dome and perform our prayer. Facing the dome.

It is said that its acceptable to perform at any space if you find it impossible to pray near it. As expected, there will always be an overwhelming crowd everyday ever since. Once then, we shall drink Zamzam water before proceeding to the next task.

Its called the “Sa’i.” We shall travel back and forth seven times from two small hills located in the mosque. Known as Al-Safa and Al-Marwah. We shall start from Al-Safa and end at Al-Marwah after the rounds is complete.

We are actually reenacting as according to Islamic tradition, where the wife of Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) went in search of help and water. It was said that Ibrahim was been commanded by God to leave his wife Hajar and their infant son Ismail alone in the desert between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah with only basic provisions to test their faith.

This happens when their provisions were exhausted. To make her search easier and faster, she went alone. Leaving her infant son on the ground.

She first climbed the nearest hill, Al-Safa, to look over the surrounding area. When she saw nothing, she went to Al-Marwah, to look around. She was able to see her infant son and know he was safe.

However, while in the valley between the hills she was unable to see her son, and would run while in the valley and walk at a normal pace when on the hillsides. She travelled back and forth between the hills seven times in the scorching heat before returning to her son.

Her patience and test of faith was rewarded when she found a spring that had broken forth by the Angel Jibreel when he hit the ground with his wing. This spring is now known as the Zamzam. Its a miraculously generated source of water from God. Till today, the water keeps flowing.

And during the practice of the Sa’i, there will be a green fluorescent light along the ceiling. Upon reaching the light, only the men will have to jog. You can run if you prefer. The woman will move in a normal pace. This is to reenact and serves to commemorate Hajar’s search for water and God’s mercy in answering prayers.

Once we completed the Sa’i, we will have our hair shave or cut. There’s nothing wrong if you want it trim. But preferably shave. Shave is only for men.

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Once done, our Umrah is complete. Alhamdulillah. All of us drank more Zamzam before proceeding back to our hotel to call it a night.

DAY 5: 12-12-2015

No activity for this day. Its free and easy.

DAY 6: 13-12-2015

This day takes us to visit some of the interesting places within this sacred land. First stop was Jabal Tsur hill. It was said that Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) and his companion Abu Bakar took refuge in a cave located there. They were trying to escape from the Quraish people.

When the Quraish reached the cave, they saw that there’s a spider web spread across the mouth of the cave. So to them, they concluded that nobody could go into the cave with a spider web spread across the mouth. And the web will be broken if someone had enter through. There’s even birds nesting near it. It turns out the spider and the bird nesting had save the Prophet and his companion from the Quraish, as commanded by God.

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Next we visit Jabal Rahmah. Its a rocky slope, and this is where Prophet Adam (Peace be upon him) meet Siti Hawa (Eve). A romantic story that starts it all.

There’s writings from people who visited here, where they wrote confessions of their love on some on the stones. Wow! Wish I had bring a marker along. Cause I too, had a love confession to share. Hehe…

It was said that when those people wrote their confessions of love on the stones, they will hope it will came true. Since this is the place where Adam meet Hawa, and hoping for each other’s love would last.

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The next trip takes us to the plains of Arafah grounds. Its a large open space and were specifically meant for pilgrims performing their Haj. They will stay here for a few days in tents.

This occur once in every year during the Haji period. Where there’s none, the place will appeared like a ghost town.

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We then visited few mosques. Then we visited Jannat al-Mu’alla, where we paid our respect to the wife of Prophet Muhammed’s (Peace be upon him) wife resting place. Named Khadija, she was the first wife of the Prophet, and also the first person to convert to Islam. It is also where Muhammed’s grandfather, and other ancestors are buried.

After that, we travel back to our hotel to had our lunch. Once done, we will commence our 2nd phrase of our Umrah cycle. Once its complete, its free and easy.

That’s the end of part 2. I will continue to share more in part 3. Stay tuned! =)

Captain’s log                              Stardate: 81812.5 (Dec 18th, 2015)

Hello everyone. Assalamualaikum.

Recently, I had embark on a 10-day trip towards the sacred land in Saudi Arabia to commit my Umrah. Both at Medina and Mecca. I went together with my mum. “Umrah” means to visit Baitullah Al-Haram with a wish to perform Umrah. It can be done anytime but preferably during Ramadhan. Is in contrast to the Haji. But its a rather a small Haji. You can called it a “minor pilgrimage” also. Its not compulsory but highly recommended.

Now that I’m back home in sunny Singapore, I’m happy to share my experience during my 10-day trip there.

Before I begin, I would like to stress out that I’m not here to promote Islam. I’m here to share this interest and what I had experience during my time there. I will delete any negative comments to avoid such confrontation.

Anyway, let’s begin with….

DAY 1: 08-12-2015

We depart from Singapore at around 0100hrs towards Dubai, Saudi Arabia. Our flight is transit, and we go with a travel agency group. We shall stop there for our morning prayers before leaving for Jeedah.

We landed there at around 08oohrs. I’m surprised by how empty and plain the airport vicinity is. The airport itself wasn’t that big. But the surrounding was spacious and seems like deserted. However there’s pockets of constructions taking place. Perhaps they are expanding the airport. Maybe.

After getting out from the airport with all clearance approve, we set on a bus journey towards Medina, which is a 5-hour journey. Along the way we had stop to this place where we can do our afternoon prayers. At the same time, do a bit of shopping from a grocery store located there.

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After an exhausting trip, we finally reach Medina. Alhamdulillah. Its around 18oohrs if I can recall correctly. We check it in our hotel, named the Oberoi Medina. After our rest and dinner, we gathered at the hotel lobby where we will meet this Ustaz (Islamic teacher), who will take us to the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi which is just next to the hotel. There are other hotels which is all located near to the mosque. Easy for everyone as it takes only a few minutes to reach there.

The mosque was established and originally built by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), after his arrival in Medina. Also called the Prophet’s Mosque, and its one of the largest mosques in the world. It is always open, regardless of date or time. The entire paved area around the mosque is also used for prayer. And this is the mosque where there hugs umbrella tents within the paved area. Finally get the chance to see it!

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There will be lots of people praying and paying their respect to the Prophet and his companions at this special place known as Rawdah, and its next to the tomb. The entire mosque is floored with red carpet. But for this spot, it is floored with green carpet just to identify it. Many people will crowd there and do their prayers and supplications as many as they want to. Due to the massive crowd, you really have to find a way if u really want to perform it. The crowd will be bumping and pushing each other.

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I feel really moved as I pay my respect to the Prophet and his companions. I have seen photos and videos of the tomb. But never would I expected to see right infront my eyes on that evening. I thank God for giving me the chance to see it for myself. All my thoughts and prayers goes to the Prophet and his companions.

DAY 2: 09-12-2015

After breakfast, we board on the bus for a good educational trip. First stop, we visit Masjid Quba. Like the Nabawi Mosque, its also one of the oldest mosque in the world. Its the first mosque to be built before the Nabawi.

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According to history, its first stones were positioned by the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him). The mosque was completed by his companions.

We offered two raka’ah there, before leaving. Our next stop was this Kebun Korma (Dates Farm) which is not far away from the mosque. There, its like a small minimart. You will see all kind of dates. From dried ones to wet ones, the sweet ones. There’s even chocolate ones too. I brought those for myself. Hehe..=D

You can never find such dates anywhere else in the world except here. They have been a staple source of food for thousands of years, ever since back to the Prophet’s time.

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Dates is not the only thing there. There’s even mountains of candies and all kinds of chocolates been sell there. The seller will weighed the amount after you had take a handful of them. 1kg is 40 Riyal. You can have more, as much as you want. The cost depends how much sweets you take.

After that, we visit Mount Uhud, where it was the site of the battle between Muslims and Mecca. Known as Battle of Uhud, it was fought in March 19, 625. It occured between a force from the small Muslim community of Medina, led by the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him). Another force led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb from Mecca. He was a staunch opponent of the Prophet, before accepting Islam.

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Thought outnumbered, the Muslims managed to forced the Meccan lines back. However, many of them were killed and Muhammed himself were badly injured. As a result, they have to withdraw up the slopes of Uhud. The Meccans did not pursue the Muslims further, but marched back to Mecca declaring victory. Among those who were killed were some of the Prophet’s companions.

We were shown the spot where the brave warriors of Islam had died and buried. They will all go to heaven. They have bravely fought well in the name of the Islam, and to protect the name of this religion. I salute by their leadership, courage and bravery for purity the name of Islam.

Once done, we return back to our hotel. From there its just free and easy throughout the entire day. Performing our prayers and do some window shopping =)

DAY 3: 10-12-2015

Nothing much on this day. Just free and easy until 1600hrs, where we told to gather for a briefing. The same Ustaz who bring us to Nabawi Mosque will brief us about tomorrow’s program, where we shall embark for Mecca. We all are looking forward for the day as that’s where we shall commence our Umrah practice.

I will stop here and continue for day 4 on my next entry. Hope you all enjoy the read and like the photos taken.

Stay tuned! =)