Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Amongst the blessed in a garden of paradise...

18th Aug 2011 - - - 12.30am

Today was a special day. It carried its own distinct feeling. Its own particular thoughts. And certainly its own unique experience. It's actually quite difficult to explain how I felt after this. I certainly felt a sense of achievement., joy and peace. Around me, my room mates and new friends felt my excitement. It brought them back to their first time of experiencing what I had experience. One even said my face was glowing - certainly because of the excitement...

        Earlier that day, after the tour around Madinah had come to an end, the Shaykh mentioned a few important things. One of which was the visiting of the rawdah -ul Jannah. This literally means the Garden of Paradise.  With the masjid being very busy already in the Ramadhaan season, I knew visiting the rawdah at the specific times for ladies - after isha, after, fajr and after dhuhr salah - would be so difficult! So I had already starting thinking 'nah, it's impossible to get into the area let alone pray 2 raka'at there' and actually thought I'd give it a miss - SubhanAllah! Little did I know these blessed places are full of the miracles and signs of Allah through his merciful creation and his blessed Prophet pbuh. We had our Umrah preparation meeting scheduled for after isha on the 18th Aug 2011 and the sheikh pressed on about the little time we have left in Madinah and to ensure we reap all the rewards and blessings. He related the importance of the rawdah through an authentic hadith of the Prophet pbuh who had said 'Between my house and mimbar - pulpit - lies one of the gardens of Paradise.' [Bukhari] The prophet pbuh was buried where he had died, in his house. His house was literally part of the masjid. There now stands his grave along with his blessed and faithful companions Abu Bakr Sideeq and Umar ibn al Farooq [May Allah be pleased with them both] to the right. And on the left, my father mentioned, a space has been left for Prophet Eesa [as] to be buried there when he returns back at the end of times. So I had started to think about the rawdah, alot.
Going into the masjid after Isha prayer.

Later that same day after isha [17th Aug 2011] my room mates decided they were going to visit the rawdah in the scheduled time. We walked into the masjid through the gate 25 entrance - as we usually prayed isha and tarawih outside in the warmth of the summer night - it was already busy. As we entered the designated area of the masjid, leading to the entrances into the men's section to access the rawdah, there was some bemusement of where to wait. The group of sisters who coordinate and help in the masjid had some signs held up in Arabic and some in English reading: misr - Egypt, Africa, Pakistani and I'm sure there were more across the hall too. The sisters would be grouped according to nationality or language for ease. Short lectures were given in those languages to prepare for the visiting of the rawdah. At that point I remembered someone had suggested to me once when u visit the rawdah, do not sit in the Pakistani group or look for a non-existing British group, just go with the Arabs. So I sat with the Egyptians - I think my 5 weeks of staying in Egypt and getting my face burned too, counted for something :) [and that's what I told the Egyptian ladies I sat next to who smiled throughout my broken Arabic banter]. After peering over my shoulder and scanning my group, I realised the Egyptians certainly looked like the largest group! It was too late to move anywhere now. I thought, at least we'd be first to get through the gates. Little did we know - they weren't planning on opening those particular gates first! They opened the middle set of gates - opposite the Africans and Indonesians. There was a sudden swoosh of women, the Egyptians started to get up too, so did we. We found space to start walking and decided they weren't going to close the gates anytime soon so headed in the same direction. I looked over my shoulder to check my room mates were still behind me. The first time I checked, they were.. The second time I checked, I couldn't see them. I was passed the gates now moving as one body with the masses of women all walking extremely fast, some even running! We were walking [or running] through a make-shift corridor that was made earlier by the male staff so we wouldn't be disturbing any male worshippers. As we walked, I kept thinking, this is where the Prophet lived, where he prayed, where he taught! We stopped to a tight halt! Like sardines or so the expression goes. I looked up and noticed green and gold, the decoration of the interior was beautiful. To my left I saw the Prophet's grave with a gold mesh gate. I don't know how I was feeling. There were a lot of women. Many had started praying, crying, calling out their salaams to the Prophet pbuh.

This picture was taken the following day.
After a sharp jolt, I came out of my sudden daze and and sent peace and salutations on the Prophet pbuh. He was alive in his grave... Back at home, I used to always imagine, I wonder how things would be if the Prophet pbuh was alive in our time. One of the things I prayed for the most whist looking at his grave, was that my family and I could be neighbours with the Prophet pbuh in Jannah inshAllah. As unlikely as that could sound, especially if everyone made dua to become his neighbour in Jannah, I knew my Lord would be pleased with my asking! But then again we are talking Jannah! After a good 15 minutes of standing, completely squashed [not that I was complaining!] we moved forward a few steps. The constant calling of 'hajjah, hajjah' at times would mean to stop [not literally of course, literally its a female Haji - one who has performed hajj]. I really appreciated the Egyptian woman behind me who knew many duas in Arabic and was reciting them out loud, as I was able to listen and understand most of it and say Ameen. My mind had completely gone numb. I really didn't know what to say, I mean I was thinking a lot of things. With the tight crowd and intense body heat, unfortunately one woman almost passed out, but many were there to help. I remembered I had some zam zam in my bag and gave her the bottle. As I did, the crowd had now moved forward, I refused to push. In fact, I refused so much so that Allah swt sent me a friend. A lovely Moroccan lady. She looked out for me in the crowds. When we had finally reached the green carpet - which represented the rawdah-ul Jannah as it is laid between the Prophet's house and the pulpit - she insisted I pray first, while she guarded me [in case anyone tramples over me unnoticed]. I began my prayer - 'Allahu akbar' I started to remember all the things I wanted to say, all the duas I had originally intended to make. As I finished, she prayed in my spot and managed to help somebody else to find space to pray. It was extremely over-crowded! MashAllah she didn't need as much protection but I ensured sisters around me watched their step. I scanned the architechture once more. SubhanAllah. I looked at the Prophet's grave and said the salaam. As my Moroccan friend had finished, I asked her was that the grave of the Prophet pbuh. She looked at me in surprise and said yes and told me where Abu Bakr and Umar ibn Khattab [May Allah be pleased with them both] were buried too. I said salaam to them both too. It sounded like a daft question then, but I wanted to make sure I knew for sure. She pointed out the pulpit too which I couldn't see clearly on my entrance into the Rawdah. Leaving the rawdah was as difficult as going in, but with my new friend who was very much experienced with visiting the rawdah guided my swiftly and with comfort. We headed straight for the zam zam water. We spoke a while about her stay in London. She even asked me about the ridiculous London riots! As we parted ways, she told me the green dome which is at the front of the masjid stands high over the Prophet's house [pbuh]. That was when I realised I hadn't even visited or seen the front of the masjid yet! I managed to work the little power I had left in my legs to see from a distance... the green dome...the front of the masjid!

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