Thinking back now, it felt like I was delaying preparation for Umrah. Perhaps because it hadn't sunk in yet, or time wasn't ticking as fast as it usually did. Nevertheless, I had my trusty book - which I also highly recommend - 'The Ultimate Guide to Umrah' by Abu Muneer Ismail Davids, which gave a very detailed insight into umrah in Ramadhaan. In fact it was like a Lonely Planet Guide like read but with added humour ;)
14th Aug 2011
Dad and I set off to the airport, broke our fast there with my elder brother and brother-in-law. We recognised some other folk who looked like they were going to be on the same flight and just after we had our bite to eat, my dad lead the Maghrib prayer near the seating area in the airport. As the prayer ended, an old English chap who seemed somewhat intrigued by our congregation approached us. He wanted to know whether it was true that Muhammad [pbuh] was only given 3 prayers and we the Muslims have decided to pray 5 or something of that sort. Anyways, he decided to ignore my response as he continuously repeated his question, at which point I realised we needed to go to check in! Once on the plane, I was still receiving message of dua' [prayer] requests, so started writing them down.
15th Aug 2011 - - - 07.05 am
After a good 6 hours of flying we had arrived in Jeddah. Once off the aeroplane, we sat in a reasonably cool and airy airport waiting in the Hajj Terminal. Apparently due to the vast amount of people who had arrived for umrah this Ramadhaan they had to open the Hajj terminal to accomodate! All I was thinking at this point was Alhamdulillah - all praises are due to Allah swt - I'm in the land of Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] and I got in with no complications so alhamdulillah. Airports tend to make me nervous especially since my trip to Israel/Palestine in 2006. Ever since, I have this fear that I could get rejected on entry at the airport [not that this actually happened in Tel Aviv - but there was a very high probability of it - that's another story!]
Airport Staff had informed us that they need to shift a set of 500 people from the adjacent hall before we were able to go ahead into it. Still feeling quite positive, I found 2 old SOAS friends, it was nice seeing familiar faces in such a blessed place.
- - - 09.45 am
I could see the digital clock in the coach show the temperature as 35 degrees celcius. We drove passed acres of arid landscape with occasional patches of green. Dad told me we were nearly there.