Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Sight-seeing in Makkah

22nd Aug 2011 - - - 2pm

The tour began as all group members sat on the coach and off we went. I was super impressed by the driver's driving skills [who seemed like he had just turned 15]. In fact I was pretty impressed by the driving and patience the drivers had around the people walking in the streets. They must be used to it. The shaykh begans by giving us a history of Makkah and the orginality of its name. Allah mentioned Makkah as Bakka. It means shaking. 'This city will shake us' he said. 'You will leave this place as a new person.' Makkah is simply a valley surrounded by mountains. The story goes back to Ibrahim and Hajira [May Allah be pleased with them both]. When Allah was testing his Prophet Ibrahim, he was ordered to leave Hajirah in the barren valley of Makkah. Hajira was strong in her faith and realised this was a test from her Lord. It was after much running between the 2 mountains of Safa and Marwa, in search of some caravans who may bring food or water, that Hajira came back to her baby Ismaeel who she had left in the valley [right near the ka'bah, which hadn't been built then]. Angel Jibraeel was sent down to kick the ground and that was when the miraculous spring of zam zam water gushed forth from the ground. It was Hajira's quick thinking of sculpting out a well like shape at the source of zam zam which prevented the valley from flooding. That same zam zam has continuously gushed forth since that time - SubhanAllah an amazing miracle! And through this blessing of water has Makkah continuously thrived in addition to it later becoming a place of pilgrimage and trade route. But the valley of Bakkah as it was most likely then known, was just dry arrid land. No one lived there and nothing grew. I still remember drinking countless cup loads of zam zam after prayer in the Haram and thinking I used to only drink 3 small sip fulls when my father would bring a small gallon each year from Hajj. The sheikh mentioned that Zam Zam is food for the hungry, it is medicine for the sick and it is water for the thirsty. The dua recommended to recite before drinking Zam Zam is as follows:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمَاً نَافِعَاًً وَرِزْقَاً وَاسِعَاًَ وَشِفَاءً مِنْ كُلِّ دَاءٍ
Allah, I ask You for beneficial knowledge, plentiful provision and cure from all diseases. (Hakim)
The mountain of the Cave of Thawr
Our first stop on our tour was at Ghaar-thawr or the Cave of Thawr. This was the same place the Prophet pbuh and his faithful companion Abu Bakr as-Sadeeq hid for 3 days as they were migrating to Medina. The Quraysh sent forth their best of men to search for the Prophet pbuh but Allah was his protector. Allah had ordered a spider to make a web outside the cave and birds to nest at the entrance of the cave. It was because of this amazing miracle that those searching were doubtful as to whether the Prophet pbuh was in the cave at all. It was during this time that Asma bint Abu Bakr provided food for her father and the Prophet pbuh. She would secretly visit them usually at night. It took the Prophet pbuh a whole month to travel to Madina as they would travel by night and rest by day as they were still in danger. The Quraysh had announced that a reward would be given to anyone who would find the Prophet pbuh. The Shaykh continued telling us...a poor man by the name of Surakat ibn Maalik actually crossed paths with the Prophet pbuh during his secret migration to Madinah and at that point Allah ordered the earth to take him up. He called out to the Prophet pbuh to save him, who asked him to say the shahadah to bear witness that there was one God and that Muhammad was the messenger of God on condition of being saved. The poor man did just that and was amazed at how he was saved. He then wanted to accompany the Prophet pbuh to Madinah. But the Prophet pbuh told him to return back home and that his reward will be the crown of Perisa. And, the shaykh continued, when Persia was conquered by the Muslims, the same man was called forth as the crown of the Persian kind was presented to him, thus fulfilling the promise of the Prophet pbuh. Listening to these small stories the Shaykh would usually enlighten us with really made me realise how little I actually know of the life of the Prophet pbuh. Whilst I've read what I still think is one of the best Seerah's ever by Martin Lings it still wasn't enough detail in comparison to all the new things I was learning each day, Alhamdulillah.

Masjid Nimrah in Arafaat - open once a year during Hajj
Our next stop was 'Arafaat. This is an important place to visit during the pilgrimage of Hajj. In fact it is amongst the pillars of Hajj. Shaykh informed us of the name 'Araafaat itself, which in its literal sense can also mean meeting. It is originally name after the first meeting place of Adam and Hawwa [Eve] when they were first sent to Earth from Paradise! 9th of Dhul Hijjah is also known as the day of Arafaat where upto 5 million Muslim Pilgrims stay here for 1 day supplicating to their Lord. In Arafaat we also saw Jabal-Rahma or the Mount of Mercy. This was the very place the Prophet pbuh had given his last sermon from. During Hajj, the shaykh told us, many try to climb this not very steep mountain and raise their hands in supplication and repentance to their Lord.As the coach stopped, the temperature read 40 degrees. I wanted to climb the mountain. It didn't look that high at all, in fact it wasn't There was a nice stairway made to reach the top, on which there was a large concrete pillar, painted white with a black base. We braced ourselves, as we stepped into the scorching heat, knowing we would become thirsty as we were fasting. But as we made our way to the top and prayed our 2 rak'at and asked for forgiveness, a beautiful breeze blew. It truly was a mount of Mercy. In fact it was very cool up there. You could see the infamous clock tower and immediately we knew the direction of Makkah.
 Jabal Rahma - This is where the Prophet pbuh stood
delivering his last sermon
A view from Jabal-Rahma

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