before i write about the return, i think i should continue where i stopped in the last entry.
we were told that the Agong and the Permaisuri would be arriving in Madinah, and so after asar prayers we gathered at the hotel where the royal couple would be staying. they were expected to arrive at 5pm and we were worried that we would miss the maghrib prayers which was at 5.35p.m. we saw a few palace officials, and haji harun was also there in his purple rayhar jacket. the arab police tried to shoo us away but the officials explained to them the situation, and then the red carpet was laid out and we were told to line on either side of the carpet. i was one of those lining up inside the hotel.
then we were told that they would be a little late. they arrived at 5.20, with 4 police escort cars. i saw the Agong, but not too clearly since the policemen were protecting him. the womenfolk get to salam the ever smiling Permaisuri. we saw the Pemangku Raja and his sister too. then we dashed to the masjid, as azan would be heard soon.
i can't write about masjid nabawi without writing about the ever infamous female guards. unlike their much gentler counterparts in masjidil haram, the guards at masjid nabawi are younger, more aggressive, and louder. they speak indonesian too, so they could be heard shouting "ibu-ibu, maju! maju!" or "ibu-ibu, dhudhuk! dhudhuk!"(the arabs can't pronounce 'd'correctly). they are the ones who search through all our things in the bags for any banned items like handphones or packed food (other then dates or fruits) or items that you just bought prior going to the masjid. they sometimes do body search too. inside the masjid, they are the ones who direct the womenfolk where to go. and more often than not, when the masjid is silent as we have started praying, we could still hear their shouts to the latecomers. it's been a joke for all the indonesians and the malaysians to mimic the guards.
on Thursday, 10th Muharram, i fasted. this was the day when Nabi Nuh was saved from the big flood, hence the creation of bubur Asyura' which was a Malay version of 'ashara'which means ten. KT96 went on a walking tour. as always, there was a Rayhar staff holding the Rayhar flag, and as Ustaz Rosli and Haji Harun had gone back, Ustaz Hadi was there with us a hailer and started to selawat to Rasulullah. of course, the rest of the muslims nearby were nonplussed what with our procession and the selawat and also the rayhar flag. we first visited a garden which was so lush with green treens and shrubs, something that you don't often see in Madinah or Makkah. it's the garden where Rasulullah used to hold meetings with the sahabahs to discuss war strategies or other important matters. it was also here that the Ansars and the Muhajirins held a meeting to elect a leader when Rasulullah was dying.
after going to the garden, we walked to the sahabahs'masjids and as the grand finale, we went to the dates market where we bought kilos and kilos of dates. i had to post some home instead of bringing with us back on the plane. sadly though because i was fasting, i couldn't taste the sweet dates.
i'm happy to say that i managed to visit the raudhah 3 times. raudhah is a piece of Eden on earth, situated next to Rasulullah's grave. no, there are no trees or flowers. it's a part of the original masjid and what differentiates it from the rest of the masjid is it's carpeted in green carpet while the rest of the masjid is in red. it's where you do sunat prayers and it is said that it's a mustajab place for doa. on my first visit there for this trip, there were a lot of hajjahs, so it was almost impossible to pray in peace as it was crowded. the last time i was there it was before midnight, and there were less people. i must have spent half an hour there. i went there with Kak Chum, Kak Mah and my roommates K. Kusha and Aunty Cha. we came out crying and hugging each other, as it was difficult to get a chance to stay inside raudhah that long (usually the infamous guards would be shoving us out if it's too crowded).
i also have to write something about shopping both in Makkah and Madinah. the prices soar during haji season, but once the number of haj pilgrims dwindles, the sellers will lower their prices. my abayat, which i previously bought at SR110, was sold at SR80 or may be less after a few weeks. of course, you must haggle the prices. most of the sellers can speak Malay, but i must caution the ladies to be careful of the Arab sellers who might be sexually harrassing you.
on saturday, 18th December, we said goodbye and left Madinah after asar prayers. we arrived in Jeddah at midnight and slept in dorms at Tabung Haji's building. that night for the first time in 42 days we heard loud music booming coming from the cafe downstairs. the next day, we received our boarding pass and weighed in the bags. then we made our way to the Jeddah airport, received our passports and the complimentary Quran and then finally we boarded Mas, already feeling at home.
at 6.45a.m. 20th December, we touched down on Malaysian soil. i was glad to see Kak Sham, Abg Jenal, Abg Zaki and Kak Ah waiting.
i'm glad to be home, and i'm happy that i went for haj. it's not some mundane journey, it's THE journey. it's full of so many significant memories, lessons and experiences of ourselves, the ukhuwah with other muslims and our communication with Allah. it is not only to fulfil the 5th rukun islam, but it's one's spiritual journey, to be close to Allah, to learn of the history of our religion, to feel humbled with our frailty, limits, ignorance and to respect the sacrifices of the muslims of long ago, especially our Rasulullah and above all - to discard all worldly possessions, pride, wealth and to submit oneself solely to Allah. i feel at peace and syukur to experience the miracles and syukur that Allah had sent me help me when i needed it.
"mereka yang selalu bertaubat, yang beribadat kepada Allah, yang memuji-Nya dalam setiap waktu, dan yang mengembara dalam mengembangkan amanat-Nya, yang selalu rukuk dan sujud, yang selalu mengajak berbuat baik dan yang berpegang teguh hukum Allah. sampaikan berita gembira kepada mereka yang beriman" 112, Surah At Taubah