Monday, November 29, 2010


a few days ago i performed my umrah wajib with my roommate Kak Sidah. Rayhar provides buses for its pilgrims to go and niat at various miqats in Makkah namely Hudaibiah, Ja'ranah and Tane'em'. the closest miqat is Taneém which is 7km from Masjidil Haram. that day we went to Taneém. 

a day after that i didn't perform umrah, but there was an umrah ziarah for my KT96 group. we went to see the places we had to be at during haj, but which are now deserted places - Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina. some of you can see the pics in my facebook. then we went to Jabal Rahmah, the place where Adam met Hawa after a few hundred years. we also visited Jabal Thur (where the Prophet hid with Saidina Abu Bakar, if i'm not mistaken) and Jabal Nur (where the Prophet received his first revelation). 

Yesterday i performed umrah for my late mother. it's the least i could do for a person who had raised me with love. as it was meant for her, it was very emotional for me, as one of the mustajab places to doa is during tawaf and when i doa for her, tears came falling down. may be some of the people were puzzled to see a lady crying, but i just didn't care. i performed the umrah alone, for the first time, and it's better this way because i could move faster. may be during umrah season tawaf and saie would take less than 2 hours, but it took me 1 hour to complete the tawaf, and 1 hour to complete the saie. unlike some people who tawaf on the 1st floor, i stick to the groundfloor, and i was in the middle of the tawaf ring. i didn't have much difficulty and the most pleasant experience was when i could feel the cool air - which Ustaz Hj Ahmad Rosli mentions in his book as the breeze from heaven.

today i didn't perform umrah, but we stopped at the camel farm. based from my previous experience, the camel farm is a very smelly place, and the smell hit me as soon as the bus door opened. some bought camel milk, but i wasnt interested at all as i'm lactose intolerant. then we went to Hudaibiah mosque for miqat. it was a brief visit, unlike the one i had when i performed umrah where we visited the museum exhibiting masjidil haram objects such as kiswah and the gold door.

i will continue my story later.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Spiritual Journey:This Is It!

hi guys! finally i'm connected to the net! now i'm able to tell my experiences in performing hajj. i've previously written my journal and saved the file in Words but due to some techie errors, i've lost the file, and only have the journal dated atfer my return from Mina. i'll try my best to remember the experiences.

my journey began at Tabung Haji Kelana Jaya. Kak Sham sent me to the centre and there i could see pilgrims in ihram, and i felt nervous. i saw pilgrims with Rayhar signature purple coloured bags and felt a bit secure. i met Abg Mi and we then went to Rayhar counter to get our complimentary gifts and our ID tags. then the check in began. it was smooth sailing, and i thanked Allah for it, because Hj Harun, Rayhar's CEO, had prepared us for the worst case scenario. then after praying dhuha at the prayer room, Rayhar's Ust Zul recited the azan. i tell you, i was so emotional at that time. during our haj lectures the ustazs always said that going for haj is like preparing for death - you don't know if you're coming back or not. and that's how i felt at that time. tears just came running down. we then boarded the bus. i was contemplating whether to do haji tamattuk or haji ifrad. Abg Mi and Kak Madiha opted for Haji Tamattuk. but i did istikhara the previous night and somehow when i was boarding the bus i kept looking at the Haji Ifrad checklist. in the end i decided to choose Haji Ifrad, which means that i'll be in ihram for haj as soon as we pass Qarnul Manazil miqat. anyway, there were 10 buses for KT96 that day, and it felt nice to see the police traffic stopping the traffic just for us. made us feel like VIPs. once we arrived in KLIA, we didn't have to wait that long to board the 747-400. i was lucky to get the window seat as i love looking at the clouds or the land below. a few hours into the flight, and i could see the landscape below. i had this feeling we were in Africa, there were huge mountains. then later i could see the Sahara desert. then the landscape changed and i knew we're in Saudi Arabia. 

we arrived in Jeddah at night, and had to pray at the arrival hall. there was a delay because they didn't have enough immigration arrival cards. after that was settled, we went through imigration check. we're very lucky that the Arabs respect Malaysians, so the check was a breeze. we then collected our big suitcases and it was there i saw a few workers praying Isyak not in a room, but near the luggage conveyor belt - just to show that whatever it is, solat comes first and they will pray at any clean space available. something that we don't see in Malaysia. in Malaysia, we have a special room for praying and even then not all Muslims pray. makes you wonder, doesn't it?

after that we had to wait until past midnight to board the bus. we arrived in Mekah at 2am and as usual i was crying when we recited the talbiyah. i saw the giant clock tower, which is near to Masjidil Haram. we arrived at the hotel feeling dazed and exhausted. the Rayhar officer told us to get ready for tawaf and saie at 7.30a.m. the majority of the pilgrims in my group did umrah, but because i decided to do haji ifrad, i had to do tawaf qudum or welcome tawaf and this enabled me to do saie haji. it was an experience to see Kaabah...subhanallah! as always, i marvel at its magnificence. 

after tawaf and saie i decided to stay on at masjidil haram for zohor. though alone, i wasn't afraid because minutes later i met 2 ladies who were from my KT96 but staying at a different hotel. these friendly ladies took me under their wings and asked me to have lunch with them at their hotel. i even took a nap in their room, as their hotel is near to the masjid. we then went for maghrib and isyak prayers together. while waiting for Isyak, one of the ladies, Kak Mah, asked me if wanted to take some zamzam water. we made our way to a zamzam fountain but it was full with men. Kak Mah then had the idea to ask one of the cleaners in green uniform to help. the cleaner we asked for help didnt help us, but he stopped another of his colleagues and i could hear him say clearly "Malayzia". so, his friend gladly helped us to fill our bottles with zamzam water. so my dear readers, Malaysians are very much respected by the Arabs in Makkah since we don't create problems. we should feel so lucky because of this reputation.  

my friend As told me that i should do a lot of sedeqah. and i remember reading a hadith somewhere that haji mabrur means sedeqah and giving salam (correct me if i'm wrong). so i bought some dates and brought some to the masjid. it's not much, but in Haram Land, the reward is tenfold (or should i saw thousandfold?). at this time too, i was about to read Yaasin as it was Thursday (Friday night). i was sitting between 2 Turkish ladies. one of them tried to talk to me but since she knows no English, we're like chicken and duck talking. she was gesturing towards my Yaasin, then i realised that she wanted me to teach her how to read Yaasin! subhanallah! this is an opportunity for me to do good deeds by helping other people to read Quran. so i helped the lady gladly, and she hugged me afterwards. i felt contentment and tranquility after that, knowing that i've done something good. as usual, as i'm writing this, i'm not trying to glorify what i did, i'm just telling my readers about my experiences and inspire the others.

i felt pleased with myself, but the feeling didn't last long because i then came down with flu despite the  Vaxigrip vaccine shot. i stayed in bed most of the time, and i was worried because we were due to leave for Arafah on the 14th Nov as 15th is wukuf day. worried, too, because the most important haji rituals should be done in the next few days, all along with all the trials and tribulations. anyway, i gathered all the strength that i could muster and climbed the bus to Arafah.

on the bus,  i sat next to a senator who i called "makcik"before that. never mind, everybody's on equal footing on holy land. as we went farther and farther out of Makkah and masjidil haram, i could still see men in ihram in some of the buildings - which shows that their lodging is much farther than ours, and still that did not deter them from doing pilgrimmage. and my hotel is only 250m from masjidil haram. makes one think  that we should stop complaining and think of how lucky we are.

"Haji is Wukuf" (Haji itu Wukuf, as quoted by Nabi Muhammad s.a.w)

what with the fever and fatigue, i fell asleep. we reached Arafah campsite around 9pm. my fever was so bad at that time that everything happened seemed to be surreal, even to the late dinner i had. my head pounded so bad and all i wanted to do was sleep. we were divided into tents which were spread with Arabian rugs and a mattress, a pillow and a blanket for everybody. there were airconditioning units so air ventilation was good. the only thing  that wasn't good was the toilets. this is the most basic facility at its most rudimentary form that you can get, and it won't do you good to complain because we're in Arafah to submit ourselves to Allah, not to come and ask for 5 star hotel treatment. in these hard times, one can see the true colours of other people - it is only our iman that determines our patience to bear with all the hardships. the food provided by the muasassah wasn't appetising, but i didn't complain. suffice to say that i must have lost some weight because i only ate around 2-3 tablespoons of rice at best.

Rayhar made sure that our time is filled with food for our souls, so there're always tazkirahs, zikirs, quran recitals, and latest info by the management. on wukuf day, Ust Ir. Mohd Radzi recited a few lines from Al Baqarah concerning haj, and there was a khutbah Arafah and throughout the day there was a constant flow of zikir. Nabi Muhammad delivered a Khutbah Arafah to the pilgrims during his last haj before his death, and this was where he asked the Muslims if he had completed his task as Rasulullah. 

then it was almost sundown and it's the most mustajab time to doa, which i did by sujud, because we'ré closer to Allah that way. it is said that at this time Allah is nearest to the earth as He can be, asking the angels if there're any more wishes to be granted.
Spending the night at Muzdalifah (Bermabit di Muzdalifah)
by nightfall, we left Arafah ground to spend at least half a night at Muzdalifah. unfortunately though, there's not space available so some of us had to sit by the roadside. we were there until 2 am then we went to Mina.

Spending the night at Mina (Bermabit di Mina)
at Mina, the tents are made of canvas and durable enough so that the tents are permanent structures there. we were in Maktab 83 and Rayhar purple flags were flying about. that night i slept as soon as my head touched the pillow. a few minutes later, i was awakened by my neighbour who said some people had gone stoning the jamrah kubra. i immediately switched on my phone and realised that Abg mi and Kak Madiha had gone. i was determined to get my tahallul awal as i was in ihram far longer than most of the hajis and hajjahs, and as luck had it (or call it Divine Intervention) my roommate and her husband wanted to go stoning. so i joined them and went stoning at 3am. there were many other pilgrims, namely the arabs and the turkish, and there were also a few groups of indonesians and thais. after stoning the jamrah kubra, we did tahallul of cutting a few strands of hair. unfortunately though, my roommate wanted to return to Makkah so i went back alone. yes,alone. at 4a.m. i was scared, but my only thought at that time was that Allah is always with me. i kept reciting "rabbi yassir wala tuassir" all the way until i reached the words could express my emotion at that time. i've completed the first leg of haj, and the 10 restrictions were lifted. one kakak even said that i had a glow on my face, the glow of those who have gone through tahallul awal. really? well, i don't know.

life in mina is better than in Arafah in the sense that the tent is much better, the facilities are better (in this i'm talking about the toilets which were equipped with working showerheads) and Rayhar made sure that there's a free flowing of fresh fruits (arranged abundantly in trays), biscuits, hot drinks, and an inexhaustable supply of mineral water. nothing can be said about the muasassah food, well, what do you expect when Arabs cook rice for you? still, it took 1 hour to queue for the shower or the toilet...but then, you're only there to please Allah, and you're not late for any business meeting or appointment.

anyway, my flu was bad, so i asked to go to the clinic. i asked to go to Tabung Haji clinic first, and to go there, i had to pass a few private haji packages tents. and they were all very silent, there's no activity going on at all. the only activity and sounds came from Rayhar maktab as they made sure that the time is filled with tazkirahs and zikir. made me think that i made the right choice in choosing Rayhar in the first place. when i reached the Tabung Haji tent, the doctor told me that only emergency procedures could be done there. so i had to go to the Arab clinic outside. the Arab doctor could communicate in English, thank god, so i told him, in my almost barely recognisable voice that i wheezed. unfortunately though i forgot to mention i have gastritis. after that, i went to get my medicine at the pharmacy counter. the arab pharmacist tried to make a joke when he asked for my medical book and put it in his pocket pretending to refuse giving it back to me. anyway, i was given an inhaler, and some other pills. at the tent, i was blessed because i had some concerned neighbours who rubbed some vicks on my back, and there was a doctor as well. so this doctor taught me how to use the inhaler properly. 3 hours later, i realised that the antibiotics was acidic, because i had gastric pains! immediately i asked the doctor's opinion and she told me to take the anti-acid pills that i had. the good doctor finally gave another set of antibiotics to me, which she said is "kinder".

Abg Mi decided to do nafar awal. in performing haji, one has the option of staying 2 or 3 nights in Mina. we chose to spend only 2 nights in Mina. on the last night in Mina, we went stoning at 3am. Rayhar made sure that we're in one big group, and there're Rayhar people holding Rayhar purple flags as well. we made our way to the jamrah, reciting takbir raya as we went. we then went to stone the 3 jamrahs before subuh, so that means 21 stones, and another round of stoning after subuh prayers to complete the 2 days of stoning. we then returned to our maktab and then we went back to Makkah. 

The Philosophy behind the Stoning

the pilgrims have to stone at Mina because this was where Nabi Ibrahim was stopped by Satan who tried to dissuade him from sacrificing Nabi Ismail. Nabi Ibrahim responded by pelting Satan with stones. 

as Abg mi and Kak Madiha had done their tawaf haji, i decided to join my roommate K.Sidah and her husband. we planned to tawaf at night as we were exhausted. but by asar, there was a storm in Makkah - in the midst of jammaah prayer! we wanted to go for maghrib prayers, but Masjidil Haram was closed as they needed to mop the floor. i had to pray on the marble staircase then. we only returned to the masjid at 1a.m. do to do tawaf, hoping that the crowd would recede. i was wrong. there was a sea of pilgrims all doing their tawaf. just imagine 3 of us, in the sea of tall, towering Goliaths who could just crush us by sheer force. but by the grace of Allah, we finished our tawaf. as for me, at 2.38a.m. i completed my haj. i didn't sleep for 48 hours as i was psyched up, and now i'm now a hajjah! alhamdulillah! i wish my parents were still alive so that they could be proud of me, as i'm sure they would.

a week after completing haj, Rayhar organised a trip for us. i've been to these places before during umrah, but i decided to go with the rest of my KT96 mates. we visited Jabal Thur, where Rasulullah and Abu Bakar hid from the Quraisy clan. there were too many pilgrims there, also taking pictures, and sadly though, the place isn't maintained at all. there were also peddlers selling tasbihs and offering photo taking services. after that we we passed by Muzdalifah and Mina, the 2 places we had to be at during haj. Mina was a deserted place now, but the tents still stand. we then stopped for half an hour at Jabal Rahmah, the place where Adam and Eve met after a few hundred years of searching for each other. i didn't climb the hill as i did that during my umrah trip. there were also men towing the camels bedecked in gaudy ornaments, offering pilgrims camel rides at a certain fee. i felt sorry for the gentle creatures. i think they should be allowed to roam free instead of being tied up with human commercialism. after that we went to Jaaranah, a place which is 22km from Makkah and another miqat for umrah. after that we passed by the hill called Jabal Nur, where Rasulullah first received his revelation from Jibrail. from far away we could see tiny white specks and i knew those were pilgrims who were cilmbing the steep hill. i salute them and most importantly, i really respect Rasulullah because it is a steep hill, and he went there to be alone to worship Allah.

today is the 26th of november, and because of uzur syaríe, i 'm taking this chance to do what jemaah haji and ustazs like to call "tawaf kedai". yes i'm in shopping mode! a lot of the pilgrims are seen shopping - be it the Turkish, the Thais, the Indons, the Malaysians - everybody is shopping for souvenirs. well anyway before my netbook runs out of battery i'd better end my journal here, and hope to continue later, especially when we go to Madinah on the 10th Dec.

my advice to my Muslim readers who have not performed haj yet, start registering if at Tabung Haji if you haven't. you must have at least RM1300 to register for haj, and if you have enough money, and if you want to perform haj a.s.a.p then i suggest you go by private packages as Tabung Haji is decreasing the subsidy given to muassasah pilgrims. i would also like to suggest my readers to go as early as you can, while you still have your physical strength, as the most important rituals involve a lot of stamina through walking and enduring hardships. but most important of all, don't go for haj only because it's the 5th tenet in Islam. go for haj because you want to be close to Allah, and to bare yourself and your weaknesses to Him. be sincere because you'll be rewarded. prepare yourself months before by praying sunnah prayers : tahjud, taubat, dhuha, and the qabliyatan and ba'diyatan prayers. it may be difficult at first, but through discipline you'll be rewarded with peace and contentment and insyaallah you'll feel you're close to Allah.

la baikallah hummalabaik
la baikala shari kala kala baik
innal hamda wa ni'mata
laka wal mulk
la sharikalah