Monday, 2 January 2012

The Fifth Pillar Of Islam - Hajj 1432 (2011)

A journey like no other, it is the ultimate journey of the heart. A journey so solitary yet done in unison with over 3 million people, it is truly a spectacular event to answer the call of Allah (swt), to renew one’s faith and Glorify the oneness, the Al Khaliq (The Creator) , Allah (swt).

3rd Dhul Hijjah 1432 (Sunday 30th October 2011)

It was the 3rd day of the sacred month of Dhul Hijjah, and more importantly for my wife, Akluma and I, it was the day of our departure to the sacred land of the Hijaz (known to us today as Saudi Arabia). It is fascinating that this is the only nation that is named after a family, Al Saud.

There was much anxiety in the air, even though this would be my second Hajj, with my first voyage to the Hjaz for Al Hajj 2 years prior in 1430 (2009). I was anxious as if it was my very first travel abroad. Akluma also was very anxious, this would be her first trip to the Hijaz full stop, and with all the Prophetic history surrounding this amazing land, no doubt, what she was feeling was truly normal. With the flight hours away in the early hours of Sunday morning, it was much helped by the winter GMT adjustment which benefitted us by an extra night hour, and co-incidentally (Allahu Alum – Allah knows best) this happened a few hours before our imminent departure. This was one of the many blessings we had experienced on this amazing Hajj journey of the Hearts.

After the usual early morning last minute packing on Sunday, followed by a few hours sleep as we both were excited at the break of dawn we got up ready to be escorted to the airport by our beloved reliable sister Neha. My sister was quick to earn her hasanat (reward), by agreeing to drop us Hajjis to be at Heathrow Terminal 1, which we arrived in good time at 5.45am.

It was sad leaving the Ahlul Ali behind. My dear father was wide awake to send his farewells, and my beloved mother and sister afa said their farewells the night before. Mother did give me a sense of her motherly acknowledgement as I said my Salaams (Peace) on the way out of her room with a nod and a light murmur. It was so handy having an international airport on ones doorstep, something I have to say I take for granted as many over the UK travel to Heathrow for their International departures. Alhamdulillah (All Praise is to Allah), Allah has made this part easy for us.

We were greeted with warm welcome from Al Muntada Hajj group, namely brothers Mustafa and Jameel . The whole process from arrival to check in was very well organised, we were all provided with as much information as possible. I prayed Fajr with some brothers in T1 and collected Riyals from Travelex (Tip#1: if you book online it is far cheaper than on the counter, though you do get a much better rate in SA so best to change a few pounds in the UK).

Whilst we were waiting on the departure lounge, we met the “Swansea crew”, which came as a pleasant surprise even if we did know they were in our group. I was introduced to brothers Arjun and Hasan, with the former being related to my wife, this in itself was a blessing having booked independently not knowing of either party booking with Al Muntada. I was re-assured that my wife had someone she knew which will enable her to feel comfortable with the whole Hajj journey.
As we were about to board our plane, which was 2 hours delayed. I got speaking to Brothers, Bhodrul, Waqeel and Imran. MashaAllah they were solid brothers. What touched me was the re-collection of the story of the Battle of Uhud by Bhodrul bhai in respect to the great courageous Sahaba Mus’ab Ibn Umayr.

Mus’ab Ibn Umayr – Battle of Uhud
At the Battle of Uhud, Mus'ab realized the great danger facing the Prophet PBUH. He raised the standard high and shouted the takbir. With the standard in one hand and his sword in the other, he plunged into the Quraysh forces. The odds were against him. He was suddenly surrounded by enemy forces. A Quraysh horseman moved in close and cut off his right hand. Mus'ab was heard to repeat the words: "Muhammad is only a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him," showing that however great his attachment was to the prophet himself, his struggle above all was for the sake of God and for making His word supreme. His left hand was severed also and as he held the standard between the stumps of his arms, to console himself he repeated: "Muhammad is only a Messenger of God. Messengers have passed away before him." Mus'ab was then hit by a spear. He fell and the standard fell. The words he repeated, every time he was struck were later revealed to the Prophet and completed, and became part of the Quran.

It had been noted that 10,000 angels came to his Janaza (Islamic funeral). This re-collection brought tears to the eyes of Bhodrul Bhai and the rest of us could not but be moved by this story. It just shows the level of emaan the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) had, and what love for our beloved Prophet (PBUH). SubhanAllah (Praise be to Allah).

I met a former Tajweed student, Altaf Abbas from our Tayyibun Class of 2006. Incidentally he was really good friends with another good brother I knew, Liaquete Khan who I play indoor 5 aside football with regularly. It was a further co-incidence that he just happened to be sitting next to me on the plane too.
Another blessing was having Shaykh Abu Saed, from Willesden on our Hajj group. The Shaykh, was also well known in the Islamic circles, and more recently on Islamic Q&A at 8pm on sky channel 813 – Islam Channel. It was great to have him, as he was one my favourite Q&A shaykhs, and some brothers and I would watch the Q&A programme with much anticipation to see this Shaykh which brought so much joy and much talk the next day at work. Alhamdulillah. The Shaykh came with his wife and his two daughters. He also happens to come with his brother in law, Shahed Choudhury, who was also my room-mate in Medinah and Makkah.

Whist we sat in the plane getting ready to depart, there was announcement that the lavatory was blocked from the previous Hajj group, well no doubt this is a hazard and will take time to clean out. Our flight, a BMI chartered flight from Heathrow to Medinah took approximately just over 6 hours, which was good. Got to our 4 start hotel, Hotel Dar al Eeman Grand Hotel which looking over our 3 day stay here, found that this was the residence for many of the well known UK Hajj groups, such as Al Hidayya, Amaana Tours, Nabeel Travels etc. There were Shaykhs from all parts of the World there too, as far afield as Canada (Shaykh Ala).

Shahed bhai came with us to the Prophets Masjid. After Esha, prayer Shahed bhai and I went to send Salaams to the Prophet PBUH, Abu Bakr RA and Umar Ibn Al Khattab RA. I met up with Akluma after as we took a stroll around the magnificent Medinah Al Munawarrah Masjid at 11pm (after our buffet dinner –yes we needed to burn some carbs off!). Akluma saw a great opportunity to enter the Masjid, which was closed after Esha to Sisters. MashaAllah, managed to get into the sisters section of the Medinah Al Munawarrah at the early hours of Monday morning approximately 12am. And how blessed she was to find the Swansea Crew of sisters, whom she managed to squeeze herself into the Ar Rawdah an Nabawiyah (“Gardens of Paradise”). This is a very difficult to pray salaat in this place in the best of times and more so during the Hajj season.

Ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah
The heart of the mosque houses a very special but small area named ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah, which extends from Muhammad's (s.a.w) tomb to his pulpit. Pilgrims attempt to visit and pray in ar-Rawdah, for there is a tradition that supplications and prayers uttered here are never rejected. Entrance into ar-Rawdah is not always possible (especially during the Hajj season), as the tiny area can accommodate only a few hundred people. Ar-Rawdah has two small gateways manned by Saudi police officers. The current marble pulpit was constructed by the Ottomans. The original pulpit was much smaller than the current one, and constructed of palm tree wood, not marble. Ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah is considered part of Jannah (Heaven or Paradise).
It is prescribed for the one who visits the mosque to pray two rak’ahs in the Rawdah or whatever he wants of naafil prayers, because it is proven that there is virtue in doing so. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that Muhammad (s.a.w) said: “The area between my house and my minbar is one of the gardens (riyaad, sing. rawdah) of Paradise, and my minbar is on my cistern (hawd)” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1196; Muslim, 1391.

And it was narrated that Yazeed ibn Abi ‘Ubayd said: “I used to come with Salamah ibn al-Akwa’ and he would pray by the pillar which was by the mus-haf, i.e. in the Rawdah. I said, ‘O Abu Muslim, I see that you are keen to pray by this pillar!’ He said, ‘I saw that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was keen to pray here.’” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 502; Muslim, 509.

Further information on the Prophets Mosque can be found on:

It appeared Shahed bhai who was staying with me and Faisal bhai in the triple room, may have got lost after Esha, as he managed to spend a large sum of riyals on taxi fares to come to the hotel, even though it was only 5 minutes from the Prophets Masjid. Funny enough all 3 of us were Bangladeshi, so we all brushed up on our mother tongue in Medinah!

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