Abu 'Irfan Shamil
Makkah - Ummul Qura ,the Mother of Cities ......and significantly Hawa (Eve), the Mother of Humanity, lies buried in the nearby city Jeddah whose name itself means Grandmother.
The Ka'bah - the House (of God) that Adam, peace be upon him, built and rebuilt by Prophet Abraham who, with his son Ishmael (as), "raised its foundations" as the Quran ash-Sharif puts it. Here a prayer is worth 100,000 times in any other masjid except Masjid an-Nabawi ....
Makkah the point of God's concentrated tajalli where Angels descend with the Light and make tawaf with the rest of us. Makkah the closest point to the spiritual realms where innermost prayers are answered even before they are verbalised.Here is the place where one has to watch one's every thought, as Imam Gazzali warns us in his Ihya 'Ulumuddin.
Madinah Munawwarah - the City of Illumination. The City of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was born in Makkah but passed away on the lap of his wife Aishah (r) in Madinah with the words "Unto the Companion on High". His grave designated as Rawdah ash-Sharif, is a portion of Heaven on Earth. It is part of the Masjid an-Nabawi where a prayer is worth a thousand times more in merit than in any other masjid except the Masjidil Haram in Makkah.
It would truly be the height of bad manners to go for Haj and then bypass the Prophet's tomb where one should respectfully go to pay heartfelt Salams. Mark then the significance that even Baitullah is not Paradise on Earth. Do we not want to pray in Paradise on Earth? Do we not want to pay our respects and Salam to our Beloved. He is alive, more alive after death then you or me. Allah sustains him at every moment.
These are some of my thoughts before I left for Madinah and then Makkah to undertake the Haj Ifrad.There were books on Haj to read and classes to attend. I had to check with my Tajwid teacher whether my reading was tolerable enough for Haj purposes.The Shaykh Haj employed by our travel manager was very meticulous about the Sunni way to perform the Pilgrimage. But really there were a few things that impelled me.The last time I met the Pakistani Sufi Shaykh Tahir ul-Qadri, I was shocked that I had a kind of vision of the Kaabah as I was about to sleep.
But what really pushed me to carry out my Shariah obligation was my Naqshbandi affiliation which never compromised with the Shariah. Over and above that was the nagging belief that the world war prophesied by our Beloved Prophet sal-Allahu `alayhi wassalam, was in the making. The Israeli leadership becoming rabidly insensitive and greedy, the Serbs and Russians showing some kind of Yajuj wa Majuj conspiracy, the unending problems in Pakistan, Kashmir, Korea, China, the anti-Turk sentiments of the European Community, the Hindu ambitions for a greater India, the continuing Iraqi debacle, the fulfilment of the "Harj, Harj" prophesy [the Prophet (s) predicted that in the last days of his nation killing would be rampant among people] and the prompting to me by our shaykh Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani, convinced me that it would be spiritually fatal for me to postpone Haj and Umrah.
And so it was that with my beloved wife at my side and a KAZI publication on Pilgrimage written by a convert at my side, I left for Madinah with the very intense prayers of my parents, children, relatives and Shaykh Hisham and Shaykh Adnan who advised me on certain religious procedures. Ramadan to purify me passed not too long ago and Haj and Umrah to propel me for a life of Jihad Insha'Allah.
As we approached Madinah the intensity of our Salawatun `ala an-Nabi (praise of the Prophet (s)) heightened. We implored Allah's Forgiveness and Protection constantly.The Shariah concessions for travellers were used to advantage but Zikr was humming in the air throughout the Journey. I was in good company. Our prayer was: Rabbi Yassir wa la tu 'assir. (O our Lord, make easy and do not make difficult.) And so it was that Allah was with us and before we knew it we were in Madinah, the City of the Prophet. There was no hassle.We were out of Madinah Airport within an hour. Some Saudis were very pleasant although some were officious and too focused on their job. As for being the Duyufur Rahman (Guests of the All-Merciful) we insisted on keeping and following all the rules of Adab (etiquette), particularly in the city where is buried the one who was sent to perfect morals.This was stressed over and over again by our Shaykh Haj
There were no teeming thousands of people at the Airport .We were told later that all other Haj contingents would have to use the Jeddah airport. Difficulty or Facility. We accepted all "AlHamduLillah fi Kulli Hal" - all praise is to God, in every state.
Madinah the City of the Beloved is the City of Love. I could see the Masjid and its surroundings from my room. By 3:00 am waves of thousands were sweeping into the palatial grounds of the Masjid Nabawi. Here was everybody from everykind of background.There were beggars and cripples but they had light in their faces and their rights were acknowledged. There were veiled women selling all kinds of religious ware and their rights were acknowledged. They could not be pushed around. One veiled woman told a man who was smoking in the streets "Dont smoke in front of me!" and the man yielded. People were donating all kinds of things and not just to beggars, most of whom came from troubled parts of Africa. There were people from Manchuria and Mongolia with strange garb. But they spoke the same universal "Assalamu 'Alaikum. Marhaba. Ahlan wa Sahlan." ["Peace be upon you. Welcome.] They spoke the very same words of prayer. The influence of Malay ,Urdu and English were very obvious. But the most easy form of communication was still in Arabic.I never knew it was so universally familiar.
And when second Adhan came around 4:00 am. It was remarkable. Everyone in the streets either rushed into the Masjid or stood wherever he was ready for Salat. Incredible sight which repeated itself every time of Salat. Most people also prayed Salat Janazah at every waqt.Whole shops would stop for prayer.There were thousands of people, both men and women who prayed outside the masjid proper, in the grounds and even in the streets.There is no city like Madinah.
The first night had passed with Subh prayers in the Hotel because the Shaykh Haj had final instructions. I had not yet gone to Rawdah Sharif [the blessed grave of the Prophet (s)]. Our group was going to approach the Rawdah in the proper manner and with the proper du'a at around 10:00 am. Most of us were in proper attire complete with turbans with ends between shoulders.Unfortunately my beard was not henna-ed like the Prophet's. I felt sorry about it. Our Shaykh Haj insisted that Adab - proper conduct - was of the highest importance.He did not like the idea of us rushing to the masjid without knowing how to approach it with Adab. He never said anything about Henna and my beard What would the Brelvis [people who are very strict in following Sunna] think? I however felt that I should have rushed to the Masjid with or without my Shaykh Haji at the earliest opportunity. But that impulse could have come from my EGO. He felt that with more than ten days in Madinah we would be able to pray more than the minimum of forty waqts at the Prophet's Masjid. Well some would say "Quality not Quantity."