Friday, May 16, 2014

The day I visited Madinah and Makkah (Part Two)

I was overjoyed when I reached Makkah. I know anybody who perform ibadat in the Grand Mosque  (Masjidil Haram), he will get 100,000 virtues. That is a big reward. That is why it is better to perform solat and other deeds in this mosque as you will get 100,000 virtues. Whoever who already arrived in Makkah must ensure they do not miss this golden opportunity!

When I completed my umrah, I visited many historic places around Makkah. They include Mount Thur, Arafat, Mount Rahmah, Mina, Jaaranah, Tanaim, and the prophet's former house site. Our guide explained to us about the significance of these areas. I learnt a lot from this visit because the guide is very knowledgeable and he gave us a lot of relevant information including the history and the Quranic verses which are related to these sites.

Mount Thur is where the prophet was hiding from the enemy who wanted to kill him. The enemy nearly found him inside this cave but the spider quickly made her web around the entrance and the birds occupy some place. This situation made the enemy thought that there were nobody inside the cave. This pushed away the enemy to other areas.

Mount Thur, Makkah

Among the visitors who were at the foot of the Mount Thur.
Arafat is a big field which houses thousands of pilgrims during the haj season. All pilgrims who perform haj must stay here for a moment during the noon on the 9th of Zulhijjah (Muslim calender month). It was made known that all phophet of God had come here during their lifetimes.

Mount Rahmah is a small hill next to Arafah. It was told it was the place where Prophet Adam met Hawa again after being separated for a long time after being discharged from the Heaven (Jannah). I found many grafitis being written by visitors. They wrote their names on the rectangular column walls on the mountain  top. Some believe if they make doa or prayer at the site, it will be granted.

Mount Rahmah, Arafah

Mina is another place where it was a very historic place. This is a place whereby all Muslims who perform their haj have to throw stones. There are three jamrahs (Ula, Wusta and Aqabah). Now, they are properly housed  in a multiple level  building which was constructed quite recent.  In Mina too, there are permanent anti-fire tents are constructed. These white tents can be seen from far. A train station was constructed here. But I was told the train is being used only during haj season and that too for the Saudian pilgrims. Others still use buses for transport.
Jamrah in Mina.

Jaaranah is a village (not far from Makkah) where the prophet Muhamad pbuh once was poisoned by a lady who wanted to test him whether he is the real prophet or otherwise. He survived the ordeal. Jaaranah is also a miqat ( a place where you make niyyah) for performing umrah similar to place like  Bir Ali and Tanaim.

The next day, we visited the prophet's birth place and prophet former house site. It is a common knowledge that the prophet Muhammad birth place is just near the Grand Mosque. However, the management now says there is not much evident to prove it. Well, the site is now developed as a library next to the Palace.

The site of the Prophet's  house

When we reached the former site of phophet's house, our guide just told us to sit down. At first we did not know why he asked us to sit down. When everybody sat down, then he opened his narration. This site is near the Babul Salam entrance and the toilet. This is the first time I learnt about the site although I had been here many times.

Later in the evening, the guide discreetly showed us the pillar in the Grand Mosque that is always emitting good odour. Since they are large crowd around, I did not dare to validate it. We just nod and may be some day, we will validate it.

After Maghrib prayer, I started walking towards the lane that lead to the new mataf. I had to come out of the mosque and walked to the the special lane. This lane is fully dedicated to the people want to perform tawaf on wheel chairs. The mataf is a circular double-deck structure (built around the Kaabah), but now only its upper deck is being used. So I waited for my turn to be allowed by the guards. After all wheel chairs got into this lane and move towards the mataf, non wheel chair people were allowed in. We walked passed the elevated wooden structure into the upper floor in the Mosque.

New Mataf (double-deck ) for the jemaah to perform tawaf.

I performed my sunat tawaf by encircling 7 times and finished a few minutes before isha prayer. It took nearly an hour. Here you get a good view of the Kaabah and jamaah.

Large crowd is very  normal nowadays where pilgrims perform the tawaf.
Talking about Kaabah, some people are determined to kiss the black stone (Hajar Aswad) and pray in the Hijr Ismail. If your niyyat is strong and you are determined, insya Allah you will get it. Find a suitable time to do it and it is advisable to do it when people are getting less especially in midnight and the wee morning. Some people offer pilgrims to kiss the stone at a price. So be careful.

I spent 6 days in Makkah.  In between prayer times, I visited shopping outlets which are below my apartment. Shops now are concentrated in the three towers in front of the Grand Mosque. These include Safwah, and Zam-zam. Basement shops sell products at cheaper price.

There are many hotels in these towers such as Ritaj, Pullman, Al Marwa Rayhana by Rotana, Movenpick, Al Safwah Royale Orchid and Elaf Kinda Hotel.Price may start from RM500 a night.

Clock Tower in Makkah where a few hotels are incorporated within the shopping malls.

At Safwah Tower (on the left),  many Malaysians tried the Malaysian cuisine at Felda's restaurant, D'Saji at the food court.

Since many hotels near the Grand Mosque are being demolished to make way for other buildings and development, only those who can afford can stay in hotels near the Grand Mosque. Those who can't afford, have to be housed 400-800 metres away or even a few kilometres away. This may not be good for the elderly as they have to walk a long way or pushed on the wheel chair to and fro the Mosque. In years to come, when the construction of the Mosque complete, I think new hotels will be built on the other side of the mosque and thus making more rooms available close the mosque.

However, there are other visitors who do not care about staying in hotels. They usually come from the Indo-Pakistani countries. They just occupy unused shopping floor, or around the tarmac outside the Grand Mosque.

As far as food is concerned, most visitors will take their food in the respective hotel restaurants. Some patronise the local restaurants and food courts and some even pre-order packed food to be sent to their respective rooms.

One thing I noticed, on Friday afternoon prayer, there are many people in Makkah, They came from all over the place, jamming the mosque. By eleven a.m., the mosque front doors were closed by the guards on duty. Those who were late have to pray outside the mosque and prayer even extended to the shopping malls nearby.
Friday prayer performed at the Albait shopping mall.

Buying packed lunch from the vendor in Jeddah.

On the last day in Makkah, our guide told us to perform farewell tawaf in the morning as we have to depart Makkah by 11 a.m. By 11 am, all of us entered the coach with our luggage and went to the King Abdul Aziz International Airport at the Saudian terminal. It is the same terminal that we arrived.

In Jeddah, our guide bought zam zam water at a kiosk and this add storage in the coach. Later, our guide bought lunch packs for us at the parked van nearby.

Once we reached the airport terminal, the porters came with the trolleys. They never give you the trolley as they wanted to keep it themselves. So we have no option but to get their services at a price.

As we entered the departure lounge, there were many other passengers occupying the seats. We got our seats at a corner and started to have our lunch.

The check-in time is around 5 pm. So we waited nearly 2 hours. When the check-in counter opened, there was no information of our flight number. We were worried. Our guide had spoken to the Flynas staff and he said we should check-in at other terminal, meaning the international terminal. We argued back saying we came through this terminal and we assumed we go back from this terminal too. Minutes later, the staff spoke to their counterpart. Then, he said it is alright to check-in here. So they started to process our check-in. All our passports and tickets were submitted to the check-in staff. In the midst of the check-in, the system got jammed. The check-in ended at 6.30 pm, barely 30 minutes before departure!

The departure gate was only opened at 7.30 pm (there is no flight information at the information electronic board) when everybody finished performing their solat maghrib. We just followed what the staff said. The bus waited for us down stair and the officer guides us to the bus and later to the awaiting plane.

The bus brought us to a long and winding path to search for the plane. As it was already dark, being an ordinary visitor, it seems difficult to pin point our plane. After a few turns, at last we found our plane. All of us (20 persons) boarded the plane. Once we enterd the plane, I found they were a few passengers inside. The plane crew escorted us to the seats. I noticed the big plane had only few passengers! It looked as if it is a charter plane for us and we enjoyed it as we get many seats and converted it as our beds.

The plane departed Jeddah at 8.30 pm. We reached Kuala Lumpur in the morning the next day.

Thank you Allah for giving the opportunity to visit this place.  I pray and hope the Almighty Allah will give me more rezeki so that I can visit this holy place again in the near future.

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