Makkah Travel Blog› entry 4 of 6 › view all entries
We arrived Makkah in the afternoon, where the weather was around 42 degrees...it was a hot May month but fortunately it wasn't humid. .... being first timers to Mekkah, we were awed by the beauty of it....not many people will say its a pretty city - its just stony hills with hundreds of buildings packed in to a tight place, without much thought for town planning but to me it was awesome.....The Royal family's palace imposingly on one hill looking down onto the mosque and hotels like the Hilton and InterContinental around it.
We checked into the Zahret Hotel, an old hotel just 50 meters from the stairs of the Masjidil Haram. The hotel was ancient and had seen better days- tiny reception area and tiny rooms but its location made it perfect!
We then proceeded to the Masjidil Haram and I was just emotional on seeing the Kaabah in front of me - what a feeling, what a sight! For Muslims the Kaabah is so holy and synonymous with Islam and it is towards the Kaabah that we perform our 5 daily prayers - feeling absolutely tiny and insignificant, I made my way towards it to perform my circumbulation of the Kaabah.
Our new Indonesian guide who was also very kind led us through our first Umrah, showing us how it should be done - very helpful for us first timers. We preformed the Sa'ei and at the end of it did our tahlul where we cut a tiny bit of our hair to signify the end of an Umrah. Throughout the mosque are tanks of Zam Zam, the water that came about when the sole of Prophet Ismail's foot touched the ground. This most delicious water is special and has curative values and is the only drink that can quench a thirst completely as far as I'm concerned. I took the opportunity to drink it whenever I could because its so difficult to get in Malaysia.
Fortunately I did not experience anything that upset me - I did lose my slippers though but that was because it was a Friday and the mosque was crowded, and I just walked barefeet to the slipper shop across from the mosque.
We had great Indonesian food catered for us in the hotel, and it included sambal and raw vegetables - delicious. We grew accustomed to buying fruit juices from the vendors near the hotel - 3 Riyal would get you thick mango or strawberry juice. We also ate typical Pakistani Beriyani from a shop near the Zinc Market (which I believe has been demolished to make way for new buildings).
Our Umrah tour included visiting sites that are significant to Islam - on the 3rd day in Mekkah we boarded a bus that took us to Jabbal Nur, Jabbal Rahmah and then to Mina and Muzalifah to see where those performing the Haj would stay. I wondered how it would be when the whole place was choc-a- bloc full of people ...I prayed that I would have the chance to do the Hajj one day too. I didn't climb the hills of the 2 Jabbals, just went a quarter way to see the view and try to imagine what it would have been like in the days of the Prophet.
We thus spent our days doing our Umrahs, performing our compulsory 5 daily prayers as well as additional (sunah) prayers, as well as reciting and reading the holy Quran. I would try to get the best spots in the mosque - sitting on its cool marble floor, but with the warm sun on my face. On days when the mosque was crowded, we prayed upstairs but i still preferred being downstairs because the Kaabah would seem so near me.
One day after Asar prayers, 3 of us just waited patiently , leaning against the Kaabah and finally had the chance to kiss the Hajjar Aswad after queuing for what seemed an eternity. I was elated! It was such a quick kiss and before I knew it was pulled away by someone - I was smiling the whole day after that! I was also blessed because I had many opportunities to pray in the Hijr Ismail (the secret is to just not make eye contact with the guards when they shooo you away and pretend to be in prayer!!) a place of significance in the history of Islam..apparently prayers here will be granted and I hope Allah will grant me my prayers too.