My one of the-must-visit-places-before-I-die is Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This country has two holy cities for moslem like me, Makkah and Madinah. Makkah Al Mukarramah has Masjidil Haram with Ka’bah that become a center for Islam. While Madinah Al Munawarrah is the second holiest city where our Prophet Muhammad lived and buried in this city after he moved from Makkah (Hijrah). As a moslem, we have a religious duty called Hajj as it’s stated in the 5th pillar of Islam. Hajj should be done at least once in our lifetime if we are afford to do so. Beside Hajj, Islam has another pilgrimage called Umrah, which not a compulsory but highly recommended. Umrah also has Tawaf and Sa’i but exclude staying in Arafah as Hajj does. This article will tell you about how my dream become reality to visit those holy cities as I did Umrah in mid of 2007
– April 29, 2007-
After working for one year, I’m eligible to have annual leave for 25 working days in a year. I don’t want to miss this opportunity and decide to do Umrah with my mom. We use Umrah travel agent Patuna, and scheduled to go in the late of April. Today, we together with the other 400 people are gathered in “Asrama Haji Pondok Gede”, a place for Hajj or Umrah contingent before they go to KSA. From there, we go to Soekarno-Hatta airport with departure schedule on 1 PM. It will take about 9 hours to get into KSA. After flying for 3 hours, I got news that KSA has a rule to prohibit woman below age 45 years to enter KSA without their “muhrim“. I got panic since I’m not married yet and I will do Umrah with my mom not with my muhrim like my dad or my brothers. Thank God, the travel agent has everything under managed as they appointed someone in my contingent to be my “temporary muhrim”, his name is Mustafa Kemal Samhudi (thanks mas kemal!). After 9 hours, we landed in King Abdul Azis International Airport at 7 PM (KSA Time). The immigration stuff took almost 2 hours, since it was a peak season for doing Umrah. Mas Kemal and I have no obstacle in facing the immigration..Alhamdulillah..From airport, the contingent preceded to Holiday Inn Hotel in Jeddah to stay overnight before go to Madinah in the next day.
– April 30, 2007 –
We scheduled to leave Jeddah at 10 AM for Madinah which took 5 hours by bus. At 3 PM, bus entered the city, and I was crying at that time (yes, crying with tears, still can’t believe that it’s me in Madinah! Alhamdulillah!). Before check in the hotel, we went to Masjid Quba, a mosque/masjid with a beautiful architecture and interior design. One of Rasulullah SAW’s hadist stated, whoever take a pray in this masjid, equal to an Umrah. Alhamdulillah!! After Ashar pray, we took a Madinah city tour, buy kurma, visit Jabal Uhud, and to the seven mosque/Masjid Tujuh (Khandaq War). At 6 PM, we checked in at Movenpick Hotel, which across Masjid Nabawi..A beautiful Masjid with an extremely amazing interior, covered by gold that makes it shining brightly all day and night. This masjid also provides Zam Zam Water that distributed from Makkah by 100 trucks every day. Zam Zam water is a holy water that discovered since Prophet Ismail was born..Subhanallah! Unfortunately, I can’t captured those beautiful interiors of Masjid Nabawi since Askar (Masjid’s security guard) always check our luggage before entering the Masjid: No camera allowed!
– May 1, 2007 –
Today schedule is to visit Raudah and Prophet Muhammad’s graveyard. Raudah is a place where Prophet Muhammad usually gives his speech in this masjid. Alhamdulillah, in the middle of a very crowded situation, I still had a chance to do Sunnah Pray/Shalat in this place. My tears were falling down as I remember all my sins..*hiks*. After Shalat Dhuha, my mom and I were taking a small tour by ourselves. We went to go shopping in the stores in front of Masjid. I love this city, Madinah is a clean city, we can do city walk without any fears, Madinah has its own hospitality that will never be found in other places. We went back to the hotel at 11 AM, to prepare for Shalat Dhuhur. The sun is extremely hot, my migraine suddenly relapse…ouch!…Sometimes I think that middle east has a very extremely hot weather so everyone who does Hajj and Umrah has a tought, how The Hell will give you more than this
– May 2, 2007 –
The first half day is a free day for us, so my mom and I decided to spend our time in Masjid, Shalat and Read Qur’an..At 1 PM, after Shalat Dhuhur, we start to wear Ihram, a holy clothes for Umrah and Hajj, and go to another holy city, Makkah Al Mukarramah at 3 PM. We took Miqat for Umrah in Masjid Bir Ali at 4 PM and entered Makkah at 8 PM. After checked in the Elaf Kindah Hotel, we are getting ready for Umrah, and start to do Umrah at 10.30 PM..Umrah with 7x Tawaf, 7x Sai between Safa and Marwah, and Tahalul….Despite I got my nose bleeding for the first time, everything is on track..*When I did Sa’i, I can’t imagine the situation when Siti Hajar (Prophet Ismail’s mom) cross this sand dessert 7x to get water for her son..Subhanallah!*
– May 3, 2007 –
My mom and I spend this all day long in Masjidil Haram by praying and reading Qur’an…
About Mekkah: Never compare this city with the lovely Madinah. Mekkah is a crowded city with its traffic jam, not a clean city, so many beggars live in this city, mostly from Africa. Perhaps, it is a warning sign from God how we rarely thank about what God has given to us while most people still live with poverty.
– May 4, 2007 –
This day is a city tour day in Makkah. We plan to visit Jabal Nur, Jabal Rahmah (a place where Prophet Adam and Siti Hawa met for the first time) *rumor has it that if we pray for a husband/wife, insya Allah….*. From Jabal Rahmah, we go to Arafah, Muzdalifah, Mina, Hiro Cave (a place where Prophet Muhammad received Surah Al Alaq). At 10 AM, we went back to hotel to get ready for Shalat Jum’at (Friday Pray).
In this day, I have unexpected grace from God, which I can completed reading Qur’an (Khatam) right before Shalat Jum’at in Masjidil Haram, the holy masjid for moslem..I only have 5 days to complete Qur’an and I did it! Kun Faya Kun!
– May 5,2007 –
Today we are going to have Tawaf Wada’ as we will leave Mekkah after Shalat Dhuhur..*I wish no nose bleeding occur this time and alhamdulillah I survived! Another unexpected grace happened when I tried to do shalat in Maqam Ibrahim and Hijr Ismail (2x!)..Those places always crowd and suddenly empty when I did shalat, left-right,back-front..no human at all! Angels are around me?
We checked out from hotel at 2 PM and go to Jeddah. We stopped by Camel livestock to have a milk drink..If by any chance I can say no to drink a camel milk then I will do it..Those poor camel eyes always cross in my mind! We entered Jeddah at 4 PM, and take a city tour including visit Balad (shopping center that sell cheap parfum, watch and other goodies) before checked in at Le Meridien Hotel.
Jeddah is an international city with a diverse social culture, many malls placed in this city, more expatriates live in. Something unique is about Abaya (black long clothes). Jeddah has a rule that every woman must wear abaya when they leave the house, with no exception. Hence, non-arabic woman also wear abaya but without veil.
– May 6, 2007 –
Before proceeding to the airport, we stopped by at Red Sea, to the floating mosque. A mosque placed in the edge of Red Sea where we can see a clearly water under the mosque.
The plane was take off at 8 PM, bring us back to Indonesia!!
– May 7, 2007 –
Arrive at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Jakarta with safely. Alhamdulillah…God, please give me another chance to go back to Your House..Amin…
Special Thanks to: Mustafa Kemal Samhudi
– More stories are illustrated in my web album “An Illustrated Journey” –