Reflections in Makkah & Saudi Arabia {Part I: His Reminders}

Thursday, January 07, 2010

I've been back for 3 days and I already miss Makkah. I miss performing the Umrah. The sai'e was my favourite part of it all. It's actually the most strenuous part because of the walking/running back and forth for 7 times but I had so much energy, mashaAllah. I think going to the gym really helped build my stamina! But I think God also made it easy for me. However, what I really miss is feeling so close to God. I know Allah is omnipresent and my relationship with Him exists no matter where I am but in Makkah it just feels a whole lot stronger. The Ka'abah is a Baitullah (House of God, not in the literal sense though) and it is the direction of our prayers.

"Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik. Labbaik Laa Shareeka Laka Labbaik Innal Hamda Wanni'mata laka walmulk Laa Shareeka Lak."

"I respond to Your call my Lord I respond to You, there is no deity except You. All praise, grace and dominion belong to You. You have no partners."

Those are the words we recite when we are approaching Makkah and before performing Umrah. Hence being in Makkah is like the nearest we can be with God, on Earth that is. I had many questions when I was there... questions I didn't think of before going to Saudi Arabia because it wasn't only until I was there that I started to question where I stand in front of God. These are some that I contemplated on...

Who am I to Him if not just one of the millions who worship Him? Do I even matter?
Why has He brought me here? Do I even deserve to be here?
Does God accept my prayers and ibadah (acts of worship) and does He listen to my du'as?
Why do we pray towards the Ka'abah?
What's the significance of doing Umrah? What does the tawaf symbolise? Why do we have to go around the Ka'abah 7 times?
(I knew about the story of Prophet Ibrahim's p.b.u.h. wife, Hajar and their son, Prophet Ismail so I understood the significance of the sai'e)

One by one my questions were answered as I observed the happenings in my surroundings and reflected on my life.

God's Love for His Creations
He created me, my ruh (spirit) and body, and ensured that I was born into a good family. He then gave my parents the means to provide me with love, a home, food, education, clothes, everything that I need. He has blessed and protected me all my life. If that doesn't prove to me that I matter to Him and that he listens to my prayers, then what does?

Why Makkah? Why Me?
I was in Makkah because He wanted me there... away from all the distractions in my everyday life - the Internet, music, television, etc.. God wanted to give me a huge reminder that there's more to life and for every good deed there is a reward and for every sin there is a consequence - spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially. Being in Makkah also served as a reminder that He is All Forgiving and All Knowing. He allows sins to take place, not because he wants to see our downfall but because he wants us to rise above our mistakes and learn from them. He created both good and bad to create meaning in our lives by allowing us to strive for what is good for ourselves and others. There is hikmah in everything and only He knows best. Makkah also really opened my eyes and reminded me that my mother is the most important person in my life and my responsibility towards her is growing each and everyday.

At the same time, He also wanted me to start the year with a fresh new perspective about my life and who I am as a Muslim, as a person, a woman who's no longer a child. I can't think of a better way to start the year than to feel like a brand new person who's heading towards the right direction.

The Ka'abah: One Direction, One Ummah, One Love
I think with His Ultimate Wisdom, God ordered for the Ka'abah to be built in order to unite Muslims all over the world. He has given us an opportunity to reach out to Him when we need Him and for Him to reach out to us too. Makkah is a city like no other in this world because of that. This is just according to my own understanding as I'm sure there are so many reasons why the Ka'abah was built and why we pray towards it, reasons only He knows.

"Having one direction is significant because Islam provides the knowledge of One God, one way of life, a unification of the spirit and intention. The Muslims become as one body, feeling the pain the others feel and sharing in the recovery." Islamic Garden

The Umrah: 7 Circles & 7 Laps...What Could It All Mean?
I was listening to a speech made by a religious scholar while we were in Makkah. He said that being in Makkah meant we were God's honourable guests and as a guests, surely there are gifts or offerings that await us. Performing Umrah is a means of cleansing and purifying ourselves from our sins because no one is free from them. Even the Prophet p.b.u.h. said, "The reward of Hajj is Paradise and the atonement of any sin is Umrah." He also expressed, "A person who circumambulates (tawaf) this House (the Kaaba) 7 times and performs the 2 Rak'at Salat (of tawaf) in the best form possible will have his sins forgiven."

And I found out during my stay in Makkah that Allah grants 120 blessings and mercy around the Ka'abah everyday. "For Allah, the Noble and Grand, there are 120 parts of Mercy around the Kaaba. From these, 60 are for those performing the Tawaf around the Kaaba; 40 are for those performing the prayers; and 20 are for those just looking (at the Kaaba)." - narrated by Imam Ja'far Ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq

I also read that circling the Ka'abah 7 times is a symbol of the centrality of Islam in our lives; and that our lives revolve around our faith in Him. SubhanAllah, how interesting! And that's just a gist of what I learnt recently. Today I know for sure that He is up there watching over me and making sure I'm heading towards the right path. I feel like I'm in a really, really good place in life right now and I hope that He will always bless me with this feeling - through the good and bad times - because there's no greater feeling in life than to feel loved by the Almighty, family and friends.

2 comments:

starry eyed said...

hey sha,

thank you for opening my eyes and reminding me again of why Allah wants us to do certain things. reading ur stories made me realise how much i miss being in mecca. insya Allah, i wanna go there again soon. hope to hear more of ur stories and experiences. take care now :)

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Hi Najwa! I'm glad you could relate to what I had to say in my post =) It means a lot to me. Take care hun!