Finally the day came when we had to go to Makkah for the actual task that we intended to do, i.e. the Umrah. Our travel arrangements were part of the Umrah package, hence we were informed a day before of the time we had to leave. We were able to offer one last prayer which was Fajr prayer in Masjid-e-Nabawi (S.A.W) and then got ready for the bus which would take us to Makkah.
This was one trip I wanted to make and did not want to make at the same time. I was excited about going again towards Makkah, but this was the very same trip that we made year after year when we lived in Riyadh. The trip brought back memories, and I was a bit scared of them.
We started for Makkah and stopped at Masjid Bir Ali at Zul Hulaifa, which is some 9 – 10 km from Medina. This point is the Miqat for people going towards Makkah with the intention of Umrah. Men should wear their ihram before or at this point, before moving forward towards Makkah. Men’s ihram consists of two large white clothes which are not stitched in any way. Women can wear whatever clothes they are wearing, provided they follow the Islamic ruling of modesty and cover appropriately.
Masjid Bir Ali is simple yet beautiful. While all mosques are to be loved, I really like this mosque , its courtyards, the watercoolers, the wuzu area , everything. I remembered all the details from my childhood and the mosque was still the same.
Enroute to Makkah, there were many things I remembered. The sand, the mountains, the rocks, and everything had memories. This was the trip where I wept a lot, remembering the good days, and wished a million times and then another million times that I still was living in Riyadh and that I was making this trip with my family in our Cressida.
This trip used to take us around 3 – 4 hours, but by bus we reached Makkah in some 8 hours. There were two stops on the way besides the stop at miqat. One was for 25 minutes, the other was supposed to be 25 minutes but was at least an hour long stop. Buses and large vehicles had a speed limit of 80 km/h, as compared to 120 km/h for small cars.
Finally after some 8 hours we reached our destination. Previously when we entered Makkah, Haram (the Holy Mosque) would be visible, but now, it the Makkah clock tower that is visible from far away. While it adds to the skyline of the city, my heart broke a little at not being able to see Haram. After being dropped at our hotel, we went out in search of food and to take a look at the holiest of the places on earth, the Ka’aba. What happened when we went to the Holy Mosque? You’ll have to wait.