The Umrah Trip: A Memorable Journey to the Creatorby Hessy Trishandiani
“And complete the hajj and umrah for Allah.” [Surah Al Baqarah 2:196]
2022 brings good news for all of us who have been missing the Holy Land – Mecca. As the pandemic gradually subsided, Saudi Arabia’s authorities have allowed pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia to set foot in the Holy Land to perform the Hajj and Umrah.
This good news brought me back in reminiscing about my experience of Umrah before the pandemic, precisely at the end of 2013. At that time, my family and I decided to perform Umrah in December.
Medina, The First Stop
Just like in my country, Indonesia, the weather in December which is not too hot does feel more friendly. The air also felt cool when I arrived in the first city, Medina. But at night and in the morning, especially in the early morning when I want to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque, I have to wear a thick jacket because of the bone-chilling wind
Indeed, Medina became the first stop in the itinerary made by our umrah travel agency. The hotel where we stayed was close enough to the Prophet’s Mosque, it took only about five minutes walking to get there. This is an important thing for us as a family, considering that we have to take our mother who is already old to walk slowly to the Prophet’s Mosque.
The Beauty of the Prophet’s Mosque
There is no end point when we talk about the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid Nabawi). Al-Masjid Al-Nabawis –the Arabic name of this mosque– is the second place of worship built in Medina. The first mosque built by the Prophet Muhammad was Quba, which I also visited. The first time I stepped my foot in Medina, I could not stop admiring the beauty of the Prophet’s Mosque architecture and decoration which was built by the Prophet in his first year after the hijrah from Mecca to Medina – which at that time was called Yathrib.
My heart was trembling and composed at the same time as I stepped my foot in this mosque. When the muezzin recites azan (the call to prayer), Muslims from all over the world hurriedly go to the mosque. The beauty of the Prophet’s Mosque can’t only be seen from the outside, because I could also see its specialty from the inside through the atmosphere that feels so peaceful. How happy I am as I have the opportunity to perform salat, pray, and praise Allah in a mosque that rewards prayer 1,000 times more than any other mosque – except the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
Exploring Medina and Its Surrounding
On the sidelines of our worship agenda, my group and I had time to explore Medina and several tourist attractions there. We visited date palm plantations, Jabal Rahmah, Jabal Uhud, Jabal Magnet, and had a chance to taste fresh camel milk on a farm.
These places are not only historic but also unique. For example, Jabal Rahmah which is the hill where the Prophet Adam and Siti Hawa met. Uniquely, many people believe this 70 meter high hill as the most appropriate and efficacious place to pray for a mate.
There is also Jabal Uhud which in Arabic is interpreted as a solitary mountain. This mountain does look like an isolated mountain because it is not connected to other mountains. In this location, you can also find a cemetery for 70 companions of the Prophet Muhammad who died at the Battle of Uhud.
Jabal Magnet or Magnetic Hill is also very popular for its uniqueness. This place is named the ‘magnetic’ mountain not without a reason. At Jabal Magnet, we can feel the push and magnetic attraction of the hills on the left and right of the road. The strength of the magnetism makes a vehicle traveling at a speed of 120 kilometers per hour can slow down gradually to 5 kilometers per hour when entering this area.
Starting the Journey
After spending a few days in Medina and had the opportunity to reap the rewards by worshipping there, our group continued the journey to Mecca to perform Umrah.
Like the common Umrah trip, we have to take the miqat first. We took the miqat at Bir Ali. Bir Ali (formerly called Dzul Hulaifa) itself is the determined border miqat for the congregation from the north (Medina). This Miqat boundary is approximately 450 km from Mecca. After performing 2 rakat sunnah prayers in the miqat location, we say our niyyat (intention), then our group and I went to Mecca to do tawaf and sa’i.
Performing Umrah in the Holy Land of Mecca
After traveling several hours by bus from Medina, we arrived at the Holy Land of Mecca. A lot of touching emotion welled up in my chest when I set foot there. How could I not, when I finally had the opportunity to be one of Allah’s special guests, with His permission certainly.
Seeing the majesty of the The Great Mosque (Masjid al-Haram) and the Kaaba in front of my eyes made me feel like nothing compared to the greatness of Allah. Just like in the Prophet’s Mosque, all Muslims from all over the world mingle as one to get closer to the Creator. My first sujood while praying at the Masjid al-Haram made my chest feel overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude.
After that, we started to perform the pillars of this Umrah pilgrimage. Truthfully, I was a bit worried about my mother’s condition during tawaf as she’s already old. It crossed my mind to rent a wheelchair around the area. But miraculously, my mother was strong enough to do the tawaf (circling around the Kaaba) without having to use a wheelchair. I just had to hold my mother so she wouldn’t fall from the risk of being squeezed by other congregants. Alhamdulillah, circling the Kaaba seven times, starting and ending at the Black Stone (Hajar Aswad), was accomplished smoothly.
After the tawaf, my family and I performed the next Umrah pillar, namely sa’i. Sa’i is walking from the hill of Safa to the hill of Marwah and vice versa seven times that would end in Marwah. The sa’i track (mas’a) which is about 405 meters has a path for pedestrians and a special lane for worshipers who use wheelchairs. This track is also equipped with air conditioning and fan facilities that makes Sa’i journey for seven rounds does not seem tiring.
You don’t have to worry about being thirsty because there are zamzam water dispensers available at various spots. When I was in Mecca and Medina, I was getting used to filling up my drinking bottle with Zamzam water which tasted so fresh to quench my thirst.
Long story short, Alhamdulillah, we are finally able to legitimately perform Umrah. A few days in Mecca made me not only feel closer to Allah, but also longing for this Holy Land. If Allah gave His permission, InsyaAllah, I will return to worship in the land that I have always longed for.