The Beauty of the Day of ‘Arafah

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Today is 9th Zulhijjah, which is the Day of ‘Arafah.

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This is how Mount Rahmah, (“Mount of Mercy”) in ‘Arafah, Makkah looks like on a normal day.

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And this is how it looks like on the Day of ‘Arafah which is today.

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Arafah was the place were Adam and Eve met once again when they were sent down to reside on earth. They came down on two different spots but eventually were able to meet and recognize each other on this plain. Arafah here means “to get acquainted”, so based on this opinion Adam and Eve got acquainted to each other on that very same land we call today Arafah.

The Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “ الحج عرفة “ or “Hajj is Arafah“. The Arabic text implies a very important concept of the meaning of Hajj. This short statement means that the whole hajj and its validity is confined in the actual day of Arafahi.e. Hajj becomes valid only when the day of Arafah is observed and witnessed by those who undertake the journey, the pilgrims. Regardless how long the hujjaj stay in Makkah, if they missed that single day, they have then missed the whole Hajj.

Source: The Truth Behind the Day of Arafah & Its Name

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To me, the day of ‘Arafah is such a special day. Even if we are not in Makkah, today is the day Allah grants all our prayers. The air is just different this day, it is a day where hearts are united; not just Adam and Eve but the hearts of Muslims all over the world. Unity in prayer. Unity in love. Unity in asking for forgiveness from God. And that is such a beautiful thing.

I received a beautiful message from a friend today and I’d like to include it here, making du’a (prayer) on “Makeful Monday”:

On this day of Arafah, the most favoured day of Allah my du’as for you…

May the Rahmah of Allah pour down on you and in your home continuously.

May Allah record your name amongst those who will be forgiven.

May Allah accept all your du’as and grant you sustenance with lots of Blessings.

May Allah grant you the strength to fulfil your obligations to the best of your ability and confirm your entrance into Paradise InsyaAllah.

To know more about the significance of the Day of ‘Arafah, click here.

It’s Hajj Season & A Reminisce of My Umrah in 2009

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Today is 6th of Zulhijjah which means we are only 4 days away from Eid’ul ‘Adha! We are in the first ten days of the month of Zulhijjah, the month of Hajj MashaAllah. And during the month of Hajj, Masjidil Haram in Makkah is truly that crowded (picture) and more. Muslims from all over the world gather to perform the 5th pillar of Islam, performing the deed called Hajj, loosely translated as pilgrimage.

I might not be going to Hajj anytime soon now (there’s a long waiting list and you also need a lot of time to prepare physically and mentally, as well as the stability of finances – unless someone happens to sponsor you, which is MashaAllah, ah-ma-zing) but praises be to God for allowing me to have stepped into the Haramain lands 4 years ago for my umrah, or mini pilgrimage.

For Hajj, you have to go during a certain period of time and there are more specific actions to do but for an umrah, you can go anytime and there are not as many specific actions to do as compared to Hajj.

In 2009, I went to Makkah and Madinah with my mother and my male cousin. I was in my second year in uni during that time and we went after my exams during my semester holidays. It came as an epiphany to my mum who felt that it was the “right time” to perform umrah, without knowing exactly why. Surprisingly, I actually felt the same way.

Prior to the trip, I was feeling depressed over several things. Also, about 2 years had passed since my father’s death and I was still grieving over his passing (they say it gets better after a while but the first few years are always the hardest). I wanted these issues to go away. I wanted to go away to somewhere, so when the opportunity came to go to the lands of Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) who had to go through more depressing moments in his life but who was always smiling all the time, I thought “this is it”. Turns out it wasn’t about me going away, but going back to Allah…

Madinah

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We arrived at Jeddah International Airport in the wee hours of the morning and proceeded to Madinah. Our journey was to spend 3 days in Madinah and 10 days in Makkah, making it a total of 13 days. When the bus first stepped into Madinah, I felt overwhelmed with emotions knowing that the Prophet had been here, to step into a land he has stepped on, to finally be here in Madinah. Furthermore, the hotel that we stayed in, Dar Iman Intercontinental, was located directly in front of Masjid Nabawi. I was swept with a feeling of calmness and tranquillity being in the mosque. Marble flooring, gold-plated accessories, oriental carpeting…materialistic description aside, it was being in the space itself that was beautiful. After making my prayers for the first time there, a rush of calm swept over me. Every ounce of misery and depression that I had melted away. The feeling was just indescribable.

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Just a stone’s throw away from the hotel.

We visited Raudhah at night, the area where the Prophet used to live with his wife Siti ‘Aishah. At this spot prayers are accepted so my mother and me as well as the rest of our group prayed 2 rakaats of the tahiyyatul masid prayer along with other supplications. Outside, the temperature in Madinah was 45 degrees celcius. I had never felt that kind of heat ever before, no matter how hot and humid Singapore is. However, the magical thing about the heat was that even though it can be blistering hot ‘if-you-don’t-wear-sunglasses-you-can-hurt-your-eyes-hot’, it’s not humid and it’s always breezy.

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The inside of Masjid Nabawi

Even though I wear the hijab, I had a bit of a culture shock seeing the sight of many Muslim women decked out in their black abayas, some with their niqabs and burqas. Honestly at first it kind of scared me, but after going into the mosque and discovering that the ladies were super nice and pretty and gorgeously beautiful I realized the niqabs and burqas were really just on the outside. After that onwards I started to appreciate the beauty of wearing the abaya, jubah and actually, that is one of the things I miss most about being in Madinah and Makkah.

In front of Masjid Quba, which was the first mosque that the Prophet built upon reaching Madinah after 13 years in Makkah.
In front of Masjid Quba, which was the first mosque that the Prophet built upon reaching Madinah after 13 years in Makkah.

The three days that we had in Madinah were spent mostly going to Masjid Nabawi, exploring the area including some shopping for books and abaya. Even though we had a lovely hotel room, it was such a waste to stay in! Another thing that shocked me was the fact that 5 – 10 mins before every obligatory prayer time everyone would rush to the mosque to get a space to pray and to be there in time for prayer. It was such a surprise to me because as soon as the Azan calls, the mosque would have been full house and that is why you have to come earlier. Praying in Masjid Nabawi gets you 100 times more pahala than usual, furthermore praying in congregation multiples it by 27 times. MashaAllah no wonder every prayer time is like an event over at the 2 holiest mosques! Now if only we can treat our home mosques and our prayers that way. Talk about the power of place.

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Visiting a date farm! Unripe dates still hanging on date palm trees.
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Ripe dates all decked out for selection.
We also stopped by Mount Uhud, where the second battle took place.
We also stopped by Mount Uhud, where the second battle took place.

When it came to time to leave Madinah, it was such a sad feeling. 3 days was simply too short. But, looking at the bright side we were off to Makkah, to the Kaabah, to Baitullah! We were encouraged to wear white and guys would wear the ihram (although ladies, not a good choice to wear white unless you are completely sure your garment is not sheer at all) and off we went in our bus to Makkah.

Makkah

me in front of masjidil haram
Me in front of Masjidil Haram

We reached Makkah at night when it was already dark. There was a traffic jam nearing the Masjidil Haram so our bus was constantly stopping and braking. Suddenly however, as we were very near the mosque, the bus broke down. So even though we were tired from the journey, we proceeded to walk to get to our hotel, which fortunately was located near the mosque, along with our bags.

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View from our hotel

But once we reached the mosque, all the tiredness and the efforts were so worth it. Again I was overwhelmed with emotion of finally being in the mosque where the Prophet and his companions had once been. Being in the places where Islam first began and thinking of their struggles, MashaAllah may Allah bless all their efforts and make us more steadfast in our faiths.

One of the best things about being at both mosques was the continuous supply of the waters of zam-zam. There would be tumblers of zam-zam waters in several sections of the mosque, along with plastic cups provided. Anyone can take them and drink from these tumblers. Some, like me, would fill up their bottles with them. So can you imagine, to wake up and drink air zam-zam only for 13 days? SubhanAllah. We were also told that it was not safe to drink water from the hotel taps so we turned to the best source – zam-zam water!

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Mount Rahmah, which means mount of Mercy, was where Prophet Adam met Hawa on Earth after being separated in Paradise.

In Masjidil Haram we performed the tawaf; circumambulating 7 times around the Ka’abah in an anti-clockwise direction and saie; walking back and forth Mount Safa and Marwa 7 times in commemoration of Siti Hajar when she did that years ago in search of water for her son Ismail.

We also went to visit more historical places such as Mount Nur, the place of the first revelation from God to Prophet Muhammad via the angel Gabriel. Not wanting to miss this opportunity, I joined some of the team in climbing up this mountain. We started our climb at 3am and even though it was still dark and the mount was treacherous, we could navigate our way up because the light, or nur, that came from the moon allowed us to do so. that’s why it’s called Jabal Nur, or Mount of Light. One of my favourite moments was when it was time for Subuh, we could hear the call of prayer from the many mosques nearby collectively. It was truly an amazing moment.

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Next we went to the museum which displayed historical items used in the history of Islam in Makkah.

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On our last day we went to the floating mosque at the Red Sea to perform our prayers, and then we had a little walkabout exploring the area… before going back to the bus for our departure to the airport and back home.

floating mosque

May Allah give me and us all the opportunity to perform our Hajj and Umrah InsyaAllah.

Photo credits: Most of the photos are from me, except for the first photo of Masjidil Haram, Masjidil Nabawi (exterior) and the inside of Masjidil Nabawi.

Choosing To Be And Stay Happy

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5 Things I’m thankful for today:

1. I’m thankful to be getting married to my wonderful musician, IT-geek fiancé (I still find it weird to call him my fiancé, can you imagine calling him, err, my husband? Feels so “adult”… I knew him since 6 years ago in polytechnic back when we were in our late teenage years so sometimes it feels surreal that we are actually getting married soon (it does not help that we are both leaning on the petite sized spectrum). There are times when I am frustrated over the wedding plans and things not happening the way I want it to be… But I am reminding myself to be thankful for these moments and embrace it insyaAllah. After all, like Ameera from Muzlimbuzz says, the challenges are necessary.

2. I’m thankful I was able to perform my umrah, or mini pilgrimage in 2009. It is Hajj season now and due to the current renovations happening in Makkah causing space constraints in the areas of the Masjidil Haram, the quota for pilgrims this year has shrunk tremendously. The impact this brings to a small country like Singapore is that many would have to wait for a long queue – at least 5 years – despite having sufficient amount of savings and preparations for Hajj. Even though I have not done my Hajj, I am thankful that at least God gave me the opportunity to step into the sacred lands of Makkah and Madinah. Even though it was only for a short period of time (13 days), for me it was the most memorable trip of a lifetime.

3. I’m thankful for my cats. As I am typing this, Kak Long is sitting on my lap about to doze off soon. Having cats made me see that even cats have feelings and their own personalities. I have 4 cats at home and they couldn’t be any more different despite having the same DNA. And having cats gives you the opportunity to do good deeds, as taking care of animals are considered good deeds as well. That was why Abu Hurairah r.a., the Prophet’s companion decided to keep cats as pets. His name “Abu Hurairah” is actually a title given by the Prophet s.a.w. which means “Father of Cats” because he always had a cat following him wherever he went!

4. I’m thankful for my Don’t Be Sad classes every Tuesday nights. I always look forward to the class after a long day at work, especially if the day happened to have had some problems or issues that could give me a headache. Last Tuesday, Ustaz went through with us the contents and meanings of Surah Ad-Dhuha, which means “Morning Light”. In it he reminds us that Allah can overturn one’s condition as He is the One who provides all sustenance. And that the Hereafter will be better than the present…

5. I’m thankful for coming across this saying, “Wealth is not determined by abundance of possessions, but wealth is the richness of the soul.” As human beings we don’t consciously choose to be happy so it is a conscious effort to be happy *and* stay happy. The best thing is that we forget sometimes we don’t have to have much to be happy. I’m choosing happiness, and so should you! 🙂