Umrah: An invitation from Allah

Bismillah Har Rahman Hir Raheem
All praise is for Allah, The Almighty, Lord of the Universe and Sustainer of the worlds. Blessings and Peace be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alahi Wasallam).

As-Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.

On the 18th of June 2012 Monday, we embarked on the most important journey of our life to destination Mecca Al-Mukarramah, a place on earth where a Muslim can meet his Creator. Ever since my husband and I came in contact, it was his ardent desire that immediately after our Nikaah we should perform Umrah, followed soon InshaAllah by Hajj. For the first six months after our Nikaah, we had a laid-back attitude as we had several trivial issues on hand to handle, but come December 2011, things started taking shape. The first and the only major problem was to overcome complications attached to my passport, which inevitably with the blessings of the Almighty got us affirmative results. From the very beginning, He was right there to assist us; to give us journey of a lifetime and to welcome us in His Abode. Allah, the Exalted says

 “Then, when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah. For Allah, loves those who put their trust (in Him)”. (Surah Al-Imran (Part 3) Ayah 159).

By March 2012, it was confirmed that we are going for Umrah in the month of July. As the days drew nearer, there was a sudden change in the dates of our departure. The tour operator told us that since the sacred month of Ramzaan is approaching, Saudi government has stopped issuing Umrah visas for the month of July and now we were to leave on 18th June instead of the earlier scheduled date of 2nd July. Nevertheless, we considered ourselves extremely fortunate as our invitation was accepted. I was undergoing both a feeling of elation and fear and this was based primarily on my edges of ignorance. In the short period of nine days (after knowing that we were to go) I read and explored hungrily, everything and anything about Umrah, trying to absorb about all the stages of the journey. I learnt the Talbiyah and Rabbana’s which were to be recited while performing the Umrah. Finally, the day arrived; amidst a lot of anxiety and trepidation, we boarded our plane. We had already acquired our Ihraam at home and therefore, were in the state of Ihraam-a Muhrim. Reciting the Talbiyah throughout we reached Jeddah and then were transported to the Holiest city-our Sanctuary-Mecca.

The very first sight of Haram and eventually Ka’bah left me spellbound-speechless. The Ka’bah standing tall and erect has such a powerful magnetic pull that after seeing it once no other sight will ever appeal to your senses, and for this I can vouch with hundred per cent certainty. The feeling was so profound and immaculate that I felt that I had been drafted to some place in some time and from where I wanted no return. It was a feeling of serenity coupled with the fact that nothing will ever go wrong, InshaAllah. After performing ablutions and offering the necessary prayers, I performed my first Tawaaf, circulating counter clockwise seven times around the Ka’bah, offering two-rakat Salah behind Maqaam Ibrahim and then walking between Safaa and Marwah called as Sa’ee, and then cutting about one inch of the strand of my hair, I completed my very first Umrah.

In Arabic, the word “Umrah” is derived from I’timaar, which means ‘a visit’. In Islamic terminology, it means paying a visit to the Ka’bah but for me it was a visit, which established Oneness between my Maker and me. I, also experienced the miracles of ZamZam, which kept us hydrated and refreshed in the scorching Meccan heat. There is no better feeling than to wake up to the call of Adhan or spending time in a reverie of supplications along with several million others transgressing nationalities and geographical barriers. I was in complete awe when I saw not a single person is raising his voice in argument or disagreement, no one is indulging in idle talks, and no one is impatient but all possessing a positive attitude. Rather everyone was moving with only one thought, one motive, one desire in mind to prostrate and submit themselves with utmost humility and obedience before no one but their Almighty Allah, asking for His bounties and seeking repentance of their sins and begging for a place in His Firdaus.

All I can say is that “you have to be there; to see it, to believe it”.

“Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah) full of blessing, and guidance for Al-Alamin”. (Surah Al-Imran (Part 4) Ayah 96).

Experience submitted by Sarah Zameer Shaikh