Holly Mecca- A Personal Experience For The First Time
Updated: Jan 18
Holly Mecca, a place that has heard peoples cries, listened to peoples prayers, and has witnessed more people than anywhere else in the world. When a Muslim thinks of what he wants on his bucket list, besides the obvious day to day things, his number one thing is the pilgrimage to Mecca. A place were sins can be forgiven, as a new start to life is given.
I started at my brothers house where we all prayed with the intention of heading to Mecca for the pilgrimage of Umra. It was my first time, but my brothers have been plenty of times. My brothers wore white cotton towels with no thread, while I was wrapped in a black Abaya covering every bit of my flesh including my hair, except my hands and face.
After an hour and a half drive, we arrived to Mecca, the scorching summer sun was still high in the sky. It was crowded. Certainly crowded with people scattered everywhere. It was Ramadan, the holly month of fasting. Some people sat on the floor taking their place where food for breaking fast was laid out for them. The food was offered for everybody. Some gathered around the springs of Zamzam, filling the holly water of Zamzam into large plastic containers.
Zamzam water is said to have healing properties. It springs from the oldest well in the world located only 20 meters from the Kaaba. The Zamzam well has been flowing with water for over 5,000 years.
We drank from the holly water at Maghrib time which is after the sun had set, when it is permitted to break fast, while at the same time asking to be healed of any ailments . We had our date that we carried from Jeddah before our departure. We always chose Ajwat Al Madina dates, black, succulent and full of nutrition. It is said these specific dates were Prophet Mohammad (SAAW)'s favourite. Soon after, we were set to start our pilgrimage.
Not knowing what to expect, we walked towards the pillars of Mecca's Mosque walls.My brothers told me 'close your eyes and we will lead you. We have a surprise for you'. So I did, trusting that whatever it is, would only be for my benefit in Mecca.
My heart racing as I walked listening to the Imam echoing through the dimmed stars above us.
"Open your eyes"
There were no words that can express what was in front of me. Yes it was the bright lights and the white purity that engulfed the Kaaba, but it was the Kaaba itself, seeing it, with an energy that surrounded and vibrated from it. The shivers throughout my body wouldn't stop, it was a fear. A fear of the unknown. Yet to know that every Muslim around the world, when they prayed, their prayers were made facing the Kaaba, including those thousands of people in Mecca with me.
The Kaaba itself was the house of Abraham, which later in the era of the Quraish tribe became the house of worshiping Pagan gods, idols and statues. This was short lived when Prophet Mohammed destroyed the statues and returned the Kaaba to Abraham, the first person who taught the people that there is only one God.
We walked towards the Kaaba slowly with a small book of prayers held in my hands in Arabic. I told my brother, I could not read it. It's impossible for me. He said 'don't worry everything becomes easy in this holly place. God will help you'. (I can cry just writing these words... read on).
We started our walk around the Kaaba which we had to do 7 times, while I had so many questions as to why 7, and trying to read the Arabic Quran words in the little book I had, I suddenly found myself able to read the words. I don't really read Arabic. My tears started to trickle down my cheeks. There was something there. The power of Allah. He was there, and I suddenly felt naked.
There was a power that stripped me of my clothes as I moved around the Kaaba with thousands and thousands of other people. My bare naked body was my thoughts and the feeling that I was nothing but transparent particles, dust. My body, soul and mind, were all transparent. I tried to hide my thoughts and my sins. There was no escaping.
Every one that had ever hurt me was crossing my mind, even people I barely remembered, and those I had forgotten. Their faces appeared in front of me, incidents I wished to not remember appeared in front of me, I did not understand why all this was coming back suddenly. I felt myself saying repeatedly 'Astaghfiru allah' ( god forgive me,), even though I had not wronged anyone, as tears flowed down my face to a point I could no longer breathe.
My bother pulled his towel off his shoulders and handed it to me to blow my nose. I laughed, and had to do it. He told me, we are moving towards the Kaaba's black stone, as he started to clear the path for me. It is quite rare for pilgrims to actually be able to reach the black stone due to the amount of people that are rotating around the Kaaba.
I found myself with both hands touching the stone, with endless tears praying for my family , for their long and healthy life, for happiness on all levels, success and wealth. As much as I tried to pray for myself, something held me back. My thoughts could not speak of me, but only for others that were dear to me.
The people that had done me wrong were crossing my mind. I found myself saying ' God forgive them, and have mercy on them in this life and the afterlife. Like.....Who am I? What happened to 'take revenge for me', what happened to 'did you see what they did'? I guess all that was unnecessary. God knew everything, and my mind knew to only wish people well in this place of love.
We had finished orbiting around the Kaaba 7 times, the same a moth circles around a flame, the planets orbit around the sun, electrons around a nucleus in an atom. All of these movements represented a love and an attachment to God without anything else, and no distractions. The 7 times represented 7 layers of the sky, and 7 souls of man. Each turn on the Kaaba was the uplifting of the lowest point of the soul to the highest point - al nafs al moutma'ena ( the comforted/tranquil soul).
My brothers then took me to complete the rest of our Umra with As-Safa and Al Marwah. They said ‘prepare yourself for some jogging’ as my face turned to them in confusion. We were barefoot with only cotton socks on. They explained As-Safa and Al Marwah is one of the main pillars of Hajj and Umra and must be done in order to complete the pilgrimage.
In Islam, the jogging is Al Sa’ee, meaning to seek. The Story behind this exercise was that Hagar the wife of Abraham ran between As-Safa and Al Marwah, which were two hills, 7 times in search for water to give her infant son. She was alone in the desert and Allah SWT rewarded her with the Zamzam well. Which as the Quran has stated, that until judgment day, the water of Zamzam will continue to flow.
The distance we had to jog was approximately 3.2 km back and forth, which is the distance between As-Safa and Al Marwa. This is what Hagar had done back in her day. That is 2 miles, barefoot, in socks for us. Why am I even complaining?
Hagar ran in the scorching desert sun, stressed, worried for her son. I wonder whether she even wore shoes that day! In Mecca of today, it’s a closed area with marble flooring and air conditioning. This should be a piece of cake!
We reached the area where people where in Al Sa’ee and we joined them. I cannot say it was easy in socks and after having spent hours during the Tawaf around the Kaaba, the body is exhausted, but the mind and spirit is in total satisfaction and the endorphins were flowing. I was ready for more.
The last ritual to conclude our Umra was the shaving and cutting of the hair. Men had to shave their head, and women needed to trim their hair. This was an obligatory part of the cleansing ritual. It took under 5 minutes and we were ready to head back home.
It is said, once you do a Umra or Haj, you have been given a second chance to make sure your good deeds outweigh the sins moving forward. I left Mecca feeling like a new child, the old had been forgiven and forgotten. I am living only for whats to come, with the 100 instructions from the Qur-an always in mind.
In Mecca there is a God, he is Allah, and he is everywhere.