Monday 13 November 2017

Arrival in Madinah

Hi beautiful readers!

Just reflecting back on the beginning of my #HajjJourney makes me extremely nostalgic, followed by a burst of emotion and an immediate welling up of tears😢 Each moment so starkly ingrained in my memory, I can feel the heaviness of the heat and the pounding of my feet on the pavement as I walked towards the mosque....

When we departed from Cape Town, we opted to spend a night in Johannesburg to rest up before the flight to Madinah. This was the best idea, we were absolutely knackered from the preceding days and nights, during which we barely slept, whilst receiving hundreds of guests and well wishers. It was the absolute best feeling, to be honoured so greatly by all the wonderful friends and family, some whom we hadn't seen in years, come and wish us well on our journey. This practice is unique to Cape Town, and yet it is such a special part of the sendoff for pilgrims; as one leaves home with a full heart, flying on wings of blessings.

Our evening in Johannesburg was literally spent in resting up, sleep, eat and pray... 
We met up with the rest of our travelling group the next morning as we checked in for our flight to Madinah. I was so grateful to have a direct flight to Madinah, I am not a keen flyer, so 6 hours direct to our destination was just perfect. We landed around 7pm, and as we disembarked and stepped onto the tarmac, the intense heat hit me like an oppressive wall! I felt a bit disoriented, as if my brain was trying to comprehend how to deal with the heat, and the reality that I had actually set foot on Saudi soil!❤️

After a couple of hours, as the bus neared our hotel, we glimpsed the minarets (turrets) of the mosque, lit up so beautifully. And every momentary glance of those minarets filled me with wonder, and as we recited salutations in unison, I could tangibly feel the emotion take residence in my heart. I was filled with awe as our bus entered the vicinity of the mosque and pulled up at our hotel, just a few meters from the entrance of the mosque. I could barely contain my impatience as we dropped the luggage in our room, and made arrangements to meet in the foyer at 12am to experience our first visit to the second holiest Holy mosque and (for the men) to visit the burial place of our beloved Prophet (PBUH).  

As I stepped out of the hotel, once again accosted by the unexpected brutality of the heat, I was inexplicably stirred, as our spiritual leader briefed us on the history of our surroundings. I was overcome by the magnitude of walking in the city that our esteemed Prophet (PBUH) lived, fought and prayed; and making our way to the mosque, his final resting place. After a few meters, we turned a corner and laid eyes on the main entrance of the mosque; here we paused to absorb the beauty of Masjiudul Nabawi, and to just gather ourselves. Some of us were openly crying, the tears of joy flowing down our cheeks; I was still really overwhelmed, just by virtue of the realisation that I was indeed HERE ⭐️ 
As I approached the gates and stepped onto the mataf, I could feel the tranquility and was immediately engulfed by the magnificence of  Madinah. I entered the mosque, and like a typical tourist, stood for a few moments taking in the beauty of the architecture, the captivating smells and the enormous significance of this particular mosque.  
My first night in the mosque was spent in thanksgiving; for being granted the invitation and to be amongst the few honoured guests to visit for Hajj this year. I had also received special notes from my kids and others close to me; these letters and notes I had promised to only read during my first few moments in the mosque. And so I took this quiet time, when the mosque was practically empty, to absorb myself in their words. I can so clearly remember the early hours of that morning, reading those letters, tears flowing freely and feeling like I had walked into another dimension, where everything felt so surreal, like a fantasy...

There is so much more to share so keep an eye out for the next instalment...

A restful moment in the airport lounge before flying to Jhbg

Off to check in for our Madinah flight

Arrival on Madinah airport

Prayer times on display in the hotel lobby

First few moments walking the streets of Madinah

Briefing on the history of our surroundings

First Tahajjud (pre sunrise) prayer

The mosque was relatively empty the first few days

Exploring on the first day, we only realised after walikg about for a while just how the heat affects one
during the day

The minarets, lights and air of tranquility all combine to present this picture of magnificence

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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