madinah: the prophet’s city

Boarded SV flight with these horses...

...arrived 9 hours later in Madinah Al-Munawwarah.

The radiant city of Madinah greeted us with its beautiful sunset. As I walked out of the aircraft to the tarmac down below, hot air gushed over my face, giving me a taste of how the rest of the trip was going to be like. Reminded me of summer in Dubai two years ago.

Welcome to Madinah!

A bus took us to the terminal building, where we cleared our passports and picked up our bags. As we were about to exit, an airport staff shouted “Passport control! Passport control!” and pointed at a counter near the gate. I was puzzled. I already had my passport stamped, what else did they want?

I saw other passengers leaving their passports at the counter where several guys in white shirts were waiting. No checking or stamping. No recording who already handed over theirs and who hadn’t. No segregating into tour group or family. Simply giving their passports into the hands of Arab men – no question asked.

I was hesitant. Why wouldn’t I? They practically wanted me to walk around a strange land with no identification!

But seeing everyone else doing the same gave me a little confidence. So I gathered my family’s passports and handed them together in one stack. If we were going to be fugitives in this country, we better be fugitives as a family!

Terminal 4 of Prince Mohammad Airport, where we left our passports.

We got out of the building, feeling a little strange about what just happened and very much uncomfortable knowing that we were technically illegal immigrants. I heard other passengers complaining that it was against the law for those guys to take our passports. I thought so too. At that point, I started to get worried. If anything happened to my family’s passports, I would be the one to blame.

A while later, our tour leader came over and explained to us that it was actually a normal procedure. Upon arrival, umrah pilgrims must leave their passports with the authorities. The passports will only be returned at the end of the trip, shortly before the pilgrims leave the country.

Why? No idea. Perhaps the Saudi Arabian government was being kind, helping pilgrims to keep their passports safe. Perhaps they wanted to make sure you wouldn’t stay longer than you should. Or perhaps they actually didn’t want you to leave too soon, because they just love to have you in their country.

Waiting to board the bus that would take us to the hotel.

Arrived at the hotel. Tour agents handing out room keys.

We quickly went to our room and freshened up. It was about 11 pm and we hadn’t done solat jamak Maghrib and Isha yet, so we decided to go to Masjid Nabawi and do them there. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that the mosque was only short walk from the hotel. I swept a quick glance over the impressive structure and was immediately awed by its beautiful architecture.

But the main mission for the night was to perform solat, so we had to get inside quickly. The strange thing was the mosque had so many doors, but not even one was open! Could it be that the mosque was close at night? Impossible, never heard such a thing.

We walked around the mosque looking for an open door. I must tell you the mosque was huge. So huge that we felt tired simply circling around it. Not to mention that we just arrived after a long flight. Finally we saw an entrance near the tomb of Nabi Muhammad SAW. But it was for men, so the guys went in, while us girls continued our search for an entrance for women.

After one complete circle, we saw an open door at the ladies section.

Entered the mosque, performed solat and read doa. It felt so surreal. There I was, in the mosque of Nabi Muhammad SAW. I looked around me and saw other sisters engrossed in their own ibadah. Done with mine, I slowly walked out of the mosque. Saw a row of zamzam water dispensers along the pathway, so I stopped for a sip. Took a breath, held the view and thought to myself, “What a wonderful night.”

Lights illuminating the beautiful Masjid Nabawi.

If one picture could describe the night, this would be it!

11 comments:

Messy Mummy said...

Welcome back babe! Miss you sudeh!!

Alhamdulillah u r home, safe :)
mm tengok gambar pun tumpang happy n tenang..
hope ada rezeki mm pulak...
will be waiting for ur next entry!

dieya said...

mm,
miss u too babe!!!
alhamdulillah, everything was great and i'm home safe. inshaAllah, your'll get to go there too!

Hjh Noralenna Abbas said...

Dieya,
Aunty was thinking about u after Isyak prayers just now.Dalam hati berkata,Dieya mesti dah balik. Buka PC,ta daaaa there you are. Suka baca your 'introduction' for more coming Umrah stories and of course more beautiful pictures from the eversmiling lady! Welcome back, dieya! Semoga u n family mendapat umrah yang mabrur. Amiiin....

JaJa'Z said...

Alhamdulillah..akhirnya dieya balik dengan selamat..and i really cant wait for this new entry....gambar last tu mmg terpancar kegembiraan yer...

~jeet~ said...

i like madinah over makkah because of the calmer city it is. but the masjid has its limitation, opening hours and also the separate entrance for men and women. masjidil haram is more family friendly in that sense.

you can never get enough masa kat sana kan...? ;) welcome back!!

Shue said...

Babe, you're back.alhamdulillah..
can't wait to read all about your trip. especially this time, special place kan. take care, dear

dieya said...

aunty nora,
yup, i'm back! it was a great experience. can't wait to write about it, bit by bit though.. hihihi..
thanks aunty, amiiin!

k jaja,
alhamdulillah semuanya selamat dan dipermudahkan Allah SWT. nanti dieya sambung cerita yer..

jeet,
yup, madinah does seem calmer. perhaps due to less number of visitors there as compared to makkah. the opening hours thingy did catch me off-guard. fortunately they only close it for a while (1 hour or so) for cleaning.
thanks! yeah, the 3 nights in madinah felt so short!

shue,
thanks babe! alhamdulillah all went well. yes, it was a whole different experience this time. okie dokie, will write more, surely!

PatinPasta said...

Dieya,
Happy to know you're back safely!
Like the rest, am eager to read bout this speacial travel of yours.

dieya said...

aida,
happy to be back! i've put up a long post on my first morning there. hope it doesn't bore u to sleep!

Aaji Aaji said...

i came across your blog while i was searching for umrah tips.Mashaalh your info you provide are very valuable.Thanks sis.

I will be perfomrning my First Umrah in 2 weeks time. Inshallah

dieya said...

Aaji Aaji,
u r most welcome. i hope you had a wonderful umrah. may Allah accept you ibadah and grant u lots of hasanah.