Before I went for umrah, a friend who just returned spoke to me about her experience of climbing Mount Nur to see the Hira Cave. Being an outdoor lover, the idea of going hiking in Makkah sounded really exciting. So the moment I heard of it, I immediately wanted to do it.
The visit to Hira Cave wasn’t part of the umrah package, so we had to pay SAR 20 per person to cover for the ride and guide. The mutawwif explained to us that it would be a night climb – we would begin at around 11pm and return to the hotel at around 3am. Mount Nur was 642 metres tall and to get to Hira Cave we must climb about 600 steps up. Therefore, it wasn’t advisable for elderly people.
|Arrived at the mountain’s foot. Some briefing from the mutawwif...|
|...and the climbing began!|
|As we walked up, our eyes feasted on the beautiful night scenery of Makkah.|
|600 steps could be very tiring...|
|...so take a break if you must. No rush.|
|Another 485 meters, still a long way to go. One step after another...|
|...and we finally reached the cave’s entrance!|
The entrance was so narrow, visitors had to enter it sideways! We had to squeeze into the hole one person at a time, thus it took quite a while until everybody managed to go in. There was another hole at the other side, but it was quite high up. The one in the pic above was the most convenient point of entry.
|Opposite view of the entrance, from inside the cave. The wall was decorated with verses of Surah Al-Alaq, the first surah to be revealed.|
|The hole in the cave where Nabi Muhammad sat alone in the dark, doing ibadah for many nights.|
It was a small hole, about the size of a prayer mat, just enough space to perform solat. The direction of the hole pointed straight towards qiblat, which to me was really amazing. The muawwif said it would be good to perform solat sunat in there, but since it had just enough space for one person, we were advised not to stay there for too long and give others the chance too.
|Taking a breather while listening to the mutawwif’s briefing on the cave’s history.|
|The clock tower was clearly visible from the top of the mountain. To its right, Masjidil Haram glowed brightly.|
|I conquered Mount Nur in my butterfly style abaya!|
|A small hut at the top, where hikers could buy drinks and even small trinkets.|
|It was cool and windy, perfect for a good night’s sleep.|
|Time to go down. Along the way, there were people holding torchlights, lighting the path for the visitors, hoping for some cash in return.|
|Back at this little shop at the mountain’s foot, where pilgrims who tagged along but didn’t climb waited for us.|
|Hopped on the van and returned to the hotel.|
Was it tiring? You bet it was! Anyway, we took the mutawwif’s advice to say “Allahuakbar” as we climbed up, so it didn’t feel so bad. To be honest, it was actually an enjoyable experience. And like what the mutawwif said, “If you feel tired, remember that Siti Khadijah climbed this mountain at the age of 50, nearly every day, to send food to Nabi Muhammad while he was at the Hira Cave performing ibadah.”
So to capable men and women out there, if you have the chance to do this, do grab it. Notice that I said “capable” instead of “young”? That’s because throughout the umrah I had seen teenagers crying sore feet, yet 80 year old grandmas going steady. My simple conclusion is that age doesn’t matter, stamina does!
After all, if Siti Khadijah could do it at 50, surely you can do it too!