Monday, October 15, 2007

The Light Of Allah

Marium


It is so utterly difficult to put this trip into words. Beyond impossible to describe the emotions, the actions, the colors, the light. When you go to Mecca, you don't come back. Not like how you were anyway. There is a light that surrounds Mecca that you yearn and beg to be a part of.

Light. So much Light.

I spent five days in Mecca performing the smaller pilgrimage during Ramadan and then spent 16 days in Madina, the home of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The Prophet (PBUH) said that the person who performs Umrah (the smaller pilgrimage) during Ramadan, it is like he/she has performed the Hajj (the bigger pilgrimage) with him.

It is an honor not bestowed upon many. And I didn't deem myself worthy of it. But it changed my outlook on life. It changed me. It is a mercy that I will never forget.

It was my first time in Mecca.

I was petrified when I entered Mecca. Absolutely petrified. I held onto my father's hand as he took me inside the mosque towards the Holy Ka'aba, the Sacred House of God built by Abraham. It is said that the first time you see the Ka'aba whatever you ask for will be given to you.

The first time I saw the Ka'aba, I was stupefied. Its a feeling that is miles ahead of being scared. You aren't scared but in complete and total awe. There is no way to explain it. Lets just say it is a moment that no one, I can guarantee, no one who has ever experienced it, can ever forget.

I've seen nothing like it. Nothing.

It was surrounded by light. The sky was white, the marble white, the people, white. It stood in the middle covered in a black cloak. Covered with Light. So much Light.

Tears streamed down my face and I barely knew it. I stood awed and begged, absolutely begged, for forgiveness.

There is Majesty. You drop to your knees and put your head to the ground in prayer not because you have to. But because you know it is the right thing to do. Not because it commands you to. But because you feel it in your heart that this, this is the Truth.

I so wish you all could see it.

I spent five days in utter awe. I sat on marble that remained cool, so cool under the blazing Saudi sun. The smite of Egypt does not compare to the heat of Arabia. It was hot. But the ground remained cool.

I remember the time I prayed near the Ka'aba with my father. A man came and stood next to me to pray. We all prayed together, creating motion at different speeds but all asking for the same thing. It didn't matter who he was, who I was. Men and women, old and young, rich and poor, everyone prayed together. Names, class, nationality, nothing, nothing like that mattered. It didn't even exist.

I remember circumambulating the Ka'aba in prayer (known as the Tawaf) feeling the cool ground underneath my feet as the blazing afternoon sun shone above.

My family and I were always tried to find a time when there would be fewer people performing the Tawaf so we could get closer to the Ka'aba and to the place where a marker marks the footprints of Abraham's feet. There is am imprint of his feet in a glass covered marker covered with gold. Its always difficult to get close to it because there are so many people.

So, so many people. Thousands, thousands.

So we thought of going at 1 AM, 2 AM, 11 PM, anytime when traffic would be slow. I don't think there has ever been a moment when there has not been someone performing the Tawaf. Hundreds.

I've been to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, to the churches of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. To the chapels, churches and cathedrals of Italy and the temples of Thailand and Singapore. To the mosques of Jerusalem, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan.

I've never, never seen anything like this.

People cried, smiled, laughed and prayed. Mecca and Madina, in my opinion, are the two places in the world where you can look at someone next to you and not see them. You are alone in a crowd of thousands. Thousands who all worship the same way and aim for the same thing. You sit next to people breaking your fast with them in the Mosque and do not see then for what they look like, or who they are.

I rarely ever knew who the person was sitting next to me, where they were from, what their name was, what the color of their skin was or what they looked like. You saw them only as Muslims, you see them as family. You break bread with them, you eat dates when them. And then you place your head to the ground together and think:

We believe.

We believe in the Power of God, We believe in his Message. We are awestruck by His Power and We are humbled by his Mercy. I look at his people, their hands raised in prayer, tears streaming down their faces. Tears mixing with my own. I see them shave their heads, kissing each other as they finish their pilgrimage, washed away of their sins.

And your heart is washed. It feels new. I promise you it is a feeling that it unlike any other.

You pray on the streets outside the mosque because there is no space inside. As soon as you hear the call to prayer, you stop in your tracks. Cars stop, shops close and time slows. God is remembered and worshiped. There is silence and there is peace. There is Light.

Mecca is full of Awe. Madina is full of peace. In Madina it is as if you have finally come home. Birds fly around minarets, lazily circiling the minarets of the mosque. You go into the old mosque, where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is buried to give him your greeting. You have come to his home. You have been invited to his home.

Your soul feels light in Madina. You finally realize that you actually have one.

I look back on my trip, my nights at the mosques, my days in the cities. And I feel my heart breathing anew.

I wish you all could see it. I wish you all could be there. I went there, skeptical, at times, of my own beliefs. Asking questions, demanding answers.

And now, I know. Now, I have seen.

And I am a believer.

31 comments:

Sarah said...

Amazing account Marium, I'm glad it was such a good experience for you, thanks for sharing it with us. Were you able to take any pictures during your time there? Love to see 'em if you did. You are still missed in Chapel Hill, but it's great to hear from you and the amazing things you've been up to.

Aisha said...

My cousin Hoda just returned from Umra and I feel her awe and nostalgia expressed so intensely through your writing. Marium, this is beautiful.

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