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Pinched myself awake, I must be dreaming. I was a few hours away from home and in the middle of nowhere heading to the holiest city on earth along with my mom, my sister and my brother.

We were travelling under a tour group specialized in Umrah, the Glocal Travel & Tours.

When we arrived at the airport, it was packed with pilgrims. The immigration queue was long and it could take hours to get through the immigration. What we’ve gone through that time was nothing compared to Hajj season. Right after the immigration we were told to perform our Isya’ prayer, our journey from Jeddah to Madinah took another 8 hours and we were scheduled to arrive just in time for Subuh prayer. We had our dinner on the bus and trying to get a good rest.

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Me, my sister, mom & my brother

 

MADINAH & MASJID NABAWI

I was half awake when we were reaching Madinah. The first adzhan can be heard from the Masjid Nabawi as we checked-in to the hotel. There will be two callings for Subuh, one is kind of ‘wake up call’ and the second is the calling for prayer.

During my Umrah period, I’ll jump out of my bed on the first adzhan and rushed my mom and my sister to mosque so we can get a spot in the mosque. Mom said, wouldn’t it be nice if I keep the same attitude even after Umrah.

We refreshed ourselves, changed clothes and walked to the mosque for our Subuh prayer. Our hotel is a few meters away from the female entrance gate 25. The mosque is quickly filled with pilgrims; we tried to squeeze in between them to get a spot inside the mosque. After Subuh prayer, we waited until the sun rises before heading back to the hotel, had breakfast and went for a walk around the city.

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Madinah is definitely has a calm vibe, peaceful and serene. The earth-tone buildings, pilgrims are everywhere, making their way to the mosque, shops selling abaya, tamar, perfumes, and pigeons welcoming pilgrims at the mosque entrance. It has hot when we were there, but bearable. As soon as you entered Masjid Nabawi, the tiles, the big shading umbrellas make it colder.

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We always arrived a few hours earlier before prayer times to get the best spot inside the mosque, reciting Qurans, performing Sunnah prayers, doing zikr, countless trips to the Zam Zam water dispenser refilling my water bottles, get a drink for my mom, filling the gap in between before the prayer. Often, we will wait for Isya prayer inside the mosque after Maghrib, before heading back to the hotel for dinner, get some rest, and woke up at 3am to get ready for Subuh – the cycle continues.

It can be tiring, and this is why it’s important to get used to it before Umrah – mentally and physically ready for it. You wouldn’t want to waste your time doing nothing but focusing on your Ibadah and things that you can do, being religious.

RAUDHAH

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah thet the Prophet (PBUH) said, “The area between my house and my mimbar is one of the gardens of Paradise” Nararated by al-Bukhaari (1196) and Muslim (1391)

When asked if we’d like to go inside Raudhah, you can see my eyes sparkle. I read about it before how hard it is to get in, but we will never know unless we tried. It was tough; there is a specific timing for female pilgrims to enter Raudhah – after Isya or Subuh prayer while it’s a lot easier for the male pilgrims. Everyone knows the benefit of getting a chance to pray inside Raudhah – therefor no one wants to miss that golden chance.

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Photo taken at the hotel before entering Raudhah –  March 30, 2017. I didn’t bring my phone to the mosque, so I didn’t have any photos inside.

We went in a group, waiting for hours from one stop to another and the ustazah and our mutawiffah keep reminding us to not stop saying our zikr while waiting for our turns. As soon as we entered the Raudhah, you can see the infamous green carpet, I’ve got a mixed emotion, sad and happy.

You can barely have a space to perform two rakaat of prayers; other pilgrims will help to make space for you to pray without getting stepped on by other pilgrims.

Everything happened so fast, tears streaming down my cheeks, I have totally forgotten the list of of dua I wanted to make earlier and I went with – Ya Allah, please forgive me. Repeatedly.

Alhamdulillah everyone in the group got a chance to perform the two rakaat prayers and we went back to the hotel at 2am get some sleep and woke up one hour later.

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Right after we exited the Raudhah

Is it possible to get into Raudhah by yourself? I believe it is, and it can be much easier. Go to the mosque earlier during Isya/Subuh prayer and sit near to the opening gate to Raudhah (keep your eyes on the sign). They have a different timing for Arabians/Asians to get in but most won’t follow, some suggest wearing all black and niqaband distinguishing as Arabs. I haven’t tried it, but, I believe that will work too.

SHOPS & SOUVENIRS

Many suggest getting your souvenir shopping while in Madinah, it’s cheaper and you don’t want to go through your shopping lists in Mekah and lose your focus on your main intention – performing Umrah.

I bought some dates, prayer mat, chocolates for souvenirs and three abayas for myself, which I swear to wear it as my baju raya – and I did! One of it is quite cheap, comfy and I keep wearing it while I was there.

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ZIARAH LUAR MADINAH

Besides our daily routine in Madinah, we also went with the group tour visiting places nearby Madinah as part of our travel itinerary. I’ll walk you through photos.

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On our last day in Madinah, with heavy hearts we pray the Zuhur prayer at the Masjid Nabawi, visiting Prophet Muhammad’s maqam, saying our goodbyes and get ready in our Ihram clothing for our first Umrah heading to Mekah.

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Labbayk, Allahumma labbayk, labbayk la sharika laka labbayk, Innal Hamda wan nimata laka wal mulk, la sharika lak

Here I am O Allah! Here I am, at Your service! You have no partner, here I am. All praise, grace and dominion belong to You. You have no partner.

It started loud, and tears streaming down my cheeks, and soon it became weak, and I fall asleep and keep reciting the talbiyah in sleep.

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