This Ramadhan, I wanted so badly to come to the Holy Land and now I’m finding myself here. I had a wonderful time, one that is quite different from my other experience here. I guess when you want to come here out of your own will, you’ve finally understood not to waste precious time here. When I was younger, my parents would bring me here and I’d grumble to go to the mosque, I’d yawn during prayers and I’m secretly thinking about the Taza chicken outside the mosque and counting the minutes to when I could dash out and get some. I laugh thinking about these times. I guess if your kids are the same, don’t worry, don’t force them, just be kind and understanding. It’s just a phase and soon they’ll come to find sincerity on their own.
In Makkah, we had an amazing view of the Haram from our hotel room and I just felt so so blessed. Umrah was smooth for us. It was scorching hot and we were fasting, but I didn’t feel the need to complain and it was just so easy. I prayed by myself, I read the Quran and I even khatam the Quran in front of the Kaabah (hugeeeee moment for me! I totally teared after kissing the Quran). I was able to make doa for my family, my friends, my teams, my acquaintances, my followers, basically everyone. And I read out loud the doa’s that my friends asked me to convey.
Dean and I were closer than ever and I even saw him tear when he read his doa’s. That really moved me. I feel like this trip gave me a higher level of respect for him, and I just fell even more head over heels for my husband.
I wrote this in the hotel room while looking at him, and I teared. I’m truly a lucky girl and I have to thank God always.
In Madinah, it was honestly quite different than Makkah for me. It felt hotter, I felt more impatient and I was even getting a bit homesick. I missed my kids, my family, heck I even started missing Bangsar Village. Haha. It was extremelyyyyy crowded in Madinah and because the mosque is smaller (especially the women section), it was worse for people. I remember writing in my phone to jot down my thoughts in case I forgot.
“I’m sitting here in Masjid Nabawi in Madinah waiting for the Terawih prayers. Next to me is a lady massaging her tired leg and on my right is an even more elderly lady who looks tired and frazzled. All around me are women of all colours from many different countries from Saudi to Pakistan to Southeast Asia (very easy to spot us; we’re the only ones in white telekung) wearing all sorts of colours and prints (as opposed to Makkah where people mostly wear white ihram/jubah or black abayas). It’s honestly chaotic. People are pushing, shouting, squeezing to find a spot to pray. Even me, I’m literally making my sujud against a woman’s feet because that’s how small my space is. Never been more grateful to be short haha. There are babies crying so loudly, people are just walking all over the bodies sleeping in the mosque. I feel like the worst Muslim, but I seriously feel uncomfortable and I want to cry. Usually I’d have my mom here but since I’m only here with my husband, we had to separate. So I’m alone, amongst thousands of other ladies who didn’t speak English and were talking to me in their languages as though I could understand them. I feel left out. I feel insignificant. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone there is equal and everyone has an equal right to a floor space in the mosque to pray. In one row, you’d find a lady clad in diamante abaya and a Chanel bag, and next to her a lady so poor you could see dirt in her fingers and toes. It is truly truly humbling.”
I felt sad, and then I felt angry. I just didn’t understand why people were so rude, especially the older bigger women they just keep pushing and pushing and shouting out words like “Hajjah, Hajjah!” or “Yala, yala!” just to get their way. Like what is your problem? I felt that this was not the Islam I was taught; the Islam of love and care, kindness and respect. This was just rough.
I started to zikir and read doa. I started to just mind my own business and read the Quran. Slowly, I started to feel more at ease. I smiled at the lady who shouted at me just now, and she smiled back. Suddenly my anger towards her melted. I shared my sejadah with the old lady next to me and she helped me smoothen it out on the floor. A lady helped pull my jubah down so my feet wouldn’t show when I sujud. And I was even given a cup of air zamzam and dates, out of nowhere. One lady from Pakistan looked at me and gave me the kindest smile and said “May Allah bless you.” For no reason at all!!
I was just speechless. And things started getting into perspective. Islam is the religion of love and care, it is the religion of kindness and respect. I just only chose to see the negative side of the people and made a conclusion. But I forgot that everyone comes from different culture, different upbringing, different education, different thinking, how do you expect everyone to understand just your way? I realise that you couldn’t generalise people and start blaming religion for things you see that are different from what you’re used to. When I started to sabar and think more positively, all the goodness started to show. For the 10 minutes of the prayer, I realise my goodness, look at all this. Just look at how many gazillion people in here are standing together for the same purpose to pray. Just look at how this religion has gathered people from all walks of lives to be together right here. Just look at how people who don’t even speak the same language share dates with each other. Just look at how people squeeze and make way just so that a fellow Muslim can pray too. Sure, you’ve got the grumpy aunties, but heyyy we all have those at home! I just had to be wiser and focus on the bigger picture. I left the mosque feeling humbled, small but with so much love for my faith.
Today, we are leaving Madinah to go home. So I did my last prayers in the mosque. I went to the Raudhah entrance and saw sooooo many ladies queuing up and thought my goodness there’s no way I can enter this time. I’ve been once before with my mom and I’ll have that memory etched forever, and that’s enough for me. I’ll let these patient ladies have their chance now, and if God gives me the chance to go again next time, then I’ll consider myself lucky. For the final goodbye, I just raised my hands and just read doa. I thanked God for letting me come to the Holy Land, I thanked God for everything in my life that He has given me, I asked Him to give the same opportunity to others who wanted to come, and I felt a lump in my throat I was about to cry.
Me being me, I of course took loads of pictures of the mosque and I asked a stranger to take my picture. I mean whatever, she doesn’t know me and she won’t judge. Ok maybe she will but I won’t see her again so it’s ok. Desperate times. Haha.
She took one of me and showed me.
“Good?” she asked in a foreign accent.
What do you mean, lady?! It was so senget and not Instagram-worthy at all.
“Ya, good,” I lied, smiled to her and said thanks. Silently wondering why people didn’t understand how to take straight photos -___-“
I got my doa’s, I got my prayers, I khatam Quran, I read a book “Letters To A Young Muslim”, I got to be with my husband just the two of us. But man… I didn’t get a good picture. That’s maybe God’s way of telling me that’s not important.
On a serious note, hope you guys are having an awesome Ramadhan, and discovering the beauty of our religion all over again.