SubhanAllah, in 2011 I was blessed with the opportunity to perform Umrah again, this time during the sacred month of Ramadhan! Umrah is an amazing experience, and for anyone considering going, I would sincerely encourage going for it in Ramadhan! Contrary to expectations, performing Umrah during Ramadhan was a totally different and heightened experience altogether.
At first, I was completely dumbfounded. Before, whilst watching pilgrims praying their salah in the Haram, I would be baffled as to why people would opt to pray outside of the Haram as oppose to as close to the Ka’bah as possible. Now I understood. As it was Ramadhan, swarms of people had made their way to the two holy cities seeking rewards from Allah (SWT) likely knowing that it had been narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said “When the month of Ramadan arrives, go for ‘umrah, because `umrah in Ramadan is like accompanying me on Hajj.” (Bukhârî)
One vivid memory I carry is that of performing the Sa’ee between Safa and Marwa. I was beyond thirsty and my Dad was searching for a functioning Zamzam tap in the middle of the two walkways. Understandably the taps had been switched off during the fasting hours, but we just wanted to splash water on ourselves for some relief. This was quite amazing in itself. No access to water made for a more literal re-tracing of the steps that Hajar (RA) took while desperately searching for water for the prophet Isma’il (AS).
I better remembered that whenever I felt some sort of coolness or mysterious spray of water, that this was Allah’s (SWT) mercy. I was also more thankful than I had ever been for the rainy weather we are accustomed to in Britain. Alhamdulillah.
During iftar time in Medina, my sister and I had brought little food with us besides dates and were seated on a prayer mat above the burning hot floor outside of the mosque of the beloved Rasool (SAW). Although in both of the holy mosques, each and every day there were people distributing bread, yogurt, cups of Zamzam, dates and more, I especially remember a beautiful family that had settled themselves on a large, thick, prayer mat sharing food and drink with each other a couple of centimetres away from us. The beautiful thing about this family was that they were so loving and generous that, by the will of Allah (SWT), they made a plate for us, consisting of chickpeas, salad and pilau rice. Not only did they offer us delicious food, but after the men in the family had moved, we were invited to pray with the sisters on their prayer mat. May Allah (SWT) reward this family, and all of the other generous Muslims we encountered, for their kindness, insha Allah. The sheer amount of generosity of food put into perspective the true unity in this Ummah, and how it breaks the barriers of language and race just to stand side by side to worship our Creator.
For me, this Ramadhan will always have a special place in my heart. Sharing my experience with you right now has opened the gate to many good memories. I pray that I return soon, insha Allah, and that I have been able to reveal even a glimpse of this amazing time which I encourage you all to try to attain.
Fahima Miah is a budding modest wear designer in the beginning stages of starting her own brand of affordable, eclectic, ‘abayas and modest clothing for the fashion-focussed Muslimah, insha Allah. Follow her as she embarks on this exciting entrepreneurial journey: www.fahimamiah.wordpress.com.