Lubna Waheed Ahmad
As Muslims we grow up reading and listening about the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, learning about the simplest of details as well as the most important events in the history of Islam. Visiting Mecca and Medina, I had no idea that all this knowledge that I had acquired would come rushing back to me when walking on the land where Islam was born.
I have always had love and respect in my heart for the Holy Prophetsa. It is practically impossible for any Muslim to not fall in love with him when reading about his life throughout the Holy Quran, the literature of his most ardent servant, the Promised Messiahas and the various biographies accounting the details of his life. However, this love was at its absolute peak when visiting the key places of Mecca and Medina.
The first place that naturally strikes you is the Ka‘bah, an absolutely overwhelming experience that cannot be explained through mere words. The sensation that runs through your entire body and mind when first laying eyes on this grand, beautiful and striking building cannot be felt in any other situation.
The emotions come pouring out when you realise that you are at the home of the One and Only Being; the Being that has always been with you, yet you feel as though you are physically inside His glorious home. How can someone even begin to explain the emotions that run through your soul? No worldly thought arises in the moments when you stand and face towards the Ka‘bah and this sensation did not change even when seeing the Ka‘bah after many times.
Each sighting was like the first and the emotions would again come rushing back. With so many prayers in your mind, there are so many occasions when, looking at the absolute beauty of the Ka‘bah, one becomes mesmerised to the extent that your mind races with the thought of how grand and majestic Allah is and how beautiful His creation of everything on this planet is.
This feeling only enhanced my realisation of how little my worth is, and how I am absolutely nothing without my God, and what an incredible blessing it is that God has given me this opportunity to come and perform Umrah. In short, the impact the Ka‘bah has on a person is beyond words and is a feeling that every Muslim should try to experience.
One of the first places I was able to visit after my first Umrah was Cave Hira. This was the cave where many verses of the Holy Quran were vouchsafed to the Holy Prophetsa through the Archangel Gabrielas. The very first verse of the Holy Quran was revealed in this cave.
The Holy Prophetsa would seek refuge from the worldly practices of the Meccans at the time by coming up to this cave. He would travel there to spend time alone with his Creator, in His worship and remembrance.
It is no exaggeration to say that reaching the cave from normal ground level was an extremely strenuous mission. I have experienced hiking – I have hiked Ben Nevis and Mount Snowdon – however, the struggle I experienced while going up this mountain was like no other.
To think that the Holy Prophetsa would do this on a regular basis only to peacefully worship his Creator was overwhelming and awe-inspiring to say the least; it was just a glimpse of the sacrifices he would make to honour his Lord, Allah. It was at this point, with this realisation in mind, that I became overcome with many emotions and my heart felt immense love for the Holy Prophetsa. To just be able to experience a glimpse of his love for God was overpowering.
A subtle example of this is when you see someone show incredible respect and honour towards your mother – you feel a strange kind of affection towards that person as they are treating your mother with love and respect. A magnified example, however, is the love that the Holy Prophetsa had for Allah; his love was so pure towards God that since we have so much love for our Allah too, you feel incredible affection, emotion and love towards the Holy Prophetsa especially when realising that you will never be able to reach that much dedication and sacrifice for God.
The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa was someone who could look past all the worldly desires during his entire life. For us, we may be incredibly blessed to reach a fraction of this level of devotion at some point in our lives, but even that is at some point. This, however, does not mean that we give up and stop trying to gain the love and pleasure of Allah as it is impossible to reach the standard set by our beloved Prophetsa. He is an example for mankind, and this means that we should follow his example in the hope that we gain the blessings and benefit of this world and the next and get as close to his standard of sacrifice and love for God as possible.
There were many other places that we also got to visit in Mecca, including Mount Arafat (Jabal al-Rahmah) where the last speech was given by the Holy Prophetsa and Cave Thawr where the Holy Prophetsa and Hazrat Abu Bakrra hid from the enemies who were in pursuit of the Holy Prophetsa. It was at Cave Thawr when God Almighty protected them by means of a spider forming a web and a bird laying its eggs in a nest right outside the cave entrance, misguiding the opponents and making them believe that the Holy Prophetsa could not have been hiding in that cave. This again was a hike and was nearly three times higher than Cave Hira.
On the way to and at Medina we were able to visit many other places. We saw the site where the Battle of Badr took place – something that was incredibly moving, especially due to the current series of Friday Sermons by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa on the Companionsra of Badr – the mosque at Quba (the first mosque of Islam), Masjid Qiblatain (where the Holy Prophetsa changed the direction of prayer whilst praying as a result of God’s instructions to pray towards the Ka‘bah), the site of the Battle of Uhud and the famous Masjid-e-Nabawi which was the mosque established by the Holy Prophetsa in Medina. Here is also the place where the Holy Prophetsa is buried with two of his companions by his side – Hazrat Abu Bakrra and Hazrat Umarra.
The site of the battle of Uhud draws one’s attention to the unfortunate events that took place during that battle – something that is extremely moving.
There was a graveyard for the companions who passed away as martyrs during this battle and amongst them was the grave of Hazrat Hamzara, the beloved uncle of the Holy Prophetsa.
Reading and listening to narrations over the years, especially an entire Friday Sermon delivered last year by Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa, about incidents related to Hazrat Hamzara during the life of the Holy Prophetsa and the way he supported his nephew even though he was not entirely convinced by his claim during the early days, shows how much love he had for his beloved nephew.
The pain that the Holy Prophetsa felt losing his uncle, and that too in such a brutal manner, would have been so deep that even to this day, the essence of that pain was felt amongst those who were visiting the graves on the day.
Masjid-e-Nabawi, aside from being the mosque initially erected in the time of the Prophetsa, is unique as under the green dome, the Holy Prophetsa is buried. Being physically present in the same location and praying there was another moving experience, not least because the Promised Messiahas once expressed his desire to travel to Medina, but questioned whether he would even be able to bear the sight of his beloved master’s grave. With this in mind, I was reminded of the responsibilities attached to us as members of this Jamaat.
This trip, I believe, shall forever remain the best trip of my life. It was an absolute blessing that I was able to be in tune with my emotions and feel the love for Islam.
It was only due to the mercy of God that I was able to somewhat appreciate the importance of each place, and this too was a result of the firm foundations the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, through the education it provides from a young age, has established within the youth.
Belonging to the Jamaat of the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, one feels as though the cities of Mecca and Medina are being preserved for us, Ahmadi Muslims, so that we may tread the soil that our beloved master once walked on; so that we may breathe the air that our beloved once breathed; so that we may witness the setting in which the Holy Prophetsa once conveyed his Salaam to the Promised Messiahas.
اَللّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ عَليٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَّ عَليٰ اٰلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَليٰ اِبْرَاهِيْمَ وَ عَليٰ اٰلِ اِبْرَاهِيْمَ اِنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَّجِيْدٌ
اَللّٰهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَليٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَّ عَليٰ اٰلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَليٰ اِبْرَاهِيْمَ وَ عَليٰ اٰلِ اِبْرَاهِيْمَ اِنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَّجِيْدٌ