Fajr Salah was around 4:40am but today we made our way to the Haram exactly on time, and not earlier like we had the last two days. The reason being was that later today we were schedule to go for the outside Ziyarat in Madinah and as it was quite hot and the journey was going to be long, we were advised to make sure we had enough rest.
After Fajr Salah, I headed to Jannatul Baqi with the ladies of our group. I thought we would get much closer to Baqi but it turned out that the nearest we could get was a few meters away from the gate of the Haram facing Baqi. We could only see the large grid-like wall and not even into the actual cemetery. It was heartbreaking to think that this was the nearest we could go. In the distance, we saw hundreds of men lining up to enter the cemetery and pay their respects. We recited the salutations on the 4 Imams that were buried there. All the while, I had this urge to just be able to go much closer, but the guards were already watching us carefully.
We made our way back to the hotel for a short breakfast and then to gather in the lobby just before 9:00am. Our whole group; the Canadian, US and British sectors, were going for the outside Ziyarah together which was really nice as we could mingle and get to know others who were on this journey with us. Together, we boarded and filled 5 buses that set off to our first stop; the grounds of Uhad.
The site of the Battle of Uhad
Here was where the Battle of Uhad was fought. We saw an area of land surrounded by fence; this was where Hamza (the uncle of the Holy Prophet (s)), Musa bin Umayr, and Abdallah bin Jehash were buried alongside a mass grave of other martyrs. The history behind this battle is quite well known. Musa bin Umayr was the companion of the Holy Prophet (s) that looked so much like him that when he was martyred, there was confusion in the ranks and people thought that the Holy Prophet (s) had been killed. In the state of confusion, they left their posts atop a mountain to collect war spoils, thinking the battle was over, only to be attacked and defeated. We were here for about 15-20 minutes before heading over to our next stop.
Masjid-e-Qiblatayn – The Mosque of 2 Qiblas
Masjid-e-Qiblatayn was beautiful from the outside, and packed on the inside. In the time of the Holy Prophet (s) a devout Muslimah’s husband passed away. When the Holy Prophet (s) went to offer his condolences, the time for prayer set in and he asked if there was space to pray. The Muslimah guided the Holy Prophet (s) towards an empty barn. During the prayer, a verse of the Holy Qur’an was revealed commanding the Holy Prophet (s) to change the Qibla, the direction of prayer, from Jerusalem to the Holy Ka’ba. Hence, a Mosque was built here and named Masjid-e-Qiblatayn. We were fortunate to pray here despite the crowd. As we made our way to the exit, so many different groups who were visiting were also trying to get in or out, that at one point I literally felt my feet lift off of the floor as I was squeezed between people. Feeling suffocated, I had no idea if I would even make it out of there. But when I finally managed, I looked back and realised that the lovers of the Holy Prophet (s) are many. May our actions reflect upon his teachings. Silently, I thanked Him for such an opportunity.
The site of the Battle of Khandaq
Our next stop was the site of where the Battle of Khandaq was fought. Not much had been preserved in this area. Rather, a huge mosque had been built with no real significance to the battle. There once stood a house that belonged to Sayyida Fatima (a). History narrates that from this house, Sayyida Fatima (a) would assist the wounded in the battle and serve the soldiers. But now, there was nothing there. There was Masjid-e-Fattah where the Holy Prophet (s) prayed for victory, but it was closed and we could only see it from the outside. There was also the trench of Salman al-Farsi not far from Masjid-e-Fattah. It was really sad to see that not much remained.
Masjid-e-Quba – The First Mosque
This was our last stop. Masjid-e-Quba was the first mosque built in Islamic history. Even after Masjid an-Nabi had been built, the Holy Prophet (s) would come to Masjid-e-Quba every Saturday to lead the prayers. It was absolutely beautiful in its architecture. We were fortunate to spend at least half an hour there and were recommended to recite as many sets of 2 Rak’ah salah here, gifting our loved ones and Marhumin. I felt like I really wanted to recite Ziyarat-e-Aale Yasin here, and so I did. This mosque was not so large, and it was possible that the Holy Prophet (s) had walked within a few feet of where I now sat. The more I thought of it, the more I just felt like I wanted to stay there for as long as I could. The atmosphere had a warm and peaceful feeling.
At 11:45am we made our way back to the buses. We wanted to be back at the hotel before Dhuhrain prayers so that everybody could pray on time. Such was the spirit of Hajj that as we boarded our bus, a wonderful young couple from Canada whom we had only gotten to know briefly, treated everyone on the bus with ice cream. In such intense heat, the melting ice cream was very welcome and was cooling. I’ll never forget this act of kindness and hoped that we would be blessed with such opportunities to bring comfort to the other Hujjaj in our group; through whichever means – no matter how big or small.
We got back to the hotel around 12:30, giving us very minimal time to freshen up and then make our way to the Haram for Dhuhrain prayers. The adhan had already gone and the prayers had started but knowing the Haram was so close, there was no way we would be praying at the hotel if we could help it! By the time we did make it though, Dhuhr prayers had ended and we found a quite place to pray by a pillar to pray. The ground was scorching hot!
Today there was no afternoon lecture, so a little extra time to rest. It was only day 3 and I was feeling so exhausted that sleep definitely prioritised over eating lunch. I grabbed yogurt and fruits to put in the refrigerator in our room for when I woke up, and as soon as my head hit the pillow…..
I woke up around 6pm to meet Asif in the lobby and go for Maghribain prayers. We were now settling into a routine here in Madinah where we would meet before every set of prayers and go to the Haram together. It was a comforting feeling because there was a togetherness in the journey for spiritual growth. It was so nice to be in sync and have the same ideas in mind of what we wanted to do and how we wanted to make the most of our journey.
After Maghribain prayers, we did try to go to another exhibition on the Expansion of the Mosque of the Holy Prophet, but given how big the neighbouring buildings were, we couldn’t find the exit and after 5-10 minutes of circling the building and seeing nobody exit or enter, we figured it might either be closed or we just had the wrong doors. So we went back to sit by the Green Dome, recited Hadith-e-Kisa and spent little time there before heading back to the hotel. On the way back, we stopped at Masjid-e-Ghamama
We passed this Masjid daily on our way to and from the Haram. Here, the Holy Prophet (s) once came to pray Salat al-Istiskha, the prayer for rain in a severe drought. It was a small masjid with no rush and was open everyday. We went inside, prayed 2 Rak’ah here and then headed back to our hotel.
Back at the hotel, Akil Mama gave a lecture as it was the Shahadat Eve of our 9th Holy Imam (a). After the lecture and dinner, a few of us headed down to see what was local to the Masjid. We decided to head back around 1:00am. I had to get sleep as I was due to meet Asif in less than 2 hours!