We were looking forward to Thursday in Madinah from the time we arrived as we had been told that we would be going to the only Shi’a Mosque in the area for the Thursday evening program. In a small Shi’a village not too far from the Haram stood Masjid Shaykh Al-Amri.
My day began at 3:30am. I met Asif in the lobby and we made our way to the Haram for Fajr prayers. We had been told by others in our group that if we walked around to the left of Jannatul Baqi, there were small cracks in the wall coverings where we could see into the cemetery from. So a few of us walked around. We were so far away from the main entrance of Jannatul Baqi that we could not see the graves of the Holy Personalities, but just being able to see into the cemetery was something.
We recited Ziyarat of Baqi in peace Alhamdulillah. Many people had told us that if there was commotion in that area the guards would ask us to move away but it seemed as the crowds were less, we could stay for quite a while. Shortly after completing our Ziyarah we went back to the hotel for breakfast, and then I went to rest.
Our afternoons had become routine; meeting in the lobby and going to the Haram for Dhuhrain prayers, and then making it back in time for the lectures and lunch. In this afternoon’s lecture, Akil Mama spoke on the remaining 4 Wajibat of Umrah-e-Tamattu. Abbas Mama then spoke of the spiritual aspects of these Wajibat.
Our journey to Makkah was getting closer and whilst we learned of the upcoming rituals we were to partake in, I felt butterflies. I was anxious because I did not know what to expect yet so excited that soon I would see the House of God. After lunch, Asif and I went back to the Haram for a while. The marble was scorching hot, but it was so nice to just sit and stare at the green dome and the Masjid of the Holy Prophet (s). It’s not a sight that you even want to think of walking away from, but sitting there day and night would never feel like it was enough.
We made our way back to the hotel to freshen up. Our group wanted to get to the Masjid, which was 10 minutes away, a little prior to Maghribain prayers. All the Hujjaj got on the buses. We were so fortunate to have Abbas Mama on the bus – he told us the history of Masjid al-Amri and about Sheikh al-Amri himself. The story was so inspiring. There were individuals who were dedicated servants of our 12th Imam and were examples for how we could also strive and achieve.
When we arrived, we were told to wait outside for a while, and whilst we waited we saw many others arriving. After days of being amidst Saudi culture, it was very heartwarming to be with like-minded. The memorable ‘Taftish’ procedure that we had last experienced in Iraq years prior. We passed through security and walked through a beautiful garden area with huge date palm trees.
The atmosphere was so nice! We reached inside the mosque by the Maghribain time. As adhan finished, a young man came in to the front of the ladies side, specifically to lead the prayers for us as we did not have connection to the men. The young man was Sheikh Qasim, the grandson of Sheikh al-Amri. After Salah we heard an amazing recitation of Du’a Kumayl and Ziyarat Waritha. The Ziyarat was a recording of Sheikh al-Amri reciting himself.
We were honoured to be guests in this great Masjid and were served so well! The ladies of the family served dates from the date palm trees in the gardens and black tea, and gifted us each a Turbah. Our hosts were exceptional. We made our way out from the Masjid and walked back through the gardens. We bought dates and then boarded the buses to get back to the hotel.
The experience at the Masjid was unique and I’ll always remember the hospitality of Sheikh al-Amri’s family. I ran through each detail of that evening in my mind again as I washed some of my clothes and packed for Makkah. There were people in all corners of the world who made you see life in a different light; Sheikh al-Amri, though no longer alive, was one of those people.
I got into bed relatively early. Tomorrow was Jum’ah and our time in Madinah was coming to an end. It was mixed feelings, and with that thought, I dozed off in no time.