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PART 2 – Overall Experience in Mecca

  • Shoes

I travelled to Mecca with my Bata Slip On shoes. Gray with pink soles and lining that I bought just a day before our flight. The purchase was so last minute I didn’t even get the chance to snap a picture of it, but amidst the last minuteness I managed to complain a word or two of how I didn’t really like my Gray with pink soles and lining Slip Ons.

So guess what, on my first day in Mecca, after our first Umrah Fardh, my Gray with pink soles and lining Slip Ons were missing. I basically lost the pair along with my husband’s Black slippers that I had complained about him carrying all the way in his luggage too. As much as I wasn’t completely happy with my Gray with pink soles and lining Slip Ons, I was devastated and sad that I lost it. It is true what they say, be thankful to God.

On my first day here, I learnt my very first lesson the hard way and we both walked barefoot back to the Hotel which was thankfully only 250m away from the Masjidil Haram. On the way back on foot, we were ever so grateful and thankful there are the cleaners who sweeps the path to the Masjidil Haram. Words can’t explain how at peace of mind I had trotting barefoot on a clean street, thanks to the cleaners. Ever since that incident, I’ve also made it a habit to always give sadaqah to the cleaners everytime I head to the Masjidil Haram, hoping they know how we (the jamaah) really appreciate them for doing their job. I was told by our Mutawif (guide) that the cleaners only gets padi Saudi Riyal (SR) of 300-400 a month, so they really could use a spare change.

 

  • Clothes

Scarf

My mom dictated my travelling wardrobe on this trip because she said she knows better what to be worn. Yes, my wardrobe still being dictated by my mom and I’m already 30 this year. I wanted to get the Khimar which is like a little bit stylish tudung labuh with all these layers and ruffles. Though I’m not a fan of ruffles, but there are many designs and you’re sure to find one of your fancy. But my mom said it’s not practical so she got me two of her favourite mini telekung and I looked exactly like I her I think on this trip. But then amidst my mom dictating, I did bring two scarves of my fancy, the @sora.kl scarf.

 

Oh lemme tell ya, that was luckily a perfect choice because the material is Matte Silk plus it’s SQUARE. Meaning it can be broadened or shortened to your liking. So obviously on this trip, I broadened it as wide as I could, and best part, because of the Matte Silk material, it doesn’t slip off easily, meaning when I prayed and sujud, the back part of the scarf doesn’t fall to front and expose my neck. Voila love this. Whatever scarf you decide to bring that’s fancy, please make sure you bring a Matte Silk material.

 

Jubah/Abaya

Oh, don’t underestimate the clothes you need to bring here. I survived the Mecca and Medina trip only with 5 pieces of attire:

2 jubah/dress, both from Love To Dress

1 jubah seluar that my mom lent me

2 abayas from Fuzana Mokhtaza paired with 2 FV basics sleeveless inner dress

 

I was actually planning to but a few pieces of jubah in Mecca and Medina, but since I had an inaccurate financial calculations, I ran short – a lot, no joke and that made me sad, but let’s complain not. I just prayed that what I have sufficed my stay, and Alhamdulillah it did, just had to make a few rounds of laundry.

 

Socks

However, I did underestimate the amount of socks I’d use. I brought 5 pairs, and that probably was bare minimum, however on the final days in Medina when I was too tired to hand wash the socks as I had to prioritize hand washing Maia’s clothes, I had to borrow the husband’s and my mom’s spare socks. 5 pairs isn’t an ideal number as you’d have to pray 5 times a day at the Masjidil Haram. Assuming you wear 2 socks a day, 5 pairs will last you 2.5 days, whereas we were in Mecca for 6 days. I don’t like mixing socks for praying and other activities, so one pair of socks is dedicated to going out/and or meal times.

 

Hand Socks & Leggings

Another TWO items of clothing I underestimated- the hand socks and leggings. I brought 3 pairs of hand socks and 1 pair of leggings. Lemme tell ya, hand socks are as important as the socks (the one I brought 5 pairs). Some people/madhab aren’t particular with the inner parts of the wrist showing during prayers (Madhab Syafiee emphasizes this a great deal, that’s why in Malaysia many prefer to pray with the telekung. Covers everything, period), and when you wear jubahs or abayas that aren’t cuffed, chances are the inner wrist will show.

 

Now, you can choose to take this lightly or ignore it as it might not be of a big deal to you even though you follow the Madhab Syafiee, BUT, you’re here all the way here, in God’s house on earth, half way across the world where you came from, and you’d want to take a risk of praying without covering properly? Yikes, I wouldn’t although I am not of those VERY pious. I am here, in God’s house on earth, half way across the world from where I came from, hence I want to make sure I do my best, although wherever I am is seen by God, but I am in His territory on Earth, how can I be disrespectful and not try my hardest and best.

 

So you’d want to have atleast 5 pairs, handwash them every day or two, or just have 10 and handwash them whenever you feel necessary.

 

OK, moving on to leggings, I know I have tonnes of leggings, but for some reason before my trip, I only found one. And leggings ladies and gentleman are important for days you’d want to walk really fast and lift the bottom part of jubah up or if your jubah is higher than your ankle, it’s important if you love slit abayas/jubahs and just want to enjoy the freedom of walking in the slit abaya/jubah. It VERY important in Medina where in winter it is colder than Mecca, and Fajr as well as Magrib & Isya prayers where the time of day is colder than when the sun is up.

 

Undergarments

 

My sister’s strategy was to bring enough top undergarment so she doesn’t have to wash any. Me on the other hand, being funny like seriously, brought only two, so I had to wash every few days. But as for the bottom wear, THANK GOD I was on my auto-pilot travelling mode, where I only use Disposal bottom wear. It’s such a peace of mind knowing you have a whole stock and you’d have to wash NONE 😀

 

Other kind of Clothes

So if you read Part 1 of the Holy Land Series, my entire wardrobe for this trip was dictated by my mom. She tells me my Abaya + Inner dresses were in appropriate to bring, let alone wear, but it’s something I love, so I brought it and found it functional and useful. So I think there’s nothing wrong with whatever you want to bring, most and utmost important is that it’s Salah appropriate. Wherever you go, whatever your activities are, you’d want to make sure you can stop and pray anytime.

 

With that said, in Mecca, it is however less appropriate to wear very long and floor sweeping Abaya/Jubah as it is dustier than in Medina. In Medina, the distance from your hotel to Masjid Nabawi is probably closer and it is less dusty, plus the compound of the Masjid Nabawi is huge and all marble, so it is a better environment for a floor sweeping Abaya/Jubah.

 

Palazzos or culottes are good too, especially if you’re not a fan of leggings. It’s friendlier to an open front abaya too as it is less tight than a leggings. However, trick of the trade to wearing these are with the right length of socks. With a legging, you can wear ankle high socks, but with a Palazzo or culottes, a thigh high socks is better.

 

Want to wear a knee high socks? Go for it, but it’s not very practical when it comes to taking wudhu as you’d have to take of a huge amount of material compared to thigh and ankle high socks.

 

  • Prayers

In Mecca, to be able to pray in the compound of the Masjidil Haram and maybe get a glimpse of the Kaabah, you’d have to come to the mosque an hour before the azan. It is very normal to be there an hour early. Half an hour is OK if your hotel is near (mine as 250m and that’s a distance suitable even half an hour before azan), but if you’re going to the ladies section, rest assured the Kaabah compound on the ground floor is full, hence you’d have to take the escalator to the upper floors, or at the compounds of the internal ground floor prayer areas with beautiful ceilings, but you won’t get a glimpse of the Kaabah. Ladies prayer’s section at the Ground Floor is a little limited and you’d have to go around and eye-level golden fences which indicates that is a Ladies Prayer Area.

 

The calling for prayer (Azan) for Fajr is sound twice. One is an hour before Fajr, to awaken the people. The second one is when it is Fajr. The first day we came, we arrived in Makkah around 4 am. Then we heard the Azan at 430 am and prayed Fajr straight away. An hour later, 530 am, another azan was heard, then only we found out about the Fajr Azan. Had a blur moment there for a bit, but these are some of the things I think the Ustad missed out to mention during our pre-Umrah courses.

After every Fardh prayer, a Jenazah Prayer will be held. It’s done standing up with 4 takbirs. You just follow the imam and it’s very brief. However, it is done in a manner that right after the fardh prayer, you’d have to straight away get up to pray the Sunnah prayer after the fardh prayer, then as soon as you salaam for that, the Imam would already be in takbir for the Jenazah Prayer.

 

The rukun for Jenazah Prayer is:

 

  1. Niat (neeyah/intention). Say Takbir while raising your hans, then fold and hold your hands on your chest in the usual manner, the right hand on the left seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shayṭan, then you utter Bismillah and recite Al-Fatiha
  2. Then you say Second Takbir and Selawat on Prophet Ibrahim

O Allah! shower Your mercy upon Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad , as You showered Your                    mercy upon Ibrahim and the followers of Ibrahim. Behold, Your are Praiseworthy, Glorious.

Oh Allah! Shower Your blessing upon Muhammad , and the followers of Muhammad as You showered Your              blessings upon Ibrahim and the followers of Ibrahim. Behold, You are Praiseworthy, Glorious.

  1. Then you say a third Takbir and make du’a for the deceased:

Long version:

It is narrated that Muhammad (SAW) said:

“O God, forgive our living and our dead, those who are present among us and those who are absent, our young and our old, our males and our females. O God, whoever You keep alive, keep him alive in Islam, and whoever You cause to die, cause him to die with faith. O God, do not deprive us of the reward and do not cause us to go astray after this. O God, forgive him and have mercy on him, keep him safe and sound and forgive him, honor his rest and ease his entrance; wash him with water and snow and hail, and cleanse him of sin as a white garment is cleansed of dirt. O God, give him a home better than his home and a family better than his family. O God, admit him to Paradise and protect him from the torment of the grave and the torment of Hell-fire; make his grave spacious and fill it with light.”

 

Short version:

It is acceptable for other words to be used for du’a; for example, one could say:

“O God, if he was a doer of good, then increase his good deeds, and if he was a wrongdoer, then overlook his bad deeds. O God, forgive him and give him the steadiness to say the right thing.”

 

  1. Then a fourth takbir is recited, followed by a short pause, then a final taslim to the right, saying “Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatu-Allah” (“Peace and blessings of God be unto you”)

 

  • Luggage Locker

 

In front of the ZamZam Clock Tower Hotel, there are a few facilities of a Luggage Locker. If stayed at the Masjidil Haram the whole day, but had shopping done in between prayer times, the Luggage Locker is a convenient place to stow away your items safely whilst you return to the prayers. Or if you wanted to do some groceries at the ZamZam Clock Tower Mall, and your hotel is far away, then this is also a convenience.

  • Zam Zam Water

For those who may not know, there are two version on how the Zam Zam Water came about:

 

  1. the Holy Water dug by the Angel Gabriel by kicking the ground with his wings for the Prophet Ishmael (AS) to satisfy and quench his thirst
  2. Prophet Ishmael (AS) scraped the land with his feet, where suddenly water sprang out

The name of the well comes from the phrase Zomë Zomë, meaning “stop flowing”, a command repeated by Hagar during her attempt to contain the spring water

Throughout my life, whenever we drank Zam-Zam Water that friends and relatives brought back from Makkah, we were always taught to say Salawat to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

However, during our visit to Makkah, the first thing the Ustad told us about etiquettes of Zam-Zam Water was totally different. Personally, I don’t think these are must do’s, but I think it’s a good etiquette to adhere by:

 

  1. Read Bismillah before drinking ZamZam Water
  2. One should drink while standing and face towards the Kiblah
  3. Drink the amount of water in three breaths/gulps
  4. In between the gulps, he can ask from Allah whatever he wishes ans make as many supplications his heart desires.

 

It was reported that when Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) drank from the water of Zamzam, he said: “O Allaah, I ask you for beneficial knowledge, plentiful provision and healing from every disease.”

 

  1. A person should drink as much of ZamZam Water as possible and be grateful for the opportunity of being able to drink ZamZam Water whilst in Mecca

 

If you are on your period, there is also no problem drinking the Zam-Zam Water (reference)

It is perfectly permissible for a woman to drink Zamzam water during her period. There is nothing to restrict this to any group of people. Anyone may drink it regardless of their condition or state.

It is always recommended to be seated when drinking, because it is the better position healthwise. However, it may be sometimes difficult to drink while seated, which means that there is nothing wrong with drinking while standing. This also applies to drinking Zamzam water. There is no special rule for it. And God the Almighty knows best.

On another important note, we were told to drink from the NOT COLD container of the ZamZam as that will help us not catch a dry and cold cough that Jamaah from Mecca and Medina always had by the end of Umrah

  • Food & Shopping

The Hotel we stayed at was only 250m away from the Masjidil Haram. On the way to the Masjidil Haram were also a row of food stalls and grocery stores. Right in front of the Masjidil Haram is the ZamZam Clock Tower Mall where there’s a 24-hour grocery store that’s like Ben’s Grocer or Cold Storage and it’s a place you can find almost anything you think of.

 

Hotel Food -The hotel (more of like a motel if you ask me the facility provided) provided us breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cook were Indonesian I presume, as the food were not so much of a Malay taste and the kicap they provided were the ABC one. I was in my first trimester, so my food appetite was still very fragile and shaky, hence if there were two things I’d bring to boost my apetite, it would have been Kicap Habhal Cap Udang and acar jeruk. Every single day I prayed I would have the apetite to eat whatever that was served, and Alhamdulillah whilst my stay there, Allah granted me that duaa.

Grocery Food and Snacks – Other than the motel food, other food you’d have to try in Mecca are the falafel, fruit cocktail custard that they serve in cups, goats milk that we got from the Grocery’s at ZamZam Clock Tower Mall, their version of something like Dunkin Donut, which I can attest has so much spice taste, and the softserve icecream that everyone always has. My most favourite was the Murtabak. Tonnes of Spring Onion and Cheese inside, loved it to bits!

 

Abaya/Jubah Shopping – Many told us it was better to shop Abayas and Jubahs at Medina, but in comparison to both, I find that Abayas/Jubahs in Mecca had more of a friendlier price range. You’d have no problem finding an Abaya/Jubah according to your budget, whereas in Medina, the Abayas/Jubahs were of a certain price range only, and not much of choice of design. Abayas/Jubahs in Mecca starts at Saudi Riyal (SR) 40 and reaches to SR 200, were the ones that we surveyed. If your budget is higher than SR 200, I also believe you won’t have any problems finding a match for that budget as the higher range of choices are endless in both, Mecca and Medina.

 

Dates and Dried Fruits – Dates and dried fruits are better for bulk purchase in Mecca, although they said the Dates Farm were expensive, but there are a few spots for bulk purhcases in Mecca. However, you’d have to be wary of certain price drops or discounted goods in Mecca, as when they’re reduced to clear, they may be a bit less pleasing to eat; ie hard texture, more chewy, less flavour etc.

 

Other shopping categories that you may not see here I will cover in Medina. Stay tuned!





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