In Part 1 of this series, I addressed the importance of preparation before the umrah. I now present the highlights of our journey.
What did the Young Team think of the Umrah Journey?
I asked the team to share their thoughts on the umrah experience:
Q: What was your biggest achievement? What are you most proud of?
“My biggest achievement was definitely completing umrah and doing a voluntary tawaf. Even though it was extremely hot, whilst we were actually doing our umrah I didn’t feel the heat at all!” (Iman, 14yr old)
“As a whole, my Umrah journey was great all round. I have to say, my biggest achievement was probably completing the few extra nafl tawaf that I did after my Umrah. In those times, I had to persevere as I was faced with a few setbacks along the way. Due to the construction on the second floor in Makkah, excess water was leaking onto the tiles and many people started to slip. Alhamdulillah, I did not slip but I did get my socks very wet. However, with the goal in sight and the reward that would come upon me Insha’Allah, I knew that this was only a very minor issue that I just ignored.” (Eesa, 14yr old)
“My biggest achievement would probably be praying all my salah in the masjid day in day out. It was a very good experience and it helped increase my love for the masjid. Another achievement would probably be sneaking into the mataf (ground floor, near the Ka’bah) after we had finished our actual umrah.” (Hamza, 12yr old)
Q: What did you enjoy most?
“My favourite moment was when I saw the Ka’bah for the first time. To this day I still can’t explain this beautiful feeling but I felt a wave of different emotions. It was an extremely emotional moment but one I will never forget.” (Iman, 14yr old)
“I really enjoyed going to the museum of the Prophet’s biography and I really liked looking at the equipment that was used in the time of the Prophet pbuh. For example we saw spears, axes and clothing. The best part was it was on a digital screen which was a touch screen and we got to see a 3D version of the equipment.” (Iman, 14yr old)
“I can say confidently that I enjoyed my time in the Masajid. The ‘vibe’ was so refreshing. Imagine praying with millions of other Muslims at once in the same Masjid with the same intention. Usually, I do not perform the full five prayers in the Masjid. This regular attendance of these blessed places really did help me spiritually and gain a closer connection with praying to Allah (SWT).” (Eesa, 14yr old)
“Another benefit of my journey was the museums and monuments we visited. During our sightseeing of Saudi Arabia, we were guided by a knowledgeable member of the museum and ziyarat program. I feel that having this person to explain to us with real life examples did help to increase my knowledge of the history of Islam. I do recommend you take some time out of your day, between Salahs, to visit these wonderful opportunities.” (Eesa, 14yr old)
“I enjoyed the amazing atmosphere on the mataf (ground floor, near the Ka’bah).” (Hamza, 12yr old)
Q: What was the biggest challenge? What did you find most difficult at umrah?
“My biggest challenge at umrah was when we climbed Jabal al-Nur. When I saw the mountain I thought I wouldn’t be able to climb it but the encouragement from my cousins helped me a lot and when we managed to get to the top the view was amazing and I was very proud of myself!” (Iman, 14yr old)
“One setback I did face in Madinah was at our first visit to the Rawdah. It was an early morning and we had finally managed to book a slot to visit ‘the Noble Garden’. We were greeted by a long queue which we thought would never end. Suddenly, I felt a sudden pain in my stomach and got very dizzy. I went to the toilet with my uncle and left my belongings with his son (my cousin). Whilst I was gone, my cousin Hamza used my phone to communicate with the Arabian guards. We had Google Translate along with the Arabic language downloaded so it could be accessed at any time through our journey. Very intelligently, my cousin approached the guards at the front of the queue and used the app to tell them something along the lines of, ‘My cousin is not feeling well and my dad has taken him to the toilets.’ Upon seeing this message, that kind guard put my cousin at the front of the queue with other ill/disabled Muslims. We returned from the restroom seeing Hamza at the entrance of the Rawdah. After convincing and explaining our story to an adamant second guard, we were finally let through and prayed at the Rawdah.” (Eesa, 14yr old)
“The thing I found most difficult in umrah was getting used to the different climate and trying to touch the black stone.” (Hamza, 12yr old)
Q: If you were to go again, what would you do differently?
“I would love to go again and again InshaAllah but if I were to go again what I would do differently is take more books. I managed to finish reading “The Simple Seerah” part one by Ustadh Asim Khan and I really enjoyed it. I finished the book very quickly so next time I will take more books. Another thing I would do differently is to journal every day. I did take my journal and did write in it some days but next time I want to write in it every day.” (Iman, 14yr old)
“If I were to go again, I would ensure that I sleep better between prayers and have a plan out for trips or activities. This way I would not feel as tired during Ibadah and would be able to perform prayers to the best of my ability.” (Eesa, 14yr old)
“If I were to go again I would probably try to make the most of my time by exploring more and visiting the Graveyard in Madinah and visiting the Prophet’s (saw) grave.” (Hamza, 12yr old)
Q: Overall, what did you think of the umrah experience?
“Overall my umrah experience was great! I loved every moment and want to go again InshaAllah. When I came back to the UK I must admit I missed Saudi Arabia a lot and kept thinking of everything I did and all the memories I made. Me and my cousin Hamza found a fountain with LED lights in our hotel in Makkah and it was where we would go to relax and talk about our day and how we are finding our trip.” (Iman, 14yr old)
“Where do I start? Our Umrah experience was undoubtedly one of the best experiences in my life, if not the best. From the busy streets of Madinah to the welcoming sounds of the Adhan in Makkah, Saudi Arabia is a must for your Muslim soul.” (Eesa, 14yr old)
“I loved the Umrah experience. It was amazing and affected my spiritually.” (Hamza, 12yr old)
Q: Any other anecdotes you’d like to share?
“Meeting millions of people from all around the world was amazing and at every salah a different person would stand next to you. I loved speaking to different people and how they were finding their trip. Umrah really was an eye opening experience for me and I would encourage anyone to go.” (Iman, 14yr old)
“What really touched me was my first glance of the Ka’bah. After several weeks of waiting to view the House of Allah (SWT), I finally got the chance to see it. For many years, I have been looking at a picture of it framed on our wall at home. We did not know what size it would be and upon first glance, I was amazed. I had been waiting for that moment for months now and here I was, making our first duas in hope of acceptance.” (Eesa, 14yr old)
“I would highly recommend performing Umrah or Hajj if possible before going to any other holiday destinations because you can get so much reward and spiritual enhancement anywhere else.” (Eesa, 14yr old)
“My anecdote would probably be make the best of the Umrah experience. Visit as many places as you can and try not to mess about while you’re there.” (Hamza, 12yr old)
Q: How has umrah changed you?
“Umrah has definitely changed me and I feel I have become more patient. Sometimes just waiting for food or transport and even delays can be a struggle but this is a way in which you could practice patience.” (Iman, 14yr old)
“Thank you for taking the time out to read my experience at Umrah. Please pray that Allah accepts my umrah and for my family and I the opportunity to perform umrah again.” (Iman, 14yr old)
“Overall, our Umrah trip was an enlightening experience for all of us. I think the way we managed the trip and planned out things beforehand helped to improve our experience and 100% urge you to do the same. Our visit to Saudi brought me a closer relation to salat and dhikr. I also think I have been reading a lot more Quran since Umrah.” (Eesa, 14yr old)
“Umrah has changed me because I treasure my Quran and my salah more than I did before.” (Hamza, 12yr old)
A Heart-melting Thank You Card from my Nephew Eesa
First Sight of the Ka’bah
The Ka’bah has an awe about it that is really difficult to describe in words. I recall being overcome with emotion at my first sight when raising my hands in dua. I could hear one of the guards ushering me forward but my gaze was fixed on the Ka’bah and my focus was supplicating to Allah in hope of His mercy, forgiveness and acceptance. Have your duas ready and make the most of this wonderful experience.
Museum of the Prophet’s Biography
Visiting “The International Fair and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization” lived up to the museum’s mantra, “Biography (of the Prophet) as if you are living it”. This was a great educational experience for my team and I and one of the highlights of our stay in Madinah. The guided tour in English (or if you prefer Arabic) includes fantastic 3D models of Makkah and Madinah during the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, his family tree, a timeline of his blessed life, typical everyday objects used at the time; all using the latest technologies and creative presentation tools. The museum is only a stone’s throw away from the Quba gate (door no.5) of the Prophet’s masjid in Madinah, located just outside the boundary of the masjid courtyard. Depending on how busy it is, tickets need to be purchased 1-2 days in advance and cost 37 SAR/~9 GBP (at the time) but well worth it.
Ticket for the Museum
3D Model of Makkah
3D Model of Madinah
Inside the Museum of the Prophet’s Biography
Museum is Opposite Quba Gate No. 5
Garden of Heaven
Jannatul Baqi, meaning “Garden of Heaven” is the main cemetery of Madinah. Buried here are many members of the Prophet’s, peace and blessings be upon him, close family, around ten thousand of his companions (Sahabah) and many prominent, pious personalities. I experienced a calm ambience and tranquility in visiting the graveyard, especially after the fajr prayer.
Jannatul Baqi after the Fajr Prayer
Meeting People from Different Countries
The ummah is so diverse, but there is much beauty in our differences. One of the highlights for me was to meet and have conversations with people from Egypt, Iraq, Morocco and Nigeria as well as some of the locals. Sitting and praying with different people was an amazing experience. People who have never met you will serve your tea and share food to break your fast at the iftar time. The kindness in some people was a very humbling experience.
Herbal Tea served in the Prophet’s Masjid
Iftar Time at Masjid Haram in Makkah
You’ll discover that looking for the good in people, demonstrating awesome character and treating people well will usually result in people responding in kind, so smile, spread salaam, give space for people to sit in the masjid, help with directions, serve zam zam etc. However, do realise that the place is virtuous but the people may not be so keep it real.