I sat up jack knife straight in bed and looked around. Who shook me? Turning to my left and right, Tanweer, Matloob and Al-Hajj `Ismah were all sleeping. I stared for some time to make sure that no one was trying to play any joke on me. Nothing. It was quiet.
The room clock’s ticking was so loud, it was as if the cylindrical object was speaking aloud in a quiet room. Time to wake up, it seemed to be telling me. I didn’t know if 3am should be the time to be awake.
Seeing that I was awake, there was no point in sitting there staring into space. I’m in Madinah, so let’s make proper use of the time. Now I remembered! It was my oath. That was why I was awake.
While in the UK, I had made a nadhr to Allah. The prayer was clear and said with as much conviction as I could muster: “Allah, if you allow me and invite me on Hajj, I will pray 300 raka`ah nafl, make three `Umrahs for the Ummah and slaughter two rams and dedicate their blessings to the entire Ummah all in thanksgiving.”
It wasn’t too long after that when the Hajj visas and my passport came back from the embassy. Yes, I revelled. I was accepted. If I carried on by doing 20 today according to my limit, I would only have 80 due tomorrow. I made an intention to finish the rest of the twenty raka`ah early in the morning at Al-Masjid un-Nabawi before Fajr.
This would also be the last day that I would be eligible to combine and shorten prayers. I would now be counted as a resident in this land so I would prayer all five prayers in full. After wudu’ and getting on my day clothes, I listened to my own footsteps clicking the pavement on the way to the Masjid.
Where is Badr Gate, I looked around. I smiled when I saw it open and knew I would have the opportunity to maybe speak briefly with the cleaners. The hum of the vacuum cleaners and carpet fresh filled the air as these tiny Indonesian and Malaysian men lifted the carpets after vacuuming, swept the hard marble floor underneath and then vacuumed it as well.
It was so beautiful to look at the open Rawdah of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. What a lovely place and how calm an atmosphere. Fajr time was no disappointment and I was filled with joy at the opportunity to pray with the believers.
I was still fresh from waking up at 3am and Matloob stayed up after Fajr with me. “Are you well enough to go to Masjid Quba’ today?” I looked at him as if he was carrying the Ebola virus. “Of course I am,” I said in disbelief at the very question.
Once the time came, when the Hajj leader came, I handed over the envelope of £3200.00 to cover all the Hajj expenses and details. It was burning a hole in my pocket and I had tried to give it to him on two occasions previous out of fear that I would die with this money on my neck. I was happy to have finally discharged this debt.
He smiled and placed the envelope in his collection bag along with the others that were being handed out. “Let’s go to Quba’. ” Everyone gathered together and began choosing buses to board. The trip to Quba’ was trouble free and peaceful.
Outside the Masjid were Bedouin women gathered together selling jewellery. All different types of rings, necklaces, niqabs, gloves, knick-knacks specifically targeted towards ladies were in tow.
I packed out some trinkets for my wife and tried to barter with the savvy and quick witted women, one of whom reminded me of my grandmother. Once a price was settled upon, when I produced the money I had one twenty out and the rest held back as I had to fish the cash out of my money belt.
Slicker than a fox, the Bedouin girl took the wad from the side of my hand and left with the single note denomination of money. I was surprised but also chuckling to myself as I could see the wrinkles on the side of her eyes from smiling. Got me good. Okay, you win.
Backing away and giving salam, I met Tanweer at the bus to walk with the rest of the group into the Masjid at Quba.’ “Man, I just bought some of these gifts and I got robbed. I actually liked it too.”
Tanweer smiled at me and then remarked, “You would, wouldn’t you? It must have been you lusting after her gloves.” He gave a brief smile and we headed inside. The masjid was deceptively huge on the inside but did not appear so from one looking on the outside.
Rows of mushafs were along the walls’ shelves as well as the 99 Names of Allah running along the inside of the dome under Ayat ul-Kursi. Matloob, Tanweer and I stood in awed silence at the elegant simplicity of the masjid. What a place. Adobe is such a simple but calming building material.
The journey back and the rest of the day – other than prayer and food – was spent discussing the Masjid, how beautiful it was and preparation for the next instalment of the Shama’il.
We had four more days left in the Holy Land and wanted to enjoy as much as possible. What tomorrow held we did not know but we looked forward to it with frenzied anticipation, the same anticipation little children have when wondering what they will have for `Eid.