A few days before I embarked on this extraordinary journey of my life, I could not get my self to sleep. Sleep was almost impossible at night. It became more like a compelling game between want and need; and body and mind.
I had two things in my mind. First, I was afraid that the journey would not turn out as I wanted it to be. I was not convinced and confident about my preparation to actually take this journey. I did not want the journey to be just ‘another’ umrah performed by thousands of Malaysian each year in which the effect on the souls sometimes was not as beautiful as they should be.
I figured that this ain’t a vacation. This is a journey of the soul, finding its way to its Creator and trailing the steps of the beloved Prophet. Plus, it’s my ‘umrah wajib’ I wanted it to be as good as it could be but I was unsure if that was the case. I wanted a ‘crossing’ and not merely ‘passing’ yet all I was doing was imagining.
It really struck me and motivated me that I wanted a different version of umrah effect when I read Ahmad Kamil’s Travelog Haji – Mengubah Sempadan Iman and his second book which explains on the changes that he made when he came back from performing Hajj with his wife and some of the articles in Al-Islam in its special edition on Hajj. But I was not as well-prepared as him and there I was trying to compare myself to him.
The bottom line was I wanted to be the ‘tetamu istimewa di rumah Allah’.
The second thing which was bothering me all the way until I stepped on the airplane and continued to bother me when I was in Ummul Qura was a test ‘musibah’ sent by Allah in a form of rejection. Since it involved emotion, the test really shaken me up that I started to rationalize every inch of it. It was wrong for me to do that and I just happened to be not aware of it until recently. I was blind to see that it was a trial from Allah to test my sincerity. And I took it too emotionally that I failed to see the fact that it came direct from Allah to test me and the stimuli was just an object to make it happen. I was hasty I was forcing it to end when I do not have the power to do it.
“Manusia dicipta (bersifat) tergesa-gesa. Kelak akan Aku perlihatkan kepadamu tanda-tanda (kekuasaan)-Ku. Maka janganlah kamu meminta Aku menyegerakannya. (Al-Anbiya’:37)
I was thinking of all the things that my mind could reach at when all Allah wanted me to learn was to have enough patience to go through the test with an open heart.
“Mekah itu bukan tempat ‘magic’ tuan-tuan dan puan-puan. Jikalau unta atau lembu mati di situ, ketika mati ia tidak bertukar menjadi haiwan lain atau manusia; unta juga jadinya. Jadi apakah mengajarannya tuan-tuan dan puan-puan?”
I was one of the funniest things I’ve heard so far about the reality of Makkah al Mukarramah but I think the truth it holds is nothing less than serious. It’s true. When people think of Makkah some of us would instantly put a heavy idea on the magical side of the holy land.
It is holy in the fact that Allah promises rewards unlike any other places in the world for any good deeds done here (100,000), but when it comes to changing for the better, it is actually up to your own effort of how much you want it to happen as He mentioned in Al-Ra’d that;
“…Verily never will God change the condition of the people until they change it themselves (with the own souls). But when (once) God wills a people’s punishment, there can be no turning it back, nor will they find besides Him, any to protect” (13;11)
Therefore, through readings, thinking and observations, I felt that the journey that I was about to take was supposed to be a strengthening journey with the means of intensifying my ‘ibadah’ and daily routine as a Muslim and not a trip to take without enough ‘want’ and keenness to change, and not a journey to take without preparation with hope that you can become someone new just by going there.
Being aware of that, some changes and improvements (I hope, insya Allah) were done step by step long before I thought of this Umrah mission and some were done when I was clear of what I wanted out of this voyage.
Even though, there were other incidents ‘test’ which happened along the way that actually crushed my heart into pieces and made me thought that going there was becoming impossible, the test came alongside with unthinkable helping hand from unimaginable sources. I could not help but smile in astonishment when I thought of ‘ujian sepahit racun tetapi didatangkan pula, penawar semanis madu’ which was given by God upon my wish to go to the holy land.
Benda yang harga ratus-ratus pun boleh jadi free, yes free of charge…Maka nikmat Tuhanmu yang manakah yang kamu dustakan?
I also deepened my readings on the wonders of Makkah al- Mukarramah, the stories behind the construction of Kaabah by Nabi Ibrahim and Ismail, the storied behind Hijir Ismail, Multazam, Safa and Marwah, the holy water of ZamZam and many more.
I also googled for the story of each place that I were to ‘ziarah’ in Makkah and Madinah to get a clear idea of what I would be going through although I was told by some that I worried too much and that in Makkah, the ‘mutawwir’ would do the storytelling. When heard that I just smiled and I truly believed that I should even do more if I were serious about wanting to become the ‘special guest' of Allah.
I thought how would I feel touched and near to what my beloved Prophet had experienced if I were to go there empty handed. How would I imagine the pain and the price of the companions’ sacrifices and how they had put their lives on the line for The Religion if I were to go there as if I’m visiting to a museum looking at old stuff feeling nothing? Stories need to be read many times so that it sticks in your mind, as if you were there to witness the history, as if you were there to lend the your mind, body and soul.
But most importantly, through my reading, I think I was enlightened with the ‘hikmah’, the importance and the ‘whys’ of doing all the ‘ibadah’ which is asked by Allah while I was there.
However, better than that I have witnessed love shown by God to me to the point that I feel that I am not even qualified, that I am not good enough to deliver such ‘rahmat’ from the moment I set my mind and heart of going there. I am touched, grateful to the extent that I cannot put it into words. I was nobody and I am nobody, but He accepted my wish with ‘arms’ wide open like all of us wanted to feel accepted. Subhanallah.