This year, I have had the good fortune of becoming part of an entourage of 21 media practitioners who were lucky enough to have been sponsored by Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) to go on the journey and report on it.
While awaiting the arrival of the first group of Malaysia Hajj pilgrims on Aug 4, our group was given the opportunity to visit several sites in Madinah that were of historical significance to Muslims.
THE CALM OF THE NABAWI MOSQUE
One of the highlights of going to Makkah for Hajj or Umrah is stopping by Madinah and praying at the an-Nabawi Mosque, also known as the Prophet Muhammad’s mosque.
The mosque is the second holiest site in Islam and the second mosque built in the history of Islam.
In the mosque there is a section called “Raudhah” which Muslims believe houses the garden of paradise. It is also where the Prophet Muhammad and his two closest companions, Abu Bakar and Umar, were buried.
I had to wait for some time for my chance to pray and supplicate in the area, but it was worth it. It is difficult to explain the overwhelming feeling of serenity that engulfed me then.
The scorching heat exceeding 40 degrees Celsius did not at all dampen my spirit to visit other historical sites, such as the Quba’ Mosque.
The Quba Mosque was the first mosque built by the Prophet Muhammad and is one of the oldest mosques in the world.
A narration by the Prophet Muhammad says that those who pray in the mosque with sincerety will reap the rewards of performing Umrah.
According to our guide for the journey, Ustaz Mohamad Abdul Razak, among the other sites usually visited by Muslims who came to Madinah were date plantations, Mount Uhud and the Qiblatain Mosque.
Mount Uhud is the site of the second battle in Islam where the Quraysh of Makkah had mustered a great army to take revenge on Muslims after a humiliating defeat in a battle, a year earlier.
Being at the site filled me with a sense of awe and grief as I recalled how difficult it was for Muslims to practice and uphold their faith back then.
The Uhud battle claimed the lives of 70 Muslim soldiers and 23 Quraysh soldiers. One of those who died was Prophet Muhammad’s beloved uncle, Hamzah Abdul Muttalib. His body was buried in a valley of the mountain.
Not far from the battle site is the Cave of Uhud. It was where the Prophet Muhammad hid while he recovered from the injuries sustained during the battle.
Our entourage was then brought to the Qiblatain Mosque, which is known for having two “qiblat” (direction for prayers). It originally faced the Al-Aqsa in Palestine before the Prophet Muhammad received a revelation to change the direction of prayer to face Makkah.
We were then brought to a mosque at the west of Mount Sala, where the Battle of Khandak took place.
One of the more unique experiences in Madinah was that at Wadi Al-Jinn, better known as Magnet Hill.
The hill is located some 40km from Madinah City.
The location is where magnetic forces would pull vehicles uphill at 100-120kmph, if the vehicle was put in neutral gear.
We were then brought to visit the Dar Al-Madinah Museum which houses various artifacts and historical models of the struggles to uphold Islam in Makkah and Madinah during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
LARGEST QURAN PRINTING COMPLEX
The last stop for the entourage the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran. It is the largest Quran printing plant and is located in Madinah.
The company has printed and distributed over 265 million copies of the Quran since its inauguration in 1984. It has also translated the Quran into more than 30 languages. Every visitor to the complex will be given a copy of the Quran as a souvenir.
Our group, however, was not allowed to take a closer look at the printing process.
A total of 11,796 out of 22,320 pilgrims are expected to arrive at the Madinah International Airport for Hajj this year. The rest will be touching down at the King AbdulAziz Airport in Jeddah.