While my other roommates made their farewell visit to the Prophet's grave after zohor, I insisted my goodbye will be after my last prayer at his Masjid.
I am no more that 31 year old rebelious spirited young man with the energy and idealism but that of a 51 year old. The long queue for the limited Tabung Haji quota may make this my last.
After the 'asar prayers, I hurried my way to the entrance of the Prophet's mausoleum. Some part of the passage to the mausoleum still had people just completed performing their 'asar prayers. Some are reading the Quran.
This area remains part of raudah. I stand between them and cited the Malay traslated version of the doa for raudah. As I was seek for foregiveness, prayed for the Prophet, seek spiritual strength and guidance, and prayers for goodwill of all Muslim, then came a phrase:
O Allah! O My Lord! May you not deviate our hearts after you have guided us. Shower us with mercy from your abundant generosity ...Tears just naturally flow.
One guard spot me holding up a queue and asked me to move on. I abide and moved on towards the Prophet's tomb. While walking, I gave salam to the Prophet from afar. And relayed the salam of friends who had just called in from Kuala Lumpur about two hours ago.
There were many things I had prayed for with the syufaat of the Prophet. But my parting words were:
I said, if it happens that I do not ever make it back to visit you again, O rasulullah, accept me as your ummah and allow me to be behind you when we assemble at the Mahsyar on the day of judgement.
Then, I gave my salam to Khalifah Abu Bakar and Omar Al Khatab, whose tombs are next to the Prophet.
I left with tears of happiness and relief.
On my return to my room, my roommate Haji Mat from Senawang was busily trying his ihram. He kept on complaining that it doesn't feel right. I just smiled.
Since before zohor, I had packed all my stuff into the bags. I've been wearing the ihram since but just short of saying the niat. Before putting on the ihram, I had a the sunnat ihram bath.
Nothing feels right in an ihram. It is just two pieces of unstitched white cloth. We are going kilt if you know what I mean. Make sure those belts are tight and can hold the large towel-like cloth.
At about that time, 10 buses were already lined up in front of the Al Haram. We are scheduled to leave at 5:30 pm saudi times.
I came down earlier to book seats for us at the front. We are slotted for Bus #1.
I hanged around and waited for my fashionably late wife and her sister to come. As soon as they boarded, I boarded. Lucky for us, especially me, I had the whole two seats for myself which we used the extra seats for our hand luggages.
By 6:00 pm, we left Medinah. It was a mixed feeling of sadness and anxiousness. We are leaving Medinah, the city that Prophet Muhammad built to Mecca, the city that Prophet Abraham built.
As werer passing through Medinah city, we could hear the muezzin call for Maghrib prayers.
Before the journey to medinah begins, we are required to go to a Masjid at Bir Ali, just outside Medinah. We are supposed to pray the sunnat ihram and cite niat to ihram.
While officially in ihram clothing, one has to respect a lot of prohibitions. Basically it is to emulate a state of zuhud or hermit.
Our bus journey to Mecca begins. Along the way, we are to pass three immigration Haj checkpoints. The first was just after Bir Ali.
Not only is the checkpoint for ducumentary purposes, we were given bread, dates and drinks. The Saudi were a welcoming host to us, "invitee of god."
Along the way, few of us were citing the talbiyah. Oh God! I have answered your call. I am coming to your house.
I was having coughing problem with the smell of diesel fume. But I told myself I was inside a bus and driving along a highway. That was a fr cry from what my grandparents had to undergo in camel rides in the hot sun many decades ago.
The bus drove slowly and carefully till the last checkpoint just outside Mecca.
Some medical personnel from Tabung Haji appeared into our bus to inform we are near Mecca. He gave a few advse, particularly health advise. Temperature is on the higher side, he warned.
In about 15 minutes, I can identify that we are in the Mecca city limits. I read a doa. We are finally here at about 2:00 am saudi times.
We settled down at the hotel and rested for the day.
It is after isya, and around 9:00 pm October 19. We are scheduled to go to the Masjidil Haram to perform the tawaf, cicumbulation around the kaabah and saei, to and fro between the hills of Safa and Marwah.
The schedule is such so as to avoid the excessively packed crowd.
For the whole day, we are only in our ihram and observing the prohibitions. Until we fulfill the tawaf and saei, we can't take it off.
I am more anxious to be in the House of Allah. The want has been long but the calling had only suddenly surfaced.
Labbaikallahu humma labbaik ...