Tale of Two Holy Cities


بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم

اَللّٰھُمَّ صَلِّ عَلٰی مُحَمَّدٍ وَّعَلٰٓی اٰلِ مُحَمَّدٍ
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By Syeda Qudsiya Mashhadi

For the first time, my pen is shy of words; how to express in words the special journey to the two of the holiest cities for Muslims, Madina Munawarah and Makkah Mukaramah? Can words do justice to the feelings, observations, thoughts, ambience of such sacred places as these? Hard feat indeed, but I will try my best. In this effort if I transgress somewhere, I seek pardon of my Creator and my Spiritual Guide, beloved Prophet [PBUH] and all the Muslims who read it. My intention is to objectively present everything as it happened and not gloss over some undesirable things that were observed during the course of the journey. Secondly, I want this account to be a helpful guide for the ones intending to make this journey to sacred lands.

This was not the first time I went to Haramain Kareemain but the fact that this second visit was after a gap of 11 years, had made every feeling new. There is not a Muslim in the world who does not have this pronounced desire of visiting these extraordinary cities and it would be true to say that this holy journey is an unlimited blessing of Allah upon Muslims. Sadly, not everyone is able to reap the benefits of these boundless blessings, but will come to that later.

When finally you go to Baitullah after coming to Makkah, the sight of it gives such pleasure that you forget all your woes or how physically tired you are. But this pleasure is not without a sense of majesty and grandeur of the House of the Lord of the Worlds. One can sense the all-engulfing might of Allah in Baitullah and the over-powering realization that one is just His humble servant and is present in His court to say Labbaik to His every order and wish. One truly understands the meaning of ‘Labbaik Allahuma Labbaik’ when one is sweating out there in 52 degrees C temperature and doing ‘Tawaf’ in an over-crowded place just for the sake of Allah. This is the journey of your mind, body and soul. Every iota of your being is on a holy pilgrimage. This is a labour of love for one’s Creator and this arduous task can be the most pleasurable thing for the ones who feel their connection with the Creator.

This connection is only felt by the ones, who are able to close their eyes to the world they have left behind, and close their eyes to the world which is around them even at that moment. In fact, the onslaught of huge crowds of vibrant humanity is not greater anywhere else than in Kaaba. One is overwhelmed with it all; so many faces, so many people from different nationalities and races; but you go there to renew your connection with Allah. One miracle that everyone witnesses in Khana Kaaba, and even in Masjid-e-Nabwi, is the constant provision of Zam Zam. Hundreds of years have passed since Bibi Hajra [AS] made that ‘Saee’ for her son Ismaeel [AS] and even now, the spring that sprung up for that blessed family, has not stopped. Cool and refreshing Zam Zam is available to Hajis in Baitullah and in Haram-e-Nabwi as well. After a Tawaf in scorching Sun, a glass of Zam Zam not only quenches the thirst but also seems to magically erase the effects of excessive heat as well. Credit must be given here to the Saudi govt. for constant availability of cooled Zam Zam water to the hajis in Haramain Shareefain. Not to mention the cleanliness, that is maintained actively around the clock at a place which is heavily crowded day and night.

Masjid e Nabwi

Then the traveller of this sacred journey reaches the city of the beloved Prophet [PBUH], Madina Munawarah. The ‘air’, the ambience of this city holy is different from Makkah Shareef. There is a feeling of awe in the air when one is in Makkah but in Madina that feeling is replaced with love. The sight of the Green Dome brings uncontrollable tears to the eyes of the ones who have not seen the beautiful visage of the Holiest of Prophets, Muhemmed [PBUH] and associate Gunbad-e-Khizra with him. Even those who consider themselves ‘weak’ Muslims, feel the utmost love and reverence for the Messenger [PBUH] of Allah and Masjid-e-Nabwi entices them. The exact resting place under the Green Dome is not easily accessible as it is heavily crowded all the time. Women especially have limited time to pay their respects to the Prophet [PBUH] as they are only allowed to go near the resting place of Prophet [PBUH] after 10 pm at night.

Muslims also say Salam to the two Khulafa-e-Rashideen, Hazrat Abu Bakr [RA] and Hazrat Umar [RA] buried beside the Holy Prophet [PBUH]. Adjacent to the gate of Masjid-e-Nabwi which faces the Green Dome, lies the most sacred graveyard, Jannat-ul-Baqee. Here rests the blessed daughter of the Prophet [PBUH], Bibi Fatima Zahra [SA]. It is also the resting place of some members of Ahlulbayt [AS] and Sahaba [RA] of the Prophet [PBUH]. Women are not allowed to enter but they also recite Fatiha and Quran near the boundary wall of Al-Baqee. In the times of Ottomans, no building taller than the Green Dome was built near Masjid-e-Nabwi out of respect for it. Now a days, one sees a lot of sky-scrapping five star hotels surrounding Masjid-e-Nabwi from all sides. But the Clock Tower in Makkah facing Khana Kaaba takes the cake for tall buildings. Personally, I don’t like a titanic sky scrapper towering above Khana Kaaba. It reminds me of the hadees of RasullAllah [PBUH] where he mentions the advent of tall buildings in the End of Times. It seems highly disrespectful to me, but people may differ from me on this point.

The place near the resting place of Prophet [PBUH] is called ‘Riyaz-ul-Jannah’ [a garden of paradise] and it is recommended to offer two rakkats there. But one should be careful not to push others or block the way for other pilgrims and only do so without being irksome. It is a great feeling to know that the Prophet [PBUH] used to offer prayers there, lived there and walked those blessed streets of Madina Munawarah. The close proximity of his physical body is a great gift for the pilgrims who come to Madina especially for saying Salam to their Prophet [PBUH]. The Hazari in Madina Shareef is not a part of Umrah or Hajj but who in their right mind would come to the House of Allah and then not go to the House of Prophet [PBUH] near it? The worshippers find solace in Baitullah and the lovers find peace in Masjid-e-Nabwi. Two wonderful Holy Cities, indeed.

This journey is made in this world and not in heaven; that is why one is tested by some troubles as well. After all, this is what life is about. Therefore, mentioning a few things I observed during my trip in the hope that the concerned people will try to become better. Without going into details, the passengers, especially Pakistanis, were made to wait for long, indefinite periods of time without any indication of their time of exit from the Jeddah Airport. People who had Saudi ‘Iqamahs’ were given swift exit, while the pilgrims, ‘the guests of Allah’ were made to wait. Despite being a huge international airport, it was ill-managed, especially washrooms, and also there was no one on the counters to guide the passengers arriving on the airport.

The main thing I learned from Umrah trip and which I also want to suggest to others is to never go to Umrah through an Umrah Agent. Most of the things they tell you about the arrangements of your trip are lies. From our tickets to the date of flying, to the hotel that he booked, our Umrah Agent lied about everything. J Then there is a ‘Mandoob’ assigned to you through the Umrah Agents and you become dependent on the Mandoob Sahib the moment you set foot in Saudia. The Mandoob guides you to your hotel and also manages your transport from Makkah to Madina and back. The attitude and lies of the Mandoob are also deplorable but let’s not talk about that.

One thing which I definitely want to talk about is the importance of lowering the gaze for men in Islam and how it was emphasized by our Holy Prophet [PBUH]. People spent a lot of money to make this holy pilgrimage but fail to follow this simple instruction in the Haramain. Look in your heart and find Allah; not the time or place to sit and stare at women pilgrims. Just like each good deed in Baitullah is rewarded manifold, similarly, every sin committed there is colossal in nature. Women being naturally modest try their best to avoid coming in contact with men while doing ‘Tawaf’. Most of the men are careless during Tawaf of Kaaba and roughly graze women in their unheeded stride. They should be as careful in avoiding contact with women as women are in avoiding contact with men. In this way, this holy duty can become easier for women folk.

Another amazing thing I observed during my Umrah, right from the beginning when I was boarding the plane, that majority of the people going for Umrah belonged to the lowest class of our society! The elite were rarely to be seen. Somehow these poorest of people had gathered enough money for pilgrimage due to their passion and will and this was really commendable. I also observed that almost half of the passengers were extremely old people. This was a painful fact, to be true. Somehow this has been ingrained in our collective psyche as a nation that one should only go to Umrah when one’s life is spent and one is retired, old and haggard. This is something that should be changed because the argument that these people are gathering funds all their lives for pilgrimage is rebutted by the fact that every year lot of poor people also go for Umrah! It is about the will and desire to go there and only then Allah makes it easy to make this sacred journey.

It is difficult to cover all the aspects of Umrah and things related to the two holy cities in one article. The essence of this journey to the two holy cities is love and ‘adab’ of Allah [swt] and Rasul Allah [PBUH]. The important thing is to have firm faith and belief that Allah will make it easy to travel to Harmain. I do hope and pray that all Muslims get this blessed opportunity and are also able to make themselves worthy of it. Aameen.

Saudis say No to the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH], Yes to Paris Hilton


by Omid Safi

 

More and more people are speaking out against the Saudi regime, and the way in which its Wahhabi ideology has linked together an utter disregard for the historical heritage of Muslims with an unabashed embrace of vapid capitalism.     In both Mecca and Medina, the Saudi state has already bulldozed over 90% of the Islamic monuments going back some 1400 years.     In their place, they are putting up five star hotels, parking lots, and shopping malls.

Adding injury to insult: In the same cities of Mecca and Medina, where the Wahhabi-backed Saudi state has bulldozed the historical shrines and cemeteries of the family of the Prophet, now we have the establishment of shopping malls featuring…. Paris Hilton. 

So this is what it has come to.   The so-called “Guardians of the two sanctuaries” bulldoze Islamic history, tear down the houses associated with the Prophet and his family, and in its place put up shopping malls by vapid symbols of the most crass capitalistic materialism the world has to offer.  No wonder many are talking about the transformation of Mecca into another Las Vegas.

Yes, the Saudis have bulldozed:

 

*An Ottoman Fortress overlooking and protecting Mecca, plus a whole mountain, was removed to put down the monstrosity known as the Mecca Royal Clock-Tower, aka “Big Ben on crack.

*The house the Prophet was born in, currently a library, is under consideration for destruction.

 

*The house of the Prophet’s wife, Khadija, who is referred to by Muslims as the “Mother of the Faithful” was recently torn down, and in its place a row of toilets were established.

*Old Ottoman and Abbasid columns will likely be torn down to make room for a 680 million dollar expansion of the Great Mosque.

 

*The old historic cemeteries of Jannat al-Baqi, containing the remains of the descendants of the Prophet, have been bulldozed, and nothing but a dirt mound remains of the former shrines there.

Sami Angawi, the director of the Hajj Research Center which is trying to preserve what’s left of the Islamic heritage of Saudi Arabia says of the Saudi state:

“They are turning the holy sanctuary into a machine, a city which has no identity, no heritage, no culture and no natural environment. They’ve even taken away the mountains.”

Often the excuse is used that with the global increase in the number of Muslims coming to Mecca, these expansions are necessary to accommodate these pilgrims.    However, there is no reason why the hotels for the pilgrims couldn’t be put outside the historical center of Mecca, thus preserving the monuments.

 

Furthermore, in place of these historical monuments, many of which hold a sacred significance to all Muslims outside of the Wahhabi sect, the Saudi state is building five star hotels that cost as much as $7,000 a night.     In other words, these policies are not only bulldozing the history of Islam, they are also subverting the radical egalitarian teachings of Islam most beautifully symbolized in the rich and poor standing shoulder to shoulder wearing simple unadorned clothing in the House of the One God.   Now the poor teeming masses are below, and the ultra-rich can reside in their 5-star suites looking down at the Ka’ba.    Lastly, these absurd towers even displace the very symbolism and centrality of the Ka’ba.

 

La hawla wa la quwwata illa bi Allah.

“They paved Paradise,
Put up a parking lot.”

The Saudis make a great deal of their honorific as the “Caretaker of the two Noble Sanctuaries” in Mecca and Medina.   One has to wonder about a kind of Care that says no to the legacy of Muhammad, bulldozes it, and invites Paris Hilton in its place.    These shrines, these historical sites, indeed Mecca and Medina, do not belong to the Saudi state.   They are treasures belonging to the worldwide Muslim population, indeed the whole of humanity (as the Prophet was sent as a Mercy to all the Universes).   If the Saudis insist on calling themselves the caretakers of the two sanctuaries, their first task should be in fact to take care of them–and not bulldoze them.  If they can not or will do not so, then someone else has to step up to provide care for these historical and sacred heritages of humanity.

The Prophet Muhammad once said that Islam began in this world as a stranger, and it will someday return as a stranger.

In looking at the uber-Capitalist, history-bulldozing practice of the Saudi/Wahhabi state, one cannot help but cry at the strange kind of Islam that now rules over the House of God and the home of the Prophet.

Courtesy: http://www.religionnews.com/blogs/omid-safi/saudis-say-no-to-the-prophet-muhammad-yes-to-paris-hilton

Destruction of the holiest places on earth


بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم

اَللّٰھُمَّ صَلِّ عَلٰی مُحَمَّدٍ وَّعَلٰٓی اٰلِ مُحَمَّدٍ

A grievous reality that the Muslim Ummah has overlooked for a long time now, is the fast vanishing Islamic historical heritage at the hands of Saudi government. The sacred places related to the blessed Prophet [PBUH] of Islam and his family members were untouched and had been preserved with utmost reverence and love till the time of the Ottoman caliphate. When family of Al-Saud came to power in the Arabian peninsula, they not only named an entire country after their family but also introduced a new puritanical version of Islam. [Read Confessions of a British Spy]

This is an extremely painful topic to write about and these pictures will wrench the hearts of all the lovers and devotees of our beloved Prophet Muhammad [PBUH].
In this picture, we can see that the blessed birth place of our Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] has been turned into a library:

Up till previously, devoted pilgrims were allowed to pay their respect to the Holy Prophet [PBUH] at this place, but now even that has been stopped.

This is an old picture of the mausoleum of Ummul-Momineen Bibi Khadija [RA]:

Unfortunately, this blessed place was bulldozed by the Saudi government. Here it is how it looks today:

This is an old picture of the mausoleum of Hamza [RA], the Lion of the Battle of Uhad, along with the resting place of other martyrs of the Battle of Uhad:

This is how it looks today:

Look what they did to the grave of Prophet’s [PBUH] mother Bibi Amina. Now there is garbage in the place of Mausoleum of Bibi Amina in Abwa:

They did not even leave the burial place of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]. This is the resting place of the Prophet’s beloved daughter Fatima [RA]

Every true believer knows that the Prophets of Allah are always alive according to the Quran and Hadeeth but this simple fact is not understood by some people as they removed the most beautiful name of Muhammad [PBUH] from the golden lattice. In this old picture, it can be clearly seen that ‘Ya Allah‘ and ‘Ya Muhammad‘ [PBUH] are written:

In 1925, the Saudi government changed ‘Ya Muhammad‘ to ‘Ya Majeed‘ which is one of the 99 names of Allah:

The inability of Wahhabism to understand the importance of the relation with our Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] is extremely distressing. And even more painful is the criminal silence of the rest of the Islamic countries of the world regarding these atrocious acts of one Muslim country. We are all guilty of being silent when our greatest heritage and treasure was being trampled upon by some misguided version of Islam. All the Muslims should register their protest in whatever capacity they can, so that what little is left of the blessed heritage of Islam can be preserved with dignity and honour.

List of Destroyed sites

Mosques
Cemeteries and tombs
Historical religious sites
  • The house of Mawlid where Muhammad is believed to have been born in 570. Originally turned into a cattle market, it now lies under a rundown building which was built 70 years ago as a compromise after Wahhabi clerics called for it to be torn down.[11]
  • The house of Khadija, Muhammad’s first wife. Muslims believe he received some of the first revelations there. It was also where his children Umm Kulthum, Ruqayyah, Zainab, Fatimah and Qasim were born. After it was rediscovered during the Haram extensions in 1989, it was covered over and it was made into a library.
  • House of Muhammed in Medina, where he lived after the migration from Mecca.[10]
  • Dar al Arqam, the first Islamic school where Muhammad taught.[11] It now lies under the extension of the Masjid Al Nabawi of Madinah.
  • Qubbat’ al-Thanaya, the burial site of Muhammed’s incisor that was broken in the Battle of Uhud.[6]
  • Mashrubat Umm Ibrahim, built to mark the location of the house where Muhammad’s son, Ibrahim, was born to Mariah.
  • Dome which served as a canopy over the Well of Zamzam.[10]
  • Bayt al-Ahzan of Sayyida Fatima, in Medina.[10]
  • House of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, in Medina.[10]
  • Mahhalla complex of Banu Hashim, in Medina.[10]
  • House of Ali where Hasan and Husayn were born.[10]

Introduction to Finance

Introduction to Finance

100 years old rare Hajj pictures [1320 AH]


Makkah Mukkaramah and Madina Munawara during Hajj almost hundred years ago!

Friday Prayer in Haram Makki 1320 AH

Friday Prayer in Haram Makki 1320 AH

Kaaba Shareef during prayer times in Hajj days 1320 AH

Kaaba Shareef during prayer times in Hajj days 1320 AH

 Bab-e-Safa Haram Makki 1320 AH

Bab-e-Safa Haram Makki 1320 AH

Hajjis in Arafat during Hajj 1320 AH

Hajjis in Arafat during Hajj 1320 AH

 

Hajjis coming back to Mina from Arafat

Hajjis coming back to Mina from Arafat

 

Rammi Jamarat

Rammi Jamarat

 Kaaba Shareef in 1320 AH

Kaaba Shareef in 1320 AH

Jannat-ul-Moallah 1320 AH

Jannat-ul-Moallah 1320 AH

View of Jabal-e-Arafat during Hajj

View of Jabal-e-Arafat during Hajj

Jeddah Port

Jeddah Port

This is beloved Madina and Baqih before destruction at the hands of Najdis.

Bab-e-Anmbaria - Madina

Bab-e-Anmbaria – Madina

Bab-e-Salam - Madina

Bab-e-Salam – Madina

 

Green tomb of Masjid Nabwi

 

Jannat-ul-Baqih

Jannat-ul-Baqih

Madina during Hajj

Madina during Hajj

Madinah Munawara City

Madinah Munawara City

Currency in Madina

Currency in Madina


7 Courses in 1 – Diploma in Business Management

7 Courses in 1 - Syed Bilal Hassan Shah