Spiritual experiences in life often evade the abilities of expression and can very rarely be successfully imparted to others. Yet, still we try our best to articulate feelings that often we ourselves don’t fully understand, and we do so to remind ourselves of His Blessings and pay heed to His reality.
My journey to Madinah perhaps started similar to those of others, one initiating with a longing, beginning with a hope, and ending in yet a greater longing.
It was a cold March this year, and the city of
As Sheikh Abdul Sattar went on, my tears continued. That evening, alone in a hard to come by space in the city, I gathered myself around my faith and cried the cry of an emotion-filled child. I longed for the father of Fatima (ra), the Messenger of Allah. In my despair, I cried out a request to present myself before him, so that I could share with him my sorrows, my afflictions, my shame, so that I could have even a moment of his attention - a mere second in that third of the day that he offered to all who came to seek his help. It was a sincere and intense plea, a plea that perhaps granted me His Mercy that faithful day.
It was the 15th of Rabi Awwal that I learned of my acceptance into this year’s Rihla program. That late afternoon, I was blessed with a sign that only my memories can try to understand the depths of. I saw the name of our Lord in the sky and in awe, felt an invitation in my heart.
Upon entering The City, tears rolled down my face as I recalled his seerah. Walking on the ground of Madinah, a strange sense of self-detachment came about, and my concerns became an only concern. Our first night in the Rawdah, I was neither here or there. As I prayed aside from his (صلي الله عليه و سلم) resting place, a heavy consciousness took over and shades of shame lowered my gaze as we said our salaam. I forgot everything that night. All I could think of was that I was in heaven on earth and that I longed only for this heaven in the hereafter.
And even at Aqabah, as we sat together in a place heavy with trust, the belief in the Messenger of Allah and the Message he imparted was the only thing I could think of. Seeing all of us sitting around the shayukh, hanging on to every word, my heart filled a sense of joy as I recalled the first migrants who came to pay their allegiance to our Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم). As I looked toward the door of that masjid, I truly felt that it was just by a very small amount of time, perhaps a mere day, that we missed his presence there. Although, we were not at the level of those that came to this place not too long ago, we too were blessed to sit on an earth that bore witness to a trust. Perhaps we too succeeded in making the devil cry again upon that near hill.
I am back to life here and reflect day after day at the weight of my experience. Although, I never did ask our Rasul (صلي الله عليه و سلم) what concerned me that evening in New York, I now pay closer attention to the advice he (صلي الله عليه و سلم) gave his daughter when she beseeched him for help - "Remain at your place…. Shall I teach you a thing which is better than what you have asked me? When you go to bed, say, 'Allahu-Akbar' thirty-four times, and 'Subhan Allah thirty-three times, and 'Alhamdu-lillah thirty-three times.”
This Rihla has taught me to remain in my place.
This was my personal experience that I wanted to convey with the picture I took above. Insh’Allah, we should continue to reflect on His Signs, and we’ll see that, often, they are very apparent, if not blatant.