A journey that began with uncertainty
I start in the name of Allah the most gracious the most merciful and peace and blessings be on our beloved prophet Muhammad.
The most important thing I wrote whilst at High School was in the front cover of my English book. It read:
Four things come not back:
(1) The spoken word;
(2) The sped arrow;
(3) Time past
(5) The neglected opportunity
Why am I stating this? As I sit here in a tranquil park gazing across a valley over a month after coming back from the Rihla with a pen in my hand trying to write down my physical and spiritual experiences but finding that words to describe what I went through elude me, my thoughts turn back five months and how I nearly neglected the opportunity to take a journey that would change my life forever.
Thanks to the constant encouragement and support of my family especially my aunt and my uncle and with the immense mercy and blessings of Allah, I was after eight long years, once again preparing to visit the holy cities of Makkah al Mukarramah and Medina al Munawwarah. Unbeknown to me then, Allah had shown tremendous courage in me as I was one of a select and privileged few to have been chosen by Him to visit His house and our Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) from numerous others who I have no doubt would have fulfilled the rights of the two holy sanctuaries much better than I ever could. For this I can not thank Allah enough.
So many times one can not express his true feelings of hope, gratitude and joy due to the fear of opening ones heart – the most sacred of places – and relaying emotions that no words can fathom. It is easy to leave what is in ones heart between him and his Lord, but with Allah’s guidance we try our utmost in expressing our thoughts so insha’allah others can take inspiration and courage. For me this is one of those times.
The most poignant part of my journey was the farewell visit to the Rawdah. Standing in the lobby of the hotel, my heart fluttering and smiling but tinged with sadness, knowing that very soon it will see its Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) again but wary that with every breath and every step its time in the illuminated city was ebbing away. The courtyard passes by where so many people are supplicating and so many young, innocent children are playing seemingly unaware of the beautiful mosque that is their backdrop. Everything is so peaceful as I enter the mosque. The mosque is quiet. My heart has never felt safer as I walk towards the Rawdah. Praying peacefully behind every pillar that I can, I feel so privileged.
The time has come. I walk slowly and stand humbly before my prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم). I am here standing in front of the best of creation, the one who spent night after night weeping for forgiveness for his Ummah and I am standing in front of Him knowing I am not worthy of this moment, knowing I have done nothing, sacrificed nothing for my religion but still Allah has seen something in me to bring me thousands of miles from my home and stand me in front of the one he loves the most. I am truly fortunate. My heart prays, prays that the prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) would just glance at me for a millisecond and acknowledge my presence and my heart would be content. Before a word even crosses my lips tears stream down my face and nothing matters to me at that time for I am in front of my prophet praying for salvation, doing the exact same thing that millions of people have done before me and millions will do after me, praying that with his intercession I will cross the bridge of sirat, praying that with his hands I will drink the sweet water of Hawdhe Kawthar and praying I will see him again.
As I walk back wiping the tears from my face I feel happy and immensely privileged to be part of a group that had an opportunity to be so close to the prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم). As a group we experienced so much that we can only thank Allah for choosing us.
My journey that started five months ago with uncertainty ends with happiness on a rain lashed landing strip at
Finally I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the shuyookh, Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qadi and Sheikh Jamal for their guidance, knowledge and inspiration and to all the Rihla participants for their kindness and patience. To the friends I made at the Rihla and to one friend who said I should try and write a podcast (you all know who you are), jazakamullahu khair for putting up with me and giving me the most unforgettable three weeks of my life. I miss you all. Insha’allah we will all meet once more in the city of our beloved prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم).