Friday, July 2, 2010

A touching visit to the garden of paradise

In the name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful; bless and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

"Say: He is Allah, the Absolute One
Allah depends on no one
He begets not, nor is He begotten
And there is none like Him." (Suratul Ikhlasw)

THE wheels of the Saudi Arabian plane in which I was in, touched the tarmac of Madinah Airport at about 5.30 pm local time on 7th June. It was an eight hours direct flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Thus for the third time I was in Al Madinah Al Munawwarah, the Prophet's city. This city was loved by the Prophet (pbuh) and his beloved body is buried here, to be exact under the green dome of today's building of Masjid Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque).

As I set my foot on Madinah's soil, I could felt the sadness in me, it was almost five years since the last time I was in the holy city. As our chartered bus passed barren hills and mountain on the outskirts of Madinah on its way to our hotel, it was so serene, the sun’s rays slowly diminishing behind the hills, the surroundings turning into darkness, the streets lights and glowing advertisements on buildings took over, giving life to the city.

A few minutes later our ‘mutawif’ (guide) announced that we were about to enter the ‘haram’ land of Al Madinah Al Munawwarah; he guided us to say a du’a (supplication). After the bus had moved along a few streets, we could see the tall laminating minarets of Masjid Nabawi. This was the beloved masjid, every Muslims craved to visit. I tried hard to contain my tears as my wish to visit the grand masjid was again fulfilled by the Almighty, Allah SWT. Alhamdulillah.

Muslims are recommended to visit Masjid Nabawi, in a hadith Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “None should undertake a journey to visit any other place than the three masjids, the sacred masjid of Makkah, this masjid of mine and the Aqsa masjid in Quds (Jerusalem)."

He also said: “One prayer in this masjid of mine is superior to a thousand prayers in any other masjid except the holy grand masjid of Makkah and one prayer in the sacred masjid of Makkah is superior to one hundred thousand prayers in any other masjid." (hadith related by Ahmad Ibnu Majah)

Madinah evokes emotions because it was here that lay the body of the beloved Prophet. On the left side at the front section of Masjid Nabawi, stands the Prophet’s grave and two of his best companions, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq and Umar Al-Khattab. Near their graves is Raudhah, one of the gardens of paradise. This was declared by the Prophet in his hadith: "that which lies between my house and my pulpit is one of the gardens of paradise."

For several days, I was soaked in the atmosphere of Masjid Nabawi. I managed to pray several times in Raudhah, and walked along the railings to the Prophet’s grave. One Isya’ mass prayers, I had the opportunity to pray near the graves of the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar. I had a feeling that I could not described in words.

After having visited Masjid Nabawi in 2002 and 2005, during the recent visit I found out that there was not much change in its building and interior surroundings but its courtyard is being widened and uniquely installed scores of tulip shaped umbrellas or canopies.

Several giant umbrellas had already functioning. When rays of the sun started to warm the earth, the umbrellas open up and they were in that position until the surroundings turned dark.

I was made to understand that the tulip umbrella is practically an ‘upside-down’ umbrella that opens upward – unlike the traditional umbrellas – and provides shelter from sun and rain.

Prior to this, two tulip umbrellas were installed in the inner courtyard of Masjid Nabawi in the 1990s, and now the same type of umbrella are being installed in its courtyard.

It was reported that the design of the tulip umbrella allows the rainwater to be collected in the central low-point of the umbrella and be washed-down trough a transparent drainage tube that wraps around the supporting column. It comes with either rectangular frame or circular frame and its opening mechanism is both manual and motorized. Its beauty lays in its simplicity, coherency and functionality.

I was amazed with this giant project to provide convenience to worshippers. It covers a large area and was estimated that hundred thousands of congregators could benefit from it. Surely this is another ‘paradise’ to those who came to Al Madinah Al-Munawwarah, the blessed city of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

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