Memoir from the city of the beloved

This post is a retrospective post, I wrote this when I had just arrived in Al Madina during the holy month of Ramadan. As we have just entered the beautiful month of Rabi’ al Awwal, I hope you find this post quite appropriate… 

I’m not sure if it’s the place or it is the reason why I have traveled here.

Al Madina Al Munawarah, the enlightened city.. the city enlightened by his presence. The home of our beloved sal allah ‘alya wa ‘ala aalihi (blessings upon him and his family). 

To the outsider, there doesn’t seem much to be seen here except desert, mountains, palm trees and sand. Yet the peace and serenity exuding from every grain of sand is unmissable and undeniable. There is an overwhelming sense of harmony that is so indescribable but so vivid. This sakinah that overcomes your every part of being is inescapable and for those who have visited and truly understood the wonder of this place, you will know exactly what I mean. When they say that he is the medicine to the hearts, (tibb al quloob) they are not wrong.

It’s amazing still how millions every year strive so tenaciously to dwell in this sanctuary. I call it a sanctuary because that is its effect. The coming to Al Madina is spiritual sanctuary. As soon as you step foot into this place, you feel as if the burdens that you have carried with you, the duas you have prepared, the anxieties of travel just dissolve into a meaningless nothingness because the only thing you can think about is the messenger of Allah swt, may peace and blessings be sent upon him, his family and companions. The love of this beloved messenger overwhelms your soul and the wrinkles that been have carved into your brow have been pacified, the sorrow in your heart has been alleviated and the hope in your soul has been restored

Even so, I have often contemplated why this place was chosen and if the blessings (baraka) of this place had been previously ordained or was after the existence and residence of our beloved that has made it so. Growing up, I had heard stories of men who had walked amidst the streets of Al Madinah barefoot, in the hope that a single step may mimic one of those innumerable and possibly unreachable footsteps taken by our messenger. Or of men and women whose every day did not pass without an intense remembrance of him sal allah ‘alya wa ‘ala aalihi. His manners (akhlaaq), his message (risaala) and his legacy sent upon this Earth and still it lives on through the sunnah of the Prophet. But what had driven such men? Was it just the sunnah or the grave respect they have for this great man? I never understood, nor do I understand exactly, but I think I have some sort of idea because to us our Prophet is more to us than just a great man, he was the greatest man to have live and he was noor (light) that enlightened the world.

If you leave aside Makkah (Baytul Allah, the house of Allah swt) with all its majestic presence and its staggering vitality and you look around the House of His beloved, you can see the same masses of people all coming for the same reason, love for His beloved, our beloved Muhammed SAW.

Limitations of colour, language, culture and shape transcend all barriers in this place and the universality and unification is reflected in the blessings sent to our beloved. Love is a universal language and is felt by all people irrespective of language, race, religion, knowledge, status… I could go on. But the eye can only see so much and the mind can only comprehend little in comparison to reality. Reality only proves that the people who are physically present are but a mere fraction of all those souls who yearn to be in any close vicinity to the Habib ‘beloved’ (‘alayhi afdal salawat wl salam). This is something I find fascinating. For every person here, there are hundreds, possibly thousands who wish to be here too. It is a real gift and a real blessing to be in any close proximity to Al Habib sal allah ‘alya wa ‘ala aalihi (blessings upon him and his family).

Everyone has a story or two about the people that they bump into in Madina, people they’ve started conversation with, people they have shared bread with and people who they’ve prayed with. One woman, sticks in my mind. A very silent woman and a woman whose eyes were full of an intense and deep sadness. After an hour of two, I wondered whether to start conversation but out of the blue, she looked at me and told me that I reminded her of her daughter, her daughter who she had lost to cancer and few years back. I felt this woman’s pain but subhanAllah I could see beyond it and I saw how her dedication and love for RasoolAllah had helped her overcome her pain. She was here wasn’t she and even after losing her only child, she still felt that she had a reason to come here and that reason must be far greater than her pain. It bewildered me and I realised that there are far greater things that I did not yet understand.

In a worldly context, you hear people say the greatest thing is to love and to be loved in return, well why can’t we apply this to our deen? Should we automatically become statues with hearts of stone when it comes to matters of the soul? Of course not. Undoubtedly we know that our beloved SAW loves us, he loves his Ummah, so why can we not love him back? Why do we not send our salawat to him, showing him that we remember and love him? Why are we so dissociated with our Messenger sal allah ‘alya wa ‘ala aalihi (blessings upon him and his family)? Surely if we are dissociated with the messenger, we are dissociated with the message?

In Madina, the love for RasoolAllah SAW has brought different people from all walks of life together. The same Ummah that is unified by his love, has been remembered in his last words, ‘Ummati, Ummati’ (My people, My people). Isn’t it time to realise that this religion was founded upon love and mercy, for he was His beloved and he was sent by Him as a mercy to all the worlds.

Allahuma sali wa salim wa baarik ‘ala sayyidna Muhammed wa ‘ala aalihi wa sahbihe wa salim 

اللهم صل وسلم وبارك على سيدنا محمد وعلى اله و صحبه أجمعين‏

Al Madina Mosque

Al Madina Mosque


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