Makkah // the city of power
Power. Might. Strength. Unity. Love. Light. I can clearly picture myself sitting on the cool marble, a slight breeze in the air and light emanating from in front of me. My eyes gaze upon the Ka’bah in awe. A feeling of peace overcomes me, a sense of relief envelopes me and I am content. No feeling can match that of being near the Ka’bah.
There are men, women and children dressed in black or white, wearing an abaya or a thobe. There is no differentiation between the colour of their skin. There is no differentiation between their status in society. They have the same purpose, the same mission and the same goal. To pray. To praise. To repent. To plead.
The call to prayer sounds and the believers rush to find a place to pray in front of the Ka’bah. The shopkeepers close their shops and lay down their prayer mats. The people stop eating. The sky clears. Everyone waits for the first call of Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest) to sound.
The Imaam begins the prayer. The first chapter of the Qur’aan is recited. The words echo in the sanctuary, the power in the Imaam’s voice is heard by people in all directions. The people follow. They bow and they fall down in prostration. I promise, there is nothing more beautiful than hundreds of thousands of worshippers praying in unison.
They say that New York is the city that never sleeps but they haven’t seen Makkah. There is a constant flow of movement. A hustle and bustle in the streets, in the shopping centers and in the hotels. People pray in the sanctuary of the Ka’bah when the oranges and reds mix in the sky. People pray in the sanctuary of the Ka’bah when the sun is at its highest point. People pray in the sanctuary of the Ka’bah when the sky illuminates with pinks, reds, purples and blues. People pray in the sanctuary of the Ka’bah when it’s dawn and when it’s dusk. People pray in the sanctuary of the Ka’bah when it’s midday and when it’s midnight.
Makkah takes my breath away. I can feel the power of this city in my very being. I wonder how Nabi ﷺ must’ve felt to leave the city of the Ka’bah because every single time I leave, my heart breaks.
Madinah // the city of peace
The air, the people, the smell, the masjid, Raudhatul Jannah, Nabi ﷺ. When people ask about Madinah, what do you say? How do you explain this city?
“We accept that Jannah is most beautiful
How do we leave Madinah for elsewhere?
Surely in Jannah, there is everything except there’s no Madinah
But even in Madinah there exists a part of Jannah”
The city of peace, of love, of happiness, of contentment, of serenity. A single second in Madinah feels like a lifetime elsewhere. Someone described Madinah to me saying every night in Madinah feels like Laylatul Qadr. And I found this so apt because in those last ten nights of Ramadhaan, one of those nights stand out for you, the night of power is peaceful, your heart is at ease, you feel complete. You know that feeling when you’re in sajdah and your heart just feels content? It’s like that in Madinah always. There is no better feeling. It feels like you have no worries, there’s nothing to stress about or dwell upon. You are content. That’s how you feel in Madinah. Complete, content and at ease.
Madinah is surreal. Every trip to it feels different. The first I went, I couldn’t believe I was there. This was the place I had only learnt about in my history kitaabs. The place where Nabi ﷺ walked, talked, found refuge, experienced ease, left from for many battles (most notably Badr and Uhad). This city once only belonged in my dreams and then one day I was standing in it. I remember my first salaam distinctly. I was a ten year old who was going to great the greatest person to ever walk the face of this planet. He would be able to see me, to hear me, I would be in his presence, the King of all Kings, the Prophet of all Prophets, the person who’s name is written on the throne of Allah and the only person will worry about me on a day where everyone will only worry about themselves. I was very scared (and I’m still very scared to make my first salaam every trip) because I know that I am not the best muslim that I can be and I wonder how I can possibly stand in front of the person who gave me the perfect religion to follow. I think knowing that you only get to go to Madinah if you’ve been chosen to be there makes it easier to make the first salaam. Every salaam after the first one is easy, you just have to make the first one.
Before you know it, your time in Madinah is over. And the moment you leave, the ache to go back returns.
May we be of those names who are written to return to Makkah and Madinah over and over again.