Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Medina - Quba Mosque

Date of visit: 27th June 2017

This is the first mosque being built in the history of Islam. Its foundation stone was personally laid by the Prophet Muhammad himself when he first reached Madinah upon receiving instruction from Allah to emigrate from Mecca.  Quba Mosque is being mentioned in the Qur'an as the mosque being built and founded on piety and devoutness by the Prophet Muhammad. Qur'an, sura 9 (Repentance @ “At-Tawba”), verse 108 quoted Allah saying “Never stand (to pray) there (referring to a place of worship in which the hypocrites had used for harm and disbelief, as mentioned in the previous ayah). A place of worship which was founded upon duty (to Allah) from the first day is more worthy that thou should stand (to pray) therein, wherein are men who love to purify themselves. Allah love the purifiers”.

The Quba Mosque is located in the outlying environs of Medina in Saudi Arabia, being ranked as one of the oldest mosques in the world. According to legend, its first stones were positioned by the Islamic prophet Muhammad as soon as he arrived on his emigration from the city of Mecca to Medina and the mosque was completed by his companions. Prophet Muhammad spent 14 days in this mosque during the Hijra praying qasr (a short prayer from 4 rakaʿāt to 2 rakaʿāt) while waiting for Ali to arrive in Medina after the latter stayed behind in Mecca to carry out a couple of tasks entrusted to him by the Prophet.  

Our group arrived at the mosque. The lady in red Abaya was my room mate.
Ramp to those on wheel chair leading to abulation areas

According to Islamic tradition, performing wudu in one's home then offering 2 rakaʿāt of nafl prayers in the Quba Mosque is equal to performing one Umrah. Prophet Muhammad used to go there, riding or on foot, every Saturday and offer a 2 rakaʿāt prayer. He advised others to do the same, saying, "Whoever makes ablutions at home and then goes and prays in the Mosque of Quba, he will have a reward like that of an 'Umrah". This hadith is reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah and Hakim al-Nishaburi.

Women's prayer area where everyone who arrives would perform the 2 rakaat prayer  following Prophet Muhammad's sunnah

Over the years, the mosque has been refurbished many times by the Muslim rulers. In the 20th century, when Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil was commissioned to conceive a larger mosque, he intended to incorporate the old structure into his design. But the old mosque was torn down and replaced with a new one. The new mosque consists of a rectangular prayer hall raised on a second story platform. The prayer hall connects to a cluster containing residential areas, offices, ablution facilities, shops and a library.

Beautiful carved door and shoe racks inside Women's prayer hall

6 additional entrances are dispersed on the northern, eastern and western facades. 4 minarets mark the corners of the prayer hall. The minarets rest on square bases, have octagonal shafts which take on a circular shape as they reach the top. The prayer hall is arranged around a central courtyard, characterized by six large domes resting on clustered columns. A portico, which is two bays in depth, borders the courtyard on the east and west, while a one-bayed portico borders it on the north, and separates it from the women's prayer area. The women's prayer area, which is surrounded by a screen, is divided into two parts as a passageway connects the northern entrance with the courtyard.

Men's prayer hall

My aunt was reading some important facts about Quba Mosque

When Quba Mosque was rebuilt in 1986, the Medina architecture was retained with its ribbed white domes and basalt facing and modest exterior. It said to meet the qualities that recall Medina's simplicity. The courtyard is flagged with a black, red and white marble. It is screened overhead by day from the scorching heat with shades. Arabesque latticework filters the light of the palm groves outside. Elements of the new building include work by the Egyptian architect Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil and the Stuttgart tensile architect Mahmoud Bodo Rasch, a student of Frei Otto.

Last photo for this entry where I asked my aunt stood as my model :)

Before I pen off, I would like to update you guys about status of my hajj application. It's still pending as "waiting list" but my new good friend Dila had her call on Thursday last week. She came to my office and in between the conversation the Tabung Haji called to let her know to collect her offer letter from the nearest branch. Yesterday, while having meeting at Serai Project (we are building a building platform for Gamuda Gardens) Ismail also received his call. 3 of us, Ismail, Dila and myself applied to perform hajj this year. Though both Dilla and I had our name initially selected for this year but we still have to wait for an official invitation from them. But Ismail had only registered 5 years ago and had every year submit his plea to be considered. It was his 4th appeal and I can sense how overjoyed he must be. Witnessing his journey for repentance when I first introduced to him by Dato' Ubul in April 2015 since now has taught me many good things about hope.

Surprisingly, after he's been selected I became more calm since I sincerely prayed and promised the Almighty that I'm fine if Allah has chosen Ismail over me. That was the deep conversation I had with Allah while driving to the meeting yesterday. Allah has miraculously cured my impatience and unsettle heart. On the other hand, I knew that Ismail and I couldn't leave the office at the same time. We are the only 2 seniors that handles everything in the office and projects that were awarded to us. It would be tough for our staffs if we were away from our duties. For the first time in 3 years, I let the fate lead the way. I'm sure there will be a place for me next year if by ramadan I still haven't received my call. Being positive is what matters. Cheers everyone!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Medina - Place of Interest (Dates Farm & Jabal Uhud)

Date of visit: 27th June 2017

Our group spent the whole time on our arrival in Nabawi mosque and had a little time for a nap before we gathered at the hotel lobby for sightseeing. Zahafiz, the tour agent had arranged a bus with a tour guide, more of a Tahfiz student residing in Medina to accompany us. The young Ustaz is quite knowledgeable with Medina's history. Among the places that we visited were Quba Mosque (will made separate entry for this place), Dates Farm and Jabal Uhud. Others like, Qiblatain Mosque, Seven Mosque were mostly viewed from the bus. It was my first time in Dates Farm, so, I thought of sharing some of the photos that I took inside the areas that I went exploring on myself until I bumped into Tina. She was the one who helps snap a photo of me beside my own selfie.

Own selfie

Take note, the smell is not very pleasant :(

I must explain why I've been lagging in continuing with my travelogue. Returning back to this Holy place is what I badly want. Nothing excites me anymore, not even the new house that is almost ready to be occupied. Performing hajj, the 5th obligatory duty of a Muslim is what I want so so badly that it almost broke my heart whenever 1st week of the month arrived and I still haven't been informed by Tabung Haji of my "waiting list status". Hence, I'm unable to contain my worry of what will happen if I were to wait for another year. What will happen to me? I'm now preparing for the worst to come, for I to be strong, not a moment of despair and hold on to my faith that what will happen in the future is because Allah knows best. He must have want only the best for me, there's a silver lining waited for me in the end. It must be :)

While other people busied shopping, Tina and I spent our time in this corner

My aunt who love shopping

We adjourned to Mount Uhud that had a height of 1,077m as second destination. Mount Uhud was the site of the second battle between the Muslim and the Meccan forces that took place in 625 AD. The Battle of Uhud was fought on March 19, 625 AD or on 3rd Shawal of 3rd AH in the Islamic calendar, at the valley located in front of Mount Uhud. A force occurred between the Muslim community of Medina led by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and a force led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb from Mecca, the town from which many of the Muslims had previously emigrated. The Battle of Uḥud was the second military encounter between the Meccans and the Muslims, preceded by the Battle of Badr in 624 AD, where a small Muslim army had defeated the much larger Meccan army. We learned that in school those days.

Mount Uhud at my back

The weather was hot and I did not have much energy to climb the mount like my sister did years before when she came for her Hajj and her series of umrah. But the sweet smell, a smells of heaven were what I breath in when I stood in below photo while listening to the Ustaz sharing some historical facts about the battle next to a bare graveyard. Many Muslim were killed in the battle. While at retreat, Prophet Muhammad had a martyr in the battle buried at the foot of the Mount Uhud. That was the 2nd battle between the Muslims and the Meccan. Marching out from Mecca towards Medina on March 11, 625 AD, the Meccans desired to avenge their losses at the first battle at Badr and strike back at Muhammad and his followers. The Muslims readied for war soon afterwards and the two armies fought on the slopes and plains of Mount Uḥud.

The smell of sweetness of those martyr are visible in this area

Whilst heavily outnumbered, the Muslims gained the early initiative and forced the Meccan lines back, thus leaving much of the Meccan camp unprotected. When the battle looked to be only one step far from a decisive Muslim victory, a serious mistake was committed by a part of the Muslim army, which shifted the outcome of the battle. A breach of Prophet's Muhammad orders by the Muslim archers, who left their assigned posts to despoil the Meccan camp, allowed a surprise attack from the Meccan cavalry, led by Meccan war veteran Khalid ibn al-Walid (he later accepted Islam), which brought chaos to the Muslim ranks. Many Muslims were killed including Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Prophet's Muhammad uncle and foster brother. Muhammad himself was almost killed and came out badly injured. As a result, the Muslims had to withdraw up the slopes of Uḥud. The Meccans did not pursue the Muslims further, but marched back to Mecca declaring victory.

My lovely aunt had more shopping in Mount Uhud

For the Muslims, the battle was a significant setback, although they had been close to routing the Meccans a second time, their breach of Muhammad's orders in favor of collecting Meccan spoils reaped severe consequences. The two armies would meet again in 627 AD at the Battle of the Trench where the Muslim claimed victory. The Uhud battle held a religious dimension as well as a military one. They had expected another victory like at Badr, which was considered a sign of God's favor upon them. At Uhud, however, they had barely held off the invaders and had lost a great many men. A verse of the Qur'an revealed soon after the battle cited the Muslims' disobedience and desire for loot as the cause for this setback:
Allah did indeed fulfil His promise to you when ye with His permission Were about to annihilate your enemy, until ye flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed it after He brought you in sight (of the booty) which ye covet. Among you are some that hanker after this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did He divert you from your foes in order to test you but He forgave you: For Allah is full of grace to those who believe.
— Qur'an, Chapter 3 (Al Imran), verse 152

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Prophet's Mosque), Medina

Duration of stay: 2 nights from 26th till 27th June 2016

For many reasons, I’m officially in love with the Prophet’s Muhammad Nabawi Mosque when I first laid my eyes on it. It was the first mosque that we arrived during the umrah trip last year and I must say that it has blown my mind away. Our group rode a bus from Jeddah’s airport to reach Medina city and due to dropping off another passenger at another local airport in Jeddah, we arrived very late whereby it was already a call (azan) for Fajar prayer when Nabawi’s mosque appeared in sight. Due to that delayed schedule, we had very little food for sehri but no one was complaining since food was not the main reason for our trip. Usually, the drive from Jeddah Abdulaziz International Airport to Medina only took 4 and a half hours drive. Let's see more details about the mosque construction and its architectural perspective.

Inside ladies prayer hall where the dome was open for natural lights

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is famously known as the Prophet's Muhammad Mosque as it was established and originally built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, situated in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. It was the 3rd mosque built in the history of Islam (the first was Masjid Al-Haram and second was Masjid Quba) and is now one of the largest mosques in the world. It’s being the second holiest site in Islam, after Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca. There's no closing time as the mosque is always open, regardless of date or time. The mosque can accommodate about 600 thousand to 1 million peoples praying capacity at 1 time, the floor area of about 1.7 million square feet. The Saudi Government is planning for further expansion to increase the capacity to 1.7 million.

The first morning spent in the peaceful mosque, after performing obligatory Fajr prayer

The site was originally selected as it seated adjacent to Prophet Muhammad's house when he settled in this area after his Hijra (emigration) to Medina in 622 CE. He chose the location and shared in the heavy work of the mosque early construction. The original mosque was built on an open-air concept building served as a community center, a court, and a religious school beside a reunite place to pray together. There was a raised platform for the people who taught the Quran. Subsequent Islamic rulers greatly expanded and decorated it after the Prophet's time. In 1909, it became the first place in the Arabian Peninsula to be provided with electrical lights. The mosque is being placed under the control of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. It is located in what was traditionally the center of Medina, with many hotels and old markets nearby, being a major pilgrimage site. Many pilgrims who perform the Hajj and/or Umrah will go on to Medina to visit the mosque due to its connections to the life of Prophet Muhammad.

There's plenty of the Holy book, Al-Quran being placed inside the mosque, hence, don't bother to bring your own piece

During the expansion project at the reign of the Umayyad Caliph al-Walid I, it now incorporates the final resting place of Prophet Muhammad and the first 2 Caliphate Rashidun, Abu Bakr and Umar. One of the most notable features of the site is the Green Dome which is located in the southeast corner of the mosque. The area where the Green Dome is originally the Prophet's learned wife, Aisha occupied as her accommodation, the same place where the tomb of Prophet Muhammad is located. In 1279, a wooden cupola was built over the tomb which was later rebuilt and renovated multiple times in the late 15th century and once more in 1817. The current dome was added in 1818 by the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II, and it was first painted green in 1837, hence becoming known as the "Green Dome".

Fully air-conditioned mosque that gives comfort to the pilgrims

The main architecture feature is to maintain the original open concept. The Ottoman prayer hall faces towards the south. It has a flat paved roof topped with 27 sliding domes on square bases. Holes were pierced into the base of each dome to illuminate its interior. The roof is also being used for prayer hall during peak times season, when the domes slide out on metal tracks to shade areas of the roof, creating light wells for the prayer hall. The courtyard of the Ottoman mosque is also shaded with giant umbrellas affixed to freestanding columns. The roof is accessible by stairs and escalators, unfortunately, due to tight prayer activities in the fasting month, I left with no time at all to explore the roof area. Besides, the paved area around the mosque is also used for prayer, equipped with giant umbrella tents. For information, the Sliding Domes and retractable Umbrella-like canopies are designed by the German architect Mahmoud Bodo Rasch from SL Rasch GmbH and Buro Happold.

Area for wudu' or purify before praying

Riad ul-Jannah, Rawdah, Mihrab, Minbar and Minarets are all architecture features that one must take notice to appreciate the mosque beauty. I hope when Allah has invited me to perform Hajj, I would be able to explore the details in length and share them all with you. Firstly, the heart of the mosque houses a very special but small area named Riad ul-Jannah, means Gardens of Paradise. It extends from Rawdah where Prophet's Muhammad tomb is located to his Minbar. All pilgrims attempt to visit the confines of the area, for there is a tradition that supplications and prayers uttered here are never rejected, hence congested. Entrance into the area is not always possible, especially during the Hajj season, as its space can only accommodate a few hundred people. I had my chance to visit last year when it was open at the dedicated time frame for women to visit. 

The Prophet's Holy Shrine, Rawdah

Riad ul-Jannah is considered to be a part of Jannah (Paradise) as narrated from Abu Hurayrah as he heard Prophet Muhammad said, "the area between my house and my minbar is one of the gardens of Paradise, and my minbar is on my cistern". I experienced a moment of terror and peace between these 2 areas. But I strongly believe, peace, loves and compassion will reunite all humankind. 

The area between Rawdah and the Prophet's Minbar

As per Prophet's Muhammad quoted saying, Rawdah is also in Heaven, the same Rawdah which is currently in the mosque. It is floored with Green Carpet just to differentiate from the entire Mosque which is floored with red carpet. It holds the tomb of Prophet Muhammad and his 2 companions and the first caliph, Abu Bakr and the second caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab. A fourth grave is reserved for Jesus, as it is believed that he will return and will be buried at the site. The site is covered by the Green Dome. It was constructed in 1817 C.E. during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II and painted green in 1837 C.E. as mentioned earlier on. Sorry, twice repeated these facts!

The dome that slides upon at dawn to allow natural lights

There are two mihrabs in the mosque, the first one was built by Prophet Muhammad and another by the 3rd Caliphate Rashidun Uthman. The one built by the latter was larger as it acted as the functional mihrab, whereas Prophet Muhammad's mihrab is a "commemorative" mihrab. Besides the mihrab, the mosque also has other niches which act as indicators for praying. This include mihrab al-tahajjud which was built by Prophet Muhammad for the tahajjud, mihrab Fatima.

Women's Prayer Area

Minbar is a special place in the mosque used by Imam to speak on the congregation to deliver sermons. The original minbar used by Prophet Muhammad was a "wood block of date tree". This was replaced by him with a tamarisk one, which had dimensions of 50 centimetres (0.50 m) x 125 meters. Also in year 629, a 3 stair ladder was added to it. The first two caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar, did not use the third step "due to respect for the Prophet", but the third caliph Uthman placed a fabric dome over it and the rest of the stairs were covered with ebony. The minbar was replaced by Baybars I in 1395 and later by Shaykh al-Mahmudi in 1417. This was also replaced by a marble one by Qaitbay in the late 15th century, which as of August 2013, is still used in the mosque.

The green dome from external view

The first minarets (there's four number altogether) of 26 feet high were constructed by Caliphate Umar. In 1307, a minaret titled Bab al-Salam was added by Muhammad ibn Kalavun which was renovated by Mehmed IV. After the renovation project in 1994, there were ten minarets which were 104 meters high being built. The minarets' upper, bottom and middle portion are cylindrical, octagonal and square shaped respectively. That's all I wish to share facts about the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi's mosque. 

People used to say that you will be grant with whatever wishes if you say your prayer in here. It happened to me and to a dear friend that came all the way to cure her sickness in this Holy place. We lost contact but it's always my hope that Tina, that dear friend of mine would found her happiness and peace wherever she are.

Break fasting at the mosque courtyard where a second after saying my wish for Arab's rice, someone passed 1 from behind

The Giant Umbrella and the beautiful Mosque door

The mosque cleaner waiting in lines to change shifts

Reference: Wikipedia

Friday, March 24, 2017

King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah

Arrival date: 25th June 2016, Departure date: 6th July 2016

I booked the umrah trip following my cousin's advice, that is with the travel agent; Zahafiz Travel & Tours. Due to my busy schedules I missed the opportunity to attend a proper umrah course, hence I depended heavily on the Hajj guide book that my sister lent me. I took to study that guide book during a 9 hours and 10 minutes direct flight vide Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah. The flight mostly full with the pilgrims from Malaysia and Indonesia whilst others are on commercial transit. We arrived at almost maghrib prayer time, at dawn and I am truly impressed with Jeddah Airport, i.e. King Abdulaziz International Airport that was built to cater for pilgrimage. We had to wait at the cozy arrival hall as the time to break fast was nearing to our arrival time. All immigration counter is closed to allow everyone on fasting for their break and prayer. As usual, I will start my travelogue with how the airport is being built.

King Abdulaziz International Airport photo shared from "" website

King Abdulaziz International Airport is a Hajj Terminal airport located 19 km to the north of Jeddah. It was named after King Abdulaziz Al Saud, inaugurated in 1981. The airport is the busiest airport of Saudi Arabia and is 3rd largest airport in the Saudi kingdom. It is known for Hajj terminal since it is specially built for Islamic pilgrims going to Mecca annually. The airport can handle about 80,000 passengers at the same time. It occupies an area of 15 square kilometres where it accommodates not only the airport proper, but serves for a royal terminal, facilities of Prince Abdullah Air Base for the Royal Saudi Air Force and a housing facilities for the airport staff. The airport construction began in 1974, and was completed in 1980. It is opened for service after being officially inaugurated in April 1981 on 31st May 1981.

Jeddah town visible from the plane

The sun was about to set when we landed, a sign that the fast is coming to an end

Due to Jeddah's proximity to Islam's holy city of Mecca, the airport is notable for one feature in particular, i.e. “The Hajj Terminal”. It was specially built to handle pilgrims to take part in the rituals associated with the annual Hajj, which offers many facilities. It can accommodate 80,000 travelers at one time. The airport is designed by the Bangladeshi engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan from an architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM). The designed is known for its tent-like roof structure, designed by Consulting Engineer Horst Berger. The structure was designed with 10 modules, each consisting of 21 "tents" of white colored Teflon-coated fiberglass fabric which is suspended from pylons. It is grouped together into 2 blocks of 5 modules each and separated by a landscaped mall between the blocks. Only customs, baggage handling and similar facilities are located in an air-conditioned building. The vast majority of the complex, called "Terminal Support Area", is a flexible open area, conceived to function like a village, complete with souk (market) and mosque. There's no walls as the area is purposely sheltered from the intense sun while allowing for natural ventilation.

The large airport filled with mostly only Saudi's Airline planes ... I was impressed with the sight! 

We boarded the airport bus to the hajj terminal

The Hajj Terminal received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983. According to the jury, "the brilliant and imaginative design of the roofing system met the awesome challenge of covering this vast space with incomparable elegance and beauty". At almost five million square feet  or about 465,000 m², the Jeddah airport Hajj Terminal is estimated to be among the world's largest air terminals after Beijing Capital International Airport, Dubai International Airport and Hong Kong International Airport. Many airlines from Muslim and non-Muslim countries have used the Hajj Terminal.

Cozy arrival hall with proper toilet that our group utilized for breaking fast and pray before immigration counter opens 
My aunt at immigration counter, waited patiently in queue line

Jeddah-KAIA airport serves as a major hub for Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines) who originally had an exclusive use of the South Terminal. However, in 2007 the privately owned Saudi carriers i.e. Flynas and Sama Airlines were also given permission to share the terminals and the facilities. Due to the closure of Sama Airlines, the terminal is currently used by Saudia and Flynas. The terminal is now also used by Malaysia Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, and Korean Air. The North Terminal at Jeddah airport is used by all other foreign airlines.

A friendly friend that I met at Jeddah airport on arrival, who later became inseparable

The new King Abdulaziz International Airport has undergone a 3 stage expansion project commenced in September 2006, and is currently scheduled for completion in 2018. The project is designed to increase the airport's yearly capacity from 13 million to 80 million passengers mostly due to expansion of the Holy Mecca city itself. The expansion includes airfield hard standing and paved areas, lighting, fuel network systems and storm water drainage network. I hope to see major differences this year should I be able to visit during Hajj 1438. Please do pray that I will receive my invitation to participate in the Hajj from Tabung Haji soon. Honestly, I haven't received an answer to the appeal that I officially submitted to them on 1st December 2016. I would lie if I say that I'm not nervous .. but I depend only to Allah to give a little of His miracle to me.

Exit door leading to a large meeting/gathering points
The large tent covers the large areas filled with markets, toilets and prayer hall

Included in the expansion program is a newly constructed support services building, renovation of the existing South and North Terminals and upgrades to the existing runway and airfield systems to accommodate the Airbus A380. The 3 stages refurbishment, according to GACA, i.e the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia, it will marked by staged capacity increase to 30 million, 60M and 80M passengers per year. Based on the current traffic increases, the existing South Terminal will need to serve about 21 million passengers per year over the next 20 years to meet passengers growing demand. The project has reached the final stages of planning and design, and King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has approved a budget of SR4 billion to build the futuristic new airport to international standards.

Another clusters of tent outside the waiting hall where our bus made its final turn on our departure back to KL

Large crowds waiting for their flights home on 1st day of eid, 1437 @ 2016

Soon the Prince Majed Street will connect to the Al-Laith Highway (you may view from the Google Maps) from the southward terminal, forming a fast north-south transit route. Beside a plan for a better improve road access, there are talks and plans for a high-speed rail link serving the airport similar to other modern airports in many cities of the world. Starting at Prince Majed Street, the link will run into the airport and hook up with terminals. In my opinion GACA has done a terrific job in bringing King Abdul Aziz International Airport to another level of standard to serve their passengers. I pray that 1 day Saudi Arabia would open their airport to all and allow a non-muslim to enter the Holy city for them to view the pride and the beauty of the great mosque themselves. 

My aunt with her clearly shopaholic luggage

And I found myself a best friend with only positive talks, pure heart.. I'm being bless again

Remarks: Source of airport info from Wikipedia with photos of few friends that I made during the short trip.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The story of my Repentance

Human is indeed had a really weird character. I would say I'm the  weirdest among all. Quran had in many places warned about the weird people that will come by and plant some evil talks and thoughts so that you will end up with an evil mind. Therefore, Allah has created a special "doa" or prayer should you encountered one. But the best would still made a routine of reciting these prayers so that you wouldn't fall into that weird categories. Trust me, I was there before, the expert ... hence this advice. And this is the story of my repentance....

Happiest mode for feeling the bless
Repentance or taubat is a life transformation process where its very nature requires one not just to abandon the old ways of sinful behavior. Instead repentance requires us to replace those with righteous deeds. Turning to Allah in repentance, therefore, is a truly transformational process. Allah says in the Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 160: “Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.” and in Surah An-Noor, verse 31 Allah says “…And beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful".

At former home before leaving to the airport

Repentance, therefore, paves the way for Allah’s Grace in this life and the hereafter. Within this world, Allah promises us of wealth, children, and increased blessings. In the Quran, Surah Hud, verse 3 Allah again says: “Seek the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant you good enjoyment, for a term appointed, and bestow His abounding Grace to every owner of grace. But if you turn away, then I fear for you the torment of a Great Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)”.

While waiting for me to check-in

Allah has granted a beautiful lights into my heart after my return from India for good in 2012. He gave me a mirror to look at my self. I looked and looked so hard with so many weird question to begin with ... "why people did that to me", "why people are so cruel with devilish talks and remarks?" so on and so forth. The answers that came after was unimaginable so soothing to my heart. Allah whispers to me "You change first" then people around you will change along with you. Set a good example, purify your heart but start by firstly forgive yourself before forgiving others. Do not search the whole horizon for peace as peace is so near, it's in you.

With that, I set 2 targets for assurance that my repentance is accepted by Allah and He shall guide me (and all of you of course) to the straight path, the path of those upon whom Allah have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked Allah's anger or those who are astray (Quran, the first surah, Al-Fatiha verse 6-7). The first target is to perform umrah. The time for umrah that I chose was during the last 10 days of Ramadhan (fasting month), 1437 Hijrah year @ in June 2016.

Family is the one who stays in rainy and sunny days, non-stop cheering on you though on your cranky days..

Why do I chose those last 10 days? It's because I want to be in the Holy city for Laylatul Qadr, a night that I can seek prayers of forgiveness, to cleanse my sins. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an: The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn. [Qur’an: 97:3-5]. The blessed Laylatul Qadr can be found in any of the last 10 nights of Ramadan, which are the most blessed nights of the year. As such, we should increase our worship and devotion during this period.

The second target is to perform hajj, being the 5th pillar of Islam, obligatory to those who can afford. Due to a tight schedule of 10 days in both Medina and Mecca, my focus was not about the 2 cities. So, I'm writing this entry and the later entries in preparation for a second visit, by Allah's will and permission, I hope to visit this year, 1438 year of Hijrah. Please make dua for me...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hiking at Sg Besi Forest Reserve

I first knew about the hiking trail next to my condo when 1 of Nazhif’s friend shared his photo which overseeing the view of our Altitude 236, located in Persiaran Alam Damai. Little did I know, there is actually a proper hiking trail of 3.62 miles located just behind my condo that I've recently discovered from wikipemia while searching some reference for this entry. No wonder the forest reserve habitats sometimes encroaching nearby our windows since we are neighbors. And the fresh smell of the jungle whenever I open my window is just too good to be true.

Image download from

One fine day when Nazhif was still around from his year 1 break, I forced him and Nasrul to accompany me for my mission. I used to see people's passing by from the window of my Level 6 condo and wondering where they were heading to. We can see the first Reservoir from our unit as it seated on the same level. Hubby always scolded me for wearing an obscene dress in our room as he said people walking outside the road could possibly see us. My mission that day was to confirm whether or not our bedroom is visible from the other side. Unfortunately it is actually "yes", though only a little. Imagine if someone sees us through their binoculars?

I was at "Drain" point in this photo
Happy faces with a gorgeous view behind - Cheras side

It is recommended to start the hike at the junction of Persiaran Aman Damai off Jalan Aman Damai, just next to our Altitude 236. You will pass the two water tanks or reservoirs on the way up. Those 2 water reservoir are visible on satellite imagery as white circles on the first photo. The trail head starts with a tarred road, but only until you reached the second reservoir. From there on, you have to take left side where there is a proper trail leading up. Take note that is a barrier at the trail head that prevents vehicles from entering this area. The path beyond is mostly a bare red soil, some rocks, with occasional landslips that get in the way due to erosion. 

The evidence

There's nothing to worry about as the trail is quite solid and you will have no difficulties to get around or over it. There are several barren plateaus along the way that provides a good view of the Cheras area, especially in the morning or afternoon. The best time to start is at 6am-7am, after your morning prayer. But we went after Asar or afternoon prayer which gave us so short period of time to enjoy the hike and the view as it was already dark slightly after 7.15pm. Beyond the barren plateaus, you will enter a forest, starting from a huge undergrowth of ferns. The path changes from red soil to fertile black humus. Be careful at that point as there are no clearly mark trails in the forest. The downhill parts can be steep, muddy, and slippery. 

Trail chain for safety reason

The image in the first photo show 2 or maybe 3 streams that we did not encounter as we merely stopped at the Main Viewpoint. The sky was getting darker at that time and Nazhif started pestering me to go back. But to those who are really into jungle hiking it is highly recommended to use jungle boots and takes on the jungle trek. What we did that day was merely enjoying the scenery at the plateaus. After some photo evidence, we turn back and go home. There's another family around that time too.

For the record, there are four permanent forest reserve areas in Kuala Lumpur that is 2.1ha. in Bukit Lagong, 9.37ha in Bukit Nanas, 14.51ha in Sungai Puteh and the one behind my condo is Sungai Besi forest reserve of 42.29ha. These four are as officially declared by the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia. Bukit Lagong’s area remains unchanged since it was gazetted in 1962, but the forest area in Bukit Nanas, which was gazetted in 1906 with an area of 17ha, has since been reduced in size to 9.37ha as a result of road and infrastructure projects. The Sungai Puteh permanent forest area, gazetted in 1933 with an area of 40ha, is now reduced to 14.51ha whilst the Sungai Besi permanent forest area has seen a loss of 4.71ha since it was gazetted in 1932.

KL Tower's light was lighted in blue that day. I've been lucky to witness the changing colors of KL Tower every night from my balcony. Indeed, I've been surrounded with enormous bliss.

Being a quite lazy bump person, the second trip is yet to be arranged. Nevertheless, I hope this entry may help others who takes hiking seriously as hobby and sports.