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