Summer Sojourn in Magical Madinah
Part 1 – Serialised for MuzlimBuzz.sg
All praise and glory belongs to Allah – Lord of the worlds. May He shower abundant peace, choicest salutations and manifold blessings upon the Paragon of creation, his pure family, noble companions, righteous inheritors and all who tread his beautiful way aspiring towards the Real. To proceed:
By the immense Grace of Allah (most High), an opportunity arose for me to travel to the Middle East in July 2007 with a very dear friend and brother in faith, Rafaqat (may Allah protect him and his loved ones). After making stops in Dubai and Jeddah, we wrapped up our trip with a minor pilgrimage [‘umrah] and a visitation [ziyarah] to the beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
Every traveller to Makkah (the blessed) and Madinah (the radiant) experiences the sacred precincts [al-haramain al-sharifain] in an “individualised” way. It is my belief that the Best of designers – Allah (eminent is His Glory) – designs a personalised itinerary for His every guest. No two people go through Hajj, Umrah, and Ziyarah in the same way.
What follows is a brief account of my unique time in Madinah (the resplendent) between 19 Jul 2007 and 25 Jul 2007. The experiences I had there are special ones which are etched in my memory. But just as gold loses its lustre after some time, memories tend to fade. It is my hope that this travelogue will go some way towards preserving those invaluable moments I had.
I pray that all who read this benefit from it in the same way that I benefitted immensely from the trip. It is my ardent desire that all readers recite Al-Fatiha with the intention that Allah bestows upon us Enabling Grace [tawfiq], ease in our affairs [taysir], and has mercy on our parents – both biological and spiritual – who are pivotal to our felicity here and in the Hereafter.
And success and guidance is from Allah alone, eminent is His Glory.
Thu 19 Jul 2007
With the tune ‘ala balad-il Mahbub (to the land of the beloved, take me) on our lips, Rafa and I boarded the flight to Madinah from Jeddah. A few hours earlier, we were in Makkah performing the rites of ‘Umrah. A couple of hours before that, we were in Jeddah meeting Abu Malik and Malik, (may Allah protect them both). Less than a day earlier, we were scurrying around Dubai looking for Ihram cloth.
It is a great bounty from Allah that we are able to traverse large distances in a short space of time. But it does send a chill down the spine when we realise that we are living in a time where the prophecy of Habib al-Mustafa (the chosen beloved), Allah bless him and give him peace, regarding the last days, is being fulfilled. May Allah protect us from the tribulations of Armageddon.
With that thought in mind and plentiful salawat ‘ala-n Nabi (prayers upon the prophet) on our lips, we landed at Madinah Airport and headed towards Mövenpick Anwar al-Madinah.
We checked-in and settled down. By now, Rafa’s eye infection that he had caught off his daughter had gotten worse. Both his eyes were bloodshot and tearing badly. He was also spewing a lot of phlegm.
Rafa’s not the kind to fall ill regularly. But when he does, he suffers tremendously. Nevertheless, nothing was going to distract him from the fact that he was in Madinah. Everything else was peripheral. For the lover, every thorn on the path to the beloved is also a rose petal. May Allah give us the ability to love with such intensity the one worthy of being loved, Allah bless him and give him peace!
We met Sheikh Jamal Dhahabi during lunch and dined with him. I had first met him during the Traditional Halaqa programme in Birmingham a couple of years ago. He was pleased to know that we were from Birmingham – a city in the heart of England that has a special place in the hearts of many Shuyukh. One of the main reasons: Birmingham is the final resting abode for the luminous Shaikh Muhammad Qassim Al-Alawi, may Allah have on him.
We also met Sidi Javed Khan and Sidi Imran Yousaf – 2 of the most down-to-earth medical practitioners one can meet. May Allah protect them and their families. We agreed to meet later that evening to visit Dr. Moustafa al-Badawi.
Post ‘Asr, we met Ustadh Yahya Rhodus at the Masjid. I had met him before but never quite engaged in a conversation with him. He saw the exquisite edition of Dala’il al-Khairat published by Shaikh Nuh Keller in my hand and smiled reassuringly. Sometimes a thing in one’s possession can elevate or abase a person. The Dala’il in my hands must have raised my esteem in his eyes as from thereon he addressed me by name for the remainder of our stay.
Post Maghrib, we met Ustadh Walead Mosaad at the hotel lobby. Originally from USA, Ustadh Walead has been working with Habib ‘Ali al-Jifri in Abu Dhabi since 2005 to tackle problems of global concerns for Muslims. Rafa and I had the privilege of having dinner with him and Ustadh Yahya. May Allah protect our up-and-coming young scholars of distinction and increase them in every regard.
Post ‘Isha, we gate-crashed Dr. Mustafa’s place. We were the worst of visitors – turning up unannounced. He was the best of hosts – greeting us with a smile. Sidi Uthman Hutchinson and another old gentleman were there. It appeared like they were expecting a visitor.
Dr. Moustafa al-Badawi is an Egyptian doctor based in Madinah al-Munawwarah. He spent a large part of his adult life in the company and under the guidance of Imam Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad – a master of the inner and outer sciences of Islam. He has authored and translated a number of books into English. He was one of 3 members of the translation committee of “The Majestic Qur’an” project. He is also an authority on Islamic heritage sites in the Hijaz.
Sidi Uthman Hutchinson is an American revert who has lived in Madinah al-Munawwarah for over a decade. He is the principal of an international school in the radiant city. He was also a member of the translation committee of “The Majestic Qur’an” project.
We settled down and introduced ourselves. As the introductions came to an end, the invited guests turned up – the renowned photographer Sidi Abdul Adheem (Peter) Sanders and his nonchalant companion Sidi Shezad, may Allah protect them both.[pullquote_left]Sidi Abdul Adheem needs no introduction. His photography of the Muslim world from China to Saudi Arabia has captivated the hearts and minds of both believers and otherwise.[/pullquote_left]
Sidi Abdul Adheem needs no introduction. His photography of the Muslim world from China to Saudi Arabia has captivated the hearts and minds of both believers and otherwise. He is such a gentle and unpretentious character that one feels a genuine sense of warmth around him. I suppose going around the world capturing the signs of Allah must have a profound effect on one’s being.
His companion, Sidi Shezad, was of a similar disposition. Unassuming and no airs around him, he would easily pass off as the bloke you see walking down your street. Half way through our meeting, Sidi Uthman told us that he is the owner of a power plant in Newport, Wales!
Sidi Abdul Adheem was there to give a preview of his upcoming publication, “Meetings with Mountains” – a unique collection of portrait photographs of some of the great Shuyukh, Scholars and Saints of the 20th and 21st centuries; many never photographed before. Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson and Dr. Moustafa are both involved in the project.
After going through the preview, we sat down for an East meets West supper consisting of traditional Madinan foul and Afghan bread downed with the ‘The Real Thing™’. We discussed a number of things during the meal.
One of the issues Dr. Moustafa clarified was the controversy surrounding the pictures of the tomb of Habib al-Mustafa (Allah bless him and give him peace). He was very upset that images of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi’s grave in Konya, Turkey, were being perpetrated as those of Habib al-Mustafa’s (Allah bless him and give him peace).[pullquote_right]He was very upset that images of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi’s grave in Konya, Turkey, were being perpetrated as those of Habib al-Mustafa’s (Allah bless him and give him peace).[/pullquote_right]
He categorically mentioned that there are no pictures of the tomb anywhere. This was a confirmation of what we had heard in our previous trip from two caretakers [khadimain] of the blessed sepulchre who said that the tombs of Habib al-Mustafa, Sayyidina Abu Bakr and Sayyidina ‘Umar (Allah bless them and give them peace) are sealed by a wall to form an enclave into which there is no access.
In fact, no one has seen the blessed burial ground of Habib al-Mustafa for over 400 years – the last being Imam Al-Samhudi (author of wafa al-wafa bi akhbar dar al-Mustafa) who reported that the ground is levelled i.e. there being no structures over the blessed resting abode of Habib al-Mustafa (Allah bless him and give him peace). As it befits propriety, we say, “Allah knows best!”
During post-dinner banter, Sidi Shezad asked a pertinent question: “If perfection has been created, then what is our point?” I understood from the question, “Why create us when perfection has been made manifest in the Paragon of creation, Allah bless him and give him peace?” Dr. Moustafa replied with a sublime answer:[pullquote_left]Sidi Shezad asked a pertinent question: “If perfection has been created, then what is our point?”[/pullquote_left]
We are all atoms created from al-Nur al-Muhammadiyyah. We all possess some of the attributes of perfection. For this reason, we cannot be perfect. Hence attaining perfection is not the goal. What matters is striving in the path of your Lord.
Look, I’ve inherent weaknesses and faults because of my humanness. Yet, in your eyes, I’m a ‘hero’. Why? It’s because despite being the weak creation that I am, I strive in the way of my Lord in whatever little way I can. And that makes me a ‘hero’ in your eyes.[pullquote_right]”Attaining perfection is not the goal. What matters is striving in the path of your Lord.” Dr Moustafa Badawi[/pullquote_right]
There are Awliya who only see human beings in the form of pigs, dogs and donkeys. Allah shows the reality of His creation to His chosen slaves. This makes it difficult for some of them to go to Mosques to pray as all they see are these ‘creatures’, who with their Allah given capabilities and faculties behave in the way of the animal-kind.
Yet, these Awliya “train” themselves to see beyond the outward forms of the people around them. They try and identify that one good attribute and celebrate. Man is man. He is weak, incapable and full of faults. There’s no point in looking at his faults constantly. His striving makes him a hero.
Allah did not create a world of Prophets, Saints and good people and make a few exceptions. No! He created a world of crazy and mad people and made a few exceptions with Prophets, Saints and good people.
Dr. Moustafa said a lot more – Sayyidina Khidr, Imam Mahdi, Awlia Allah, etc. I regret not having a recorder in my possession to capture those gems. Then again, it could be that Allah had willed that my soul, rather than my intellect, is the one that should hear those words.
With the wo/men of Allah, once the engine is warmed up and the journey is set in motion, there is no stopping them. It is for this reason, it is said that one of the etiquettes of visiting a wo/man of Allah is to stay in their presence until they chase you out.
Unfortunately, we had to breach the rule and excuse ourselves as Sidi Javed had not told his wife of his whereabouts. We reluctantly excused ourselves. Rafa asked Dr. Moustafa to make a supplication. He responded with a statement of many lessons and profound wisdom: “Play these ‘make du’a’ games in London. Here you have the Messenger of Allah. Ask him.”
To be continued…
Born and bred in Singapore, Idris Kamal is an apprentice goat herder. After completing his National Service, he left for the UK where he graduated from the University of Birmingham and worked at Islamic Relief Worldwide. When he is not tending to his goats, he spends time reading, writing and working on a myriad of stuff. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/idris.kamal