our drive to Mecca was not long, on the way there we stopped half way and I thought 'here we go typical, stop searches and what not' but surprisingly nothing of the sort, it was a stop for gifts believe it or not, half way to Mecca they supply you with zam zam water in little bottles, Islamic tapes and booklets as well as a leaflet on the new system for jamarat, such a nice way to enter Mecca.
we eventually got into Mecca and we headed to an area called 3azeezeeyah, its quite a distant from the haram, to get to the haram we would have to get taxis but that's never a problem, every ahmed, hassan and Mohammed (Islamic version of tom, dick and Harry) are taxi drivers in Saudi and usually the cost is like 2 riyal per person (1 pound equals 7 riyals) but because of the hajj season they really take advantage and charge between 5 - 15 and if its mega packed full of people and they now you are desperate to get either home from the haram or to the haram then they can charge 30 riyals, once after fajr we wanted to get back to the apartments, it felt like the whole mulsim world was waiting for taxis, that's how packed it was, we stopped this one guy and asked him how much, he replied '300 riyal per person' cheeck, when we asked him why he replied 'traffic' !!!!!
it was soooooo funny trying to get taxis after fajr, half the time I was cracking my self up with laughter cause of all the stuff that was going on.
anyway, so we get to our apartments, to be honest we didn't know what to expect, every thing was last minute so all the hotels where booked out, and we where left with apartments, I was expecting the worst, but I didn't care my only concern was cockroaches. When we got to the apartments it looked nice and new from outside, and even better from inside mashallah, the downstairs was for us ladies and the upstairs was for the men, it was four people to every room, there where toilets and kitchen and even a washing machine, and it proved to be soooo much better than a hotel, and my time there was the best ever and I now have memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
we where 16 ladies all together and we really got on mashallah, the prophet pbuh said to know some one well either live with them or travel with them and we certainly did both with this group and all I can say is I couldn't have chosen a more nicer group (although it would have been even more better if my Manchester crew was with me as well :D)
after putting our bags and generally relaxing, we where told to get ready after isha because we will be performing umra, when we had made our intention for hajj we choose tamatu, there are 3 types 1.tamatu, 2 ifrad and 3, qiran. Tamattu is where the pilgrim wears ihram only for `Umrah during the months of Hajj, which means that when he/she reaches Makkah, they make Tawaf and Sa`I for `Umrah, then shaves or clips the hair. On the Day of Tarwiyah, which is 8 Dhul-Hijjah, we puts on our ihram for Hajj only and carries out all of its requirements. so we where about to do Umra...
so exciting, it felt so surreal being in Mecca and knowing that just round the corner the kabbah was there, how amazing is that!!! I couldn't wait to see the Kabaah.
we prayed Isha and walked to the main road which is extremely busy, every restraunt and take away you can think of is on that road, and its a never ending shopping spree as well, we got a taxi for 11 people and soon where dropped of near the haram. We turned the corner and there was the haram, it really was an amazing sight, and there where soooooooo many people, and a lot of people don't have accommodation so they sleep outside the haram, they just spread out on the floor and sleep, apparently they came to do Umrah before Hajj and end up staying until Hajj, one of the police men told us that during hajj usually 3 million people come and 1 million end up staying. It can be a mission trying to get any where near the haram because you are constantly trying to dodge those who have camped out, annoying really...
walking towards the haram was an amazing feeling, I really was not aware of anything except that I will be seeing the Kaabah, we walked through king abdulaziz entrance and walked across the cool marble floors, the hussle and bussle of Mecca, the traffic, the noise, the shops, people, it didn't matter, it was blocked out from my very eyes and ears, my moment was for the kaabah only, and whilst walking across the mosque my heart was thumping loudly that I felt every one could hear it.
suddenly I saw the kaabah through the pillars and walahi I understand now when people say that they cannot explain what feelings and emotions runs through them when they see it. I was completely struck still and when you see the kaaba you must make dua, I could barley speak, my throat had tightened up, and I could barley see with the tears that took over my eyes, it was one of the most awe inspiring, spiritual moment ever to happen to me. Since birth I had been brought up seeing pictures of the kaaba, at the age of 7 I was taught to pray towards the kaaba and here I was standing with the kaabah infront of me in all its magnificence, here was the compass point of Muslim prayers, the house of Allah swt, wow, I felt like I could never blink, eventually I had to move because a sea of people where pushing me trying to get to the kaaba and that's when I started to take in the rest of the scenery and one of the most amazing sights any person can witness is the tawaf, surrounding the Kaaba was an effortlessly turning human wheel - the endless circumambulation of the Kaaba by the pilgrims all year round subhannallah.
I stood and watched the tawaf for a long time completely mezmorised and taken in by it all, I wouldn't have minded standing watching for the rest of my life, eventually the Kaaba tugged at me like a magnet and I was drawn into the tawaf to start my Umrah.
indeed when Prophet Ibrahim built the Kaaba in Makka, his prayers were that this place should remain a centre of worship for all good and pious people and that you really do wintness when you see it.