Reflections in Ramzan
It was on March 26th earlier this year, that we set out from Medinah to Makkah to perform Umrah for the first time. I was both excited and nervous as we declared our niyaat at the meeqathoutside Medinah, the furthest one from the Masjid al Haram.
The drive from Medinah to Makkah was an uneventful five - hour journey, but a deeply contemplative one. Having just visited the historical sights around the former, or Yathrib as it was once called, as I looked out into the rocky terrain, I tried to imagine the Prophet’s (pbuh) migration, his eighty or so campaigns, him leading the fighters to Makkah, and all the other annals written in stone, literally and figuratively.
It was one of those journeys where my husband and I spoke very little to each other. Between reading up on Islamic history and committing the duas to memory, we reached Makkah, the first sight of it being the Clock Tower, and then the high - rise buildings around the Masjid al Haram. I was very impatient to see the Kaaba.
As we checked into the hotel, the nervousness soon gave way to anticipation, because there was a gladness in the air that I could feel,but not define. We made our way to the Masjid complex through elevators and escalators, walkways and stairs, barefoot over smooth tiles, overshadowed by the tall buildings, overawed by the teeming thousands.
It did strike my mind that there we were in the state of ihram, about to embark on an age old spiritual exercise, amidst such a modern and partly futuristic backdrop. Furthermore, I had not expected that we would have to makeour way through a frenzy of commercial activities, heightened by taxis pulling in and out, neon signs,and fast food.
There was a matter-of-factness about it all, though. And honestly speaking, I was relieved by having the amenities so close at hand. We entered the Mosque, and as stunning as the architecture was, I became lost to the atmosphere. If Medinah was comforting, Makkah was enlivening. And we had not even reached its core.
I do not know which adjectives or superlatives to describe what I sensed, but I can say that,at that moment within myself, therewas the complete absence of any and every negative emotion that I have ever experienced:fear, guilt, shame, insecurity, anxiety, and the like. There was no need for all that because I felt protected, immersed in the sheer force of faith and belief.
Then, as we walked through the Masjid, I saw the holy Kaaba. And that was the most overwhelming sight I have ever witnessed. I was finally able to see for myself the iconic structurethat was built from the rocks of five mountains,that had become imprinted in my mind from all the sketches, photographs and videos, and I was able to witness the mesmerising draw of the throngs and throngs of pilgrims performing the Tawaf and praying in unison.
It was indescribably powerful to say the least, and I instinctively felt the Kaaba exuding a dynamism that made me realise why people returned there time and time again, making it the closest to the human representation of the eternal as there can be.The circumambulation of the House of Allah is rarely paused, and if so, not for long; and to think that I would soon be a part of it…Alhamdulillah!
Chintamoni grew up in Dhaka, where she will always belong, but never quite fit in. She is an enthusiastic traveller, a compulsive procrastinator, and a contumelious raconteur.