It is a quiet afternoon in Mecca, before the weekend rush. It is before Asar and we are slowly making our way towards the Haram. A young man is taking his young wife’s picture in front of the Haram. They are obviously newly wed. My husband stops and offers to take their picture together and they are delighted. We do not speak their language and they don’t understand ours, but the universal language of friendship and the bond of trust of being part of one Ummah smooths the way and the picture is taken. I can see it in my minds eye proudly and reverently being shared with all the relatives, many thousand miles away in another land, where people don’t speak our language but face the Kaaba every day with us and pray.
Perhaps the photo of this young man and his wife will arouse the desire in a young heart in that remote land to come to Mecca for their honeymoon.
What a lovely tradition I think to myself as I slip off my shoes to enter the Haram and ask Allah SWT to open the doors of His (SWT) mercy for me.
It is the kind of weather that you don’t think about, it is neither cold nor hot, thus taking away the focus from bodily discomforts and allowing the entire focus to be on what is going to happen. This too is a blessing from Him (SWT)
Paul and I have found a place on the second floor where the men and women are side by side separated by a row of low brass shelves that hold the Qurans. In this way it is easy to meet after prayers and we can see each other without going into the other section. It is before prayer so many people are at the banister looking out at the Kaaba which is also an ibadah and trying to capture that spiritual feeling on camera.
I sink into the Tahiyyat e masjid followed by Nafils or what some left-brain people would like to count as Qaza-e- Umri. I feel He (SWT) knows exactly what I am praying and with what intent, I can name my nafils anything, but what I have missed in the past, I have missed and He (SWT) in his infinite mercy will inshallah forgive me and accept what I can do now. I pray fervently that He (SWT) overlooks all the missed prayers of my past.
Asar comes much too quickly and women line up, most of them are from Turkey and Iran. The two young girls next to me are from Bangladesh, but live in UK (as I find out later). Their behavior during and after prayer is immaculately respectful and it arouses a deep respect in me for their mother as they reflect her effort in their upbringing.
Gradually people leave. I can see the Kaaba, from my vantage. The evening sun has turned the gold lettering on the kiswa to a light shade of copper.
I pull out the yellow page from my pocket under my abaya and peruse it. On one side are some notes for my blog and on the other side is my list.
I read my evening adkaars and then I begin with my list. With each name I remember and pray what that person wanted and ask Allah SWT to grant his or her prayers and to keep her on the path of Deen and strengthen her emaan.
Some have asked for healing for their friend, some for a muslim George Clooney, some want their child to make a good marriage, some whose children are getting married want a sound and happy marriage for them, some want generic prayers for their whole family, and then there are some who are in limbo with life.
As I conclude my prayer list, I think of all those people who are dear to me but have not asked me specifically to pray for them.
I think of my brothers and their families and pray for them, I pray for my daughter and my husband and I pray for Allah’s love for me, lots of it and for my family.
I think of my community where I live and I pray for Allah to guide us and keep us on the path to jannah. I then think of my friends who read my blog and encourage me, and I make a special prayer for them. I ask Allah to grant the wishes (if Jaaez) to all those people who asked me but whom I may have forgotten.
I have asked for so much but I am not penitent for my greed. I know He (SWT) wants us to ask him, and so I have. I remain seated on the musallah as the sky turns pink and time slips by……..my prayers mixing with my thoughts like a fragrance misting the air.
I hear the adhaan being called and I realize with a start that the golden hour between Asar and Maghrib is over.