Salah is the easiest and can be the shortest and most concise ebadah in all of those designated to us as muslims. Unless behest with a debilitating disease it can be accomplished with ease both in time and in effort.

I had promised myself forty Salah in the Masjid e Nabvi. Why forty? Because Prophet Muhammad said that it takes forty repetitions to make something a habit.

The Quran also speaks of 40 in many some of the surahs: The forty days of the silent retreat of Moses with Allah. The age of forty when a human being must turn to Allah, fulfill his obligation to his parents and change his focus from duniya to Akhirah. There is also a hadith:

According to Anas, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has also said:

 “The person who offers 40 prayers consecutively in my Mosque, without missing a prayer in between, will secure immunity from the fire of Hell and other torments and also from hypocrisy.” (Musnad Ahmad)

A Pakistani woman I had met at Hajj, who told me she had prayed for years to be invited to the Prophets mosque to pray forty Salah, and tears brimmed her eyes as she said she was so thankful that finally she was here. I was extremely touched and inspired by her devotion that I decided to do this with a single-minded focus at some point in my life.

Once I decided that my prime reason for being in Medina would be to pray at the Prophets mosque, Allah opens the path and makes it easy to get there and to resist the pull of shopping, clothes, food and tourism while I was there.

What I had not envisioned when I happily bound for Medina that within me the inhaled fragments of Old Makah would come alive and wreck havoc, within my body weeping to be let out perhaps to lay at the feet of the Rasool pbuh and complain………to Allah, seek his the Wasilla of the rasool pbuh to ask Allah to stay the sledgehammer that so ruthlesslessly and mercilessly is taking down Old Makkah. The incessant wrecker ball is disturbing the path of the Prophet and his sahabah in Mecca.

The nine days in Medina became my Saee in Medina. I was not emulating Bibi Hajra here; I was only working towards fulfilling a promise I had made to myself of the 40 salah in Masjed e Nabvi.

Friday came and the Khutbah was on Tauba or repentance, surprisingly it was followed with an urdu translation. As the day wrapped up, my body became unhinged; every joint felt it had fallen apart and every sinew hurt. I completed my isha salah and came to the room as I was expecting two friends to visit for a few days. That night I fell into a stupor of fever and my friends in consideration did not wake me for fajr salah………I had missed my opportunity of the forty consecutive salah in the masjed e Nabvi. This fact registered in my subconscious but I was not ready to give up, perhaps the hadith doesn’t say consecutive I thought, my fevered mind pushing excuses.

I continued going to the mosque for the five Salah’s, it became a habit to stay after Maghreb and pray salaat e awaabeen, recite the Quran till the iqama for isha would be called.

I noticed that the thinnest attendance at the mosque would be at Asr, which happened to be my favorite time.

At Asr when I entered the masjid the Zam Zam would cool my fevered brow that had broken loose from the effects of the ibuprofen and would pass into my body bringing cool comfort. I would then find my place in the front of the ladies section and pray Asr.

Sometimes after Asr Salah I would succumb to the peace of the half empty mosque. The swishing sounds of the cleaning women who whisked around picking up litter, replacing the chairs and Qurans to their proper places would be reassuring and were sounds of home in Pakistan.

The sunroof of the mosque would gently glide open, revealing the blue skies. Sunlight would stream in bringing a mix of the cool evening air mixed with the warmth of the sunbeams. The peace and tranquility of the sunbathed musallah would lull me into a sleep that was refreshing and energizing.

My companion on the left from Iran would cover me with her musallah as I slept and I would feel the vibes of compassion coming from her though no words were exchanged other that the salutation as neither of us knew each others language.

Somewhere along the way on one of the days I lost my phone and along with it my morning alarm and a sense of time. Fortunately the hotel operator surprised at my electronic free condition agreed to give me a wake up call for Fajr.

Fajr was my most challenging time. Getting out of the warm bed, completing my ablutions, putting on my coat and scarf, carrying my musallah and an extra shawl incase I could not get into the masjed because it had filled before I got there.

Many a time I prayed in the courtyard as the pink fingers of dawn lit the sky and the muted gold of the minarets and umbrellas lighted up.

The drawback of praying in the courtyard was that people left promptly after Salah and did not wait to complete their adkaars till the sun came up. The exiting crowd from the interior of the masjed was also a distraction and the temptation would be to let the adkaars be, get up and head back to the hotel and go back to bed…………

After completing the course of allopathic medicine which had made a minor difference in my respiratory illness I decided to go to the pharmacy and ask for something recommended by the Prophet as a cure of many diseases. I had been taking a course on Islamic medicine but had not reached those details yet. I had read enough about it to know that if it was pure the hadith recommended it.

Aisha RA said that she heard the Messenger PBUH say, “This black seed is a cure for every disease except death.” (Bukhaari).

Allopathic medicine at Web MD says: There is some scientific evidence to suggest that black seed might help boost the immune system, fight cancer, prevent pregnancy, and lessen allergic reactions by acting as an antihistamine.

Other references say: The Nigella Sativa seed itself contains numerous esters of structurally unusual unsaturated fatty acids and the chemical composition is very rich and diverse. Apart from its active ingredient, crystalline nigellone, it contains 15 amino acids (including eight of the nine essential ones), carbohydrates, fatty acids including linolenic and oleic, volatile oils, alkaloids and dietary fibre, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium and potassium. 

Recent research on the black seed as an anti-biotic, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, anti-bacterial, anti-bronchial and immune boosting agent has shown great promise.

I had read about the cure of the black seed in Imam Suyutis book on Tib e Nabawi and regretted that I could not recall more about dosage and frequency of taking it.

One day when I had exhausted all my allopathic medical options and my spasms of coughing were unremitting and becoming disturbing in their intensity and frequency I decided to go in search of the black seed oil.

After fajr Salah I walked intto the only pharmacy that was open besides the manic vendors selling clothes, scarfs and perfume in the footpaths.

The pharmacist in a crisp white jacket was young, fresh faced; soft in expression intelligent green eyes greeted me with a reserved non-familiar greeting of salaam.

I asked if he had the black seed oil. “What kind” he asked. Observing my nonplussed expression he asked what I wanted it for hair or other ailments.

“Cough and bronchial infection” I said. He asked his assistant to bring the black seed oil from the upper echelons of the pharmacy. Meanwhile a man from Pakistan came in and asked for a medicine, which the pharmacist could not understand. I asked the paksitani man what it was for “he said pain” do you have the name written somewhere I asked. he showed me the name on a text message from his doctor friend which was unfamiliar to me. I looked it up on my phone and it was an anti inflammatory drug. He showed the text message to the pharmacist who located it immediately.

Meanwhile two types of black seed oil arrived, one was from Syria and the other was a cold press from Wadi Nahl. “How many times” I asked, “three times a day for your illness, and once a day to maintain” he replied.

I was out of there coughing my lungs out; I got to the hotel, opened the bottle and took a teaspoon of the pungent oil. As it slid down my throat it burned in places and then a calm settled in my chest for a few hours to the point that I forgot that I had a cough……………



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