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Jumaat, 21 Jun 2019

Umrah 2019 (Part 1) | Experiencing the Special Chartered Flight to Medina


I  t has been a  while since my last post... No lack of effort or enthusiasm on my part, but it is fair to say that things have been a little busy in the real world lately, most of my times are devoted to my career. Thus,  I have put my travel notes aside. 

Despite my busy schedule, I was given by Allah to perform umrah again. Unlike before, this time, I could go with my family. My husband, my children, my sister and her husband were joining the pilgrimage.  For me, this is a special invitation from Allah. It was always a dream of mine to perform the umrah and observe the pilgrimage in the holiest cities of Islam ~ Medina and Mecca ~ with my whole family. I was grateful to Allah for bestowing countless blessings upon my family with the precious gift. 

Since last November I have made some preparation to perform the umrah. Although it was not my first time, careful preparation was my priority especially it involved mental and physical strengths.

Because I am getting into my dotage, I need stamina to perform tawaf and saie. I need to ensure that I fit to do the activities. For that, my husband and I took  a three-month cycling challenge, 12 km for every cycling. Beside that, I checked my children's knowledge on umrah thoroughly. Although they are all grown-ups now, I wanted them to do their umrah correctly.

This time I used the service of TH Travel Services Sdn Bhd. Check out my previous entry that I have written two years ago about TH Travel, HERE.

This time I had the opportunity to take the Malaysia Airline (MAS) charted Airbus booked under TH Travel. The flight flew out directly to Medina. The airbus could accommodate up to 500 pilgrims. I was told that 45 percent of flights from Malaysia landed in Medina while the rest landed in Jeddah with pilgrims then heading straight to Mecca.

Once on-board, the flight attendants who were in their senor years greeted us politely. Meanwhile, the stewardesses looked sweet wearing hijab. (For your info, on other MAS flight, the stewardesses do not wear hijab).

"Sometimes we took the Indonesian pilgrims. Almost every day we fly to Medina," said the MAS steward when I asked him about their service.

That explains how many pilgrims from the Southeast Asia region go to the holy lands daily.

All the passengers in this flight are pilgrims to the holy lands

It was a completely different flying experience this time, it was full of worshiping and remembrance of Allah.

"Subhanallazi saqoro lana haazaa wamaa kunnaa lahuu mukrinin wa inna illa robbina lamun qolibuun," echoed a soft voice reciting the supplication for protecting the journey before taking off,  probably the pilot.

When it was time for prayer, the azan was called out by the muazzin, summoning for the worshipers to perform their prayer. It was broadcast over speakers of the flight cabin. Followed by a tazkirah ~ a piece of  advice~ issued across the vast flight cabin by a visiting Ustaz. This reminded me of my Hajj back in 2010. Check out my experience back then, HERE.

Only, I humbly request this charted flight to kindly provide a prayer room in the cabin as provided by Saudi Airlines. Check out my experience using the prayer room in Saudi Airlines, HERE.

Rice with meat for lunch

MAS normally serve a selection of hot food for lunch, but on this flight, they had run out of chicken as I requested with the exception of meat. I have to admit I can understand why. Nothing particularly unusual about the food, the quality was just OK. I had nasi lemak for breakfast but I think I like the nasi lemak at my workplace cafeteria better.

Rice with chicken for lunch

What are  the cool stories to tell to my readers? Every journey has its own story to tell, I found out that each of this story is unique although I have visited the same place repeatedly. (FYI, including this, I have been to the holy lands for 5 times).

My family and I recent visit to the holy lands was in winter 2019, it was at the end of January to early February. Of course the cold weather was a challenge to us. Our nephew who just came back form his pilgrimage told us that the weather there was very cold and windy. "You can't bear with the freezing and windy weather without winter jackets, socks, gloves and shoes," he warned us showing his pictures covered with winter clothing which he took three days ago in Medina.

I understand his feeling because I had experienced the coldness of winter in Medina during my visit in 2010.  It was very cold especially at night and before dawn. Check out my experience there, HERE.

The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Medina

Although I have made a careful preparation, I left my winter jacket in my wardrobe at home. Woe is me! Winters in Medina can be freezing. I was worried sick that I couldn't withstand the cold. Oh, my! What should I do, if the weather is under temperature?

Regrettably, I decided to throw my money away on a new winter jacket once I got there.

But luckily, when we landed in Medina, we found out that the weather there was SO NICE. Praise to Allah. We didn't have to wear the winter jacket. And it was such a relief that I'd never felt more grateful.

We landed in Medina International Airport at 4.00 pm (Medina time). This was my second time landed in this airport. Before this I had landed in Jeddah many times, either headed straight to Mecca or Medina after that.  I was so happy that I was in Medina again.

Medina is considered the second most holiest place in Islam after Mecca.

Although I realized that my sons were holding the handbooks of how to perform the umrah, I kept reminding them what to do.

"When you first see the city of Medina, raise your hands in doa," I reminded them as we were landing.

"There are only two places in the world that Dajjal will be unable to enter, and that places are Medina and Mecca," I told them.

The pilgrims at the baggage claim in Medina airport

A bus was waiting as we disembarked and drove us to our hotel. The ride from the airport to the hotel took half an hour.

The most excited person was my youngest son. It was his first travel to Medina. He kept staring out of the window watching the scenery throughout the journey.

"Subhanallah, this is such a beautiful sight," he cited several times.


Saja Al Madinah Hotel


We were given Saja Al Madinah Hotel which is located behind the Movenpick Hotel which I used to stay during my umrah in 2017.  This hotel is also located close to Masjid Al Nabawi and the entrance is gate #15. So we didn't have to walk much. The hotel is a shopaholic's paradise as the hotel is connected to supermarkets, shops and close to all the others.

To be connected with family and friends in Malaysia, the pilgrims could get prepaid SIM cards from service provider STC (Saudi Telecommunications Company) at kiosks within the hotel by just producing their identification tags.

But my family decided not to take the offer as we would be together all the times. We just used the Whatsapps to stay connected with our family and friends back home.


Out room at Saja Al- Madinah Hotel. We have three beds for two people.

The bathroom in Saja Al-Madinah Hotel

We had spacious rooms for two equipped with amenities that we needed.

What did we do once we got into these comfortable-decent hotel rooms? Resting? Sleeping? Shopping? Went to the Mosque?  Do follow my travel in my next entry.


...to be continued

Rabu, 12 Jun 2019

Umrah 2019 (Bhg. 2) | Ziarah Madinah Musim Sejuk


Setelah check in hotel, kami tak sabar-sabar hendak ke Masjid Nabawi, kamipun bersiap-siap  lalu berjalan kaki ke Masjid. Yang lelaki ke bahagian lelaki. Saya bersama kakak saya solat di ruangan wanita. Pada masa itu sudah pukul 10 malam, kami solat di luar sahaja iaitu di bawah payung/khemah. Di situ terdapat karpet terbentang dengan banyak. Nampaknya pekerja-pekerja di situ sudah mula menggulung karpet, ini bermakna tempat itu akan ditutup. Tidak ramai jemaah wanita yang ada di situ  kerana hari sudah malam.

Luar kawasan Masjid Nabawi pada waktu malam musim sejuk

Kami nampak banyak cengkerik hitam di situ.  Belalang juga banyak. Ada yang sudah penyek, mati terpijak. Ada yang merayap-rayap di lantai. Ada yang memanjat badan jemaah yang sedang solat di kawasan luar masjid. Tetapi tidaklah sampai menggigit mereka.



Belalang di Masjid Nabawi


Sebagaimana kebiasaannya kami menziarahi makam Rasulullah S.A.W. Memberi salam kepada baginda S.A.W. dan sahabat-sahabatnya menjadi kemestian. 


Makam Rasulullah S.A.W. dari luar


Jemaah berjalan menuju ke makam Rasulullah S.A.W


Pagar ke makam Rasulullah S.A.W



Jumaat di Madinah


Istimewanya kunjungan kami kali ini jatuh pada hari Jumaat dan dapatlah kami solat Jumaat di Masjid Nabawi. 



Jemaah wanita di dalam Masjid Nabawi

Jemaah menunggu solat Jumaat di dalam Masjid Nabawi

Pagi itu saya membawa anak-anak saya ke perkuburan Baqi iaitu tempat persemadian keluarga dan sahabat-sahabat Rasulullah S.A.W. Letaknya bersebelahan dengan Masjid Nabawi. Perkuburan itu dipagari dengan tembok tinggi dan hanya kaum lelaki sahaja yang dibenarkan masuk. Oleh kerana anak-anak saya semuanya lelaki, mereka semua dapat masuk ke dalam kawasan perkuburan itu, saya dan kakak saya menunggu mereka di luar sahaja.

Perkuburan Baqi' tempat persemadian keluarga dan sahabat Rasulullah S.A.W




Ke Raudah


Bezanya pada kali ini, orang terlalu ramai. Untuk ke Raudah memerlukan kesabaran kerana ruang untuk wanita adalah terhad. Menanti giliran untuk masuk ke Raudah juga lama, sekurang-kurangnya perlukan masa sejam-dua untuk menunggu. Saya masuk ke Raudah bersama dengan kumpulan jemaah wanita TH Travel yang dipimpin oleh seorang mutawiffah. Lama juga kami menunggu giliran untuk masuk ke Raudah.

Apabila tiba masanya, kami pun dibenarkan masuk ke Raudah. Kami bergilir-gilir solat sunat dua rakaat di atas permaidani hijau yang menjadi tanda kawasan Raudah. Apabila semua jemaah kami selesai solat di situ kami pun disuruh keluar. Semasa itu saya dan kakak saya berdiri dan bersandar pada sebuah tiang di Raudah sambil berdoa. Kami tidak keluar bersama-sama mereka, kami terus berada di situ. Polis wanita yang berada di situ membiarkan sahaja saya dan kakak saya di situ, malahan dia menepuk-nepuk bahu saya supaya berada di situ selama mana yang saya suka. Setelah puas beribadat di situ, barulah saya dan kakak saya keluar.


"Bak sini kamera tu," kata pegawai polis di Raudhah kepada anak saya

Untuk mengetahui dengan lebih lanjut tentang cara-cara untuk ke Raudah sila baca entri berikut:

Umrah 2017 | Panduan ke Raudah

Membeli-belah dan Ziarah di Madinah


Oleh kerana kami datang sekeluarga, ke mana-mana kami mesti bersama-sama. Apabila pulang dari masjid kami singgah di kedai-kedai membeli-belah. Barang yang dibeli ialah jubah, shawl, baju, kurta, seluar, tasbih, sejadah, buah kurma dan cokolat.  Barang-barang yang dibeli itu ada untuk diri sendiri, ada yang dihadiah kepada saudara-mara dan ada yang diberikan kepada jemaah umrah.


Anak sulung saya memberi makan kurma di luar Masjid Nabawi kepada jemaah yang lalu lalang

Laluan ke hotel kami ada kedai ais krim, kami suka makan ais krim itu. Tak perlu tunggu makan di dalam bilik. Duduk di atas bangku yang ada di tepi jalan, kami makan ais krim itu sambil lihat jemaah lalu lalang.


Kami sekeluarga makan ais krim di atas bangku di tepi jalan Madinah

Pada hari Sabtu, TH Travel membawa kami menaiki bas ke Masjid Quba untuk melakukan solat sunat sebagaimana yang dilakukan oleh Rasulullah S.A.W. Ganjarannya bagi sesiapa yang memelihara wudhu dari tempat kediamannya dan mengerjakan solat sunat dua rakaat di Masjid Quba, akan mendapat pahala satu umrah.

Tapi malang bagi saya kerana wudhu saya terbatal sebaik-baik sahaja sampai di perkarangan masjid itu. Saya lalu ke bilik air dan mengambil wudhu sekali lagi lalu solat. Oleh kerana itu saya telah terlambat sehingga jemaah lain terpaksa menunggu saya.

Jemaah solat sunat di dalam Masjid Quba pada waktu pagi

Pada keesokan harinya, suami saya membawa saya ke Masjid Quba sekali lagi. Tapi kali ini kami menaiki teksi ke situ dan meminta pemandu teksi itu menunggu kami sehingga kami selesai solat. Syukur, kali ini wudhu saya tidak terbatal sehingga selesai solat.

Selain daripada itu, kami dibawa TH Travel menziarahi Bukit Uhud, Masjid Qiblatain dan ke pasar kurma. 


Membeli-belah di pasar kurma

Keluarga saya menyaksikan kesan sejarah perang Uhud

Baca entri saya yang lepas tentang ziarah saya di Madinah:

Backpack ke Madinah dan Mekah (Bhg 2): Apa Ada Di Madinah?



Hujan Lebat yang Lama 


Setelah tiga hari berada di Madinah kami pun ke Mekah mengerjakan umrah. Tetapi pagi itu sebelum kami berangkat, hujan turun dengan lebatnya. Hujan turun agak lama, lebih kurang 4 jam. Kota Madinah dibanjiri hujan. Inilah pertama kali saya mengalami hujan lebat yang lama di tanah suci. Menurut peniaga-peniaga di Madinah, hujan begini sudah  bertahun-tahun lamanya tidak berlaku.

Hujan lebat di Madinah



Ku Lihat Hijau


Semua jemaah memakai pakaian ihram dan memasang niat apabila tiba di miqat Bir Ali. Bas tidak berhenti di Bir Ali, kami cuma melafaz niat ihram dan bertalbiah di atas bas sahaja.  13 pantang-larang ihram perlu dijaga ketika ini supaya tidak dikenakan dam.

Perjalanan dari Madinah ke Mekah kali ini menarik kerana tidak pernah saya melihat pokok-pokok hijau dan sungai mengalir dengan banyak di sana. Kali ini tanah suci ini kelihatan hijau.

Sungai mengalir dan tumbuhan hijau kelihatan dalam perjalanan di antara Madinah dan Mekah

Air bertakung dan tanah basah


Berhenti Rehat di Perjalanan



Perjalanan ke Mekah memakan masa lebih kurang 6 jam. Kami dijangka akan sampai pada pukul 8.30 malam.

Bas berhenti dua kali untuk jemaah membuang air, minum dan solat.  Kami duduk minum teh dan cucur bawang Arab di salah sebuah tempat rehat. Oleh kerana terdapat 13 buah bas yang dibawa oleh TH Travel, maka tempat rehat itu segera dipenuhi orang. Maka untuk ke tandas perlu beratur panjang.

Air bertakung di atas tanah di kawasan rehat 

Berhenti makan cucur.



Sebagaimana yang dijangkakan, kami sampai ke Mekah pada pukul 8.30 malam. Apakah yang berlaku di Mekah?  Nantikan sambungannya dalam entri akan datang.

...bersambung
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