The drive was 8 hours. We left at 6:30 am, half an hour later than promised. The drive was beautiful, our fellow travellers had packed us cake, sandwiches and toasted cheese. We did stop for nasi lemak at a 10 riyal an hour room. No, they didn't sell Nasi Lemak there silly! We packed our own and ate it there, behind the petrol station in the middle of no where. At least the toilet was marginally clean.
We arrived just before Asar. I realized its been two years since I was here last. Because it was the weekend, finding parking was difficult. I had to forgo Asar prayer at Masjidil Nabawi because I needed to change my clothes.
If I had forgotten, the little one somehow made me remember that life is somewhat a little different when I travel with her. For example, mummy should have remembered to change her diapers when we were at the pit stop. Yes I was a bad mummy and I did forget to change. As a result her nappy leaked. All over her and all over me. And when travelling with a child, its an infinite number of extra clothes you need to bring, not just for her but for you too! Luckily I had brought a spare Abaya. The other clothes I brought were meant to be worn under an abaya! Not suitable for err public places.
Thank God for understanding and helpful travel companions. At least one lady who had her red flag could babysit the Little One for Magrib and Isyak. Perhaps I should have brought her to the masjid. But she does get quite alarmed and cries. Me, getting distracted is one thing but I didn't want other people to be distracted too. Perhaps next time Insyallah.
The next morning I arranged with another lady to go to Rawdah. They are open to women from 7 to 10 am. 3 hours for the ladies. At the door, ladyguards checked our bags for contraband. The lady in front of me was frisked. Phones must be turned off and no camera phones allowed. We followed the crowd towards Rawdah.
The last time I was there, it was a weekday and there were a lot less people. Today however, there was a blanket of black. Partly because the umrah visas have not been issued yet and partly because its Friday morning. The local crowd is around.
Making one's way to the front is a tricky task. Women are everywhere, at every available space. Some reading the Quran, some praying, some kneeling and some standing. Others like us, just finding space to solat. Even that is no easy task. There were women walking past you, walking on top of you and some pushing past you. Well what do you expect? Everyone want to go to paradise, don't they? Or at least the ladies who were there wanted that. Including me.
We found a spot to perform the tahyatul masjid. The crowd in front seems to be going home but more are coming. I decided to make my way to the front. With Bismillah, lots of patience and guts to step over people and squeezing into whatever small space available to move forward I got there.
Mother-In-Law had told me where the posts that marked Rawdah was when we came two years earlier. In my ignorance then, I didn't understand why she insist on moving forward to pray. Surely Allah can hear us praying both from the front to the back of the Masjid and even anywhere for that matter? But she explained that since we wanted to pray in Rawdah then in Rawdah we should be.
After much waiting, I was there at the posts. There was no room to kneel or to sit. Standing room only. And all I could do was to start my du'a. It was emotional for me. Don't ask me why but it was. Perhaps how hard it was to get there was one of the factors.
Then I heard a voice calling, "Siti Rahmah! Siti Rahmah!"
Surely it isn't me.
I looked to the right. One of the lady guards was trying to tell me that there was room for me to perform my solat! I moved a little to the right. And she put me in position. Without much thinking, I plonked my bag down and started praying.
Finally there was space for me! Now looking back I would think of 10 other solats I could have done! But even with the tiny space concentration was difficult. The moving around. The pushing around. The story of my life really! I should have planned this much better! I should have concentrated more on what I was doing instead of getting side tracked by my surrounding. Instead the "considerate" old me decided not to hog the space and move on to the oppurtunity to someone else, with hope that I would have the chance to pray there again in the future. Perhaps many more times in the future. Or better still, claim my own permanent spot in eternity in the Jannah.
Walking away was more difficult than getting in because people are starting to stream in again. I bid my farewell to the Prophet.
After breakfast it was a mad rush to drive back. We had a hard time getting to a gas station because they were all closed in preparation for the Friday prayers. What we forgot was that every single person (we think) working there were Muslim, unlike over here in the capital where there are non Muslims who man the pumps up to the point of prayer call. In Madinah, they have all gone home to take their shower and wear their Friday best to the Masjid.
Goodbye Madinah, till next time Insyallah.