Climbing To Spiritual Heights
I have recently returned from an incredible trip away with Ebrahim College to visit Makkah and Madina. We performed Umrah, visited the holy sites in both cities and undertook the Makkah Twin Peaks Challenge to raise funds for the college. Here I’ll share with you some of the many memorable experiences from the trip.
Shortly after arriving in Makkah, I quickly noticed the diversity of people there. Throughout the trip I met people from all over the world including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Turkey, Libya, Egypt, U.S, Somalia, the Indian Sub-continent and fellow Brits. As a revert, I find it amazing that the Muslim community consists of people of all nationalities, cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Furthermore there are many Muslims in regions, such as the Far East, who you would not initially associate with Islam and who are many miles away from where the religion first emerged.
Later that day, after sunset, I completed my Umrah and had my first ever full sight of the Ka’bah. I was excited and nervous as we entered the mosque to approach the Ka’bah and perform Tawaf (circuits around the Ka’bah). I had to resist the urge to look up at the Ka’bah before we had got near enough to have a full, clear view. On actually seeing the Ka’bah for the first time I was not as taken aback as I thought I might be. One brother in the group burst into tears and others around me were emotional and deep in supplication (Dua). After the initial look and taking in the sight, I gathered my thoughts and made my own prayers to Allah (SWT).
I started to reap the spiritual benefits as I spent more time in Makkah. The call to prayer (Adhaan) was amazing and it was a great feeling walking to the mosque from my hotel with the call of ‘come to prayer, come to success’ ringing out around me. I enjoyed spending time on the mosque rooftop watching people perform Tawaf with the Adhan proclaiming ‘God is the Greatest’. I began to get a deeper connection with the Ka’bah as I performed further optional acts of Tawaf. The crowds and the hustle and bustle of Makkah had been annoying me slightly, if I’m honest. I was soon given a touching reminder when I saw a disabled child in a wheelchair being pushed around the Ka’bah, making me quickly realise how little I actually have to complain about.
A few days into the trip the group undertook the Makkah Twin Peaks Challenge; climbing both Mount Noor and Mount Thawr. The former containing the Cave of Hira in which the Qu’ran was first revealed to the Prophet (SAW) and the latter where the Prophet (SAW) and his companion Abu Bakr (RA) hid whilst travelling from Makkah to Madina. Although I myself was not raising money for Ebrahim College, I was given the opportunity to join in the climb with those who were (may Allah SWT reward them).
I found the climbs hard work, but not as strenuous as I thought, bearing in mind the heat. We had some great views of the surrounding areas; I was surprised how mountainous the region is and enjoyed reflecting on the life of the Prophet (SAW) as I literally traced his footsteps. At the top of Mount Noor, I saw the Cave of Hira itself and we also sang a nasheed before making the much easier climb down. It took longer to climb Mount Thawr and when everyone had made it to the top we took some group photos and prayed Dhuhr prayer in congregation.
Soon we were off to Madina, a much calmer place than Makkah. Here we prayed in the Prophet’s mosque and could visit the grave of the Prophet (SAW) and those of Abu Bakr (RA) and Umar (RA) laid next to him (SAW). On my first visit to the graves, similar to my experience with first seeing the Ka’bah, I was not as touched as I hoped I would be. Nevertheless as I paid more visits and continued to reflect on the brilliant Seerah course we studied throughout the trip, I began to fully acknowledge the great work and achievements of the Prophet (SAW) and his companions (RA) as well as the hardships they experienced and the sacrifices they made enabling me to have the pleasure of living today as a Muslim.
I would like to thank all those at Ebrahim College involved in organising and facilitating the trip; may Allah reward you all abundantly. It was an experience I will never forget, a true favour from Him (SWT).
By: Chris Groves