Umroh: Balancing Both Relations
Most of my travels are impromptu, or at least only one month for preparation. Unlike this one where I actually planned for a while. Unlike my other travel plans, where people often ask questions starting mostly with ‘what?’, this one travel of mine, people were asking ‘why?’ Yes people, I went to Saudi Arabia for Umrah.
Hundred reasons you can find to go Umrah, but mine is yet simple, to make my Mom happy. And I’m sure that the general rule is if we want to do something for our parents, we don’t want to miss a chance since no one know what if tomorrow never comes. Yet, I do consider this ‘why?’ question is important. Thus, you might want to start the list of your reasoning right now.
Prior to my depart, I tried to make myself ready, and I am glad that I did this. I realize that this trip is more of a trip for my soul, believes, and any other invisible aspects. I did avoid things and even make abstinence of things that might be a bit naughty, and did things that can feed my soul more.
Luckily, Ijul recommends book by a Persian sociologist Dr. Ali Shariati titled ‘Makna Haji’ or ‘the Pilgrimage’, where it led me to comprehensive understanding on each and every step of my ‘small’ pilgrimage. The book told me more than just a pray to recite. It give me interpretation, what to expect and not to expect, what are the stories and histories, what do each rituals and places represents, why we should do that, why Muhammad or Abraham did that, and many things that will make you ponder on your actual mission at that holy place.
Personally, I do not really like books that stated God would grant your wish if you pray at this and that spot. In addition, I do not really enjoy books with many Arabian quotations and direct translation, but no analysis or further information of what actually written behind those lines. Thus, I found this little book is quite perfect and I do recommend it. Nevertheless, respecting the diverse perspectives of Islam, I think you must aware of Shariati’s path just in case it does not match yours. Just google Ali Shariati and you will find many. You can also click here for the English online version of the book.
Another thing, from what I read in many references, prior to going Umroh or Hajj, one needs to prepare for worst-case scenario, including prepare to die. One should consider that the trip would be the last destination. Well this is based on the early days of Hajj or Umroh back then, where it took months just to get to Mecca due to the lack of transportations and everything. Thus logically, the risks were indeed major. In order to prepare this, many advised to make apology to people and even make a list of inheritance. Somehow, I deliberately did this, especially the latter.
My list is not much of major huge and tangible assets as what it supposed to be, but it is indeed my utmost precious things with stories. Those include the complete collection of Conan the Detective, which its first 40 series I bought with my early salary of teaching mathematics to high school kids for Rp. 120.000,- per months! I remember bought it in Palasari with Tata and Noka, and it was raining and my jacket was used to cover the comics instead of myself 😛 Then my piles of necklaces, where I get from all of my and my friends travels. Blimey, each has its stories 🙂
Well, I think the basic intention of making this list of inheritance is just simply to be grateful. No, I am way far from having houses and cars, mind you. Still, thinking that I had gone this far, do make me feel really grateful and it indeed ease my mood and make me even more excited of going Umroh.
The First Experience
I had my Miqot (a vow to do Umrah) in the airplane when the plane is entering the Mecca area. Thus, the first thing that I did after arriving at 2 AM in the morning was going straight to Masjidil Haram, and seeing the Kabah with my very eyes.
When I first see the Kabah, I still used my brain and logic. I kind of considered that Kabah and the surrounding space for people to do the tawaf are very small. I do not know how it can accommodate millions of people during the Hajj season. I amazed with the size of the mosque, its super grand. All of the lamps has make no difference between night and day time. Another thing is unlike the usual mosque, the direction for praying is round thus everywhere I will see people praying heading to Kabah. Everywhere I looked around, there were people, man, woman, all ages, diverse origins, yet they do the same thing. All is a new wonder for me.
I started the tawaf by greeting the Hajar Aswad, representation of a mother of Ismail in one of the corners of the cube. Then I started my first round, chanting my own prayer to God and just talk and talk to God. Referring to the leader of my umrah travel, they actually said only few prayers (in Arabic language) is an obligation. Other than that, we can just say whatever to praise to God. Therefore, I often use the prayers that I know of, or just talk to God, instead of reading books of Arabic language or new prayers. This has made me get swayed and I forgot when, not even the second round I guess, I started to sob then burst in tears.
Everything just feels so amazing and magical. It’s amazing that I can be there, it’s amazing that I can be there with my Mom, it’s amazing that I can take my Mom there, it’s amazing that I can be with these people, it’s amazing that I now see Kabah with my eyes, where I usually see it only in the rug for my daily prayers, it’s amazing that I can walk through the path where the previous prominent leaders used to do so, and other many amazing things. The feeling was actually indescribable, it is even is indescribable until now. To know one you just have to experience one (wink).
So, there I was, in the largest mosque in the world, center of prayers for all Moslem in the world. The obligatory steps that you should do for umrah is actually lasted only in three to four hours. So on the rest of the days, that were four days in Mecca, I did the tawaf sunnah (optional, not obligatory), read the Quran, doing the daily prayers in the mosque, and just sitting and reflecting in the mighty Masjidil Haram. At each and every time, I always find new enlightenment.
There was moment where I can only thank to God, there was moment where I think I found a lot of good verses in the Quran, there was moment where I just felt that I beg for apology to God, and many more of those mixed feelings. And of course, there were many moments where I amaze with all of the people in the mosque and how grand the mosque is. Aside from my own feeling, I might not recall any magical things that I can share. Its just that somehow I feel everything is easy for me, I feel calm, happy, and anything that just cannot make me stop smiling.
To conclude my writings, I would suggest you to try the trip. Get your own reasoning, get your own mission, get your own reference, and get your own Umrah leaders. Anything, but just try to go. Umroh (or Hajj) is representing both how to manage your horizontal and vertical relationship. It is not to solely make you blindfold just to worship God with no questions and in the other hand it is not purely asking you to do only rituals without reflecting it to God. It is the art of balancing both, something that we might often forgot how to.