Friday, September 9, 2011

The best places to be in the World; if best place matters!

Finally, we have got our bags loaded up into the Umra bus and started our journey to Mecca via Medina on Ramadan 18th at around 11:30 a.m Qatar local time. As a traveler, to have mixed perceptions and anticipations on almost two weeks long journey to a new discovery is a common phenomena but, one aim was the real denominator of our journey___ glorifying the oneness (monotheism) of Allaah (S.W.T) and seeking His forgiveness for our sins.

Our trip started with a joyful atmosphere, but adventurous tribulations were also timeless actors that add a real flavor to the test of our mission. For example, it is too easy to get to the border between Qatar and K.S.A roughly one hour drive, but to leave from it soon is one of your miscalculated figures, this is because, you are subjected to an intense scrutiny exposure by the Saudi border security guards. In addition to the document verifications, your finger prints are collected, eyes scanned and your personal possessions are sniffed by police dogs for security reasons__ this hassle took us around 10 long hours. We pursued our trip to Medina after the check-in time, snaked through the main Arabian sand desert for roughly 16 long hours we’ve got to Medina.

Here is the holy city of Medina, the local time is around 3 pm, the city is quite seclude, no more traffic whizzing around, pollution or any other kind of disturbances. Very high thick mountainous landscape seems to be naturally fenced in one/two side(s) of the city; some of the roads are nicknamed with the names of the companions of the prophet (s.a.w). The people of the city (I do not know a concurrent attribute to tell), but the best of mankind on earth, soft-hearted and very helpful by nature. We reached to Quba mosque in the heart of Medina, where we have offered two raga’as of sunah-prayers and performed obligatory Asir prayers along with a huge congregation from different parts of the world. As per the pearls of our prophet (s.a.w); “whoever purifies himself in his house, then comes to the mosque of Quba and prays there, he will have the reward of ‘Umra’” Narated by Ibn Maajah. All our trip tiredness and repercussions were in fact soothed after these prayers.

After Quba mosque, we were guided to our hotel at the brink of the holy mosque of our prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). After short refreshments, there was a moment which none of us could wait__ to pay a visit to the holy mosque of the prophet (s.a.w). When you step into the mosque__ the mosque is absolutely thrilling, expressly depicting about its uniqueness, either the kind of the history that buries beneath the walls of the mosque or the architectural quality as well. By the grace of Allaah (S.W.T) we have offered isha prayers in the mosque at that night, and in the subsequent day we paid a visit to the graves of the prophet in the mosque compound along with two of the khalifas (Abu Baker Sidique and Omer Bin Khatab r.a), the real sculpture of the mosque (known as rawdat al-janah) of the prophet (s.a.w) within which you should offer two rag’as of sunah prayers is just adjacent to the graves of the prophet (s.a.w) and the two other khalifas (r.a), exactly where the house of Aisha (one of the wives of the prophet (s.a.w) was. Many more of his Sahabas “companions of the prophet s.a.w” are in a much bigger cemetery (known as bagi’e) beside the mosque, like Osman Bin Afan (r.a). being beside these graves you would find yourself emotionally covered by the immense feeling of not the image of the graves but the contents of the graves. You could see some of the visitors are struggling to suppress their tears from running down on their cheeks. At the main entrance of the cemetery there was an elderly Islamic-scholar on a peek of a short wall briefly guiding the visitors the Islamic way to pay a visit to a Muslim graves and the kind of intercessory-payers (du’a) should be recited over__ preventing the Muslim visitors from committing to any kind of shirk (polytheism), as some misguided Muslim brothers seek blessings from graves of the good people.

After the isha-prayers of the next day, we got into our buses again to continue to our trip to Mecca (the holy city where umra had to be duly performed). Before getting to Makah ‘niyat’ (intention) is a prerequisite for umra performance from specified locations (known as meqat) in different directions of Mecca, but ours was at the outskirts of medina. At ‘meqat’ too many shower-booths are readily made available to the people on Umra (mu’tamirin in Arabic), where they would clean and purify their whole bodies like cutting finger-nails, removing unwanted hairs and performing ablutions. Everyone would come out wearing only a pair of soft white sheets, called as Ihram-clothing. At this moment everyone is set to be 100% pure. The top sheet is draped over the torso and the bottom is secured by a large white-belt; plus a pair of sandals made with no threads. Women can wear any cloth but within the boundaries of Hijjab. This is to show that everyone (regardless, scholar, king, president… just name it) is equal in the sight of Allaah (S.W.T). A small window for fatwa (Islamic advisory opinion) is also in the middle of these shower-booth-compartments from which you could seek a complete guidance and expel all your doubts on to the best possible ways you would get your umra-mission done.


Now, heading to the holy city of Mecca, roughly 350 km away from Medina; it is a nighttime where your vision to observe things fades-away without your control except the dazzling busy highways between the two cities. In the early morning we reached to the city check point, where the traffic would flow in two different routs “one to the city at large and the other to the Haram-mosque” shown in a pig sign-boards over the check-point. Taking ours is to the hotel in the Haram boundaries, where we would secure our rooms and of course unload our possessions. Here no refreshment like shower had to be done, because it’s already been done at the ‘Meqat’ (the intention place). We have taken special bulk jam-packed buses designated only for Hajj and Umra with bus-tickets provided by our agency.

Mecca is a city naturally trapped in extremely high rocky Mountains. The buses for the Haram would go through very long tunnels some of the longest tunnels I have ever seen. Stepping into the Haram compound, everyone he/she is inside out, humble and voiceless mood, fully covered by the almightiness of Allaah (S.W.T) and His signs in this holy place. Your first sight at Ka’ba (the black stone) is absolutely amazing, catching and bringing all your senses to a point which I cannot express in words. Some of the people would purse into tears, some suppress and physically changed. Coming down to the Ka’ba we would start the circumambulations (dawaf in Arabic) which count seven uninterrupted rounds. Each round starts from the right angle of the Ka’ab and counts as one as you reach to your starting angle. During the circumambulations you would recite some supplications (du’aas) applicable within specific areas you’re moving and for your own in others. What is remarkable here is that circumambulations are going on 24/7, 365 days of the year without a single stopping__ except the obligatory prayers where all the people in the procession would be stopped by the mosque security personals to offer the five obligatory prayers. Your umra performance would be sealed with shaving or shortening your head-hair as per the umra-principles after dawaf, the journeys between Safa & Marwa (400 yards apart) etc, and from now on you are permissible (halaal). Offering prayers for the dead Muslim brothers and sisters (a form of intercession) is common for both the Harams in Mecca and Medina after every prayer, which would take you so close to hereafter and that everyone is indeed mortal. On the other hand, praying behind the famous Imams (leaders) of the two Haram-mosques like (sheikh Hudhaifi, Shuraim and Sudaisi) would mean like one of your weirdest dreams ever came true.

What is funny about Mecca is that, as the city is cosmopolitan__ your name doesn’t bother at all simply because you are called as Muhammad (name of the prophet s.a.w) as no one has the patience or time to ask about your name what so ever. Food and soft dirks are mainly served takeaways as millions would flood into the nearby restaurants and cafeterias, but would you feel more comfortably to have your meal? To answer takes a time. Apart from street food and beverages, zamzam-water and the unique dates of Mecca is made available in almost every corner in the Haram-mosque by the government, inhabitants and the mu’tamirin. I do not know much about the miracles in zamzam-water, but what I have personally witness about this holy water is that__ the more you take the more you would never feel like to urinate, heavy or full up what so ever. You would never know where this water gone in your body and why you need to take more and more always. I really convinced myself that this is a kind of the water’s hidden miracles. One of my friends once joked; if this water would cause us to urinate, where would these millions go for toilets “is this one of the hidden miracles?” I do not know.

As the matter of fact, the unforgettable tales in these two holy cities is far beyond something which could be contained within a single discourse, but good enough to make a serial or a book. What took me to frame about what we have seen in these holy cities is not only to address about the amazing facts there in them, but also to encourage my Muslim brothers and sisters worldwide to make their first trip out of their world to these cities and perform either umrah or hajj as they have the means, and those who do not have the means to achieve ends should at least intend to go once before their death.

May Allaah (S.W.T) accept all our heartily prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, shower His mercy unto us all and secure a place for us and Muslims at large in the apex of His heavens.

Aamiin, aamiin, aamiin.

Khadar A. Hanan

E mail:

Doha, Qatar

20 years on; Somaliland vows secession is irreversible

The upward hands for hope to have the Holy Grail (recognition) and prosperity are still firm, tireless and relentless. The child that was born with the birth of this young country is no longer an infant, toddler or even in his/her adolescence, but a democracy-fed mature, yet strong enough to vote or express his/her rights freely without coercion. What the world cannot understand is that more than 70% of the roughly 3.5 million strong population of the country are below 40s and today, the above mentioned child is recruited into the different institutions of the government to run with some sort of responsibility. This transformed child will undoubtedly never bow to any externally orchestrated proposals on possible remarriage between the so-called former greater Somalia. 
This is what makes me surprise whenever I hear or see people stressing on non statistical based possibility to have Somalia back together, even if the principle could be correct, their means and approaches to this issue is absolutely expired, off the trail and not coinciding with the status quo. Furthermore, the more years we pass; the greater is how Somaliland would become much stronger and fanatic to what it has decided 20 years back. Every ceremony commemorated on the eve of the national re-affirmation day of Somaliland would add to the value of the nationalistic behavior and mend firmer the people of Somaliland in and around the world.
This is the reality missing from the world at large. One might argue that Somali people share common values, norms, culture, religion and language etc. therefore what binds them together is much greater than what can take them a part! What we are ignoring is that this is common for many countries’ people across the world like gulf Arabian countries, they share what Somali people share but they live, rule and prosper apart. The world is even failing to learn from the ongoing revolutionary waves which have recently engulfed several mega Arabian countries of all time that nothing could be dictated against the will of the people.
As the world witnessed, despite meager resources and the lower literacy levels of the voters__ Somaliland has single handedly held several free and fair elections. Free and fair elections, not according to my personal assessment, but as per the official report of the international election observers, in addition to the report of the National Electoral Commission (SNEC). 

According to the UNDP Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report 2010, Somaliland became 144th country in the political rights and civil liberties out of 208 countries (193 recognized and 15 yet to be recognized countries) , which means that Somaliland has more political rights and civil liberties respect than 64 countries.

Contrary to the widespread deem of that ‘Islam cannot get along with the democracy’; Somaliland is the melting pot of the African tradition, Islamic faith, and the modern democracy. Says the report.
My mission is not to address the success of this young people wading had through the oceanic global dirty political waves based on interest, nepotism and favoritism to spot a place in the world for their home country, but how the world is getting more deviancy about realizing facts there before them. This is what swirling in the stomach of every sensible person who advocates the rights to live in freedom, peace, equality and democracy. These young, hopeful people have promised themselves that nothing could disturb the piece in their mind and not to turn around until the moon shines a head of them (tapping the long awaited full-fledged recognition from the international community).
On May 18th 2011__ Somaliland people in and around the world where in a jubilant and festive mood marking the 20th anniversary of their country. Several demonstrations in solidarity with people of Somaliland and their demand for a full recognition where held in some countries of Europe and North America, the first of its type in the history. Mr. Muhammoud (Silanyo) in his first historic speech as president on the eve of the national day praised his people as a new African democracy blossomed into a beauty and pledged that Somaliland would stay the course and the decision taken 20 years back is absolutely irreversible.
I said this before, but let me repeat it again__ any global vision for mega Somalia is absolutely opaque and like putting humpty dumpty back together. The world must put the right shoes on the right foot and recognize the new democracy emerged from the tiny country in the horn of Africa, as this would never-ever open the Pandora’s Box in the world but instead might bring a lasting solution to the problems of the east African region.

By: Khadar A. Hanan

Doha, Qatar