Islam, February 1996
RAMADHAN IN MECCA AL-MUKARRAMAH
I Praise Allah for the opportunity to be in Hijaz, in Mecca al-Mukarramah and in Medina al-Munawwarah during this Ramadhan. It is much more enjoyable, fruitful and rewarding here than in other places of the world.
This year many Muslims from Turkey have come here; it is almost impossible not to run into a familiar face, a friend. Here, I am with many brothers that we had no opportunity to meet while in Turkey despite our strong desire to be together.
Alhamdulillah, there is a great desire among Muslims to come to the Haramayn. I have been told that close to 350 Muslims came from just one town in Turkey. I am sure that other towns, too, sent pilgrims in great numbers.
Our people are quite religious, devout, harmonious and accommodating; despite the lack of a working second language, they establish sincere relationships with other Muslims around in no time. They get closer to one another and make room for others. They have no stubbornness, anger or contradiction; they have good manners and sense of brotherhood.
The morning prayer is performed about 15 minutes after the sahoor; at normal times it is performed much later. The Masjid Al-Haram gets full even during the noon and afternoon prayers; the latecomers have a hard time to find space for the prayer.
Following the afternoon prayer, plastic table sheets are spread on the floor in the Masjid for iftar; the poor and the rich sit side by side, find something to eat and drink plenty of Zamzam. They ease the tiredness of the fast with Arabic coffee and mint tea. To allow this to happen, the evening prayer is delayed for a short time. After the iftar and the prayer in congregation, some go back to their quarters and complete their dinner.
The night prayer is performed half an hour after its normal time slowly and with dignity -- no need to rush. Each night one-thirtieth of the Qur'an is recited. The weather is pleasant, adding to the undescrible joy of performing the prayer at the top floor of the Masjid Al-Haram under the stars. Some bring hot tea, coffee, and fruit juice to share after the night prayer.
The local people here do not sleep at night during Ramadhan. All of the streets are illuminated; shopping centers, crowded. Some enjoy the worship in night, some enjoy the the worldly pleasures outside. Of course the is no illegal entertainment, drinks, music or lyrics. Some even go to Arafat or Muzdalifa for picnic at night. It is very pleasing to see those places outside of the pilgrimage season, without the rush, and notice the trees and the greenery.
Of course, there is the tradition of i'tikaf for the last ten days of Ramadhan. It is a retreat to the mosque, spending days in remembrance, contemplation, voluntary prayers, recitation of Qur'an, and spiritual training and thus preparing for the hereafter. It is a tradition of Prophet Muhammad (Sunnah al -Kifayah), an order, a recommendation. Those who do it remove the responsibility from the others' shoulders.
Here, schools are closed for the last ten days of Ramadhan so that many college students practice i'tikaf in Masjid Al-Haram. What a pleasing scenery!
May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala forgive us during this blessed month. May he shower His mercy on us. May he bestow peace, health and happiness to all Muslims in the world. May he grant strength, forbearance, and victory to our mujahid brothers. With all due respect to His beloved Messenger and his family, amen!