We left Riyadh saturday afternoon towards Makkah.
The last time we had stopped at Taif which is the MEEQAT (place to wear ahram).
The female showers at Meeqat though at least 50 in number were in such terrible condition that instead of feeling clean and fresh I felt like I had waded through a swamp.
Clearly not wanting to repeat the experience I had decided I would bathe in Riyadh and when we got to Taif simply do wudhu and say the two Raka'hs of obligatory prayers.
Luckily this time we were told about the endless rows of hourly rate hotels that dotted the road, where one could shower after which it was 5 minutes to the appointed place.
It was drizzling and the temperature was 19 degrees up on Taif. It was just lovely. The hotel room with attached bath was clean and cost 15 Riyals (15 Dhs) for an hour.
We all bathed took some pictures to send to the children's respective grandparents and after our prayers moved towards Makkah.
According to the hotel Manager it was low season so the room we had paid 350 Riyals per night was now available for a 100 dirhams.
We parked the car ,deposited our luggage, and walked down to Haram Sharif. It was almost 2. am and upon the first sight of the Holy kaaba, which is breathtaking, all your worries everything just slips away like a cloak you shrug off.
The Tawaaf over, we moved to Safa - Marwa for Saee. I was sure my 4 year old would get exhausted as the length to cover between Safa - Marwa is quite long and has to be done 7 times. Funnily enough I got tired but the little one was just so full of energy.
There is a portion as you decend Safa where they have placed two green tubelights. You are required to run(men) or at least walk at a fast pace between these two lights.
Long ago about 5000 years ago, in a place called Ur in Iraq, a child was born whose name was Ibrahim. He was so gracious, tender-hearted and of pure in faith that Allah gave him wisdom when he was still a child. When he grew up, he became a great prophet.
When a beautiful son was born to his wife Hajara, he was ordered by Allah to travel towards Mecca along with his wife and the little child, whose name was Ismail. They all traveled for a long time till they reached a lonely, barren valley, near two small hills called Safa and Marwa. Ibrahim asked his wife to stay near one of the hills along with the little Ismail, and started to go away. But his wife protested "Why are you leaving us alone here? Are you leaving us here to die?" But Ibrahim replied, "My Lord has commanded me to do this." Then Hajara, breathing a sigh of relief, said: "If Allah has ordered you to do so, then He will not let us die."
After a while, baby Ismail began to cry for want of water. But there was not a single drop of water to drink. Hajara ran helplessly from one hill to another, but there was no water, nor any human being to give her water. As the baby was crying desperately with thirst and the mother was running from one mountain to another, Allah caused a miracle—a spring gushed forth beneath the feet of Ismail. When Hajara saw this from a distance, she shouted "Zam-zam (stay, stay!)." Hajara came running and gave some fresh spring water to the thirsty child to drink. And so his life was saved. This spring later on became famous as Zamzam.
She lay the baby at the foot of the Kaaba and would keep him in constant view so wild animals did not carry away the infant. There comes a point where her vision is obscured and it is at this point when she runs till she can see Ibrahim again. This is the significance of the two green tubelights marking out the place where she ran.
Undoubtedly many of you already know about these things. But for those who dont it is very interesting.
In front of the Kaaba, (the cube shaped building around which we perform our tawaaf -ie circumbulation- as part of the Umrah) is the "Station of Ibrahim" (maqaam-e - Ibrahim).
It is said that when the Kaaba was being built after the construction of the wall reached a certain level it was not possible to access it any further.(the height of the Holy Kaaba is 10 metres).
It was a miracle when the very slab of stone Ibrahim stood on would elevate and allow him to place more bricks and continue the construction.
That slab of stone complete with his footprints is placed in the Station of Ibrahim.
When we have finished circling the Kaaba and before we go perform Saee (Safa-Marwa). 2 raka'hs of obligatory prayer have too be said at this junction.
The most facinating thing is that the "HUDOOD"(boundary) of Haram exceeds way beyond the immediate vicinity. Any prayer said within the hudood has the same rewards.
Prayer in Masjid al-Haram is superior to one hundred thousand prayers elsewhere.
WOW!!! Just imagine those people who have been born and live witihn the hudood - all their lives!! What kind of rewards have they been accumulating.
You may do more than one Umrah in a day, but each time you have to go out of the hudood of the Haram and do fresh neeyat and put on fresh ihram.
For this purpose there is right outside the boundary Masjid Ayesha.
Masjid Ayesha has the history of it having been specially built for Hazrat Ayesha because she was so distressed due to womanly troubles of being unable to perform Umrah.
Masjid Ayesha is now used to don fresh ihraam by men and women.