I have never before been on a journey with so much hope, as on the one I went on last month. This pilgrimage with my family, friends, relatives and acquaintances was about just that- HOPE. Hope for better spirituality, hope of a better understanding of our roots and hope for a better life.
I rarely have difficulty writing a travelogue, but I am at a loss to describe this tour. This travel also had pretty sights- the meandering Euphrates and Nile Rivers, the hustle-bustle of the colourful Arabian souks, beautiful masjids, towering pyramids and magical and mythical stories. But this tour was about more than that- it was a trip back in Islamic history from about 570 to 680 AD. It consisted of a personal dialogue with God involving feelings that are extremely heart felt but difficult to express in words.
We took the almost month long trip of Umrah to Saudi Arabia, ziyarats (pilgrimages) to Moulana Ali’s Holy shrine in Najaf, and Moulana Hussain’s and Moulana Abbas Alamdar’s shrines in Karbala in Iraq, (Iraqis) and Cairo, Egypt. For me this past month has been about bonding- bonding with God, bonding with our own selves and bonding with our fellow companions while learning about our spiritual roots.
I feel so privileged to have had a chance to take this trip along with our spiritual head, His Holiness Moulana Amiruddin Malak saheb and his family. The pilgrimage was made easy and more informative due to His knowledge, guidance and His blessed presence with us through out.
It is most difficult to describe this. The awe, joy and privilege one feels standing at these Holy places- it is impossible to illustrate. All we could do was bow our heads at Prophet Mohammed’s (SAW) shrine in Masjid-un-Nabawi, Madinah or stare at in awe and respect at the magnificent Kaabah in Mecca. Performing Umrah, praying and meditating in front of this House of God was an exhilarating as well as an over-whelming experience. The abject feeling of sadness while leaving these two cities is perhaps symbolic of how deeply they moved us while we were there.
Travelling to Najaf and Karbala was no less moving. I felt a sense of peace at these places and also felt somewhat unworthy of visiting the final resting places of these great Spiritual heads of Islam. Moulana Ali’s shrine is located in a busy market place, but once you enter the compound, there is so much peace and not a sound from the outside world disturbs the mind- one can sit here meditating for hours without being disturbed. The same is true of the masjids of Moulana Hussain and Moulana Abbas Alamdar at Karbala. (Iraqis)
We were a group of about 200 plus people travelling together. Praying together, walking together, eating together with them has been a most pleasurable experience of my life. Many of those travelling along, I only knew by name and if it had not been for this trip, I would have never mingled with them and connected with them at such a close level. As I was also a group coordinator (in-charge of 20 people), I had even better interactions with many of them.
Mingling with people from around the world at Mecca and Madinah, and the locals at Najaf, Karbala (Iraq) and Cairo, whether at the masjids or walking about in their market places, hearing their languages, observing their body language, smelling the different aromas of bread baking and spices, all added to this holy travel opportunity. (Iraqis) Infact, Cairo felt like any Indian city- the warmth of the people towards Indians and the Suzuki Maruti cars reminded us of home every day. We just had to mention that we were Indians, and thanks to the Hindi movies, the people would start chanting ‘Shah Rukh Khan, Shah Rukh Khan…’ and offer us tea and good deals.
Tracing back our roots and feeling proud of the lineage we come from has to be felt to be believed. Especially in Iraq where the Battle of Karbala took place in the month of Moharram and the month is observed every year throughout the world. Standing on the same grounds that are steeped in history that we had only read about in books was a very emotional and moving experience.
From here, the other history of the Pharaohs and their towering wonders- the Pyramids in Egypt, though in stark contrast, were also an enjoyable eye-opener. Dining on the Nile cruises in chilly winds was another unforgettable experience.
As they say, hidden connections are stronger than the obvious ones. Living this array of varied emotions and being a part of this trip is indeed a great honour for me as it must be for all those who took this trip. I thank God and His Holiness Moulana Amiruddin Saheb for making this trip of a lifetime possible for all of us.
Hope anchors the soul.
Madinah and Mecca were getting warmer, but were comfortable in March.
Najaf and Karbala were warm during the day, but evenings and early mornings were cool in March.
Cairo was chilly and windy in March.
Gulnar Taibah, Madinah
Qasr Aldur, Najaf
Alfajr Albadeea, Karbala
Kempinski Nile, Cairo
Ideal Tours and Travels, Nagpur. Phone- 98230 53931
-Tamanna S. Mehdi