Mecca & Medina – Saudi Arabia

I recently posted few pictures and thoughts on our visit to Mecca and Medina in the spring of 2012. I post under the name “rahmad” and the posts can be followed at ireport.cnn.com – Travel Photo of the Day. Let’s see if any are verified and used by CNN on their travel site – eagerly waiting 🙂

As many know the two cities are known as the sites for Hajj – once-in-a-life, compulsory pilgrimage for every healthy and affording Muslim, held once a year at a set time. Umrah on the other hand is the minor pilgrimage, not compulsory and can be performed anytime during the year. – OK, that was a very short 101 course on Hajj and Umrah.

Mecca creates a feeling of awe and humbleness – It is grand – As a Muslim I felt that it creates a feeling of spirituality and of emotions beyond control.

At night - The Ka'ba, which Muslims believe to be the house of Allah, is hidden behind the two minarets.

Masjid-al-Haram at night

A daytime view.

A daytime view.

The Sacred Mosque (Arabic: Masjid-al-Haram) houses the Ka’ba, which Muslims believe to be the house of Allah. The Ka’ba can be seen partially from between the two minarets in the pictures above.

Hotels, hotels and more hotels.

Hotels, hotels and more hotels.

On a more general note, there was a lot of construction going on, and hotels being built everywhere. Due to the low season, there weren’t many people and my son and I were able to touch the walls of Ka’aba while performing Umrah. Mount Noor (Arabic: Jabl-e-Noor, meaning the mountain of light) can be seen in the background. The cave of Hira (arabic: ghar-e-Hira) is situated in this mountain. Muslims believe that this is where Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) received his first revelations from God. Mount Noor (Arabic: Jabl-e-Noor, meaning the mountain of light) can be seen in the background. The cave of Hira (Arabic: ghar-e-Hira) is situated in this mountain. Muslims believe that this is where Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) received his first revelations from God. This tent city of Mina is one of the stops while performing Hajj. The tent city of Mina – one of the stops while performing Hajj. The museum was closed when we were there. It houses artifacts of Ka'aba and the Prophet's Mosque along with a complete library of Islamic text and scripture. These lamps flanked both sides of the entrance walkway.

Lamp posts outside the Mecca Museum – The museum was closed when we were there. It houses artifacts of Ka’aba and the Prophet’s Mosque along with a library of Islamic text and scripture. These lamps flank both sides of the entrance walkway.

Medina on the other hand is all peace and calm and tenderness. One could sit inside the Prophet’s Mosque the whole day and let the stress seep out and be calm with oneself – Medina was gentle and kind and cool and patient. Muslims believe that this is the first mosque built by the Prophet in the city of Medina.

A minaret of the Quba Mosque – Muslims believe that this is the first mosque built by the Prophet in the outskirts of the city of Medina. This also makes it the oldest mosque in the world.

The site of the Battle of the Seven Trenches

The site of the Battle of the Trenches.

Mosque of more than one Qibla (Arabic: Masjid-al-Qiblatain). Qibla is the direction that Muslims face while praying. This mosque is named as such because during a prayer the Prophet was instructed to change the "Qibla" from the Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem to the Ka'aba in Mecca.

The Mosque of more than one Qibla (Arabic: Masjid-al-Qiblatain). Qibla is the direction that Muslims face while praying. This mosque is named as such because during a prayer the Prophet was instructed to change the “Qibla” from the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Temple Mount) in Jerusalem to the Ka’aba in Mecca.

The featured image for this post is of the umbrellas in the open courtyard portion of the Prophet’s Mosque. They open and shut automatically and do a pretty good job in keeping the area cool during the day (not to mention adding a touch of beauty).

We didn’t get to take many photographs or to really look around the two cities or visit the holy sites in more detail. Hopefully another time. Until then these are cherished memories.

Pictures in the Header – Turkey

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We went for some Turkish coffee one evening. A trip to Turkey (albeit only a three day trip) cannot be complete without some Turkish or Hazelnut coffee or Apple Spiced tea and some delicious, out of this world Turkish Delights and Baklava. We ended up in this small shop on the main road between the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and Haga Sophia (walking towards the Grand Bazaar). I don’t remember the name but believe it was Baklavaci Muhammad Said. The picture is of their counter display of Turkish delights, dry fruits and Baklava. My husband couldn’t resist a picture.

MUZE

MUZE – The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art is a must visit. Right across the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, this palatial museum used to be the residence of the Grand Vizier, Suleiman the Magnificent. Walking in the corridors one can almost feel transported back in time. When women whispered in the harems, powerful men walked in imposing hallways waging wars on those who displeased and showering gold and gems on those who were in favor, and the lesser people bowed to them in severance. The quite gardens, the hidden coffee store that is just there when you turn a corner, the light filtering through the glassed ceilings, the ancient carpets lovingly preserved, the Qur’anic manuscripts hand written with reverence, the beautiful Turkish calligraphy all speak of a heritage so rich and diverse that it can take a lifetime to study and understand. Turkey is truly the crossroad of the East and the West. It was the seat of Roman Christianity for hundreds of years and then the seat of the Islamic Empire for many hundreds afterwards.