Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I have found my “Utopia”

It’s exactly a month since I returned from umrah, I guess I can say that things are “back to normal” now. Alhamdullillah my grandmother returned home on Sunday after spending 5 weeks in the hospital in Makkah, and she is doing well. Her recovery is not complete, but Inshaa-Allah in time she will get better, with the mercy of Almighty Allah.
So although things are pretty much back to normal, my longing to return to Madinah continues. (I’d love to go back to Makkah as well, but Makkah is very different from Madinah). I know this makes me sound rather greedy, but perhaps being greedy for this can’t be helped. So let me tell you more about my connection to Madinah and then you’ll understand why I just long to go back.
The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “Utopia” as follows:
“An imagined perfect place or state of things” (2008: p. 1593)
I have to tell you that I have found my “Utopia” in Madinah Munawarrah, only it isn’t imagined, it is actually real, and you’ll only believe me if you go there yourself. 
Here are some words I wrote one early morning as I sat outside the Masjid because I had my period. Although being in the state of menstruation meant that I was excused from prayers, I couldn’t stay away from the shining white Masjid. The magnificent nur (light) attracted me towards it and my heart longed to be near there, so I went with my mum and sat outside, but this in itself was such an amazing experience:
The Masjid which is usually magnificent is superimposing in the early morning hours, with the sky still dark and the air fresh, it seems to be illuminated, radiance emanating from it. Women come in drips and drabs initially, and then the crowds begin to come, groups and groups of women intently walking, on their way to perform the Fajr prayer, obedient to the order of their Lord. It’s early in the morning and its winter in Madinah, but children can be seen happily running around. One little boy chases a cat which was walking around outside the Masjid- the cat runs and then stops with the little boy stopping close by. I sit and watch all this and am reminded that this is the only thing in the world that makes sense. One of the only places where the transient world means nothing, the material world becomes immaterial. There are no problems, no worries, no stressors, no deadlines, nothing! There is obedience to Allah and nothing to divert one’s attention from the ultimate goal! ALLAHU AKBAR , I have found my Utopia and I am at Peace!

Those were my words then, and these are my words now, looking back at my time in Madinah:
The purple sky, that’s what stands out for me- My mother and I both agreed that we had never seen the sky purple anywhere else. The purple is so intense that it moves you, just a little while after Fajr, it turns purple, but the purple only lasts for a while, so you are fortunate if you see it. With the purple sky comes the PEACE. Peace seems to be surrounding the entire City and what can we expect, of course there is Peace, after all this is the place of the Beloved of Allah!

The winter breeze was welcoming, it wasn’t cold at all for those of us who are accustomed to much colder weather. In fact it was pleasant and comfortable. On the streets the people selling things sit and wait for customers; they’ve formed a support system so one lady easily leaves her goods in the care of another when she needs to go somewhere. There are many things to buy on the streets of Madinah, but you have to be careful not to get carried away, because the things are cheap and you can easily end up buying something unnecessary. Nonetheless I don’t think it can be a waste, everywhere you go shopkeepers rcall out “Madinah Barakah”, meaning that there are blessings if you buy from the people of Madinah.
 The children playing happily outside the Masjid of the Prophet (pbuh) echo the adults feeling of "no care in the world". Children are safe to play as they want to and it is accepted that play is an important job for children.
But the cherry on the top, the gifts of all gifts, besides being able to send salutations to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) so close by, which is a gift in its own. The gift I’m talking about though is the real piece of heaven on earth.
It is reported in a hadith something to the effect that:
This place is known to us today as the “Rawdatul Jannah”. It is a small place next to the grave of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and everyone wants to get a chance to spend some time there. I have been for umrah twice before and each time that small place was extremely crowded. Women and men get different times to go and so the previous times I found myself engulfed in “waves” of women. I did not even have space to perform one prayer because if I tried to go down in prostration I had women knocking me over from every direction. This is by no means an exaggeration. But this time, Alhamdullillah this time was so peaceful. I had time to pray as long as I wanted to, ladies were given time to sit there till 12:30am. There were empty spaces and the atmosphere was so calm and relaxed, honestly I wish everyone can experience the peace and tranquillity that we found in the Rawdatul Jannah this time. This is indeed a piece of heaven and my words do not do it justice at all. Once again you have to experience this to know what I’m talking about and I pray that anyone who wants to experience it is given the chance to do so.
One morning I was walking back to the hotel at 1:00am. I just came from the Rawdatul Jannah and thought there’d be other ladies walking in the same direction but there was none. The street was completely deserted. Initially I panicked- I’m from South Africa after all and here people can’t even walk in the streets in the early evening without getting mugged, robbed or worse, raped. So yeah, naturally I panicked a bit. But the walk to the hotel wasn’t that far and then I reminded myself that I was in Madinah and my panic disappeared. Alhamdullillah I don’t remember ever feeling as safe as I did in Madinah.
So back to my original statement- Indeed I have found my “Utopia”, but like I said it’s not an imagined place, it’s as real as real can be and my heart and soul longs to be there once again, so I pray that Almighty Allah provides the means and opportunity for me to once more set foot in the City of Peace! Inshaa-Allah Ameen!


  1. So beautiful sis, you make us all want to be there! I can imagine your panic being all alone! I was able to walk in the streets of FOrdsurg the other night with hubby the first time I have been able to walk on any street in SA. Alhamdulillah for small blessings. May Allah grant you the gift of being able to go again ameen! xxx

  2. Alhamdullillah to have you back again. Just to say thanks for your prayers and these lovely photos. Medinah is so much different from when I was there. It surely look much modern now but I think I still prefer the old atmosphere.

  3. Bonnie

    Ameen to your duaa and I truly wish that you all could experience the beauty of Madinah as well as Makkah.It's actually quite sad that we can't walk around anywhere in SOuth Africa, really those people who are able to do this in their countries are truly fortunate. But there are many good things about SA as well so we have to thank Allah. The streets of Fordsburg:-) how did you find this, it's usually very full-but at least you feel safe to walk there.


    Thank you, I'm so glad to be able to share this experience with you all. I agree with you the modernisation is not nice, I wish I could've seen it when it was all still sand.

  4. Even reading you brings peace to our day. It must have been a wonderful and blessed experience for you Zarina and I pray God you get the chance to go back to this special place when the time is right.
    Stay well always.

  5. Marie

    Thank You for your positive comment and prayer. I hope that you and the little one are doing well, looking forward to reading all about your experience.

    Stay well and may you always be in peace.

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