Sunday, December 28, 2008

always be my baby

When your husband tells you "You will always be my baby", it doesn't matter that he's not crooning or strumming a guitar, you still melt.

cair babe...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hajj Tips

I better write this before I forget.

Unlike Hajj packages from Malaysia that usually covers 45 days of travel to and stay in Makkah, Arafah, Muzdalifah, Mina and Madinah, the Hajj package from Al-Hamra (the name of the company) that we took covered only 9 days of travel and stay in Makkah, Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina. Basically our package were specifically for Hajj, and does not include extra ibadah.
Our itinerary:
We left Dammam in our ihrams on Thursday 4th December (6th Dzulhijjah), completed our Umrah by Friday morning (5th December, 7th Dzulhijjah). We took off our ihrams (we did Haji Tammatu') and rested for a day in a school-turned-into-hostel in Awali (in between Makkah and Mina) before putting on our ihrams for the Hajj proper on the 6th December (8th DzulHijjah), and prepare for a very long day ahead of us.
We left our hostel for Arafah before fajr on 7th December (9th DzulHijjah) and left it by maghrib (sundown). We were tested by heavy traffic and only arrived Muzdalifah after midnight, so we just drove through and arrived in Makkah at about 4am on 8th December (10th DzulHijjah), did our Tawaf Ifadah, solat fajr, did our saei, solat Eid ul-Adha, then Taufik shaved his head. We then returned to our hostel to pack for Mina.
We left for Mina after Asr, and did the stoning of the big pillar (Jamratul Aqobah). We stayed in Mina on the 9th, 10th of December (11th, 12th DzulHijjah) to stone the 3 pillars, and left after Dzuhr on the 11th December (13th Dzulhijjah) after stoning the 3 pillars for the last time. Went back to the hostel to pack our bags so that they could be sent ahead of us to the airport. We left our hostel and headed for Makkah for our Tawaf Wida' (farewell tawaf) in the middle of the night, then headed for the airport right after. We arrived home on the 12th December (14th DzulHijjah).

I imagine that the itinerary for pilgrims from Malaysia will be quite similar during the 5-6 days of Hajj. You will be travelling between Makkah, Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina, and your schedule will be quite packed on the 9th and 10th Dzulhijjah, with respite only on the 11th, 12th and 13th days of DzulHijjah.

Here are some tips I would like to share with regards to those 5-6 days:

1. Drink lots and lots of water.
I know you'll be afraid that it will make you want to go to the toilet often and you're afraid if the toilet facilities will be bad, but drink away! Your body will lose water in other ways (sweating, and from reciting the Qur'an and dzikr), so dont worry about overloading your bladder. If you do have to go to the toilet, pray to Allah so that it will be easy.

2. Carry Pocket/Purse sized Tissues, WetWipes, Vaseline, Spray Bottle, your favourite cough drops and Snickers, all in a small sling bag.
These are essential and will make your journey more comfortable. The tissues&wetwipes are really good for quick clean-ups and freshening up. The Vaseline can be used to maintain moisture on any part of the body (especially your lips! Lots of reciting/supplicating will make your lips dry). If you cant find a travel size vaseline, a non-perfumed chapstick will do. I carry a spray bottle of clean water (fill it up with zam-zam if you like) so that i can make wudhu' anytime, anywhere. Suck on a cough drop the moment your throat start to feel scratchy. Eat a snicker to stave off the hunger pangs.
I carry this sling bag everywhere I go. Also in this sling bag were my handphone, some money, a credit card, my insurance card, a copy of our iqama , a copy of our hajj registration, a pair of socks, and a small book of supplications.

3. Have a backpack that can fit 3 days' clothes.
I used this backpack for our trip to Arafah-Muzdalifah-Makkah and our 3-day stay in Mina. It is easy to carry, especially if it just so happens that you have to get off the bus and walk to your destination.

4. Layer your clothes.
The weather can be quite erratic, so if you're not sure if it's going to be cold, make sure you bring layers of clothes instead of thick items. Bring one thick jacket/cardigan/shawl if you have to, and underneath them use layers. I wore my abaya everytime I went out, so on cold days/times I wore thermals underneath them, on warm days I wore a thin t-shirt. On the last day, when we stoned the 3 jamrats right after Dzuhr, I wore my abaya like a dress. Bring socks, wear 2 pairs if it gets cold. (Note: Pullover abayas/jubahs are recommended as opposed to button-front ones.)

5. Tawaf/Saei with gripped socks.
You know them socks with rubber dots on the soles? Just like the ones for babies but these are for adults? They are really good for tawaf and saei. Masjidil Haram's marble floors can be quite cold and normal socks are slippery so these socks give you some grip and the extra friction makes it less tiring.

6. If you can, have your MP3 player filled with Qur'an translation.
I really should've bought an iPod lah. I only had a few selected surahs on my phone. I found it really helpful, especially when it's not conducive to read (i.e. in the bus, at night, noisy surroundings, you've lost your wudhu'). The translation helps you understand the meaning of the surahs. I got my surahs with English Translation from

7. Write your supplications (dua) in a small notebook (buku tigalima).
I wrote all my supplications in a small flip-over notebook so that I don't forget, but I found flipping over a little cumbersome. I think a regular notebook (that flips left/right) would be much much easier to hold and flip as you move along.

8. Take your medicines.
You don't know what's gonna happen, so no matter how confident you are about your health or biological cycles, take your medicine! You do not want to fall sick during these 5 days.

9. Do lots of dzikr and supplications.
Take this time to really remember the Almighty and all that He has given you and reflect upon yourself. 'Istiqamah' bak kata lollies.. :)
Rasa macam rugilah pulak bila dah susah-susah pegi buat haji, tapi membazir masa buat benda lain... :P (Especially for me lah, since I feel like this is my last chance to buat haji).

I'm sure there are more tips.. feel free to share. Hopefully I can go again and make full use of the tips here :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hajj Moon

Which one is the moon?

This was taken on the rooftop of Masjidil Haram, Makkah, early morning (1:30am) of 14th DzulHijjah, after we completed our Tawaf Wida' (farewell tawaf).
My husband's bald head has grown a stubble by then (he shaved it on eid morning, 10th Dzulhijjah), but I think it was still shining as bright and is shaped as round as the moon. ha ha.
We didnt lug our SLR during this trip, so, excuse the picture quality.

Hajj Lessons

Alhamdulillah, I am back home safely.

If you don't mind, I won't be writing much on my experience. Not because I dont want to share, but because I am afraid if I write too much, I would be prone to riak (boasting?) or might induce other people to make fitnah from misconception.

But I do would like to share this:
Performing the Hajj is truly like going to battle. You leave your family behind, you take along only the essentials and you make do with whatever we have.
But the battle is not only physical, it was also emotional, psychological and spiritual.
I believe that Allah gives you lessons to learn everyday, irregardless of whether you are on Hajj or not, but somehow during that period, perhaps due to the situation, lessons seems to be more intense and you are somewhat forced to learn it.

I learned a very shocking thing about myself during this hajj.
I learned that even though I consider myself to be a very open minded, understanding and polite person, deep down inside I am actually very presumptuous and judgemental.
My mom's main advice to me was to watch what I say and to try to keep my mouth shut and refrain from giving my opinion whenever I feel the need to (for she surely knows her daughter well). I did not heed my mother's advice. I admonished someone close to me for being judgemental, only to realize that I myself was being judgemental of her. I hurt her feelings and was wrecked with guilt until I approached her for forgiveness. Truly we are meant to be friends, because she forgave me, masya-Allah.

I realize that each and everyone who went for the hajj has their own private battles and private lessons to learn. You really need to learn the lesson on your own, no one is going to take you aside and point out to you what you need to learn. Being confined in terms of space and schedule really force you to really look into yourself and discover and think about who you really are and what you want to become.
They tell you to do alot of dzikr and reading the Qur'an and think about Allah, and even though you do it for Allah, I discovered that all those actually benefited me more than I can explain. It kept me away from doing wrong things, it reminded me of what was important in life, and masya-Allah, I even found a verse that provided a solution to a dillema that I have been struggling with for most of my life. Truly, Allah is great.
Even when I thought a situation is bad, friends all around remind me that Allah is All-knowing and he's trying to teach me a lesson, I think about Allah and try to find the lesson in the bad situation, and Alhamdulillah, I got through it.
I never understood it when people come back from Hajj say they had a 'beautiful experience', but now I do. Masya-Allah.

Insya-Allah, I have prayed for all of you to have peace, happiness and good health.
May Allah grant my prayers and accept my hajj. Amin.

p/s I'd do another post on tips for Hajj (i.e. what to bring, what to do). But maybe in a few days, okay, coz I still need to do laundry then pick up my kids (Gosh, I missed them so much!!)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Preparing Myself - Ready to go

Alhamdulillah, I think I have everything I need.
I leave everything else to Allah.

Please pray for the safety of my children.
Please pray for Hajj that is mabrur (accepted by Allah) and a safe return, for my husband and I.

my number is on my FB account if you have last minute requests for me to make du'a for you.
Insya-Allah, I will pray for all my family and friends, happiness, health and baraqah, and if you are a muslim (or will be become one in the future), I will also pray that you will get the opportunity to perform your own Hajj & Umrah.

p/s thankyou for all the well wishes and advice you have given me via this blog, FB, email and sms.. forgive me if I have not had time to reply to you.

Preparing Myself - Leaving the kids

I've been preparing the kids about being away for us for 10 days since the day we decided to go for Hajj (about 2,3 months ago). I consulted them on who they would like to stay with. I told them why I needed to go and why I couldn't bring them along like when we were going to Umrah. I briefed them on what was the acceptable and expected behaviour at someone else's house (make the bed, clean up messes, help wash dishes, take care of your own laundry). I told them to pray for my safety after they solat. I also told them that their dad is going to come back home with a surprise (bald head). They keep urging to me to tell them what it will be, but Taufik and I said it wouldnt be a suprise if I told them.

Izani had been watching me pack these last few weeks and he's been asking me
"Yee goin?" (Where are you going?) and I've been telling him I was going to Makkah and when he says "I wan go makah" (I want to go to Makkah) I would tell him "You will stay with Auntie Ana, and I'd tell him he'd get to eat currypuffs and watch TV and watch Ben10 and Dinosaurs and he was happy with the response.

So yesterday we sent the kids to Kak Ana and Ahmad Shah's house. We spent about 3 hours there, assuring ample time for the kids to know the family and their kids, telling them how to prepare Izani's milk, what my kids like/dont like to eat and such. Kak Ana and Ahmad Shah have been helping to take care of people's kids many times before, so I was assured that my kids will be safe.

When it was time to say goodbye, Anis and Ilham came and hugged me tight. Ihsan, however, was bawling his eyes out. He was asking why he could go with me, he promised he'd be good and would hold tightly to my hand so that he wouldnt get lost. I tried to explain to him why I thought it would be dangerous for him to come along, but yet I was also reluctant to tell him of all the dangers coz I was worried if he would think that his parents would be in danger. SO I tried to appease him by telling Ilham to let Ihsan play with the computer. Ihsan finally calmed down after Taufik gave him 10riyals for pocket money. hee hee.

Izani ...
was totally hunky dory! He kissed me, hugged me and said "I laf yew bodha" (I love you Bonda) and went back to eat his carrot. When I was waving the kids goodbye as we drove away, Izani was all smiles and waving at me "bye bye, bye bye!".

I didn't cry.

Until it was time for bed, and I was checking my alarm on my phone and saw izani's face on the screen saver.
I lay in bed looking at the empty spot in between Taufik and I where Izani usually sleeps, and I could almost feel him hugging me and his tiny peck on my lips as he would say "goo nite bodha, i laf yew bodha". I could smell his lotion and powder on my pillow.
I lost it then.
I asked Taufik whether he thought the kids would be asleep then. We had been re-packing our bags so it was almost 11:30pm, so Taufik said it'd be too late to call.

I called them at 9am this morning.
Izani was still asleep, only Ilham wanted to talk to us. Ihsan and Anis was at the computer and couldnt care less.

One less worry on my mind.
Now, concentrate on hajj!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Preparing Myself - 4 days to go.

So ..
logistic wise, everything is confirmed.
We're leaving on 4th Dec (Thursday, 6th Dzul-Hijjah), coming back on the 12th (14th Dzul-Hijjah).
We'll be performing Umrah (Tawaf Qudum & Saei) at Masjidil Haram the night we arrive, then only go to our hostel. We'll be staying in Awali, a suburb of Makkah, for the 2days.
On the 7th (9th DzulHijjah), we'll move after fajr to Arafah and spend most of the day there. After maghrib we'll make a move to Muzdalifah.
After midnight on the 8th (10th DzulHijjah), we'll leave Muzdalifah and head for masjidil Haram and perform our Tawaf ifadhah and saei and tahallul and be free of our ihrams. (Taufik is going to shave his head! eeeps!!)
In the afternoon we'll leave for Mina to stone Jamratul Aqobah, then rest for the night at the camp.
We'll spend the 9th (11th DzulHijjah) in Mina, hopefully using up the battery on my handphone reading Qur'an and reciting dzikir, insya-Allah, then stone the 3 jamrats after Isya'.
On the 10th (12th Dzulhijjah), after fajr, we'll return to Awali, or maybe not, depending on the camp conditions in Mina (if it's comfortable, we may just stay). If we do go back to Awali, we will travel to Mina at night to stone the 3 Jamrats for the 2nd time, and spend the last night there.
On the 11th (13th DzulHijjah), we will stone the 3 jamrats after dzuhr, for the last time, then head for Makkah for Tawaf Wida'. That night we will head for Taif Airport.
Our flight will leave Taif at 7:30am and arrive Dammam around 11:00am, Insya-Allah.

I have packed my bags. I've bought socks and other essentials. I have sewn a few slip on tudungs. All I still need is a cardigan, and a small bag for the nights in Mina.
I have written all the du'a-s everyone have asked to make for them. I have yet to write down my own (and list everyone who have passed that I want to pray be placed in jannah).
I have downloaded dzikrs and some surahs with translation into my phone for me to listen to while on the bus or if I feel like sewing instead of reading.

I still have not finished writing down my will. I am procrastinating for some reason.

My kids will be staying with a family friend. They have 4 children of their own, 3 of which are older girls. The wife is a good cook and she loves to cook, so I am assured that my kids wont go hungry. Incidently they will also be taking care of 4 other children from a friend of ours who are coming with us, so they will have 12 children in their house! Allah bless their souls for being so kind and helpful in our time of need!
I havent packed their bags, will do that on Wednesday. I have written a note to their teachers to excuse them on Wednesday (It's the last day of school anyways).
Still need to buy cereal and snacks for the kids.
I have bought activity books for them to use so that they dont get bored.
I have trained Ilham to basuh bontot izani.

I have been dilligent in my solat and making sure I do it on time.
I have performed Solat Tawbah.
I have sent an email to a friend whom I felt I have wronged. She forgave me.
I have called my mom and family to ask for forgiveness. I will call my dad on Thursday before I leave. He always knows how to assure me.
I have stopped reading piahzadora and pray I will not go there again.

hm.. so why do I still feel like I am not ready?
It's normal to feel nervous, yes?