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Canon Buff ~ Papparazi Wanabe
By: Marizan Nor

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Monday, 19-Sep-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Makkah ~ Saudi Arabia #5

... spanking but empty 9-lane highway ...
... the Nameera Mosque of Arafah ...
...just one, but not on 10th Dzulhijjah ...

Arafah is some 25km from Makkah. No one lives here. On most days the only human souls you see here, are some pilgrims on their Omrah (small pilgrimage) visit. However, every year on the 10th Dzulhijjah (only) of the Muslim lunar calendar, more than 2 million muslims , male and female, coming from all corners of the earth, congregate at Arafah. The multiracial, multinational assembly mark the beginning of the Hajj (Pilgrimage) rituals that will last for the next 3 days. Dressed in standard 2-piece unstitched white cloths (the compulsory male attire for rich and poor), they perform rituals made standard by Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) about 1400 years ago. The pilgrims have one objective; to submit to God.

The facilities today are commendable. At Arafah (and later at Mina) the pilgrims are housed in rows of permanently erected tents some equipped with air conditioners. The tents are pitched amidst specially grown and watered trees to provide shade for the pilgrims from the blistering desert sun. High-pressure water systems have been erected to spray mist to lower temperatures over the massive Arafah assembly. A 9-lane highway connects Arafah to Mudzaliffa, Mina and Makkah. These are the centres where the Hajj rituals take place. A lane is also available for those who opt to walk the distance and comes equipped with chilled Zamzam water dispensers spaced a few hundred metres apart to prevent pilgrims from thirst/dehydration. Modern technology and facilities therefore have made the pilgrimage pilgrim-friendly.

God willing, may all muslims get the oppportunity to visit His house at least once in our lifetime. Ameen.

Sunday, 18-Sep-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Makkah ~ Saudi Arabia #4

... trekking up Mt Thaur : futile? ...
... Mt Rahmah : performing prayers? ...
... phew, what an effort ...
View all 6 photos...
Khurafat ~ Rejected Practices

Dear Muslim Brother,
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not come here except the day of Arafa. He did not climb on the hill, did not command to touch its stones and trees, nor to pray or inscribe or construct anything else on that. He did not order to tie knot on the trees or rocks; but he said: ‘ You can stand anywhere in the Arafa ‘.

Dear Pilgrim,
You should follow the sunnah ( tradition ) of your prophet (pbuh) who said: ‘ Learn your rituals of Hajj from me ‘. May Allah accept deeds of you and me.

This message was posted in 5 languages; English, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu/Hindi and Malay, at the base of Mount Rahmah. I wish they had it in Parsi as well.The similar message is also posted at the base of Mount Nur and Thaur. Unfortunately some visitors and pilgrims do not heed these instructions. What a shame. I took shots of these overzealous individuals.

Saturday, 17-Sep-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Makkah ~ Saudi Arabia #3

... Mount Rahmah ...
... Mount Thaur ...
... Mount Nur ...
The ' Mountains ' in Makkah

Through the history of mankind, God raised a series of Prophets. The first was Adam. Notable ones that followed were such as Noah, Hud, Abraham, Lot, Joseph, Job, Jonah, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, John and Jesus. Mohammad ( pbuh ), born in 570 AD, was the last. They were given the objective and consistently called upon mankind to submit to The One God ( Monotheism ). Though humankind evolved through the times, the prophets' messages remained centred on the Oneness of God.

The historical legacies left by some of the Prophets are visible in Makkah. The Ka’bah of the Haram Mosque reminds us of the calls and efforts of the family of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and Lot. The Mount Rahmah (Jabal Rahmah) reminds us of the meeting point of Adam and Eve on earth after they descended separately from the heaven. ( Ibn Katsir, a well known Muslim historian, in his writings ‘ Stories of the Prophets ‘ [ Qassasul Anbiya ] concluded that Adam first landed in what is today Sri Lanka and travelled to Makkah where he was reunited with Eve ).

Mount Nur ( Jabal Nur ) and Mount Thaur ( Jabal Thaur ) are located near Makkah. Both mountains represent significant milestones in the history ( seerah ) of Mohammad (pbuh) and Islam. Mohammad (pbuh) was 40 years old when the first revelation from God was received via the angel Gabriel. This incident took place in a cave called Hira', located at the very top of the Mount Nur. 13 years later, Mohammad (pbuh) had to flee Makkah. The Makkans rejected his invitation to the Oneness of God and stood by their idol worship ( Polytheism ) practices. The Quraish leaders ordered Mohammad (pbuh) to be killed. Mohammad (pbuh) left Makkah one night. To avoid detection, he hid in a cave on Mount Thaur where he stayed for 3 days. He then continued his camel journey to Medina where he seeked refuge and received protection.

I felt blessed to witness these places. What I saw made me realised how difficult it was for Mohammad (pbuh); just like all the prophets before him. He was indeed courageous, strong and blessed by God. Looking at the heights and rugged terrain of the two mountains; it dawned on me that he must have had the skills and might of a mountain climber to reach the lofty caves. The thought that these acts were done in the intense heat of the barren rocky desert, truly humbled me.

p.s: pbuh ~ peace be upon him

Friday, 16-Sep-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Makkah ~ Saudi Arabia #2

Haram Mosque

I appeal for readers to exercise an open mind when going through the writings and pictures in this series.

Photography is generally not allowed in Makkah ( Mecca ). To avoid the embarrassment of confiscation it is best that you seek permission from the authority. That’s what I did. I told them I am an ‘ ahli kamira ‘ (photographer in English). With that I was allowed to take a few external shots of the mosque. Inside the mosque is out of the question. The police tagged along and monitored my camera movements.

Makkah is an ancient city. Historically, its existence dates back to the Prophet Abraham, the common ancestor to Prophets Moses, Jesus and Mohammad. Before the availability of the ‘ Zamzam ‘, the underground water source, Makkah was a desolated place in the hot dessert. Prophet Abraham built the Ka’bah, a huge rectangular granite structure, with the help of his son, Ishmael ( who later became a prophet ) to symbolize his submission to God ( of Monotheism ). Ishmael was Abraham’s first son from his second wife, Hagar. His second son, Isaac ( who later also became a prophet ) was born to his first wife, Sarah. Today, many centuries later, for the Muslims, Makkah remains the centre of monotheism.

Good shots of the Haram Mosque are rare. I tried but the lighting direction and condition were not what I had wished for. These are the shots of Babul Omrah ( Omrah Gate ), one of the 4 major gates into the mosque.

Thursday, 15-Sep-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
' Disk Clean Up '

... a sight familiar to many ...
...a strong will to be there ...
From time to time our laptops and PCs need to be ' defragmented ' and do ' disk clean up '. These will ensure the computers perform at the optimum level at all times. Humans are no different. I went to this place to get my ' human CPU ' defragmented. While it may take about an hour to defrag a computer, it took more than a week for my body and soul. I loved it and I am back, fresh and fast.

To my Muslims readers, wishing you the blessings of Ramadhan.

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