12 July 2011

Makkah & Medinah - A Recent Trip

(*EDIT* OK so I was having a bit of a rant when I wrote this the first time so I have made some changes to make it less crazy.)

If you were curious as to where on earth I have been for the last 3 weeks, I went to Umrah alhamduliAllah. I haven't been for the last few years and my oh my has there been some changes.

A lover of lists, I thought I would compile one giving you my view of the pros and cons of Makkah and Medinah.


- The current extension work of Masjid Al Haram. It's really about time. Only thing is is that it was due to finish last year and they are still only about half way though.

- The removal of old, rundown buildings, hotels and shops in the vicinity of the haram in Makkah

- A noticeable reduction in the number of beggars in both Makkah and Medina, especially children who have been deliberately mutilated for the purpose of begging.


- The ZamZam "Grand" Hotel in Makkah. Wow. It's the most ugly building I have ever seen. It looks like a tacky version of the Big Ben and looks so out of place next to the Haram. I really don't advise anybody to waste their money on that place - it is not a 5 star hotel (though it charges as one) no matter what anybody says. The rooms are bad, the service is awful and the hotel has a 4 story mall at the bottom of it full of western shops - very spiritual indeed.

- Women have the smallest fraction in the courtyard in which I did not get to pray a single jama'a prayer in because you have to be there an hour in advance to even hope of getting a place. To add insult to injury, the whole expanse of the roof space is reserved for men only apart from in Hajj season. HOW is that fair..????!! Just look at the amount of space they get while we are cramped away in cornors of the mosque with screaming bloody children.

Look at the size of that roof space..

- A general lack of common courtesy and increasing selfishness amongst Muslims. When did it become a taboo to say please, thank you, excuse me and SORRY?

- Pervs. Anything that breathes and they will look. It's ironic and disappointing given their proximity to the ka'ba/masjid al nabawi.

- OK so I know that it is socially acceptable for Arab men to hold hands and everything but can you just please stop..? :)

**Having said all of this, I still want to go back to Makkah and Medina all the time and leaving them is the most painful experience. The spiritual peace that you attain from simply viewing the Ka'ba is amazing and far outweighs my childish complaints. This post is simply for a bit of banter and to give you an idea of my take on certain aspects of these two holy places.**

(Top pic from madinamakkah.blogspot.com)


Sluff said...

You're the second blogger to say such things about Makkah within a couple weeks. It makes me so sad & not even really look forward to hajj anymore. My biggest pet peeve is the lack of space for women in mosques. I can't believe the grandest mosque in the world is doing it too. Total disappointment

Stylish Muslimah said...

Sluff: Aww, don't say you're not looking forward to it! It's totally different in hajj anyway. I've heard that men and women don't pray separately in hajj and the rooftop is open for women. Who was the other blogger btw? I'd be interested to read their account. Salaam :)

Anonymous said...

Salaam alaikum.

I know a sister who went on umrah a few months ago, and when she came back I asked her about the lack of space. She told me the exact opposite; that there "might" be too much space for women. I found this odd because she's one of these real "feminist"-type Muslims.

Also, the hand-holding is very common in other parts of the world. I've personally seen it in Bangladesh, and I'm sure Pakistanis and Afghanis do it too. It's usually between men that have been friends since childhood. You definitely won't see professionals or businessmen doing that. It's odd, but oh well.

Finally, please share a little more about the pervs. What were they doing that made them pervs? Was it a small minority of the men? Did you call them out on it?

Good to have you back, sister. Insha'Allah you'll go back soon. Salaam.

Ange said...

women with babies need to pray too! we shouldn't be forced at home for 5 years just because we have kids. that outcasting women even more!

Stylish Muslimah said...

Anon: Wa alaykom al salam. Thanks :) I think the main point is that she went a few months ago during a quieter time. I arrived in Makkah at the beginning of Sha'baan which is a very busy time for Umrah and gets busier up until Ramadan. I find it odd though that she is a feminist (not that I consider myself one at all) and is ok with women getting such a small fraction compared with men.

About the pervs, you mainly find that they are shop workers, they just stare at women and act in a really unprofessional way, like a cashier started singing to me once :| Of course it isn't all of them but it's a significant number, just ask a girl that's been she'll tell you the same.

Ange: 5 years??! Make that 9 :) Sorry but it's selfish to expect other women to have to put up with the wailing of your children. Anyway, don't fret the Hadith clearly says it's better for women to pray at home anyway.. Lol.

Mona Z said...

The other blogger was Shahira Elaiza http://shaelaiza.blogspot.com/
I think that hadith about women praying at home applies to all women, not just moms, correct me if I'm wrong.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Yes, it does apply to all women but I would think that one of the reasons for the Hadith is that women have children.
Salaam :)

Candice said...

I find it really too bad that you're calling women with children selfish for going to Jumah at the mosque when they are visiting Mekkah and Medina.

I call it selfish to want those women in their hotel rooms because they have to take care of the little ones, and for wantint to prevent them the experience of Jumah at these mosques just in case their child misbehaves as children sometimes do.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Candice: I'm not just talking about jummah, I'm talking about all the prayers. Have you ever been to Makkah and Medina? Most of the time the wailing of babies is so loud that it is difficult to hear the imam and don't get me started on the sprogs that think a mosque is a play ground. Forget about me for a second, is it even fair for a baby to be left crying their eyes out for the duration of a prayer? If I had a kid I would not put my own wants before the rights of others to pray in silence. And that is a right - it is actually haram in Islam to read the Quran aloud when somebody is praying.

Zainab said...

Here's a thought: how about the father takes care of the child for a little while so the mother can attend prayer in such a holy place? It's so stupid how women are expected to take care of the child all the time just because they give birth. One of the many reasons I won't be getting married. I'm not a second-rate citizen, and I don't plan on being treated like one.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Zainab: Wow. Reading you're comment was like reading something I would say, to the tee. AND we have the same name. I feel like I'm talking to me..

Anyway, please do divulge what the other many reasons are you have for opting to not bind yourself to a man for the rest of your life? I'm curious :)
Salaam :D

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with any of these "complaints", because they don't take into account the real reasons why women are bringing their children to namaz. I refuse to believe that in a city of almost 2 million people, all women are left with their children because the men think that's what women should do.

And you think a lack of space for women is bad? Try being a 70 year-old man with two broken kneecaps, who travels thousands of miles from Bangladesh to Makkah using his life savings, just so the travel agent can put him in the most dismal conditions imaginable. I was ready to cut off some heads when I found out that's what they did to my grandfather. Astagfirullah, all glory and praise belongs to Allah(swt). I realized later that my grandfather didn't go to Makkah for luxury; he went because he wanted to be closer to Allah(swt) and to fulfill a duty enjoined on him by our Malik. That is the only purpose of hajj. So, if you're not looking forward to it, then you need some serious reflection on what it means to be Muslim and why Muslims have the duties that we have. "We will test you with a little and we will test you with many."

As far as "being tied to a man for the rest of your life", remember why Bibi Hawa was created;

#1: Bibi Hawa was created so that she would worship Allah(swt). The exact same reason that Adam was created; and #2: Adam was lonely and needed a companion (He did not need a wife, did not need a cook, did not need a cleaner, and did not need a babysitter). Our Malik decided that the perfect companion of the male is the female, alhamdulillah.

The next time you meet a man who comes off as the "binding"-type, remind them of these simple facts. "Surely there are clear signs in this revelation for those who reflect". If the men don't budge, then they're not for you. But that doesn't mean that all of us are like that, because we sure as heck ain't.


Ange said...

trust me - when you have kids you will change your mind. you will see that it is hard enough not being able to enjoy things in your life before kids come along once they are here, and to be told you shouldnt be able to pray in a mosque because you have a child just further distances you.

and that hadith btw says it is "better", not that she HAS to be confined to her house and like mona said, the hadith refers to ALL women, not just mothers with children, so that would include you too.

there is also another hadith that states that you should not prevent a woman from going to the masjid if she wants to.

why should we stay at home and not benefit from the khutba? most mosques these days had microphones at khutba anyway, so there shouldnt be an issue over hearing and if there is then perhaps suggest to your imam that he invest in one for the mosque.

also if women and their children were forced to stay at home, then what age do you suggest they be when they are allowed to go to the mosque? they have to learn congregational prayer as well. children are a part of the muslim community as well and they also have a place in the mosque.

really trust me when i say that your mind will change on this issue when you have kids.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Mr Anonymous: Sorry about your granddad but what's that got to do with anything? Unfortunately that's happened to plenty of people. I'm not talking about luxury when I'm talking about the hotel, I'm saying that it is a waste of money.

About the being tied to a man thing, chill man I was joking. I know what the significance of marriage in Islam is.

Ange: Hm maybe I will. But I honestly think you'll understand what I mean if you go. I guess you're right though. The main thing with the older kids actually is that some of the mums just let them run wild during prayer so maybe an age limit wouldn't work anyway. Speaking of which, I hope your daughter is well! :D
Salam :)

Ange said...

yeah, she is thanks!

i totally get your point though - some mothers just dont give a shit about what their kids do. i have been in the mosque before and had a child sit herself down literally 10cm infront of me while i was praying, thinking "how will i make sujood with some lady's baby trapped underneath my stomach?"

i've had kids pulling on me and standing right behind me, so that when i get up from sujood they get a nice big whack from my butt to their face as i get up. (not good for anyone involved).

some parents let their kids run wild and its effing annoying - i totally get it.

i dont think its a case of women having to stay home but more of a woman taking care of her kids when they need it, because it does disrupt others.

i remember being at jumaah prayer and this baby was screaming and the imam stopped the khutba and was basically telling the mother off, saying she should take her child into the side room we had upstairs so she can attend him/let him quiten down while everyone else listens AND SHE STILL DIDNT GET UP. it is just selfishness in that regard.

and actually it is permissible, that if your child is crying to stop your prayer and attend to them because 1 - they are in distress and 2 - it distracts the rest of the people from their prayer.


Stylish Muslimah said...

Ange: Thanks for the link, I didn't know that!

soso said...

lolll the holding hands!!! yes seriouslii whyyy, what is the need?


Anonymous said...

How can it be said that there is "bad" and "ugly" at the shrines of the Two Holy Places? All must believe!

Stylish Muslimah said...

Anon: Because there was bad and ugly when the Prophet (s) was there and he said himself it would only get worse. Salam

Anonymous said...

It's not haraam for men to hold hands, is it? I think you came off a little rude in that point there, with respect. To be honest, the whole post seems like you were having a rant and any valid points you do have are tainted by that.

And I know many people who've been to Hajj and Umrah and I've never heard such things, only that street sellers will approach sisters to try and sell things. In general, there still is sexism in the Ummah, and if you believe that women are equal to men you are a feminist. That is the definition of the word.

I think the hadith protects women from feeling guilty or being pressured into attending the masjid when they may be young ladies who have to travel, or may have to spend an hour preparing children for what may only be a half an hour trip.

Still, I'm REALLY, REALLY looking forward to going. I've heard loads of amazing stories.

Things for women will get better, insha'Allah. Maybe one day all men will treat us with the love and respect that the Prophet (saw) did.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Well that means all Muslims are feminists then..? Feminism is more about women thinking they can do what men do, thinking that they do not NEED men. It is not simply about equality. Salam

Zainab said...

Marriage just doesn't have an appeal to me. Having a life partner sounds awesome, but everything that comes along with it doesn't seem worth it.

Due to culture, I'm not supposed to leave my parents' house until I get married. A guy on the other hand, can do whatever he wants. The sexism annoys the hell out of me. I want to become an optometrist, but waiting to get my degree, then get married makes people think I'm not worthy of being their son's wife. Of course, when a man gets his degree then gets married, it shows his commitment to education. On that same note, I'm expected to pursue some sort of higher education, but after marriage, that degree just collects dust. I'm supposed to be a submissive wife, which means I cook and clean all day, then have sex with my husband whenever he asks. After I get knocked up, my life revolves around my children. My husband's life isn't affected when he becomes a father, he just has to deal with a child that cries at night, the same way I do.

What really annoys me at the masjid is how the men treat the women. The fathers often times walk over and tell us to be quiet, that they can't hear the lecture over the noise. They don't see that they could help the situation by breaking up the kids who are crying because they don't want to share. And really, your wife can't hear the lecture AT ALL. Even if she could, she's too busy taking care of your child to benefit from the lecture. So quit complaining.

These things are just EXPECTED from wives, no thank yous needed. Islam doesn't require the woman to cook and clean, she is just told to give children a good upbringing. Men don't see that the cooking and cleaning is done out of love. She could force you to hire a maid if she wanted, but she doesn't.

There is one thing I don't understand. Islam says that the wife must get her husband's permission before leaving the house. Why? That seems really unfair to me.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Wow, that's a long list! Hmm but I'm skeptical of most of the points :/ E.g. A degree and good career wouldn't make you less worthy of marriage, it would make you more worthy. And you wouldn't have to stop work just because you have a husband, not in this day and age and economic downturn anyway lol.

Men and women are equal but they have different roles in Islam, you have to be a good wife (maybe not submissive..) and he has to be a good husband. So what if you cook, he has an obligation to provide for you, what do you do in return? If you want to work and don't want to clean the solution is simple: work and pay for a maid yourself.

As for what you mention after cooking and cleaning, well a wife has the same right over her husband in that regard in Islam.

About the asking for permission thing, I've searched and I haven't actually found any hadiths or iyas stating this and it is still debated. All that aside I think you'll change your mind at some point down the line, perhaps when you meet a fellow you actually WANT to cook for..? I shan't hold my breathe though :)

Zainab said...

I wish my community would live here and now, but I really am expected to give up working when I get married. I know a woman who is a pediatrician. She worked for a year then got married, and hasn't been able to work since to to societal pressures.

I've thought about doing what you suggested, and I know women who do hire a maid with the money they earn, but the people around them make their lives so difficult. They're constantly being teased and taunted, with people saying that they aren't good women because they don't do housework themselves. I wish I could just escape from the culture I'm surrounded by, but I guess that's what the Prophet (SA) means when he says not to isolate yourself from the people around you.

I think one of the main reasons I'm not content with being a wife that cooks and cleans is because that's the stereotypical woman. You know the jokes; get back to the kitchen, make me a sandwich, women just need to be in the kitchen and the bedroom, etc. I realize that they're just jokes, and the majority of people don't believe that, but fitting the mold and being the stereotype has always been something I have resented.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Hmm I would have to say that in this day and age the stereotypical woman is one that doesn't want to fit stereotypes. Most women these days want to work and not have to rely on a man, just like you.
Salam :)

Anonymous said...

salaamu alaikum...sister your experience of Omrah really depends on WHEN you go. Last year when we lived in Saudi as expats (worked in Khobar)...we went for Omrah twice and the first time was *drastically* different from the 2nd time.

Case in point...if you going during "off peak" season...like from after Hajj till maybe 5 months before the next Hajj its almost empty. The first few months they ONLY allow GCC nationals and those residing IN the Gulf to go for Omrah...so like the year we went...Hajj was the last week of November if I recall correctly...so we went in the middle of March...it was just right after they had opened the Haramain up to International pilgrims but the haraam was comparatively empty...there were few international pilgrims...most of those were Turks or Pakistanis or Malays...most were Saudi or from the Gulf. I felt quite free, I could pray anywhere I wanted and the Haraam was quite free of those annoying Mutaween *haia*...it was quite a spiritual time and not as hectic/crazy as our 2nd time.

2nd time we went in early July...a month and a half before Ramadan and Makkah was PACKED, it was absolutely insane...the Haraam was packed, the mutaween were everywhere and they were sooo annoying-even more annoying than the ones that prowl the malls in Khobar-LOL...they kept women in small cordoned off areas and it was just ridiulous...also people were sooo rude...
I have to admit the first Omrah was a lot nicer and more spiritual...the 2nd felt like I was in a race or something...

I suggest to friends that if they want to do Omrah...go during off-peak!!! Its a LOT nicer...and there are fewer reguulations and mutaween...like the 1st trip, we took our camera everywhere, even inside the haraam and took pictrues...noone bothered us, 2nd time, the police wouldnt let us...so again, if hyou can do Omrah in the off-peak do it!!! like its generally from 1 month after Hajj till 3months after that...once it gets close like within 2 months of Ramadan...forget it...its peak time and the atosphere is 100% different.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Umm Imbrahim: The first 4 times I went to umrah were all during the off peak season (my dad worked in Saudi) and I looovvedd it. I know exactly what you mean about it being more spiritual. Unfortunately, the boarders are closed to people outside of Arabia during those times so now my dad no longer works there we can only go during peak times. Salam :)

Anonymous said...

Screaming bloody children?!

As a fellow Muslim I'm shocked that you say that about kids. That's not a nice way of thinking. :(

It sure might be trendy or acceptable in the west to hate kids, but to talk about them like that ... shame on you.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Anonymous: I apologise, I was joking.

Please put a name next time, thanks :)

Sami said...

Its funny because there are more women than men, but there is more space for men...does that mean there are more muslims men than muslim women?

Madiha said...

Asslam o Alikum
Dear sister!
MASHA ALLAH nice discussion above. I have to come in your blog in first. Really you doing good job. I want to appreciate you on your job. I like it. Like as you know that every Muslim want to perform Hajj and Umrah in your life in once time.
If you were curious as to where on earth I have been for the last 3 weeks, I went to Umrah ALHAMDULILLAH. I haven't been for the last few years and my oh my has there been some changes.