Dear Diary: Search for peace… । Zakiyra Ahmed

I’ve always been in search of peace. After my hands failed to find what’s lost, my eyes failed to search for it, soon I was also deaf to peace. My world was in turmoil. Lost in myself, in my own hands, the government just became an excuse to ease my scrambled mind. Entering Saudi, reading out the Talbiyah with every beat of my worn out heart, each blood cell started to open up. Purifying myself, keeping myself in the state of ihram itself softened every vein and artery in me. As I walked, eyes glazed over, through the gates of King Farhad I slowly lifted my gaze. It was after Zuhr so the sun was hanging high, beating down on the ummah and my heart raced faster and faster till it was an animal being tamed by the rib cage. We passed the gate and the Ka’bah emerged. Takbeer rolled off my tongue and tears blurred the last of my vision. Somehow I became blind to everything but His house. Seeing the Ka’bah drowned my soul in the sweetness that it was searching for. Mere human words are not enough to describe it. The feeling, the beauty. Before seeing the Ka’bah I had a few things in mind, a few things that I wanted to pray for the dunya, such as a job, grades, money. But somehow after seeing the Ka’bah all I could pray for was my akhirah, all I could think about was dying after pleasing my Lord on the holy lands itself. with every turn of the tawaf my heart softened more and more till it was fragile and swollen filled with the love and mercy of my creator. I couldn’t contain my tears, as hard as I tried, a soft weeping sound managed to escape me and the tears stained the canvas that was a stranger to the wetness for months before. The canvas that was my pink pinched cheeks.

Makkah was hot, though the winter months made it bearable, the midday sun burnt me and the city was always busy and crowded with people basking in the sweat of his neighbour. Yet somehow in the air hung this secret peace, possibly the constant dhikr that kept the angels protecting each of Allah’s slaves. The presence of the Ka’bah and the magical history behind the city alone, must be enough to purify the lands all over. When the call for prayer begun the city put aside their dunya doings, their businesses and family problems and everyone made their way towards the scintilating brilliant white tiles, before entering the beauty that was Masjid-ul-Haram. A piece of art. The city bowed before Ar-Rahman as one united ummah, for that short while, each heart was connected through the love for our sustainer. Tawaf was constant and became part of daily life whilst in Makkah, before and after Fajr, one in midday and one late at night after Isha before tahajjud. My feet were in agony until I started a tawaf, then suddenly the pain leaked away, I was numb to any struggles. Despite the midday sun, the sweat between my brows and the pain in my legs, I never wanted to stop. Each time the tears would run as if I had never cried before. ‘Oh Allah take me when you are pleased with me and take me whilst in sujood on these very lands, Allah I beg you’. After my last tawaf I turned and left my gaze on the golden door, drowning and choking on my own tears, ‘Allahu akbar Allahu akbar la ilaha ilallah’, ‘please Allah invite me back soon my Lord’. 

Birds nested in the chandeliers in the masjids, you could hear them tweeting away throughout and outside they glided close to the tiles in flocks, yet never ever did I see bird mess anywhere.

Medina however was completely different. A difference too extreme to be understood purely through my descriptions. The sheer number of people was still extreme but the city was quiet and cool. The weather reflected the personality of our rasoolullah peace be upon him- amicable, hushed and homelike. It honestly felt like home. Home is where the heart is don’t forget, though, Makkah is definitely where my heart and soul will rest and remain forever. The people in Medina were calm and the flow of the lifestyle was undisturbed and harmonious. It got extremely cold early in the mornings and late at night, to the point where coats and scarves and gloves became a necessity, the rest of the day was cool with an invisible breeze that kept the city breathing. Masjid-ul-Nabawi was elegant and magical. Constant salutations were being sent out to His messenger peace be upon him, as you walked around in and out of the masjid you could hear the salams on peoples tongues. My last ziyarah was almost as heartbreaking as my last tawaf, leaving the Rawdah was painful. All I could do was pray that Allah gives me the tawfiq to return someday. 

One thing I found absolutely outstanding was how clean both cities remained, despite the vast number of people. People were constantly cleaning but never daring to disturb the hajis. Birds nested in the chandeliers in the masjids, you could hear them tweeting away throughout and outside they glided close to the tiles in flocks, yet never ever did I see bird mess anywhere. Cats roamed around weaving through my legs, nestling in the train of my abaya when I finished my prayer, yet not a hairball to be seen. A mirace of Allah.

The worst part of the whole experience was easy to identify. Leaving Saudi was possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, it goes beyond struggles of GCSE’s and A levels. As the plane took off, the lights of the holy lands started to fade into the darkness until they became blinking stars and then nothing but the afterglow of the city’s bliss remained.  Clouds shrowded over the last of the pure winds and my tears again, led me to a state of uncotrollable shaking. I found my peace. Never again will I forget. Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabaraktuh. 

Zakiyra Ahmed

Student at University of Sussex. Areas of interest is in Science, art and creative writings. Contact details: zakiyraahmed@gmail.com

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