Ramadhan 2013 dawned differently. SubhanAllah! After a hectic tour of the Uk and Canada, I found myself in Dubai for Geo ramadan recordings of alasmaa alhusnaa. The cut off date to submit for umrah visas was the 15th of Shaban, the day I submitted my passport. Placing my hope and trust implicitly in Allah subhanahu wa Ta’ala I looked forward to hearing good news despite the fact that visa quota and duration of stay had been cut down.
Alhamdulillah, Allah ‘Azza wa Jall responded to my duas, and visa for the entire month was granted. Little did I know how this Ramadhan was to unfold.
The flight to Jeddah was so comfortable and relaxing! Within minutes we found ourselves through immigration and on our way to Makkah.
This was the first of Ramadhan. After settling in, we proceeded to perform umrah just before maghrib! Truly, no other than the guests of Ar Rahman can receive such honour and welcome. After so very many years, alhamdulillah I was in mataf when azan maghreb started. We were constantly being showered with a variety of dates, cool and refreshing glasses of zam zam and not to forget the hot tea and qahwa! Everyone was racing to please His Rabb, all smiles, and insistent we honour them by accepting their hospitality!! SubhanAllah!
Maghrib prayers were the most memorable ever,as Shaikh Abdul Rahman as Sudais led us into this most blessed month with the ayaat Shahru Ramadhan….. impacting our hearts with the majestic message from The Rabb ul Alameen!
And so after the umrah, each day had a new story unfolding; begun with our visit to the Sudais family, leading to siteseeing tour of Makkah, to the visits of museum and where the kiswa, cover for the Kaaba is made, to the tour up 120 storeys into the Zam Zam clock tower from where the breathtaking beauty of the entire city of Makkah spread out before us!!
In all this, I was amazed to see the efficient management not only in the haram but throughout the city. With so much construction work under way, maximum precautions were being taken to ensure the safety, and safeguard any unnecessary delay and discomfort to the pilgrims. Throughout, all those recruited from the soldiers, to the boy scouts to the women staff all were courteous and exhibited great sabr even though most of them were on duty in the open throughout the day in a state of fasting! Allah reward them with the best in duniyah and aakhirah! Ameen.
As the days passed, I got the opportunity of meeting so many people – some students, some friends, some strangers we befriended. But one lady took me by surprise and held my attention. I was in the elevator with Qudsia and this lady was standing beside us. Now we were all veiled and from behind her veil she greets us and asks us where we are from etc. She introduced herself, welcomed us and took our room number saying it is wajib upon her to send us iftar. SubhanAllah!! Everyday, true to her word an entire feast is sent to our room. And it is all home cooked meal.
Let me tell you a little about her. Her name is Aisha Surrati- originally from Pakistan but a Saudi national now. She herself is a little unwell , yet comes to the haram every Ramadhan to serve the pilgrims. She comes fully prepared, everything planned out, fasting, yet cheerful and smiling throughout.
Her house is in Share’a Sitteen and her apartment in this hotel Al Marwah Rayhaan where she stays the entire month. She has divided the family into two teams – one staying at home and supervising the kitchen and the other helping her with distribution!
The food is prepared at home by her women staff members who are called ‘khalas’, and supervised by her daughters’ in law. Everything is freshly made and served – no leftovers/stale food!! The meat is from her own farm where a container of sheep and goats were flown in from Pakistan and reared!! The desserts, the pakoras and samosas, the fruit salad and cakes all freshly made. This food and dates [ajwa,sukary, saghai] is served to her family, to so many of us in the hotel and to many pilgrims sitting outside the haram. SubhanAllah!
She has especially installed a few refrigerators in her warehouse, stocked with mineral water. Daily her drivers bring in the cold water just before iftari which she personally alongwith her grand daughters distributes to the pilgrims.She does all this hoping solely to please Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.
Besides this she distributes prayer mats to all those sitting under the hot sun and to those in itikaf. Daily from 5:00 pm till adhaan she is serving the pilgrims. She gives nothing but the best – the best of her wealth, time and attention and hopes for nothing but the Redha of Allah.
Yesterday she came to visit me and in all her conversation she said something so touching about her ‘khalas’ [domestic staff]. She said her father always said “Beta treat them with respect and dignity, as you have only bought their hands and not them.” It made me think how do most of us treat our domestic staff – do we show them kindness and respect? Do we help them maintain their dignity and self respect as a human being? Do we serve them fresh food that we have on our tables? If not throughout the year do we even try to do this in Ramadhan?
Do we consciously prepare for Ramadhan like this lady? Do we truly desire the Reda of Allah??
If so, does it show in our actions?
Alhamdulillah, I could see Allah’s rahmah everyday in different ways – whilst we rested, prayed, read the Quran, received guests – but what gave us this stamina was the blessing in the weather that had been bestowed upon us in this peak summer month. Cloudy days with cool breeze even if the sun would be warm for a couple of hours, had a positive effect on our akhlaaq and our energy levels!
And then, the grand finale on the 25th of Ramadhan we were blessed with blessing upon blessing!
Allah rained down HIS MERCY!! A downpour! SubhanAllah! Allah wanted our duas to be accepted, wanted to give us more than we were asking for, was coaxing us into making more duas – it being Friday wherein duas are accepted between asr and maghrib, we were in a state of fasting, it was one of the days of ashr al awakhir and duas are accepted when it is raining!! As if trying to convince us – ask Ask ASK!! Opening all the doors of acceptance! Soo appreciative of our littlest of efforts! Soo Generous in thanking us, in compensating!
فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ