The first time I visited Masjid Al Haram, or the Grand Mosque as it is also known, in Mecca, was two years back on a Hajj trip. I was 30 years old. There was an immediate connection and sense of belonging I felt. I left there wanting my kids to experience the same feelings and connection and made du’a to be able to bring them there soon.
I wanted my children to be able to go at their young and impressionable age so that they would develop a deep love, longing, and attachment to the holy cities of Mecca and Medinah. By the grace of Allah, we were invited to perform the blessed journey of Umrah with our 8-yr-old daughter and 4-yr-old son recently. I kept telling them how much Allah loves them that He invited them at such young ages.
Their perception of what the Kaa’ba would be like was very fantasy-like. Mecca and Medinah were lands far, far away, until now. In school, they had studied all the rituals that we partake in and knew that we face the Kaa’ba for prayers. However, standing in front of it and praying was a completely different reality for them.
Performing tawaf around the Kaa’ba and running between the mountains of Safa and Marwa were new forms of worship for them. One of their favorite experiences was to hug the Kaa’ba and cling onto its cloth. They grabbed onto the door of the Kaa’ba and asked Allah to let them into His Home. My son shook hands with one of the Imams of the Haram. They saw Prophet Ibrahim’s footprints and were mesmerized by its’ great size. “He must have been so tall!” they screamed in amazement.
They enjoyed tasting the blessed zam zam water from its tap and quenching their thirst like Hajarah, the wife of Ibrahim.
In Medinah, the kids soaked in the city’s coolness and calmness. They greeted their Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the city where he spent some very important years of his life. They sent their blessings to the great martyrs of Islam and companions of his time. They greeted the blessed mountain of Uhud, ate the favorite dates of the Prophet, stepped where the Prophet may have stepped, and prostrated where he may have done the same. They cried as we left the holy cities, wanting to stay behind.
They now have such a depth to their understanding of where our religion and beliefs centralize. They got a sense of their “roots” being in the Grand Mosque where they felt at home, connecting to their identities first and foremost as Muslims. They saw all colors of the rainbow praying together, worshipping the same Lord. That helped to greatly expand their perspective of the beauty and universality of Islam. The kids conversed with many Muslims from all different parts of the world and heard supplications in all kinds of languages. Most importantly, they now know where they truly belong.
Tayyaba is a freelance journalist from Illinois. She has been featured on NPR and writes for numerous publications. She also speaks about marriage and family. Most importantly, she is blessed to be a mother of two little adventurers and blogs atwww.tayyabasyed.blogspot.com.