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Saturday 25th March 2017
Encounter

Monday, January 4th, 2016

My wife Sameera and I were in Mecca to perform umrah. As per the textbook, we’d diligently prepared ourselves beforehand. We read through the various umrah materials and also sought the advice of others that had been on umrah before us. It was our first umrah and it became a night and experience we wouldn’t forget.

Come the second night, as we wrapped up at Masjid Aisha miqat point and while waiting for our bus back to the Haram, a large crowd boards the same bus as us. The crowd was large enough to fit into two buses let alone one, and what a lively bunch they were! The buses soon filled with the sound of the talbiya “Labbayka Allāhumma Labbayk. Labbayk Lā Sharīka Laka Labbayk. Inna l-Ḥamda, Wa n-Niʻmata, Laka wal Mulk, Lā Sharīka Lak., read beautifully and in harmony by the assembly of pilgrims. As we move off, with the bus windows down, racing to the Haram there is a lossless happiness in glorious surround sound! We can’t help but join in and recite with them. Upon arriving at the Haram, they offered us to join their umrah group. Their warmth and smiles were not something to pass up, and so we joined them as guests of a large group of family members and townspeople of the blessed lands of Syria. Their group comprised of the elderly and wheelchair bound to the young and effervescent children that took turns to ride with us.

Sameera joined the group of ladies, all of whom were holding hands. I joined the men, some of them in front of the women folk and others taking up the rear as we proceeded through the same umrah rights as the night before, but this night had a palpably different spirit, soul and an echoing serenity that I will never forget.

We exchanged details but never managed to stay in touch. So I pray from the bottom of my heart that these angelic figures, that held out their hand of friendship, support and guidance on that night, are able to find the same serenity in these troubling times.

This is my memory of Syria and its people. May Allah SWT grant them and us all His mercy.

Hashim Farooq, London.

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