Episode 02: The 8-hour plane ride to Saudi Arabia

The plane ride was something else. Saudi Airlines was, by my definition, Mumtaz. I’ve never felt so privileged before, taking a plane even though my seat was under economy class, and placed at the back of the airplane. Before take off, they reminded us of the dua’ when travelling,

اللهُ أَكْبَرُ ، اللهُ أَكْبَرُ ، اللهُ أَكْبَرُ سُبْحَانَ الَّذِيْ سَخَّرَ لَناَ هَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لَهُ مُقرِنِيْنَ وإِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّناَ لمُنْقَلِبُوْنَ ، اَلَّلهُمَّ إنَّا نَسْألُكَ فِيْ سَفَرِناَ هَذَا البِرَّ وَالتَّقْوَى ومِنَ العَمَلِ ماَ تَرْضَى اَلَّلهُمَّ هَوِّنْ عَلَيْناَ سَفَرَناَ هَذَا وَاطْوِ عَنَّا بُعْدَهُ. الَلَّهُمَّ أَنتَ الصَّاحِبُ فِيْ السَّفَرِ والخَلِيفَةُ في الأَهْلِ الّلهُمَّ إنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ وَعْثاءِ السَّفَرِ وكَآبَةِ المَنْظَرِ وسُوْءِ المُنْقَلَبِ في المَالِ والأَهْلِ .

Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, How perfect He is, The One Who has placed this (transport) at our service, and we ourselves would not have been capable of that, and to our Lord is our final destiny. O Allah, we ask You for birr and taqwaa in this journey of ours, and we ask You for deeds which please You. O Allah, facilitate our journey and let us cover its distance quickly. O Allah, You are The Companion on the journey and The Successor over the family, O Allah, I take refuge with You from the difficulties of travel, from having a change of hearts and being in a bad predicament, and I take refuge in You from an ill fated outcome with wealth and family.

 

and I thought that is a great way to remind us of who we should rely upon in everything we do, including travelling.  There is musolla in Saudi Airlines, something which I was told is the only airline that provides that. But I think Emirates or any of the middle east airlines do provide it too. I’m just assuming. The conundrum that every pilgrims faced then was, which way was the Qiblah?

Our ustadh told us that when you pray in the plane, just follow the plane’s direction of the destination the pilot’s heading to, which was to Makkah. Come prayer time I confirmed with him again just to ensure that I was doing it right, but even if there wasn’t any musolla, you can still pray sitting without the need to follow the Qiblah. There was a pilgrim who was not satisfied with the fact that we should just follow the direction where the plane was headed to, but my ustadh was calm in dealing with the man. He reasoned through his understanding and after a while the man calmed down and the exchange of knowledge continued while I went on and pray.

The meal times was surprisingly good; I will attest to the fact that the briyani they served on board is much better than any briyani I’ve tasted on land in Singapore! So next time if you want a good briyani, take a trip to the North West and you’ll be served with a good plate of briyani 🙂

Anyway, I love the fact how the small screen in front of us are filled with many educational videos to watch. There were a few apps of the Qur’an, and that is something I was excited about. Nothing soothes your heart more than the Words of your Maker, Allah  The Almighty. Of course, there was entertainment too, but I didn’t fancy the movies much, nor the dramas. Since I wasn’t on my ihram yet, that paranoia comes kicking in as to when I should wear it. For those doing ‘Umrah, we should be in our ihram and we should intend to do ‘Umrah before entering into the meeqat, or else there would be repercussions to it. Our entrance was through the Yalamlam meeqat, and the good thing is the pilot will always announce to get into your ihram and prepare to be in the state of Ihram.

I put mine 1 or 2 hours before, and after wearing it, the next concern came in: fearing it would become loose and I’d become bare naked in front of other pilgrims. I still think it’s the funniest thing that could happen, but I ask Allah to protect us from any humiliation. Usually during this time the pilgrims would start to rush to the toilet and change their clothes into just two white cloths, of which its thickness is like a bath robe, preparing to humble themselves before Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

The Talbiyah. We were told to recite the talbiyah as often as possible until we reach masjidil haram. To concentrate and do it every moment might be a rare occurence, because honestly, the mind sways easily. But to recite and embrace the meaning is of a humbling experience, because it reminds you of the fact that one, you are going to become an honoured guest to the most beloved place of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. Two, it rectifies your intention, that you’re going to Makkah to perform the ‘Umrah, and that all the sightseeing and other activities are secondary. Three, you are reminding yourself of how weak you are as a human being, and that you are coming to Allah to get your sins erased.

8 hours of sitting and pondering upon the beauty outside. By the time we reached Riyadh, it was already close to 12 AM…

 

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