My Spiritual Odyssey

A Journey to Makkah for Umrah

Shereen Shabnam

After years of living in the Middle East, I finally went on my Umrah journey, often described as a ‘lesser pilgrimage,’ but the spiritual weight it carries is anything but minor. I embarked on this journey with a heart full of hope and a soul yearning for spiritual closeness. What I found was an experience that transcended my expectations and left me profoundly changed.

From the moment I was picked up from the airport the journey was seamless. The Pullman Hotel, right on the doorstep of the mosque served as a sanctuary of comfort, setting the stage for the spiritual odyssey that awaited me. Here, I met fellow pilgrims from all corners of the globe, each with their own stories and spiritual quests.

The diversity of the Muslims was striking. From different countries and cultures, we were all united in our purpose. The conversations I had were enriching, adding layers of depth to my own understanding of faith and humanity.

The Heart of Makkah

Setting foot in Makkah was like stepping into another realm. The air was thick with devotion, and the sight of the Kaabah struck me with an overwhelming sense of awe. Words fail to capture the emotions that surged through me; it’s an understanding that perhaps only those who have been in its presence can truly grasp. The electric atmosphere as you go around the Kaabah consumes every part of your being in the most beautiful way and it finally dawns on you why so many people around the world sacrifice all they have to have a moment at the Kaabah.

The Act of Umrah

Performing Umrah was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The crowds were a sea of unwavering focus, each individual lost in their prayers as they circled the Kaabah. It was a moment frozen in time, a collective act of worship that I will carry in my heart forever. While I did some of my own prayers, some of the duas chanted by the groups were so melodious that I followed the different ones at various stages of my time there.

The Walk Between the Hills

The Sa’i, or the walk between the hills of Safa and Marwah, was a physical challenge that paled in comparison to the spiritual upliftment it provided. Despite the ache in my legs, an inexplicable strength propelled me forward. I prayed in between, for my parents, relatives, friends, and even for myself—each step a testament to human resilience and divine grace.

The City That Never Sleeps

Makkah is a city that defies the norms of time. Its pulse is constant, and the energy is infectious. The streets are alive with the spirit of worship, commerce, and community. It’s a city you never want to leave, a city that holds you in its spiritual embrace. If you need to eat at 2am or 4am in the morning, the restaurants are buzzing with people of all ages from all over the world.

The Melodious Azaan

The call to prayer, or Azaan, was the symphony that elevated my Umrah experience. Its melody resonated with the very core of my being, compelling me to join the congregation for each prayer. It was as if the Azaan had unlocked a deeper level of devotion within me.

Lessons afrom Umrah

My journey to Umrah was a spiritual milestone. It brought me closer to God and opened my eyes to my own strength—both physical and spiritual. It taught me the joy of giving through zakaat and reaffirmed my faith and Iman. Above all, it made me grateful for every blessing, big or small, that I have been granted. The journey was a tapestry of experiences, woven together by threads of faith, resilience, and divine love. It was a pilgrimage of the soul, a journey that has left an indelible mark on my spiritual canvas. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

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