Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Umrah Travelogue - Part 2

King Abdul Aziz International Airport (Jeddah's Hajj Terminal)
This airport is frequently used to handle pilgrims who are taking part in Hajj and umrah.  I departed from Malaysia in the morning and arrived in the Jeddah's airport in the evening. The flight will usually last between 8 to 9 hours and the time zone in Saudi Arabia is about 5 hours later than Malaysia.

The most common problem that people will face at this airport will be the attitude of the immigration officer. It has been cited by many blogs including by my friends, and they have warned me in advance, that you should expect delay for several hours at this airport.

In my own experience, I was stuck at the airport for more than 5 hours. The immigration officer keeps on talking to themselves and intermittently close the counter without any proper explanation, and later ask the people who has been waiting for the past few hours to move on to the next counter.

Despite there were only two flights that arrived in the airport at that time, the immigration officers took about 5 hours to process the passengers from these two flights. Just imagine the situation when they are handling thousands of Hajj pilgrims during Hajj season.

Personally, I took this as a test to measure my patience. Let us hope that this situation will be improved in the future. 

view of the airport with it's unique design of the roof

Madinah al Munawwarah
After the delay at the airport, we travelled to Madinah via chartered buses. The journey took us about 6 hours with a stop in the middle of the travel for dinner. Madinah is located about 400km northeast of Jeddah. By this time, all of us were already sleep deprived and tired. Most of us were asleep during this journey.

Image taken from Google Map

The picture above shows the location of the hotel in comparison to the Prophet's Mosque. Most of the hotels are located to the north and west side of the Holy Mosque. I stayed in one of those hotels and it was within walking distance to the Holy Mosque.

The Baqi cemetery is located to the southeast of the Holy Mosque. This is the cemetery of the Prophet's companion.

I will take more about Madinah in the following post...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Umrah Travelogue - Part 1

Alhamdulillah, I have returned from my trip to Meccca and Madinah one week ago. The trip lasted about 2 weeks and within those periods, many significant events happened in Malaysia. 

First was the massive flood that involves multiple states in Malaysia. My hometown was also not spared from the disaster and even my own parent has to relocate as my house was next to Sungai Perak. Half of my hometown was flooded for more than one week.

Second was the crash of Indonesia Air Asia aeroplane. Until today, they are still looking for the dead passengers and the black box. This event will have significant impact to the future of budget airlines in Indonesia.

Back to my umrah journey. This trip was planned for few months in advance. This is my first time visiting the Holy Land. Alhamdulillah, there were few surprises and lots of nice memory that I have collected throughout the journey.


1.     Travel agent
Many Malaysians used to go to perform umrah via travel agents albeit few will go independently. In my case, I follow the majority and arrange the entire trip using a travel agent. There are many travel agents available in Malaysia and it is up to you to choose which agent suits you the best

2.     Knowledge
In order to perform umrah while hoping that it will be blessed by Allah, we need to increase our knowledge and learn the best way to perform this act of worship. In this matter, I read few guides of umrah and explore hundreds of blogs regarding their experience at Mecca and Madinah.

3.     Physical
The journey at Mecca and Madinah requires lots of stamina. Umrah is a physical form of worship. During the trip, I used the pedometer app in my smartphone and on average, I walked about 20000-25000 steps per day which translates to about 18-23km per day!

4.     Spiritual
This is a journey to cleanse a soul and a time for self-reflection. This is not a journey of shopping, photography or any worldly matter. Prior to the trip, it was advisable to perform night prayers and frequently asked forgiveness from Allah for any wrongdoings, whether intentional or unintentional. Personally, I always check regarding my nawaitu of visiting the Holy Land. It is best to go there with an open, sincere heart and willing to prepare for any tests that we will encounter during this journey.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Letting go.....

A long hiatus indeed....

For the past 5 years, I have been privileged to manage wide range of patients, from all walks of life.

One of the most challenging aspects in my work profession is to deal with the end of life care.

In medical school, most of us will be taught the latest evidence and the proper medical care to save live. In fact, most folks would always expect their doctor to do utmost care to save their loved ones. In the same line of thinking, it will be a big surprise to most people when the doctors informed them that there is nothing much that the modern medicine can do when the patient has been receiving multiple treatment and investigation. 

On a personal note, it is very difficult and emotionally taxing when someone close to you is dying and leaving you forever. 

Naturally, we will do as much as possible within our limited capacity and time to overcome those impossible boundaries. The boundary of death, of which separates the two universe. 

The world of death is always associated with fear, anxiety, guilt and extreme sadness. Every time someone passing through the graveyard or saw someone just passed away, most of the time it will invoke our subconscious emotion. It will remind us of those who have left us in the past. 

When faced with this scenario, I would always remind myself that things happen for a reason, which may remain invisible for now.

On the authority of Abdullah bin Abbas, who said : One day I was behind the prophet and he said to me:
"Young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice] : Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the Nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried."

The life of the world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The abode of the hereafter—that is truly Life if they only knew. (Surat al-'Ankabut: 64)

Al-Fatihah to my beloved aunty who passed away few days ago and to my grandfather who passed away exactly one year ago. 

May Allah give great courage and wisdom to my 28 year old sister in-law who recently been diagnosed with advanced metastatic cancer.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Gaza and MH17

Two scenes that has different outcome....

It is disheartening for me to see that innocent people are being killed mercilessly and that we are defenseless and powerless to change the outcome of those scenario.

In time of Ramadhan, let us wish that Allah grant a place in heaven for those innocent people and grant peace for all Muslims.
298 people killed in the MH17 disaster. Over 600 killed in Gaza. The elite western reaction to these two different tragedies – one still ongoing – tells us so much about the world we live in. 

Even though no conclusive evidence has yet been produced that rebels in the east of Ukraine did shoot down the Malaysian airliner, Western elites, neocon and faux-left commentators have gone on a foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Russian frenzy holding President Putin personally responsible for the deaths and hurling abuse at those of us who don’t join in the “It’s all Russia’s fault” blame game. 

Although we don't have conclusive proof that Russia did supply the rebels with the equipment that would enable them to shoot down an aircraft travelling at such a high altitude (Russia has issued firm denials), we are told that “the world is watching Putin” and that Russia must be punished with yet more sanctions. 

Yet in Gaza, we know for sure who is doing the killing or at least the vast majority of it. However, there is no elite condemnation of Israel here – just silence, or else repeated platitudes about how Israel is justified in launching a military operation on grounds of “self defense” and how Hamas must stop its rocket attacks. Whatever Israel does, even if it’s killing children who were playing football on the beach, there are excuses made for its behavior.

 Anyone watching the events of the past week from another planet would find it all rather bewildering.