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Photo: Shaykh Yaqoubi greets students after a Shama'il session. Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.


To be invited to the holy cities is an immense blessing from Allah, and to tread on the very same soil that our beloved and most noble Master Muhammad (صلي الله عليه و سلم) also trod, we must undoubtedly count ourselves fortunate beyond what one can ever imagine. To<!--[if !supportAnnotations]--> have been selected amongst hundreds of brothers and sisters much better than ourselves to be a part of the Rihla to Madinah the Radiant we were blessed in so many ways.

One of the most unique aspects of the Rihla was that we were given the opportunity of connecting to our Most Beloved Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) through the recitation and commentary on the Shama’il of Imaam Tirmidhi (also known as Shama’il E Muhammadiyah) with an unbroken chain. This noble task was supremely conveyed to us by our eminent and erudite scholar Shaykh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi Al-Hasani may Allah increase him. So many students on the Rihla made the same assertion, that to be taught the Shama’il in Madinah by Shaykh Muhammad was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Every class was a savoured moment in time, the mental image of the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) being built up in our minds, his Sunnah being brought to life by his grandson. We look back now remembering how Shaykh Muhammad showed us how most eloquently the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) would lick his fingers after a meal, how he would sit and how he would walk with vigour and determination. I remember the description of his illuminated face (صلي الله عليه و سلم) and how a companion came to the conclusion that it was indeed more beautiful than the full moon and his hair that he would care for by placing olive oil in it. Some days we would meet friends and comment on how we saw traits of the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) in people we knew and saw, not a moment would pass by that our attention wouldn’t be brought back to the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) through a deed or spoken word. In studying the Shama’il we all felt so much more connected to the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) and our stay in his city was brought to life.

We were also blessed with Shaykh Muhammad’s presence when we visited the Rawdha, we observed the etiquette with which the Shaykh conducted himself in this, the most holiest of places. I guess it’s difficult for us to understand or even comprehend the manner with which the people who are close to Allah and his Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) make their salutations, after all, they are the true seekers, true heirs. Like Shaykh Hamza Yusuf said, these precious moments will either count for us or against us on the Day of Account. Being sat in the Rawdha was surreal, it was calm and serene, brothers and sisters supplicating, taking stock of the occasion and being mindful to pray in the exact points where the forehead of our Blessed Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) touched, we pray that those days count in our favour. As our gaze wondered, we saw Shaykh Muhammad looking into the Holy enclosure, later amongst friends we spoke about the meeting of the grandson with his Grandfather (صلي الله عليه و سلم). That night we were fortunate enough to witness a meeting of kindred, a meeting like no other.

We sat with him, sang with him, laughed with him and shed tears with him, for this and so much more we are indebted to Shaykh Muhammad for blessing us with his presence physically and spiritually during the Rihla to Madinah.

Photo: Rihla participants gather in the mosque built over the spot where the companions of the Prophet (saw) pledged their allegiance to him (saw). Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.

I read this poem Saintly Places by Sidi Abdal Hayy Moore and it summed up my feelings about the Rihla experience. I don’t know how Sidi Abdal Hayy does it but he always amazes me with his saintly words.

- Ayaz Hyder

Saintly Places
by Daniel Abdal Hayy Moore

We need to stand in saintly places
the way our body needs food to not topple over

We need to go there and find nearness there
even just a rude rock-strewn place where something

saintly took place or is taking place
tombs in giant sepulchers or a rude

rock-strewn place you can feel under your
feet or at the base of the heart the

non-physical saintliness of a real person in whom
God was by that person’s pleasing pleased

and stand there in its crystal waters rushing
past our ears and bathing our limbs the way

careful mothers of all creatures bathe their young
in the same way really we need to

find and stand in saintly places in this world
or stand with saintly ones and

stand with them for a time or for all time
and once found not ever leave their sainted precincts

in time or out of time
but stand with them

in their saintly places or those
who have gone before whose places are still

palpably alive the way even other live places
are not but these places are refuges and

refueling places not known anywhere
else on earth or with any other practitioners

and to stand in the bounty of a saintly place is
indescribable but evident if not then

then now in its great effect and the continuous affect
it has on us to

stand just once or have stood for even a small time
in space
Photo: Shaykh Hamza briefs the students on the Battle of Khandaq. Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.

At the Battle of Khandaq the Muslims had established their largest army to date – they were 3000 men strong. Our blessed prophet (sallallahu alayhih wa salaam) was seeking suggestions on how to prevent defeat and it was Salman (radi Allahu anhu) who proposed building a trench. He explained that in Persia when they feared attack they would create trenches. His brilliant idea was received with great enthusiasm even though it was a foreign technique unused in Arabia. Each set of 10 men was responsible for digging a fixed portion of the trench. Together they worked endlessly and in 6 days achieved a 5 km long trench – a very difficult and quite a miraculous task given that the dimensions of the trench were 7 m wide and 4 m deep, the tools were primitive and the terrain was extremely rough. Although the trench no longer exists, we walked upon the very roads where it once stood. Thereafter, we prayed two rakats in the modest Masjid Al Fat’h, which was the site of the control centre for the battle.

Photo: Students climb the small hill to reach Masjid Fath which was built over what was the Prophet's (saw) command centre. Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.

We were told of Jabir Ibn Abdullah (radi allahu anhu) who was one of the companions working hard at building the trench. His pangs of hunger led him to our master (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam). It was customary in those days to tie rocks to one’s stomach in order to alleviate the pain resulting from prolonged hunger. Jabir (radi allahu anhu) had done so as well and he showed our blessed prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) his rock. As Jabir (radi allahu an) would now learn, he (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) had not one, but two rocks tied to his own stomach! Realizing how much more intense the prophet’s hunger must have been, Jabir (radi allahu anhu) and his wife invited him to join them for whatever little food they had in their dwelling. He accepted their invitation and brought along with him his other fellow companions. Worry overcame Jabir’s wife (radi allah anha) because she knew the food was not ample enough for two people – let alone 10! Our prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) blessed the food with the name of Allah and covered the pot. He then began serving his companions ten at a time. Each time ten men had eaten their fill, they were replaced by another ten until 1,600 men had eaten. The prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) then served himself and the food in the pot remained as it originally was. Shaykh Hamza and Shaykh Abdullah took us to Masjid Bani Haram where this miraculous incident took place. We remained in awe as we stood at the very spot where this incredible meal was eaten and where Allah had demonstrated his Magnanimous Power. (It was also here that the children from the neighborhood gathered to greet Shaykh Hamza because they recognized him from T.V J)

And yes, this is the same Jabir (radi allahu anhu) whose father was the first martyr at Uhud. He (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) told Jabir (radi allahu anhu) that his father was in paradise and that he was asked by Allah The Almighty what he would liked. He wished for nothing more than to die again for His sake. But Allah (SWT) said that would not be granted. So he asked to simply let the people know of his elevated state in the heavens.

Photo: A blind old man makes dhikr in the masjid while the rihla brothers pray. Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.

As the companions continued excavating, their tools were unable to penetrate one very stubborn rock. With no other options left, they suggested diverting the trench around the rock. Upon inspecting the situation himself, the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) raised his axe in the name of Allah and struck the rock. One third of the rock broke off, creating a great light. The prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) then raised the pickax and gave it a second strike and another third of the rock broke. The prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) struck the rock a final time. The entire rock then shattered and glittering light was emitted and seen in the skies. He told his companions that at the first light, Allah (swt) promised him Yemen; at the second he was promised Shaam; and at the third he was promised Persia. Salman (radi allahu anhu) saw this prophecy fulfilled and witnessed the great capitals of Persia, Rome, Syria, Egypt, Iraq being ruled by Muslims. He himself became the governor of Persia. Masjid Al Raya was in the vicinity of where these promises were made. It also served as the first control centre for the battle (it was later moved to Masjid Al Fat’h) and we had the honour of praying within its walls and stepping foot on where our noble prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) may have stepped.

Photo: The female participants perform their two rakaat's nafl prayer. Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.

The battle ended with the nonbelievers camping outside the city for 24 days with no food. Allah sent upon them cool wind and a dust cloud. They were weakened and their camels began to die. Hopelessness overtook them and they retreated before they even began to fight. Allah granted victory to our prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) and his companions.

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