Making Umra

October 10, 2006 – Tuesday

Current mood:
Religion and Philosophy

As I mentioned via the earlier posting, after we had our iftar we departed for the Grand Mosque to make our umrah.  The Grand Mosque (or haram as it is referred to in arabic) is less than a 10 minute drive from Abdullah’s mom’s home.  As we got closer to the Grand Mosque the traffic became quite thick.  Even before one sees the Grand Mosque you see the glow in the sky because it is lit so brightly.  Even in the darkest of night it glows like the brighest beacon becoming and welcoming those who visit.I must admit my very first impression was both awestruck and intimidating.  Awestruck because the Grand Mosque is so very majestic.  Intimidating because there are literally thousands upon thousands of people.  I think it would be a fair comparison to say that entering the Grand Mosque for the first time must be similar for a Catholic who is visiting the vatican.  After one checks there shoes and enters the Grand Mosque you immediately feel and sense a holy presence.  In my opinion the Kabah is much bigger when one sees it in real life than viewed from tv or photographs.I’ll need to follow up on this post to fully and accurately describe umrah for I’m not sure of the correct words for the rituals and procedures performed.  I know it took us about 2.5 hours and during that period we first walked in a circle around the Kabah 7 times.  At specific intervals one would say specific prayers to umrah.  The next step was to go to an area where one says the traditional Islamic prayer and then it is onward to another area within the Grand Mosque to again walk 7 times in a specific area and again, saying prayers.  When completed one then goes and quenches their thirst with zamzam water (which is similar to holy water).Again I reiterate this is only a very basic description and one which I must return to and add further details.In the Grand Mosque one will see men, women and children of every color and from every country.  For most, this is likely the most important and meaningful moment of their life.  It is a dream of every Muslim to have the opportunity and honor to perform umrah and hajj.  Umrah can be performed at any time whereas hajj can only be performed one time per year during the specific Hajj period.  Hajj is also more involved and is performed over a 3/4 day period.I mentioned how crowded the Grand Mosque is and Abdullah either held my hand or I latched on to the back of his cloth so we would not be separated and lose one another.  One of Abdullah’s nieces also accompanied us and it was very special all being together as a close knit group.We were fortunate that while we performed our umrah, the imam was saying prayers at the same time.  Abdullah would explain what he was saying to me from time to time.This was a wonderful entre to Mecca and to the next chapter of my and Abdullah’s life together.

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3 Responses

  1. maybe a little more than

    ” Experiences & observations of a former American diplomat now married to a Saudi and living in KSA… ”

    would help us in understanding your perspective to this.
    long time in between 2006 – 2008, any thing else to share ?

  2. Hi Tango48…sorry, perhaps I’m dense today but could you expand on your comment…I’m not following what else you are wishing to be shared!

  3. […] most new arrivals to Saudi Arabia, if possible, they wish to perform Umrah.  After hurriedly meeting and greeting Abdullah’s extended family on our arrival to Saudi […]

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