Yes, I am here or am I?

The temperature outside was soaring high… I stood on the balcony of our rented apartment and found myself shielding my eyes from the sun, it was only 10am. I sighed and went back to bed, there was no way we could go out in this heat.

It was our second day in the city of Jeddah and I was so relaxed and happy. Umrah and Medina had been amazing but I was exhausted. The summer flu I had caught in Medina was gradually wearing off but it had taken a toll on my body, it was like the energy had been drained out of me. Rest and plenty of it was what was needed. But I knew I had to grasp it when I could as this beautiful city had to be explored and we didn’t have many days left in our trip here.

20120828-104045.jpg I was blessed I truly was. When I entered the Haram Shareef and walked the walk towards the Ka’ba my heart soared and my eyes filled with tears. I kept thinking in my heart “Am I really here, again!” This was my second trip to this blessed city. First time I was in awe that finally I was actually seeing something I’d only heard about and seen on TV and in books, I was here. I said in my heart to my beloved creator “You must truly love me to bring me here” This time was no different. The tears welled up in my eyes, the lump in my throat got bigger, I was speechless. Yes! me Speechless! “Ya Allah! you must really love me to bring me here again! Ya Allah…”

You are right I was emotional. The tears started to flow, I couldn’t see where I was going, I had to stop and regain my composure but I couldn’t I was too overwhelmed.

Suddenly every pain and hurt that I’d suffered in the past started to race through my mind, it was like I was telling Him look what I’ve been through, I am hurting I am in pain that is why I’m here. I want you to heal me, give me peace and let me sleep, just want to sleep in peace. Help me, I am here because I need your help.

It was all rushing to me at once. I was shocked and disturbed at my reaction as I hadn’t planned or thought about anything. The journey had been exhausting from Glasgow, we had been travelling for over 24 hours before we arrived in Mekkah. My mind was more on performing Umrah rather than anything else. I was nervous and excited entering the Harram, I had butterflies in my stomach but that hadn’t bothered me much.

This second time I suppose I was maturer and understood more and the significance of being here. I sat on the steps that led down to the area where the ka’ba stands and let the tears flow. I was exhausted, my journey was longer than the 24 hours it had taken to get here. When you decide to come here that is when your emotional journey begins. You think about it, you wonder about it and sometimes you even dream about it. You have things in your heart you want to say and pray, each step you take here is of great significance. From the moment you enter the Harram and you start walking towards what is the very centre of your existence. There is a prayer, a thought, a moment with every step.

I was here, but am I really here? In heart and soul have I truly arrived? It’s crazy questions but you can’t stop thinking is this it? Is this really it?

To be continued…

 

Heads Do Roll

By now most of you know I was abroad in KSA (Kingdom of Saudia Arabia) Naturally I was there for the pilgrimage to perform Umrah (Not Haj as many thought… that is only once a year and will be performed in about 3 months time)

I hadn’t been away for a good few years so it was great to get away and what better place to be with Ramadan approaching to aswell. This was to be my second visit to this amazing country

KSA is truly an extraordinary country, not only the obvious as being the focus of millions of muslims and the birth place of our beloved prophet. The culture and the country itself is mesmerizing.

I’m British born with my roots going back to Pakistan so religion and culture is nothing new… women being covered from head to foot in black is nothing unusual for me. But yet, still, you see the allure and mystery and wonderment of it all.

Our last days were spent in the city of Jeddah and this is where we got a real taste of what life really is like in Saudia… while on a sight-seeing tour of the city our drive pointed out many things and we got out and looked, photographed, visited and moved on.

We passed this beautiful white building that was built like a mosque, it caught my eye because the sun was hitting of it making it sparkle like a diamond… (We were in a moving car so the pics came out really blur so can’t put them up) Before I got to ask our driver and guide if this was a mosque he pointed out this is the place where beheadings take place, yes you heard right, beheadings.

We all scrambled to look over to the left side of our car and what we saw in front of this magnificent building was a gazebo type of structure on a platform and were told “yeah under there”

“They do it here… in public?” I asked “Have you seen it… “

“Yes, many a time, it’s always after Friday prayers” he replied. He then proceeded to tell us that when the prisoner is brought out he has already been drugged so he isn’t aware of what is really going on around him. Hence why they are so calm and placid. The swordsman raises his hand and in one fell swoop he beheads him/her.

I felt a shiver run up my spine and the hairs on my arms and neck stand up. I couldn’t explain my reaction but the questions kept coming. Why? Really it’s in public? Can anyone watch?

My mind was distracted now. I lost all interest in the rest of the evening all I could think of was what I had seen and the effect it was having on me. I couldn’t explain it. But for someone like me who never watches horror movies and can’t stand blood and gore… I have to confess I was fascinated. Not by the thought of the blood etc but just by the whole thing from start to finish.

Why would anyone commit any crime in a country where the answer to most offences is getting your head choppedoff?or your hand. In Saudia you will be beheaded for murder, rape, drug trafficking, sodomy, armed robbery, apostasy and many other so called crimes. It does have one of the lowest crime rates in the world and you can clearly see why. A prisoner will be made an example of and I also learnt that you are encouraged by officials to watch this event whether you want to or not, by being pushed to the front of the crowd or like what I saw, performing the beheading in an area that can be viewed by passers-by and traffic.

What is going through the prisoner’s mind when they are being taken to this place, where everyone is going to be witness to their crime and death? Does he/she have regrets? Is he hoping for a miracle? And my main thought was how is this done? Does he sit or lie down or stand up… I wanted to know. I had to know. My interest was now triggered and I didn’t care how awful, barbaric or gory it sounded I had to see for myself but where and how?

It’s taken place on a Friday when there is a case. We were leaving Friday morning and there was nothing going on that day. I returned back to Glasgow feeling a little let down but my imagination would not rest, I had to see it somehow. So off I went to the place where anything and everywhere is possible, yes YouTube, blessed YouTube.

(im not posting the videos here if anyone wants to watch them they are easy to find)

I was mesmerised, I watched them again and again. The prisoner kneels on the ground with his head bowed and the sword is brought down in one simple stroke the body falls and the head rolls away. You can see the blood spurting from the body like a fountain. The executor quickly jumps back so he doesn’t get splashed, he doesn’t hang about he just briskly walks off.

I cringed at each one and cried too, and at the same time I had to see more but the most compelling video that I am posting isn’t of an actual execution but of the executor himself…

You can clearly see for him this just isn’t a job but there is great pride in what he does and also there is great skill involved… They are just so blase about it it’s shocking.

http://youtu.be/UxmBp23W6nc

I don’t want this post to be about Sharia law or the politics of KSA. It’s just about my reaction etc on discovering the place and what proceeded. If I went into all that I will be here all night. Every country has their way of dealing with crime and many countries still have the death sentence.

This is horrendous and barbaric especially for the reasons they do execute but for them it’s a deterrent for crime and they have the statistics to prove it.

I’m back

Hi guys! Sorry it’s been such a long time since I last posted.

First a young family member was taken ill, while we knew she would be ok dealing with that and the effects of her medication was the hardest part.

Then I went on a very emotional and spiritual journey to Saudia Arabia. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had. This is a country that is the focus for all Muslims but its also one of the most controversial ones too. Especially with its strict shariah laws and ways of dealing with its crime.

Ramadan is here too and today is our first day of fast. Means also I have some time to post and catch up on what you guys have been up to. ( I’m not cooking 10 meals a day…. Yippeee )

So good news is you will be hearing a lot more from me now on.

Yes… It’s true… I’m back :)