Towards the end of December last year my family and I embarked on a journey that was a reality of a dream we’d been working towards for a long time, to go for Umrah (minor pilgrimage) with the children.
There were many aspects that we had to prepare before we left, teaching the children the history of where we were going, the prayers and rituals that we had to perform and in general just more Islamic knowledge.
(There were also logistical preparations and extra considerations we had to make when travelling with young children…post on this to follow soon)
When our tickets and bookings were confirmed we immediately started with the spiritual preparations. Every night the usual bedtime stories were replaced with stories about the cities of Makkah and Madeenah, the prophets, and major Islamic History events that played out in these cities.
For the different prayers, namely salaam and salaat (sending prayers of peace and blessing upon Nabi Muhammed saw) as well the Talbiyah (a prayer when entering Makkah), I simply found many different recordings and would continuously play them in the car, at home, randomly start singing them, and the kids learnt these very easily and without much effort.
The childrens own enthusiasm and excitement for the upcoming trip contributed greatly to their willingness to learn, and absorb as much as they did, in such a short time. The fact that these lessons were so quickly followed up by the actual trip, visiting the different sites, experiencing the uniqueness of those special lands, really brought the history to life for them!
Before we left, there were many nay-sayers, who said that the children were too young for such a trip, that it would be too rigid and restrictive for them and that it wouldn’t feel like a holiday. I am more than delighted to say that the children enjoyed it thoroughly! They were fascinated by the many different people we met, from Palestine to Turkey to India to Germany to Pakistan to Yemen. They loved discovering how diverse this ummah truly is.
In Madeenah, they climbed Mount Ru’maa, next to Mount Uhud, visited a date farm, went to an exhibition, all this in addition to the many other musjids and prayers they attended.
In Makkah too, we visited Cave Thaur, Cave of Hira, Arafah, Muzdalifah, Mina. They saw the Ka’aba, made tawaaf, performed salaah in the rain, made salaam with one of the Imaams of the Haram!
All of this coupled with the excitement of staying in hotels, air-planes, busses, escalators, lifts, buffet breakfasts, foreign icecream parlours and chocolate shops made it truly an unforgettable, yet wonderfully spiritually enlightening trip for the whole family!
May Allaah accept all of our efforts, and grant every one of us the opportunity to visit the Holy Lands again and again! Ameen.