Umrah in my 30's vs 20's


I'm just back from being called again to the blessed lands of Makkah and Madinah to make Umrah with my family, Alhamdulillah!

I previously made Hajj about 8 years ago. That was my first pilgrimage and only my second trip overseas. It was an amazing experience, one that definitely lasts a lifetime- both the five days of hajj itself as well as the Umrah and visit to Madinah that accompanies it.

I'm calling this post umrah in my 30's vs 20's, to refer to the contrast between the two trips I have had to visit Makkah and Madinah, but I'm not entirely sure what is behind the differences I felt between the previous visit and this one , but whatever it was , I found an interesting contrast that's worth thinking over.

The first difference was that on this trip I felt more connected with other hajjis ( other people performing umrah). My first trip was during the time of hajjso the crowds were intense - and it was challenging for me; my test I called it. As a result I think I resisted the crowds and tried to stay away ( which is impossible of course as they are everywhere !) 
But this time, Subhanallah I was open and more relaxed with people around me. As a result my experience was richer and more meaningful. I relished in giving out sweets and gifts, handing out Zam Zam and speaking to people from Palestine, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt. These were small efforts, and I wish I could have done more but evry moment that I spent interacting I really enjoyed. This time, I embraced the crowds, worked alongside rather than against them and Alhamdulillah this was so fulfilling. May Allah accept.

Second difference : finding quiet time to pray, think and even plan! Yip, in Madinah, I found myself so clear in my mind it was wonderful. I used to find it noisy and busy on my first trip, I think I let everything around me get to me! This time I relaxed in my environment and tried to find my own space to do my thing, which was amazing. I could spend lots of time praying this way. I felt peaceful, satisfied and it was a very fulfilling experience. Rest and having meals felt more enjoyable as well as it came after spending a long time praying in the haram.

I also noticed that on my previous trip I followed my books strictly, not wanting to miss a single recommended dua even if it meant navigating crowds in tawaf with my faithful books in my hand. I feel that now, a bit older (and wiser?), I paid more attention to closely guarding the duas from sunnah of course, but that I found my own duas and zikr to make at significant times, that resonated with me at the time. In this way, I was more engaged and made the tawaf for instance more meaningful- and personal. 

It's not that one way was better than the other, it's just some observations that have stood out for me as being interesting and worth sharing.

Lastly, the highlight of my first trip was the five days of hajj for sure - I loved camping in the tents of Minah, sleeping under the stars in Muzdalifa and making friends for life during those special days.

The highlight of my second umrah this year was climbing up Jabl al Nur to reach the Cave of Hira. 
But you'll have to wait to read my next post for more on that exhilarating experience!

May Allah accept, forgive my shortcomings and take us all on this marvellous journey!



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