While I have been a couple of times in the Holy Mosque in Makkah, I had never visited Madinah yet. I had once passed it on the way back from Mada’in Saleh – which by the way should be on everyone’s Must See list of places to visit in the Kingdom and which I hopefully will return to and write about in this blog – but I had never seen, let alone entered, the Prophet’s Mosque.
That is until last weekend. Ahmed and I decided to go on a road trip – meaning he drives and I enjoy the views and take pictures – to Madinah on Friday and come back the following day. Many people had already advised me to visit it, and they were absolutely right about the spirit of the place. It’s so much more mystical than the mosque in Makkah, despite this one being second in importance.
There’s something about the hues, the atmosphere – something very hard to describe. I believe the world has several places like this – divine places that transcend religion or civilization and actually feel sacred for all human beings. I think the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah is one of them.
We set off fresh and fruity early Friday morning… or, at least, we were planning to. Ahmed had just come back from a business trip that night, and so we slept until 11, had breakfast, and hit the road just after 12, only to find out the car was out of fuel. Unfortunately, prayer time was only 15 minutes away, and all petrol stations had been closed already. We drove until we didn’t dare to continue and waited over 30 minutes for the gas station to open again.
On the way to Madinah, we came across beautiful wadis with palm trees and even some lakes! Who would have thought? We drove through an impressive landscape of lava and rocky mountains, took plenty of time to take pictures, and reached Madinah just in time to watch sunset at the mosque.
The next day we saw the Prophet’s Mosque by daylight – an impressive view to see all umbrellas opened. What was also impressive was to see the Prophet’s grave and the old, Ottoman part of the mosque.
Before heading back home, we visited Mount Uhud, where the Muslims had lost a battle against the Makkawis during the time of the Prophet (pbuh). We also bought some fresh dates – Madinah is famous for them. We took another road and were amazed when, all of a sudden, sand dunes rose before our eyes. We didn’t know we had sand dunes anywhere near Jeddah! While big part of the country is sandy desert (around Riyadh, the Eastern Provence, the Empty Quarter, to name just a few), the surroundings of Jeddah consist of mountains and rocks.
When we almost reached Jeddah, we decided to have dinner at one of the fish places located outside the city, which turned out to be a very good bid. Ahmed enjoyed his grilled hamour and shrimps, while there were also several options (taboulah, hummus, mutabbal) for vegetarians like me.