“Syeikh Soleh, I’m going back home to Malaysia. Alhamdulillah, I’ve completed my studies in the Islamic University of Medina.” Zul greeted an elderly man wearing a misylah and yellow jubah who was busy doing dhikr. Syeikh Soleh and Zul are “classmates” together with Syeikh Muhammad ‘Ali Thani at Nabawi Mosque. He’s a slender and petite man, who loves reciting the Quran. Usually, he would finish his recitation of the whole Quran every several days.
Zul would always observe the actions of Syeikh Soleh. He may be a peculiar character, but Zul is comfortable and like to get close to him. He would give the Quran to anyone in the Nabawi Mosque then proceeded to recite the Quran loudly. He never minded his surroundings. The one thing that’s certain about him is he has a great recitation and rarely ever forget or make a mistake in his recitation. Zul would often see him crying after prayer.
The Syeikh is always blessed with sustenance. There’s always someone who would give him a riyal or two or even more, daily. Once, Zul tried to give him SAR5. He smiled and refused politely, saying, “I’m not taking your money. Zulkifli, we’re both students.” Every time it was the exam season, Zul will ask the Syeikh to make dua for him. He will promptly raise his hands and pray:
رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
“Err… But Syeikh, I want you to pray for my success in my exams,” Zul interjected.
The Syeikh just smiles and said, “I have supplicated for you with the best supplication. What more could you possibly want except goodness in this world and hereafter?”
It is still fresh in Zul’s mind the moment Zul went to meet Syeikh Soleh to inform him that Zul is going to perform umrah in Mecca. Syeikh reached in his pocket and gave him a roll of money. He gave them to Zul without a second thought. Zul was astonished when he received it. “As far as I know, he’s not rich. His income only comes from the money people gave him,” Zul whispered to himself. When he counted it back home, there were a total of SAR195. It was enough for Zul to spend it on his return expense as well as food. Upon Zul’s arrival in Medina, when he reached inside his pockets, there was still SAR5 change. Maybe this is what is called a blessing.
Noticing Zul is standing near him and understanding Zul’s intention, Syeikh Soleh turned and took out a picture of himself. It was a black and white picture. “Take this with you when you go back home. Don’t forget to always pray for me here.” He replied simply.
As they were counting days for them to finally go back home to Malaysia, Zul and Zaini gaze at the Uhud Hill. “I wonder how our friend Shohor Bani is doing in Bosnia? Hopefully, he’s just fine and healthy…” Zaini said as he wiped a tear that suddenly threatened to fall. Zul has been lost in his own thoughts since the beginning as he looked at the Uhud Hill pensively. Uhud Hill is an honoured place with a tragic history of a war that happened during the time of the Prophet PBUH. Here, lay the body of the Prophet PBUH’s uncle, Hamzah bin ‘Abd al-Muttalib, the leader of the martyrs and the companions radhiallahu ‘anhum.
Zul was then reminded of Khandaq and the Seven Mosque which was located on the return route from Nabawi Mosque or from the city of Medina. “Ni, sitting here makes me feel like I can just imagine how the companions felt when Rasullullah PBUH gave a speech when they were digging the trench:
اللَّهُمَّ لَا عَيْشَ إِلَّا عَيْشُ الْآخِرَهْ. فَاغْفِرْ لِلْأَنْصَارِ وَالْمُهَاجِرَهْ
“O Allah! There is no life worth living except the life of the Hereafter, so (please) forgive the Ansar and the Emigrants.” 
“If I ever had the chance to come back here to Medina, the first place I’m going to go to is the Quba’ Mosque,” Zul said. Ibn Kathir when commenting on verse 105, surah al-Taubah, he said that through this verse, there is a commandment to pray in Quba’ Mosque which was first built on the basis of taqwa, that is the obedience to Allah and His Messenger so that the Muslims are united.  The Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ تَطَهَّرَ فِي بَيْتِهِ، ثُمَّ أَتَىٰ مَسْجِدَ قُبَاءٍ، فَصَلَّى فِيْهِ، كَانَ لَهُ كَأَجْرِ عُمْرَةٍ.
“Whoever purifies himself in his house, then comes to the Quba’ Mosque and offers one prayer therein, will have a reward like that for ‘Umrah.” 
Syeikh ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbad said: This hadith showed its generality. Undoubtedly, it is due to the story behind what’s happened to the Quba’ Mosque itself. However, for those who are able to perform the sunnah prayers but neglect to do so in the mosque and perform it in their own homes, then surely that is prioritized for Allah. This is in accordance with the hadith of Rasullullah PBUH:
صَلَاةُ الرَّجُلِ فِي بَيْتِهِ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ صَلَاتِهِ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ إِلاَّ الْمَكْتُوْبَة
“A man’s prayer in his house is more excellent than his prayer in the mosque, except for the prescribed prayer.” 
The previous hadith also mentions the special favour of Quba’ Mosque where the rewards of praying in it are akin to the rewards of umrah on two conditions. First, he came to Quba’ in a purified state from his home. Second, he came to Quba’ Mosque to pray at least 2 rakaat for the sake of Allah. 
“Hey, you still remember I invite you to listen to the sermon by Syeikh Ismail Humaidi at the Qiblatain Mosque? It’s so hard to find a khatib who could give a sermon in series.” Zaini nodded signalling his answer to Zul. Qiblatain Mosque which is very near to the Islamic University of Medina reminded him of the monumental incident where the qibla was changed.
فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ۗ
“So, turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer].” 
According to al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar, the first time the Prophet PBUH prayed facing the Ka’ba is in Zohor prayer in Bani Salamah, while the Asar prayer in Nabawi Mosque. The citizens of Quba’ changed their qibla to Ka’ba when they were praying the Subuh prayer, after the revelation of the qibla changing came to them. 
“There are a lot of other mosques surrounding the mosque, there are Ghumamah Mosque, Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, Saidina Uthman Mosque, al-Bukhari Mosque…” Zul lists out the mosques near the Qiblatain Mosque.
Zaini glances at Zul and said, “And do you remember when we went to visit Thaqifah Bani Sa’idah, the place of bai’ah when Saidina Abu Bakar was appointed as the caliph. During the bai’ah, Saidina Abu Bakar gave the speech:
أَيُّها الناسُ فَإِني قد وُلِّيتُ عليكم ولست بخيركم فإِنْ أَحْسَنْتُ فَأَعِينُونِي وإِنْ أَسَأْتُ فَقَوِّمُوني. الصِدْقُ أمانةٌ والكَذِبُ خِيَانَةٌ . والضعيفُ فيكم قويٌّ عندي حتى أرجعَ إليه حقَّه إن شاء اللّه، والقويّ فيكم ضعيفٌ عندي حتى آخذَ الحقَّ منه إن شاء اللّه. لا يَدَعُ قومٌ الجِهادَ في سبيل اللّه إلا خَذَلَهم اللَّهُ بالذُلِّ ولا تَشِيعُ الفاحشةُ في قومٍ إِلا عَمَّهم اللَّهُ بِالبلاءِ. أَطِيعُوني ما أَطَعْتُ اللَّهَ ورسولَه فإِذا عَصَيْت اللَّهَ ورسولَه فلا طاعةَ لي عليكم. قُومُوا إلى صلاتكم يَرْحَمْكُمُ اللّه.
“O people, indeed I was chosen to lead you and I’m not the best from amongst you. If I do something good, then help me and if I err, then correct me. The truth is a responsibility and deceit are a betrayal. And the weak from among you is strong in my opinion until I return their rights to them. Insyaallah. And the strong from among you is weak in my opinion until I take what isn’t rightfully his from him, insyaAllah.
For every tribe, don’t leave the jihad, for Allah SWT will disgrace them. And when a certain tribe is disgraced, then Allah will send a calamity unto them. Obey me for as long as I obey Allah SWT and His Messenger. But when I disobey Allah and His Messenger, then it is no longer obligatory for you to obey me. Let’s all pray, hopefully, Allah SWT will bless all of you.” 
“Hehe…at first, we were quite lost trying to find Thaqifah. The Arab guard was confused watching us as we keep on circling the area befuddled. Finally, we found Thaqifah which is actually located on the right side of the Prophet’s Mosque, near Door 15, 20 meters from the mosque’s gates,” Zul laughed playfully as he reminisces about his first experience to Thaqifah Bani Sa’idah.
“Then we went to Baqi’ together with Shohor Bani. I still remember the sermon you gave: Brothers and sisters blessed by Allah SWT. Rasullullah PBUH once specifically ask for forgiveness for the citizens of Baqi’ and characterized it as the homes of the believers! In a hadith narrated by Saidatina Aisyah, every time Rasullullah PBUH spend the night at her house, the Prophet PBUH will take a walkout to the Baqi’ graveyard at the end of the night and said:
السَّلامُ عَلَيْكُمْ دَارَ قَوْمٍ مُؤْمِنينَ، وَأتاكُمْ ما تُوعَدُونَ، غَداً مُؤَجَّلُونَ، وَإنَّا إنْ شاءَ اللَّهُ بِكُمْ لاحقُونَ؛ اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لأهْلِ بَقِيعِ الغَرْقَدِ
“Peace be upon you, household of a people who are believers. What you were being promised will come to you tomorrow, you receiving it after some delay, and if God will we shall join you. O God, grant forgiveness to the inhabitants of Baqi’ al- Gharqad.”
Respected brothers and sisters! Among the ahlul bait of Rasullullah PBUH and the companions radhiallahu ‘anhum who were buried at the Baqi’ graveyard is Fatimah, Ruqayyah, Ummu Kalthum and Zainab RA. They were the beloved daughters of the Rasullullah PBUH. Saidina Hasan bin Ali Bin Abi Talib, the Rasullullah PBUH’s son-in-law. ‘Aisyah, Saudah, Hafsah, Zainab Bint Khuzaimah, Ummu Salamah, Juwairiyyah, Ummu Habibah, Safiyah, Zainab Bint Jahsy radhiallahu ‘anhunna. They were the wives of the Rasullullah PBUH. Uthman Ibn ‘Affan, Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, Sa’ad Ibn Mu’adz al-Ansari, Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud and others were the honoured companions of Rasullullah PBUH.” Zaini said imitating Zul’s speech and actions as he laughs.
“Ni, let’s go and pray at the Prophet’s Mosque. It’s our last time before we have to go back to Malaysia.” Zul suggested looking at Zaini while Zaini was busy packing up his bag.
The Prophet’s Mosque has a thousand and one advantages. The Prophet PBUH said:
صَلَاةٌ فِي مَسْجِدِي هَذَا أَفْضَلُ مِنْ أَلْفِ صَلَاةٍ فِيمَا سِوَاهُ، إِلَّا الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ، وَصَلَاةٌ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ مِائَةِ أَلْفِ صَلَاةٍ فِيمَا سِوَاهُ
“One prayer in my mosque is better than one thousand prayers elsewhere, except the Sacred Mosque, and one prayer in the Sacred Mosque is better than one hundred thousand prayers elsewhere.” 
Zul and Zaini walked towards Raudhah. How immense the rewards for those who is in Raudhah that the Rasullullah PBUH said:
ما بَيْنَ بَيْتِيْ ومِنْبَرِيْ رَوْضَةٌ مِنْ رِيَاضِ الْجَنَّةِ
“The space between my house and my pulpit is one of the gardens of paradise,” 
“The saddest thing is, we will be leaving Rasullullah PBUH,” Zul smiled wistfully. Tears starts to well up in his eyes. He inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly. He stood there for a long time, just gazing longingly at the tomb of Rasullullah PBUH.
So true are the words of the Prophet PBUH:
ثَلَاثٌ مَنْ كُنَّ فِيْهِ وَجَدَ بِهِنَّ حَلَاوَةَ الْإِيْمَانِ، مَنْ كَانَ اللهُ وَرَسُوْلُهُ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِمَّا سِوَاهُمَا وَأَنْ يُـحِبَّ الْمَرْءَ لَا يُحِبُّهُ إِلَّا لِلهِ، وَأَنْ يَكْرَهَ أَنْ يَعُوْدَ فِـي الْكُفْرِ بَعْدَ أَنْ أَنْقَذَهُ اللهُ مِنْهُ، كَمَا يَكْرَهُ أَنْ يُقْذَفَ فِـي النَّارِ
“There are three qualities for which anyone who is characterised by them will relish the sweetness of faith: he to whom Allah and His Messenger are dearer than all else; he who loves a man for Allah’s sake alone; and he who has as great an abhorrence of returning to unbelief after Allah has rescued him from it as he has of being cast into Hell.” 
Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar cited Ibn Abi Jamrah, he said: The term faith is used together with sweetness for Allah SWT liken faith with a tree, as stated by Allah SWT:
أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاءِ
“Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky?” 
The word meant is the sincere word (لا اله إلا الله), a tree as the root of faith, its branches are following the commandment and avoiding its prohibition, its leaves are the spirit of a Mukmin in doing good, its fruits are obedience, the sweetness of the fruit is when one is picking it and its peak is when its matured. With this ease, the sweetness is tasted. 
He slowly pulled his luggage into the Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Airport. From there, Zul and his friends headed to the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah. When the supplication is broadcasted, Zul was reminded of his memory of his first ever experience of boarding an aeroplane 4 years ago.
للهُ أَكْبَرُ اللهُ أَكْبَرُ اللهُ أَكْبَرُ سُبْحَانَ الَّذِيْ سَخَّرَ لَنَا هَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لَهُ مُقْرِنِيْنَ وَإِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّنَا لَمُنْقَلِبُوْنَ . اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَسْأَلُكَ فِي سَفَرِنَا هَذَا الْبِرَّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَمِنْ الْعَمَلِ مَا تَرْضَى. اللَّهُمَّ هَوِّنْ عَلَيْنَا سَفَرَنَا هَذَا وَاطْوِ عَنَّا بُعْدَهُ . اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ الصَّاحِبُ فِي السَّفَرِ وَالْخَلِيفَةُ فِي اْلأَهْلِ . اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوْذُ بِكَ مِنْ وَعْثَاءِ السَّفَرِ وَكَآبَةِ الْمَنْظَرِ وَسُوءِ الْمُنْقَلَبِ فِي الْمَالِ وَاْلأَهْلِ
“Allah is the Most Great. Allah is the Most Great. Allah is the Most Great. Glory is to Him Who has provided this for us though we could never have had it by our efforts. Surely, unto our Lord we are returning. O Allah, we ask You on this our journey for goodness and piety, and for works that are pleasing to You. O Allah, lighten this journey for us and make its distance easy for us. O Allah, You are our Companion on the road and the One in Whose care we leave our family. O Allah, I seek refuge in You from this journey’s hardships, and from the wicked sights in store and from finding our family and property in misfortune upon returning.” 
Zul is far above the clouds now. The land of Saudi Arabia is getting smaller and smaller before it completely disappears from his sight. He pursed his lips tightly as tears started to fall. One by one each memory start to flash in his thoughts. He doesn’t know when will be the next he will be able to return to the blessed land. Ma’assalamah, O the land of Medina!
________________________________ al-Rahiq al-Makhtum, pg. 137  Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 4/348  Sunan Ibn Majah, no. 1412  Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 731 and Muslim, no. 781  Syarh Sunan Abi Daud, 1/2  Surah al-Baqarah: 144  See Fath al-Bari, 1/97  Sirah Ibn Hisyam, 4/240 and ‘Uyun al-Akhbar Ibn Qutaibah, 2/234
 Narrated by Ahmad, no. 15271. Its sanad is sahih according to the conditions set by Imam al-Bukhari according to Syeikh Syuaib al-Arnaouth when he did takhrij on this hadith in musnad Ahmad. Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1195 dan Muslim, no. 1390  Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 16, Muslim, no. 43, al-Tirmizi, no. 2624, al-Nasa’ie, 8/95 and Ibn Majah, no. 4033.  Surah Ibrahim: 24  Fath al-Bari, 1/60  Sahih Muslim, no.1342