Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 12: Mecca

I woke up early today, mostly because I was very nervous and excited about my upcoming day. To emerge myself in the culture, I planned to participate in prayer at the Great Mosque with thousands of others. After waking up, I left my hotel room as “Shadha Al-Fulan”. I met Abdul, and walked with him to the Great Mosque.

The mosque was not all too crowded, and I managed to take a video of the inside for all of you reading this to get an idea of how massive and beautiful it is.

At the Mosque I went through some parts of Umrah, which is a smaller pilgrimage. I listened in as the group I was with talked about some of the customs they had participated in for Umrah. They had arrived in a sacred and peaceful mental state, and had already recited the talbiyah on their way to the mosque. I then followed them through the motions of prayer in the mosque, and watched as they moved to different areas to recite different praises. It was all foreign to me, but an experience unlike any I had participated in before!

As the afternoon came around, I finished my day of learning in the mosque and realized that I was absolutely famished. Abdul and I walked around the city to find some food. We didn’t have to walk far, because there were numerous Lebanese, Syrian, and Turkish restaurants. The most common items at these restaurants were dishes of rice and meat, as well as meatballs, and kebab. Abdul helped me order kabsa and ordered himself some yemeni mandi (both are dishes of rice and meat, as seen in my pictures below). Abdul insisted we order these dishes because they are the most popular dishes of Mecca's cuisine.

As we ate, Abdul told me about his experiences at Umm Al-Qura University, which is the only university in Mecca. He went to an all boy school through high school, and then attended Umm Al-Qura University, graduating with a degree in religious studies. Once we finished eating, we walked up to Umm Al-Qura to take a look around. The university was gorgeous, and looked much more modern than I expected.

Abdul and I headed back to the hotel so I could pack, sleep, and get ready for my trip to Dubai. It was a nice to make a friend and have a convenient tour guide.