Monday, December 29, 2008

Qena & Luxor

On March 7th 2007 - Wednesday, I had a trip to Qena and Luxor together with Ust Muhammad Abd Malik, Ust Suhaimi, Ust Wan Mohd Zubir and Ust Firdaus Taha. We followed Tareqah Jaafariyah Group to attend ‘hadrāt’ (plural for ‘hadrah’) at Qena and several places in Luxor (of course we're not visiting ruins and temples of the Ancient Egypt). I need to clarify here that I'm not joining any tareqah group; just observing some local culture.

I went to Cairo from Mansoura on 12.30 pm by taking a public van at Mahattah ad-Dawliyyah (Utubis Dawli). It was a smooth journey until Rod el-Farag, Cairo where the van had been stopped by traffic policemen for making a traffic offence. It was on 1.45 pm. The angry driver argued with the policemen and tried to defend himself but it was not a lucky day for him. Those policemen seized his macrobus and leaved the passengers including me out of nowhere!

I completely had no idea where I was. I tried to leave the place by stopping every public transport passing the road to but none of them go to Ramses Square. Most of them were heading to Tahrir Square. I had no choice, so I took a van to Tahrir. From Tahrir, I took Metro subway to Ramses and from Ramses to District 7 of Nasr City.


At 9.30 pm, we began our journey and headed to Railway Station at Ramses Square. Together with the Tareqah Group, we departed from Cairo at 11.30 pm to Qena. The 10th Coach was wholly filled by us! We arrived at Qena Station on 8.30 am on the next day. The Tareqah members from Qena were already at the station to welcome all of us. From the station, we went to Tareqah branch of Qena by taxis. We were having breakfast there with local delicacies and hot cup of tea before went to bed to take a nap in the guest house because we were already too tired being many hours on the train. We woke up before Zuhur prayer and prepared for the prayer. After Zuhur prayer, we attended the hadrah.

The hadrah began with the first ‘madah’ (poem and praise dedicated to Prophet Muhammad bpuh) recitation. The second recitation was conducted by Ust Abd Malik as an honor by the Group towards us. Approximately at 2.30 pm, the leader of Tareqah Jaafariyah Group, Sheikh Abd Ghani Soleh Jaafari arrived.

Waiting for 'Asr prayer calling.

The hadrah lasted until 4.30 pm. Then, we began to move to Luxor after visiting Sheikh Abd Rahim al-Qinai mausoleum. We arrived at al-Baghdadi village, Luxor on 7.30 pm. The hadrah at the village started after Maghrib prayer and lasted until 10.30 pm. We had our dinner at 9.15 pm. I still can remember the warm hospitality provided by the locals to make us as comfortable as possible. Just after the hadrah, some of the representatives from Aswan continued reciting the madaih and invited us to join them.

That night, we stayed at one of the local sheikh’s house. He was Sheikh Muhammad.

On next day, we did our breakfast provided by Sheikh Muhammad. The menu was fatir with cheese and strawberry jam. All five of us had it with Sheikh Farouk and his colleagues. Later after the breakfast while waiting for transport to al-Bayadiyyah, we spent some moment with the veteran sheikh listening to some of his experiences and thoughts.

We began moving to al-Bayadiyyah at 10.30 am. We took a rest at guest room on the ground floor of the mosque while waiting for Jumu’ah prayer. After that, the hadrah ceremony at the village began. The ceremony ended one hour after ‘Asr prayer. It was the last hadrah during this visit. Thanks to Sheikh Ashraf, we were given the opportunity to take a picture with Sheikh Abd Ghani Soleh Jaafari. We also did take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the locals for their hospitality. See you all again, by God’s will. I can never forget your warm hospitality and generosity.

In the midst of hadrah.

Just before the end of hadrah.

Picture time!

Taking a pic with Sheikh Abd Ghani Soleh al-Jaafari

After Maghrib prayer, we went to Luxor Railway Station. It was still early to wait for the train from Aswan to Cairo so we walked to the Abu’l Haggag Mosque to visit Sheikh Yousef Abu’l Haggag mausoleum, a Sufi and his two sons’ graves. Sheikh Yousef Abu’l Haggag was born in Baghdad, but he spent the latter half of his 90 years in Luxor. He died in year 1243. The mosque is located on the site of Temple of Luxor just behind the Pylon of the temple. The Temple of Luxor was built mainly by Amenhotep III and Ramses II.

In front of the Court of Amenophis III, Temple of Luxor

We departed from Luxor Railway Station at 8.00 pm heading to Cairo. We slept during the journey until 3.30 am when some of brothers from the Tareqah invited us to teach them Malay and even treated each of us with a cup of tea! As for the effect of the caffeine, we were unable to sleep again until we reached Cairo at 5.45 am.

It was a really enjoyable and interesting experience. I can see where the humanity and spirit of brotherhood were still alive at these remote areas. Their smile, their courtesy and their friendliness are something that creates a good memory. Hopefully, I can attend the hadrāt’ again.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sinai, Here I Come!

On 6/2/2006 (First Day)

2.00 am
- Departed from el-Mansoura.
6.00 am
- Arrived at Suez City for Morning Prayer.
8.00 am
- Went under the Suez Canal tunnel.
- Had our breakfast before visited prophet Musa’s fountain at Oyun Musa.
- Visit once-an-Israeli Camp (Bar-Lev Line).
- Stopped at Pharaoh’s sauna (Hammam Firaun) at Moon Beach, Gulf of Suez, Red Sea.
2.00 pm
- Had our lunch near Abu Zneima. We also met Bedouin tribe and explored the oases & desert.
4.00 pm
- Arrived at St Catherine Protectorate and visited Prophet Saleh’s tomb. Later, we visited Wadi Muqaddas (refer al-Qurân, surah an-Nazi’at: 016) and walked to Wadi Arba’en. There is a stone which is mentioned in al-Qurân surah al-Baqarah: 60 and surah al-A’raf: 160. Some historian experts believe that the stone is the one mentioned in al-Qurân and some of them said it is referring to the fountain at Oyun Musa.

Prophet Saleh’s tomb
9.00 pm
- Took a rest at Fox Camp. Preparing for Mount Sinai climbing expedition.

On 7/2/2006 (Second Day)

2.00 am
- We climbed the snowcapped Mount Sinai (Jabal Musa - 2285m). It is the second highest peak in Egypt where prophet Musa (was believed) talked directly to Allah and received revelation (refer al-Qurân Surah Maryam: 52).
On the top of Mount Sinai - 2285 m above sea level
5.45 am
- Arrived on the peak during Fajr.
- Watched the beautiful sunrise.
- Took a nap inside the moque.
Note: There are a mosque and a Greek Orthodox church on the peak. Also, there is a place which is believed to be prophet Musa’s (Biblical: Moses) praying site beneath the mosque.
8.00 am
- Began to descend from the mountain.
9.00 am
- Stopped for while at prophet Ilyas’ (Biblical: Elijah) village. It is believed that this village was once where prophet Ilyas’ lived.
10.00 am
- Arrived St Catherine Monastery. Took a rest while waiting for the bus.
12.00 pm
- Had our lunch near Samiri’s calf (read the story in al-Qurân surah Ta-Ha 20:85-98) and prophet Harun’s (Biblical: Aaron) tomb. Visited both site.
4.00 pm
- Arrived at Dahab (situated at Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea).
10.00 pm
- Wandering around Dahab. Bought some souvenir. Ust Nazri treated us with firakh mashwee (roasted chicken).

On 8/2/2006 (Third Day)

1.00 am
- Sleeping time.
8.00 am
- Had our breakfast.
10.00 am
- Began our journey to Taba.
11.00 am
- Stopped for a while in Nuweiba (port to Jordan & Saudi Arabia)
12.30 pm
- Arrived at Taba.
- We took a look at Israel-Egypt border and Taba Hilton Hotel where it was being attacked by terrorists in October 7th, 2004.
At Egypt (Taba) -Israel (Eilat) border
1.00 pm
- Went to Pharaoh Island to visit Salahuddin al-Ayubi’s Fort. Dated back during Ayyubid period, Salahuddin seized this fort from the crusaders during Seventh Crusade (Psst! I don’t really know whether this information is correct or not… Hah!). From this fort, we could see 3 countries from Egypt - Eilat at Israel, Aqaba at Jordan (if you have binocular, you might see a huge Jordanian flagpole) and Saudi Arabian mainland.
Fort of Salahuddin al-Ayubi
4.00 pm
- Returned to home.
- Passed through Tīh mountain range (refer al-Qurân , Sûrah Al-Mâ’idah 05:26).
5.00 pm
- Stopped at Mamalik’s Rock Inscription.
7.00 pm
- Prayed Jama’ at Dhoyuf ar-Rahmân Mosque at Nakhl. Had our dinner there.

On 9/2/2006

1.00 am
- Arrived at Zagazig.
2.00 am
- Finally, arrived at el-Mansoura.
2.30 am
- Sleep. Ready for a new day.