I would like to share the Ramadhan experience when we were at AlMedinah AlMunawwarah, in the year 2008. In the month of Ramadhan , the unkhuwwah among Muslims was visible. They greet one another with wishes, doa’; and offer gifts to the needy. Greetings like 'Kullu A'amin Wa Antum bi Khairin' are pleasant to listen (we normally say this only during raya in Malaysia). On sms, you would receive texted doa’ like "may you receive the Rahmah of the first-ten-day of Ramadhan, and be blessed with the Maghfirah on the second- ten-day, and will continue to attain His blessings in the last-ten-day of Ramadhan”. By the roadside, there were posters offering well-wishes, or inviting people to join iftar with orphans, and needies. One could also see billboards of doa’ and verses related to Ramadhan and fasting placed in the city. In short, the zest of Ramadhan was really felt there.
During Ramadhan, the volume of people in Medina is extraordinarily huge. We were glad to be ones among the million of Muslims who thronged the city of the Prophet (pbuh). He must be proud of his ummah, who purposely spend money and time to visit his city. What made us so moved is the preparation of the authority of the Haram-alNabi (Masjidil Nabawi) to play good host to the guests of Allah and His beloved Prophet (pbuh). Together with the Medina people, the Haram has never failed to make me and others to feel so delighted with their hospitality. For instance, during the iftar time- everyone will have the chance to get a set of meal for iftar, for free. But it was not as easy as we thought. In order to have the breaking of fast in the Haram, we need to be there as early as Asr time or otherwise we would not be allowed to enter the basement car park-I guess it can accommodate about 5000 unit of cars. So most of the time, we decided to have the iftar at home. We normally reached the Haram an hour before isyak in order to get good place for the Tarawih.
In the Haram, I am so touched to see many people enthusiastically waiting for the iftar time. After asr time, the ground area surrounding the Haram was turned into dining area. You would see iftar-hosts coming with their crew who quickly arranged food and drink on 'sufra' or mat. You can choose which 'sufra' to join, depending on your choice of food- bukhari rice, briyani, Al-baik fried chicken (like KFC in Malaysia), soup, pasta, and many more in addition to the basic set (yogurt, juice, bread, fruit, tamar, zamzam, and qahwa or tea). Inside the Haram, only the basic set is allowed. After prayer, both maghrib and tarawih, light food were served again. The hosts were busy inviting and ushering people to their ‘sufra’. You might also find people distributing drink, fruit, or sweets to passers-by. In the mosque, you would notice some people who would walk from one to another, offering perfume or walk with a smoke-producing-bowl that leaves remarkably keen fragrance that scented the mosque. The members of Red Crescent Society opened their booth at several points around the Haram compound, the scout teams helped people with wheelchairs, while the Haram staff render people with various kind of assistance. In short, the Ramadhan time is totally different when compared to other time we had experienced in the city
Spending time in Makkah alMukarramah was also an opportune time for us to witness the Glory of Islam. People of different nationalities move in the same direction, facing to the same direction, reading the same book, and making similar supplication- Hasanah fil dunya wal akhirah. We also had the opportunity to spend the first four day of Ramadhan in the Holy City. The situation was almost like alMadinah but the volume of people in more huge. The tarawih prayer in Mecca is something that we treasure most even until today, especially the melodious and exhilarating recital of Quran by Imams like Sheikh al Sudais, and Sheikh Abdullah Juhany. InsyaAllah ,one day, you will experience the moment when you have the chance to spend days of Ramadhan in Mecca and Medina.