IRAQ MAY 2016
Hello readers and welcome back to my blog .
I have no excuse for why I have been away so attack me all you want, I deserve the interrogation.
I know I suck but that's me ! just kidding im a decent gal in the flesh :D .
So Last year my family and I took a holy trip to the city of Iraq. I call it a holy city because for muslims it is a really important place , that alot of us dont have any information on. Including myself, I didnt know much about karbala etc.
We went I believe at the end of may for a few days only.
The day we were flying out, honestly I was nervous. I heard so many stories about ISIS and how the city has been destroyed and that you shouldnt visit it. So you could see where my doubts came from. We had a one night stop in Dubai and then flew to Najaf first.
I oughta tell you what happened to me at Dubai airport. So it was really late at night I wanna say like 3:30am when we arrived in Dubai. We were so tired and all we wanted was our bed. I wasnt hungry for a fight certainly not with the arabs. My family and I are standing in the queue at immigration chatting between each other making small talk and the line was a bit long. Now for some reason one of the men that worked there really didn't like us and kept giving us rude looks and telling us to shush. Well I got a bit angry at him as he kept telling only us to be quiet and nobody else so I asked him what his problem was and he told me that as a muslim girl my voice should not be raised loudly and that i should be more respectful. I answered him back saying you are right and I apologise but I was not doing that so please leave us alone. He then started talking amongst his co-workers about me as I could tell. When I approached the passport desk, the lady there told me there was an issue with my passport and told me to take it to another counter right at the back of the airport. I was very annoyed because I knew he did it by purpose. So my mother and I marched there and gave my passport at the desk. That same man then came and told me there's nothing he can do for another 3 hours. My blood was boiling for this unnecessary hassle. I really wanted to scream at this guy but my mum calmed me down saying not to show aggression as they will continue to take the piss. After 20 minutes of practically begging them to let us go earlier he came back and gave me a full lecture on how to act in public and as a muslim girl I should have more shame and ranting on. Fortunately that was all he wanted to do , show me who was boss and let me go. I was so angry I started to shake. I understood what he meant but it was not relevant for him to say this to me as I did nothing wrong. I know I am a loud girl who can be rude but come one who is at 4 am after 2 flights ?
After that nuisance we finally arrived at our hotel at 4:30am and had to be up again around 9:30 as our next flight was at 11.
In the morning we dressing in our abayas and full hijab. It was the first time I was dressed like this out, I normally wear abayas ofcourse when reading namaz but wearing it out, I thought I would feel shy but actually I felt beautiful.
We had breakfast and went to the airport. It was about a 2 and a half hour flight. We bought mcdonalds from dubai and munched that on the plane. When we arrived the airport was actually quite bigger then I imagined and clean. We met up with our guide and went to collect our luggage. After doing so we all sat in a coach and went to the hotel. It was not very far maybe 25 minutes I believe. The whole way I was admiring the town , It was beautiful after being destroyed. We got out the coach and some people from the hotel came to get our luggage and we had to go through alot of security. The hotel was in a long alleyway where there was other hotels and shops. When I say hotel dont imagine a big 5 star resort. This was cosy in its own way. It was modern. They had a nice reception lounge area and it was larger inside then out. We went to our rooms to freshen up then had some lunch and went out to a local darbar I like to call it.
** There are a few things I woud like to clear up.
1) Iraq muslims are mostly Shia's and you will see this around the places of darbar and hear the difference slightly in the call to prayer. There namaz was different and other small changes along the way.
2) My family and I are NOT Shia's we are sunni, but for me it is absolutely no difference. EVERY MUSLIM IS MY BROTHER AND SISTER. CASTS ARE TO BRING US APART FROM EACH OTHER. WE ARE ONE UMMAH AND MUST STAND AS ONE !
3) Even though you may not agree with somebodys belief , you have no right to tell them what is right and wrong. You cannot judge. Allah swt is the only one who can. Who gave you the right to judge his creation?
I am not only talking about muslims now, I am talking about everyone. Be it they are Christian hindu or jew. You must be kind to everyones faith. You dont know how close they are to their own god and you do not have the right to bring them down. People in our society get confused with educating a person on islam and actually forcing them to believe it. Yes as muslims it is right for us to spread islam awareness, but do so in the way that nobodys feelings are hurt and your just making them aware. It is up to them to follow on your words. I know alot of people who are guilty of this and it makes me upset. We may have different religions, different skin colours and different everything. But underneath everything we are ALL HUMAN. And in every religion I am sure there is a commandment that makes out to be, 'Treat your neighbour as if they are your own' and also 'Harm nobody'.
I apologise for going of topic but I just feel this is not talked about enough. Instead of focusing on what cast I am, focus on being a better human, a kind and empathetic one. **
That evening we visited Hazrat Ali's darbar and I cant tell you how beautiful the place is. It seems as it is covered in gold and the islamic architecture is outstandingly breath taking. Being there seriously felt like time had stopped, I can't explain how peaceful it was pouring my heart out and knowing I wasnt being judged. Every man woman and child was the same as me. We couldn't believe our fate at where we were and how lucky we were to be present here. I honestlly witnessed very grown men crying including my father. It just shows that our hearts were all in the place of serenity. We prayed there and just sat for a while , roamed around as there were other small darbars inside too. The place was so bright and lively you feel like you are in another world. After leaving from there it felt as if my heart was left there. Everytime I closed my eyes, the lights from the darbar shone my way.
After a day or so here in Najaf we travelled to Karbala.
The people we were meeting along the way were so nice to us. There was a bit of a language barrier but we always ended up communicating somehow. They were so kind to us and loved knowing we were from Pakistan. They were great friendships that lasted for the time we were there. Karbala is a special place for muslims as it is where the Battle Of Karbala took place. This place will give you goosebumps and so much tears when you hear what took place in the battle. I will not go into detail but please read about it, it is so important to know that if it werent for there sacrifices we may not have islam today. In karbala we visited the Holy shrine of Hazrat Hussain which again was very emotional. The whole stories are abit complicated but please do still research i guarentee the stories will touch your heart. Even though the battle was so long ago, you could still feel the pain and ache. Briefly just imagine how you would feel as a woman with your child deprived of water just near a lake, and food. Your male relaties in the battle not knowing if they will return or not. And Bibi Zaynab watching her own brother becoming martyerd. Tell me how your heart will not cry. They did all that so Islam could still be here today. We visited aloy of Shrines and I honestly dont remember every single one we went to. Just everytime we would go through security and be seperated from the men ofcourse. You had to make sure you had no nail polish and no bold makeup. Always carry socks ! Also it is better to leave your mobie phone somewhere safe in the hotel, because visiting the shirnes you always have to put them in a locker anyway. We then Visited baghdad for another day and visited more shrines. There were quite a few shrines for Sunni's. I say for sunni's because they shrines of people we find important where as some sunni's dont really. There is nothing wrong with that , but that was the best way for me to explain so.
There are so many things I can write endlessley about and it still wont be as satisfying as being there. Please if you have chance , go here once in your life. It teaches you so much. I am so grateful to Allah swt that he granted my family and I to visit the place safely.
If you want to know anything specific you can always email me your questions :)
I hope you all have a blessed day.
xo Zahra xo
PS: At the top are my two youtube videos about the journey and some photographs. We couldn't use our phone alot but I did my best. Thanks once again !