In the summer of 2018, my family and I went on an exotic trip to the country of Saudi Arabia. We were visiting Madinah, the city of the last Prophet, and Makkah, the house of the Lord. Because I was going during the month of Ramadan, it was so congested with faithful Muslims everywhere, that I didn't even have a breath of my own. With this trip, I felt as if my eyes opened up to the reality of life: give no importance to societal features (gender, color, ethnicity, etc.). Everyone there supported each other with everything, not looking at societal needs but because of their shared passion for faith. From then I knew that no matter what mistakes I made in the past, I had another opportunity to truly change myself.
The first stop of the trip was Madinah. In Madinah, there was one main mosque that we would spend all day in Masjid-an-Nabawi. We would spend our entire day worshipping: praying and reading the Qur'an (the holy book). This Masjid also contained the grave of Prophet Muhammad, the last and most adored Prophet. He is considered an idol to all Muslims. I went to Saudi Arabia during the summer months, and the temperatures were always above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Even with extreme temperatures, everyone there (including myself), was fasting: not eating or drinking anything from dawn to sunset. I realized that even with the sun beaming down on us, limited air conditioning with hundreds of thousands people in the Masjid, and no shoes to walk on the hot surfaces, no one could wish for a better place to be.
I was shocked to see everyone around me so exhilarated and helpful. The Masjid would provide the food, so right before the sun began to set, everyone gathered and sat down in rows. A plate filled with food was set in front of everyone. Not just in the Masjid, but outside it as well. I was astonished to see how much money, time and love was in the hearts of people that they were spending thousands of dollars each day to make sure that every person has enough food, if not more. I was intrigued because in the town I reside in, if you don't have the money to get a cup of coffee from Starbucks or fries from McDonald's, you just go home alone and figure something out. If I ask a friend for a cookie right now, they would hesitate to give just one, while in Madina, people gladly handed out bags and bags of food. In the span of three days, I learned how gracefully my faith makes us provide for one another, despite all our flaws.
My next and final stop was in Makkah: the heart of Islam. It is where I performed Umrah: a pilgrimage in Makkah. Here, as I fasted, I walked around the Kabah (the big bricked cube with a black velvet cloth) seven times with thousands of people near me, praying for forgiveness, their friends, family and all those who could not attend. Going around the Kabah was one of the two things a Muslim had to do to complete Umrah. These seven rounds changed everything for me. The rounds were done in 102-degree weather, heat waves blown in our faces and no air conditioning because we were outside. To ease the hardships, I watched as all the people threw water on each other's heads, air fans to have a bliss of wind, water guns to make sure everyone was alive and hold each other's hands to help finish off the rounds. No one knew each other, but because we all went there to repent for our sins and ask for sincere forgiveness, we all kept pushing to motivate each other.
As we moved to the second part of the Umrah, we had to walk from one mountain to the next 7 times: Safa and Marwa. These last seven rounds were the longest and hardest: approximately 2 miles. If you had not lost your energy while walking around the Kabah, you definitely lost hope and energy now. People struggled to keep themselves up but were able to continue for one reason only: their love for Allah. We loved and believed in our God so much, that I did not realize my seven rounds were over until my dad said we were done. Those two miles that I was dreading to do, became an ounce of water to do because of the passion and love I had. I learned that I really can do the impossible with myself. I can push myself, I can work hard, and I can help and motivate others, despite our differences.
Every action I had done in Saudi Arabia was based on the principles of Islam. With my ten day trip, I was able to learn the significance of providing for others before myself even if I do not know them, and that I can do anything if I put my mind and heart into it. My motivation is not someone, it is me itself. I am my own motivator and I can help motivate others as well, and that is what gives me a peaceful state of mind. I learned that every question and obstacle that comes in my way has only way direction to follow: principles of Islam. If I just think about the faithful way to come about something, I will never need to worry about the outcome. Allah has given the glory of such a guideline book: Quran, that others who struggle and regret their decisions in the future don't have to do. Your only struggle is satisfying and pleasing Allah. He has laid out the guide to this world, and I wish I had gone earlier, to have gotten that realization before.