Planet of the Apes

When in Mecca and Medina, everything seems to be a miracle. A lot of times just thinking loud is also granted as a wish. Even if one is craving for “qahwa”(tea) it will be offered to them quite unexpectedly, right between the lines of Believers assembled for salaah, just seconds before the Imam-i-Haram is about to begin the jamaat… Ya Allah! Certainly Allah swt is aware of what goes on in our minds and hearts. And then the promise of Allah swt to His believers that there isn’t any prayer that goes unanswered in the Holy land!
Similarly there are times when the most ordinary creatures, like cats and birds appear to be god-sent because of little unusual things they do. subhanAllah! Such is the might and mystique of the sacred land!

It was on my first umra that I encountered the magic and holiness of the Harmain Shareefain… sometimes people seemed to be super human and at other times ordinary birds like pigeons managed to surprise us!

While we traveled to the city of our Dear Prophet (saw), Medina from Mecca, we had to take a short break in the desert before we reached our destination which was still 3 hours away after already having traveled a good three hours… the Saudi government is indeed very hospitable and has arranged for several stopovers for travelers(hajis) in the desert… I would say they serve as oasis in the hot sandy stretch of desert… however, we do not always get to make a choice as to where we want to stop because generally everyone travels by bus and leaves the choice to the driver since he knows the route best and can decide how much time there still is before we reach our destination and whether we are missing any salaah or not… so when the bus stopped we all shared a common feeling of relief… there were people in a hurry to offer their salaah, or people like us who were traveling with children and had to meet their needs, and those who wanted a quick hearty meal… But what really got our attention when we got off the bus was the presence of hundreds of monkeys in the desert!!! They were everywhere… scampering on the bus, chasing people for food, running on the roads, sitting by the prayer area! I, for one, was surprised and scared! The monkeys had an eerie feel… they were actually baboons with a strange, repulsive appearance… spiky long grey strands of hair, which actually grew very thickly on their huge grey heads made their heads appear bigger. Their lithe bodies were long and they had long, strangely human looking faces!

Somehow we quickly managed to take turns performing our wudu and saying salaah, again taking turns and keeping guard for each other and finally rushing back to the comfort of our bus. It was then that we were able to actually see where the strange monkeys suddenly emerged from in the flat desert land… quite far in the distance we could see a ravine, a sudden dip in the smooth flat surface of the desert… the sand also took a grayish shade around the very deep looking patch of land. And that was where the creatures scrambled in and out of! My Lord! Were we amazed?!!! Almost all at once we were reciting SubhanAllah in praise for the Creation of the Almighty and Istighfaar in fear of the punishments and calamities that fell upon the nations much before us.
To date I am clueless about the reality of the mysterious creatures that I again saw when I made my second journey for umra alhumdulillah. Yet I often wonder about the truth behind their existence and shudder in horror at all the possibilities that come to my mind!

As I recited Surah-i-Baqaraah few days back the translation really got me at one point and set me wondering again,
“And you know of those of you, who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath (Saturday), how We said unto them: Be you apes, despised and hated!”
65:2 Al-Quraan

ya Allah, we have very scant knowledge of your beings, but certainly there are signs for the believers in all of Creation!