Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Closing Comments

As salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

To those of you who have posted questions in the past few months and not had a response, we apologize. We have been away from Madinah for three months at our farm and future Islamic educational retreat, Healing Earth wa al hamdul'Illah. Quite honestly, we don't have the time to keep up with the questions, and what we have found is that most of the questions are things that are already written about somewhere in this blog.

Most of the information herein is still valid, although prices and locations of places may and do change from time to time. Al hamdul'Illah, there is more information on the Internet about shops and places in Madinah than before, so prices of food and goods from Hyperpanda, Carrefour, Watania Organic, Jarir Bookstore, and others can be found online. Aside from expansion changes, all the basic information about Masjid un Nabawi is the same inshaa Allah. Housing prices may creep up, but we still have relatively realistic prices quoted on the blog posts about housing that can be used as a guideline. Schools have not improved to any extent, but there are listings of schools in Madinah that can be found and small, local ones do keep popping up.

We will be closing comments on this blog and will no longer be posting information herein. As we are in our final 8 months here in Madinah, prior to returning to develop our farm, build a masjid and Islamic retreat at Healing Earth, we will be busy focusing on intensive Arabic and preparations prior to leaving. If you are seeking information about living in Madinah, please do read through the posts of this blog completely. We have found that nearly every question asked of us has already been addressed on the blog, but people haven't read through it.

We pray Allah blesses you all in your efforts to draw closer to Him and worship Him and wish you all the Ultimate Success in this life and the Aakhirah - AMEEN!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Praying in Masjid an Nabawi for Women

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.


Many of you may not realize that although we live in Madinah, our girls and I rarely go to Masjid an Nabawi to pray. In fact, aside from Eid prayers for which it is clearly legislated that the women attend, we usually don't go at all. The reason for this is that the best place for a woman to pray is her home. It reaps the best reward and to that end, I am copying an excerpt from the book My Home, My Pathfrom the section titled, "The Role of the Woman in the Raising and Education of the Family," by Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzaan, may Allah preserve him.

"The congregational prayers in the masjid are Islamically legislated as the realm of the men, and from the best of their actions, and how much better if it is in the masjid of Allaah's Messenger, praying with him, may Allaah's praise and salutations be upon him. And yet, in spite of all this, he used to encourage the women to pray in their houses.

It is narrated from the wife of Abi Humaid as-Saa'idee,. that she went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allaah's praise and salutations be upon him, and said, "Oh, Messenger of Allaah, truly I love praying with you." So he replied, {I know that you love to pray with me, and your prayer in (an inner room) your house is better than your prayer in your outer room, and your prayer in your outer room is better than your prayer in your residence and your prayer in your residence is better than your prayer in the masjid of your people, and your prayer in the masjid of your people is better than your prayer in my masjid.} So she ordered a masjid to be built for her in the darkest and most private part of her house, and she prayed in it until she met her Lord, Glorified and Exalted is He. (The hadeeth is found in Ahmad 6/371, and Ibn Khuzaimah in his "Saheeh" 3/95 and it is hasan. Look in "Saheeh Ibn Khusaimah")

So the suggestion of the hadeeth is clear, in that the fundamental situation is that the woman stays in her home, so much so that the benefit of the prayer in her house is greater than the benefit of the prayer in his masjid with the Messenger of Allaah, may Allah's praise and salutations be upon him - yet in spite of that he did allow the woman to go out to the masjid."

Friday, January 31, 2014

Winter...Brrrr and Phew!

Just so you know, when winter comes it can get quite cold here in Madinah. However, once you get out your sweaters, warmer clothes, and light jackets the weather will turn warm again and you will find yourself sweating. It is much safer to wear layers, so you can shed the cardigan or sweater if you need to cool down. Even though we had some rain this past three days, the temperatures were still very warm and the usual days are still around 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit when the sun is at it's zenith. So, simply put, prepare to shiver for a few days, and sweat for others on and off throughout the winter months...and don't get excited at the first cool days and think that the cold weather is there to stay for the winter months.

Al hamdul'Illah for the blessing of coolness and rain in these months!

Moving again

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

It is a common thing here to have to move, even if you are comfortable in your home. We know of people whose landlord just told them that they wanted the place for someone else and they had to leave. Our landlord informed us that he wants to build on our roof, so by April we would have to move. In any case, we found several very nice apartments here in Aziziya, all within SAR 20,000 to 25,000. However, we ended up renting a brand new, 5 bedroom, 3 bath apartment for SAR 25,000. It has a two entrances, a men's majlis, women's majlis, kitchen, and 5 rooms that can be used as bedrooms or, in our case 3 bedrooms, a school room, and a play room. Al hamdul'Illah.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Books

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Many people assume that living in Saudi Arabia, and particularly Madinah, means that all the books available here are Islamically correct and compliant. However, that is far from the case. There are wonderful collections of ahadeeth and Islamic texts that are all used by the Jami'ah students and scholars for reference, but there are many others that are incorrect, unchecked, and deviant.You either need to know your books, so you can purchase those that will truly be beneficial knowledge, or ask someone to advise you what to buy. That said, Islamic books are well worth buying here - particularly if you are buying Arabic ones or from Darussalam - as they are cheaper and the selection is exhaustive maashaa Allah.

When it comes to English books and fiction, it is quite a different story. There are Arabic translations of the totally unsuitable and un-Islamic Twilight series, Harry Potter, and more. The same books, as well as others dealing with Western families with divorce, boyfriends, and various other typical subjects, are available in English. In addition, there majority of books have pictures, images, photos, and can even be of Christian influence. We have seen children's Islamic books that talk about Muslim children doing ballet, having Christmas decorations, and celebrating secular holidays. It is not easy to find a good variety of non-fiction books for children and young adults here and many of the school and story books have spelling and/or grammar errors.

Should you want to order books, the place we use the most is The Book Depository. They ship worldwide for free and we have always received our shipments, maashaa Allah. You can find a very good collection of books there, usually cheaper than buying them here, and can select books more suited to your needs. Of course, there is always Amazon.com as well, but you have to pay shipping for the books, which can be very expensive.

Barak Allahu feekum.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Apologies

As salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

This blog was set up so that people who wanted information about living in Madinah and what to expect upon arrival here. It was never intended as a job finding service, a database for salaries, or a resource for government regulations and requirements to set up businesses. Neither is it intended as a resouce for finding spouses in or out of Saudi Arabia.

As Shariyf works at Taibah University and has many friends in the Jami'at ul Islamiyyah, he has provided information about them when asked, to the best of his ability. However, he doesn't have any knowledge or information on other types of jobs and cannot get people jobs in Taibah University.

We will try to provide more details on life here and various developments, but please don't send us questions or requests for assistance in getting employment, starting up a business here, or to find you a wife or husband, as we cannot help you. Please accept our apologies for our shortcomings and we pray that you will all benefit in some way from this humble effort on our part to fill an information gap.

Barak Allahu feekum.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Umrah in Muharram/over Aashoorah

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Going to Umrah from Madinah is pretty much a straight road for 4 of the 4.5 to 5 hour drive. There is, midway, a rest stop that is quite new and very popular as it has fast food franchises of Burger King, Baskin Robbins, Al Baik, Barnies, and more. Of course, there is a masjid there and the bathrooms are large and decent compared to many others along the way.

While we have driven for all the past Umrah trips we made, there is a VIP coach service to Makkah run by SAPTCO, which we used this last time. The booking office is beside Elaf Taibah Hotel and the bus leaves from in front of the hotel. There are three departure times a day, one in the morning, one in the early evening, and one at night. The cost round trip is 180 riyaal ($48) per adult, 90 riyaal ($24) per child, 12 and under.

The coach is large, spacious, with a built in table in front of each set of seats and power outlets underneath. There is a bathroom on the bus and they provide a meal for the journey followed by tea or coffee. The meal on our outbound journey from Madinah was chicken nuggets, potato wedges, salad, an apple, a fruit drink, and water. It is a non-stop service, however on the way the Makkah it stops at the meeqaat for 15 minutes. The meal on our return journey was a Kudo chicken sandwich, a can of soda, tea or coffee. It is a very comfortable ride, which enables one to relax, take a nap, and arrive in Makkah rested and in great shape to perform Umrah. This is quite the contrary to driving, where after a 5 hour drive, one is inevitably tired both physically and mentally. It is also a far better option than taking a taxi, which is usually crammed full of people and puts your life on the line as the driver travels as breakneck speed getting some people there in just 3 hours.

In the aftermath of the amnesty for illegal residents, there were vigorous raids to catch the illegals that stayed. On arrival at our hotel, we were told by the receptionist that they were closed because all the workers had run away! This was due to fear of being caught by the  authorities, the result of which would be imprisonment, a hefty fine, and deportation with a 10 year re-entry ban.

With the Hajj over, one might think that Masjid al Haraam would be quiet at that time of year. Well, comparatively, it is. The Hujjaj are gone and there are no visas issued for umrah for a 2-month period after the Hajj. However, GCC nationals don't need visas and every year over the Ashoorah break you will find many Bahrainis visiting, among others from the Khaleej. This makes for a comfortable and easy Umrah, maashaa Allah.

After several janaza prayers, each one for a woman and a child or a woman, my youngest daughter asked me, "Mummy, all these prayers are for women and children. Don't the men ever die?" Then on seeing the typical Africans waving around deformed or missing limbs begging, my older daughter asked, "Mummy, why is it only the black people who beg? There are poor white people as well, aren't there? Why don't we see them beg?" That left me without words for a while, LOL.