Jabal Nur seen from below as we reached by car.
The year was 1996. It was the year I did my first umrah with mak, Sarah and my 2 sisters. And thus it was the first time I set eyes on the magnificently sublime Kaabah. Subhanallah! I cried out of sheer reverence. Circumbulating and praying near it, it's a truly fulfilling moment. Besides the usual umrah rituals, my sister, Ita and I had braved ourselves further by doing something we wouldn't have thought of enduring if we were in Malaysia. We decided to climb Jabal Nur! Yes, that's the rock-hill in the northen desert outskirts of Mecca, approximately 7 km away from the Kaabah, where Rasulullah used to ascend and in the Hira' cave he would seclude to contemplate life. It's also, by the way, the highest hill in Mecca.
That's me climbing up the rocky pathway.
Upon reaching the foot of the hill, we followed a rocky pathway. We took careful steps as it was easy to accidentally lose a footing on a lose rubble. To make the climb more achievable we wore pants on the inside and jubah outside, frequently lifting the outer garment as we climbed. Like all daytime in Mecca, it was stifling and scorching hot. But it didn't deter us a bit. We were adamant to make it to the top and visualize the famous cave ourselves.
As we progressed, we had to tackle a host of beggars in all forms and various ages. They were under the control of many syndicates. Many were physically deformed. One was walking on his hands as both of his lower limbs were amputated! But the daily chore of begging at the hill had rendered him so nimble and agile that he had mastered the rocky pathway , I am sure he could do it with closed eyes! Another young boy made a living by helping to carry loads and also small children up and down the hill. Needless to say he was steadfast in his footing and clambering the hill was second-nature to him, with or without load on his shoulders.
Not avid climbers, my sis and I, huffed and puffed all the way, stopping at junctures to relieve our dyspneic lungs. But never did we entertain the relinquishing thoughts of backing off and retracing our trail down. Our minds were set to imbibe whatever we can from the 'holy' surroundings of the rocky structure. A natural monument which housed a cave, where Rasulullah s.a.w. first received the words of Allah swt. The place where he would seek solace and peace of mind. And also upon visualizing the Angel Gabriel a.s. for the first time, he had trembled and rushed down the slopes towards Khadijah r.a.at home.
We pushed hard and dragged our sore feet and breathless chest uphill till we reached the summit. Despite the thinning air of the rising altitude, we persevered and the breath-taking scenery up there was worth all the hard-effort. The invigorating mountain air almost instantly replenished our used energy. From there we could see a whole panorama that encompasses the whole of Mecca. The summit of Jabal Nur is just a small area of uneven plateau and here we could find a wooden shack with benches for respite and some vendors who sold bottled drinks which we gulped down with such vigor! (after that vigorous climb, water never tasted any better!). Now where's the cave, my inquisitive mind was asking. Only then did we realize that we had to climb down a bit to the other side to get near the 'holy' cave.
Now, this second part of our climb proved to be more difficult and in fact, more risky as it involved climbing down steep walls of rocks. Thus, we had to move in single file and maintain patience or you might accidentally push someone off the cliff! Nauzubillah! Alas! After cautious descend, we reached a flat clearing and at the edge we saw a group of people surrounding a cave-like structure which was in fact made by big stone slabs naturally arranged at an angle, erecting a hollow room just to fit a single man sitting down!
The cave viewed from top.
So there I was, standing at the edge of a cliff, gazing at a cave-like structure that had seen many important historical events pertaining to our great prophet. There and then I tried to envisage our prophet sitting for long hours overwhelmed by his thoughts searching earnestly for the truth. A truly awesome and engaging experience! If one was to sit in it, one would find oneself facing directly towards the Kaabah! Subhanallah!
People crowding the cave. Note the person sitting down in the cave.
So when iKelah knew about this 'great' climb of mine he was rather surprised. As I have told numerous others, iKelah's climbing spirits must have possesed me during that endevour or I would have cowardly declined the call in the first instant. I am proud to relate this story because I know many have not the opportunity to do so.
That's me touching down triumphantly!
Incidentally, this entry was inspired by Hiyoshi's recent entry on his successful scaling of Gunung Datuk in Negeri Sembilan. Eventhough my experience was much less difficult compared to his, still it was a venture to be cherished all the same. I share his excitement as mountain climbing offers an emotional glorifying satisfation that surpasses many others. (I am actually speaking from iKelah's experiences as he had conquered Gunung Ledang, Gunung Tahan, Gunung/Bukit Bekelah, Jerangkang, Raja and several others). After all, isn't a life-achievement equivalent to conquering a mountain?