After the long drive from Hail, we arrive in Medina in the afternoon. We are curious to see this sacred city for Islam (in fact, the word Medina means city), and decide to first head to Quba Mosque, at the outskirts of the city. Originally, when this mosque was built, Quba was a separate village, but overtime, it has been incorporated in the city of Medina. The Prophet positioned the first stones of this mosque himself, and it is considered the oldest mosque of the world. The first friday prayer was given in this mosque, by the Prophet himself. After we park the car, we first walk around the holy building that is blindingly white. It looks new: it was rebuilt in the 1980s and the original mosque was demolished. Still, the site is one of the holiest sites for muslims. We see elaborate doors, the four minarets, and arrive at the entrance on the eastern side of the mosque.
After leaving my shoes on one of the many racks, I enter Quba mosque. I sit on the thick carpet, looking around, and observing what is going on. Some men are lying on their back, seemingly sleeping. It is almost time for afternoon prayer, and after a while, the call to prayer sounds. Everyone stands in rows now, and prayer starts. I follow suit, and follow the rhythm and the standing, kneeling, and standing again, repetitiously, until prayer is over. It is a special feeling to share this experience with so many worshippers. We drive to the heart of Medina, where we find the enormous Prophet Mosque. We walk to the massive open plaza, which has pillars with mounted umbrellas, elegantly designed, offering worshippers shade in this hot, sunny country.
The atmosphere is relaxed, and like in Mecca, we see throngs of foreign worshippers in groups, walking the marble floor until we have a good view of the building itself. The green dome indicates the place where Aisha's house once stood, the third wife of the Prophet, and where he is buried. It is time to go inside, and after leaving my shoes on one of the countless racks, I explore this gigantic mosque. It is among the third largest in the world, and can hold around a million worshippers at once. The more I walk around, the more I am dizzied by its sheer size. Aisle after aisle, with worshippers on the carpeted floor, some relaxing, others studying the quran from one of the many bookshelves. It is entirely possible to get lost in the Prophet Mosque. We walk outside again, and I then enter near the central part of the mosque, close to the green dome. I find many more people here, most studying, in a courtyard near the tomb of the Prophet, which for now is closed off. I stay a while to feel the vibe, admire the worshippers with their robes and beards, before leaving again to enjoy the warm afternoon light on one of the holiest places for muslims.
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