Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ramadan/Syawal 1431 (2010)

I have meant to put this up during Ramadhan this year to commemorate 1 year of my visit to the Holy Land. I was tasked to direct the documentary "Modern Pilgrims" for MediaCorp's ChannelnewsAsia. I look back at the series with fond memories. Three things come to mind.

1. The project was delayed for one year, ie the trip was supposed to take place in 2009, but delayed by paperwork. Alhamdulillah, on 3 September 2010 the crew and I left for Madinah. I would also like to add that it was Ramadhan 1431 through Syawal 1431 when I made that trip. I arrived Madinah during the last 10 days of Ramadhan and left Makkah at the end of the first week of Syawal.

2. I was raised in a conservative Islamic environment - my parents pursued their utmost responsibilities to be the best Muslim parents. Although I attended up to Primary 6 in a Madrasah (Islamic school) - somehow, pop music seems to be more appealing. So it was high anticipation, excitement yet apprehension as to how I would "perform" in the house of GOD. I'm still perfecting my self.

3. It was in the middle of the northern-hemisphere summer when we arrived, in Ramadhan. The temperature was up to 45 degrees celcius. I had to be sure I get ALL the items I had planned to film, liaise with the ground via the fixer on our daily programmes, which was a tough call. AND on top of that the ibadah itself. It was hard, Subhanallah. I had an awakening - an awakening of my self. And the extreme humility I felt in His presence. 2 things - visiting the Prophet Muhammad SAW at his tomb and THAT sunset experience at Mt Uhud. Masya'Allah! And of course that moment as I faced the Kaabah. It was magical to be at THE centre of gravity where all of solats/prayers are directed - wherever one can be in every part of the world.

As the filming team did not restrict ourselves to just the respective city centres, we often wandered off the beaten tracks, ie, making friends with the endearing locals and visiting quaint street corners where these locals hangout in both Madinah and Makkah. I also got to know closer the rich Ottoman heritage that is being eroded and bulldozed by the current Saud government. The various stories of the human condition from people I spoke to in the streets - determined kindred spirits who made their way to the Holy Land despite poverty and other personal drives - were so inspiring and humbling! So much were going on that could be told but unfortunately were not within the documentary's narrative (and telecast duration). And I feel fortunate to be able to connect with the Holy Land this way.

In the midst of these challenges, I completed a total of 4 Umrah rounds in Makkah. The first round was completed at around midnight on 1st Syawal 1431. We returned to Singapore on 18 September 2010. Alhamdulillah

Here is the documentary.

UPDATE: Since 2010, I have been blessed with resources and time to revisit the Holy Land again during the summers of 2012 and 2015. Alhamdulillah.


Anonymous said...

As salaam brother, the golden dome depicted was not Al-Aqsa Mosque, it is the Al-Sakhrah Mosque, 'Dome of the Rock'. Al-Aqsa Mosque have a dark green dome, from your camera angle, it just behind Dome of the Rock building... anyway i enjoyed your documentary.


Sanif Olek said...

جزاك اللهُ خير Salam brother.

بارك الله فيك