Visiting Madinatul Munawwarah and the Rowdhah Mubarak has to be the heartfelt longing of every Muslim and every Muslimah! Crowds of visitors flock to the Holy City of Madinatul Munawwarah throughout the year from every corner of the world.
Visits to the Rowdhah Mubarak is restricted for the sisters and is not as easy as for the brothers. It is therefore greatly beneficial to research relevant information especially for first time visitors. The following is a compilation of information from various sources (Books/Lectures/Online Sources) which will InshaAllah be of help.
Times: Visiting times for sisters are after Fajr, Dhuhr and Isha Salaah (Up till midnight). Sisters gather at the barriers in the sisters' section. The barriers are moved about an hour after Salaah ends which gives time for the brothers to empty the area through which the sisters will be walking to reach the Rowdhah Mubarak.
General Procedure: Once the barrier is opened the sisters walk through the brothers' prayer area towards the Rowdhah (Unfortunately many sisters are found to run in groups, arms linked so as not to be separated, pushing and shoving aside anyone in the way!) Once sisters reach the inner courtyard they will be grouped according to nationalities, told to sit down and wait.
Open courtyards of Masjid Nabawi
At this time rather than talk and create noise which can be heard on the brothers' side one should quietly engage in salaat and salaam upon the beloved of Allah sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam or spend time reflecting at the auspiciousness of the occasion, at the great blessing of Allah subhaanahu wata'ala for granting us lowly ones this opportunity.
Inner courtyard where sisters gather
Many sisters tend not to declare their nationality and wait to see which is the smaller group as crowds of sisters continually arrive.
Talks by Duty Sisters: Here the duty sisters will give talks in the various languages which include the Aadab (Etiquettes) of the Masjid and the Do's and Dont's. Along with the advice which are good and necessary as many sisters unfortunately show ignorant and uncouth behaviour which is totally against the dignity of the auspicious place and occasion, the duty sisters include advices which leave many sisters confused. The advices show no respect for the different opinions of the various Schools of Thought. As Sister Miskeenah aptly summarises;
"Masjid of our Noble Nabi, the City of our Prophet, is under the edicts of one aspect, one narrow interpretation of our multi-faceted ways of practicing Islam. Pilgrims come from every corner of the globe, representing all schools of thought, which all deserve to be respected and allowed the freedom to openly apply the different opinions and not to be indoctrinated, coerced, shamed, brainwashed..."
The talk can take up to an hour so in order to avoid waiting the best solution is to come a little late which also means one avoids the noisy stampede which usually occurs when the barrier is first opened.
Toward the Rowdhah Mubarak: After the talk the next barriers will be opened through which the groups will be ushered in towards the Rowdhah Mubarak. Unfortunately one just goes along with the flow as there is bound to be pushing from the rear. Note that the Rowdhah MUbarak is marked by white pillars and the colour of the carpet in the Rowdhah Mubarak is green as compared to the red colour of the rest of the Masjid. Mufti Muhammad Faruq mentions in "Women's Guide in Madinah Munawwarah",
"Some of the green carpets are outside the Riyadhul Jannah. The length of the original Riyadhul Jannah was 22 metres and the width was 15 metres. Sections of the original Riyaadhul Jannah were incorporated into the Holy Chamber which was constructed later."
Inside the Rowdhah Mubarak: Once inside the Rowdhah area there is often complete chaos despite the duty sisters trying to arrange sisters in rows to create ease in the performance of the two rakats salaah. Even while one is in salaah one finds sisters push through to the front leaving no space for sujood! Once the salaam and the salaah is completed sisters should leave the area and not hog the spaces they have. Unfortunately many make themselves at home and proceed with long du'as and even Qur'an recitation though the duty sisters do try and usher out those who over stay.
Wheelchair users are facilitated in a very organised manner. There is a separate queue for them (accompanied by one companion). They are ushered in by duty sisters and organised in a row with space behind for the companions to perform salaah. It is a very peaceful process compared to the pushing and shoving of the rest of the crowds.
What the Brothers are able to see!
A shock to many but the picture seen in all the books and all over the internet is nowhere to be seen in real by the sisters! It is hidden from our sight behind white barriers...
All praises are for Allah subhaanahu wata'ala Who allowed us to walk the streets of the blessed city, to breadth in the air and to enter the sacred area. Alhamdulillaahi Rabbil 'aalameen!