A Holy Cyber Trip
By Monazza Anwar

Internet is undoubtedly the fastest growing technology of the century. Connecting people globally, it is rightly called the ‘information highway’. On the Internet you can find information related to all topics, just a mouse-click away from you. It is through this medium that you can reach a greater number of people than ever before.

There are a number of Islamic websites on the net and among them an interesting one is ‘Ahlan’ - basically a guide to those visiting Mecca and Madina. The website explores the details of historic events and places in Mecca and Madina, gives instructions on how to perform Hajj and Umrah, presents recitation of the Holy Qu’ran by the Imam of Ka’aba, list of hotels there with their addresses, an Arabic-to-English dictionary and much related useful information.

The site was created by Mr Waseem Ahmad Siddiqui, a freelance sports writer. Spotlighting the reason for putting up such a site, Mr Siddiqui says: “I was planning to write a book about all the places visited by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and when I searched the net for information, I could not get all I wanted. So I decided to come up with a website that will have details about the holy places in Mecca and Madina.”

Not everyone gets a chance to visit these places but through this website one can at least get a lot of information about them and the photographs add to the visual experience. As Internet can be accessed by people all over the world, this site can help in learning a lot about these places as well as about Hajj and Umrah.

There are two main sections of the site - Mecca and Madina. Each one comprises more than 100 topics listed according to their significance. The exact locations of important places, normally not dealt in depth by books, have been pinpointed. One such example is the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) place of birth. “But Haram-e-Ka’aba has 95 doors so where would it be?” I asked Mr. Siddiqui. “I found out that if you stand with your back to Bab-e-Al-Marwah (the place where the sayii ends), and walk straight a few yards, you will come upon a white house with a green sign that says ‘Maktabul-Mecca-al-Mukarrama’. This is the Holy Prophet’s birthplace.”

Waseem Siddiqui has similarly given direction, on the website, to other significant places. In addition, a section of the site has a travel guide for people desiring to visit the two holy cities, with details of the expenditure and costs of the trip to Saudi Arabia.

Since Ahlan was launched a few months ago, more than one lac seventy five thousand people have visited the site and many emails have been received regarding the site. An Islamic center in Chicago is using the site to give education on Hajj and Umrah to its students.

Visually, Ahlan is also a treat with the picture gallery section that contains more than 500 colored photographs. These include an aerial shot, taken by a satellite, of Mecca and sent by NASA, the place where the Treaty of Hudaibiya took plqce, the battlefields of Badr, Uhad, Khandaq ,inside view of holy kaba, grave of the Prophets' mother besides Masjid-e-Nabwi and Ka’aba and other places. The website also has audio video section and
list of
hotels for stay in harmain. Those who wish to visit the site can do so at http:// www.ahlan.org

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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