A sharply chilled morning dawn, coupled with dusty particles eager to attach themselves to every sister's draping abaya (outer garment)... to many this might be the prelude for a not so attractive experience... however, for me, it was one to remember. The build-up to the blessed three day 'Eid ul-Fitr celebrations were beautifully received, having been invited to a couple of iftaars, a reminder of the beauty of fasting in the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah (last month in the Islamic calendar). I couldn't help but feel he beauty of the approaching festival, though loving thoughts of my family across the ocean, lingered deeply in my mind. But, alhamdulillah, the fact that I knew I could just pick up the phone and hear their comforting voices subdued my overwhelming thoughts. The sisters' iftaars I had the pleasure of attending was succeeded by a beautiful Istiraaha (gathered 'Eid celebration) on the Second day of 'Eid. A stunning garden boarded off by raised walls surrounding the area was the scene of the Istiraaha, scented with mouth-watering traditional Arab style dishes and an Asian style cuisine. Masha'Allah, the array of sisters from across the globe was a wonderful sight to see. Sisters from all backgrounds, in all shapes, forms and sizes decorated the open ground with their chosen 'Eid garments. Although I'm use to 'Eid dinners, gatherings and parties, this one had a slightly different feel to it... the sisters and children appeared so carefree, as though they didn't have a care in the world, masha'Allah - like many enjoying a unique lifestyle in the blessed city. And as much as the pre-'Eid iftaars and Istiraaha were beautiful to experience, one event, by far, was the highlight of my Saudi 'Eid experience... Immediately following the Fajr salaah (dawn prayer) my sister and I proceeded to get ready for the 'Eid salaah. Now back in London, though my family and I would make it a habit to prepare ourselves straight after the dawn salaah - this was always with the aim of catching the first salaah, normally at 8:00am. So the thought that we'd be partaking in an 'Eid salaah as early as 6:30am... was a different experience to look forward to. As we travelled to the prayer ground, my heart begun to race with excitement: I was about to experience the 'Eid prayer according to the sunnah (the way of the beloved Prophet - salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), insha'Allah. Approaching the open musallah I observed a multitude of women, men and children making their way to the designated place of prayer. Unprepared for the temperature or the outdoor experience, my sister and I hastened to huddle up with a sister on her ground mat. The sharply chilled morning dawn air, coupled with dusty particles eager to speckle the garments of the worshippers, ironically soothed my soul. Here I was perched upon the ground mat of a 'stranger' - my sister-in-Islam - in a crispy chilled open-roof musallah, about to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and feet-to-feet with the purpose of uniting in the way of our Lord - our Beloved (Subhaanahu wa ta'ala). Fulfilling a recommended sunnah of the prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) as a means of worshipping Allah - The Most High. The sound of the Imam's voice - a reminder to straighten our lines and stand as close together as possible - indicated the salaah was about to begin. I glanced around, in hope of capturing 'a perfect' moment before losing it. My eyes took a quick glimpse of the ever-joyful children; the pleasantly plain and authentic walls of the musalla, the picturesque clear-blue sky and the beautifully covered all-in-black female worshippers perched... upon a sand-pebbled ground... Alhamdulillah - my moment had been captured.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
So… by the Grace of Allah (Subhaanahu wa ta’ala) it has happened… I’ve embarked upon a dream, one that appeared surreal, but which I held so dear to my heart. After years of preparing; nurturing and training my soul for its spiritual journey, my physical one has now begun... alhamdulillah.
The look on my sister’s face as I hugged and kissed her goodbye was enough to break me… and it did. As much as I had tried to suppress the tears, denying myself the right to release any emotion, there and then my attempt to ‘hold-strong’ suddenly burst forth, stubbornly refusing to withdraw. I knew what my leaving meant, but hadn’t really internalised its reality, until now. I was making hijrah, migrating for the sake of my Beloved (Subhaanahu wa ta’ala), to a land I had only ever dreamt about and marvelled at, but with deep-rooted love in my heart. The land of Tawheed – where I hoped to embark upon the next phase of my journey and to achieve what may not have been possible whilst remaining in the country I had always known as ‘home’.
And yet ironically, in my heart of hearts I knew there was another home… another place that I yearned to migrate to, longed to reside in and aspired to make a part of me… the home of the two sacred cities – where The country where the House of my Lord remained.
Departing from my beloved family and dear sisters and friends made me realise their true beauty and significance in my life. They have made me who I am and what I stand for. Allah (Swt) brought them to me and me to them for a purpose known only to Him (Swt) Alone. I am forever thankful for that, but only sorry that I hadn’t the wisdom to realise their worth long before. How often it is that we take for granted the blessing and jewels bestowed upon us, whether people or possessions, only to one day realise that the beauty of what we sought was all the while evident in what we had.
Those aspects of my life will remain apart of me and my continual journey, insha’Allah. So, as heartbreaking as it all was and as much as my eyes wept like a baby, this – my new life, new hopes and new aspirations - I never want to lose -insha'Allah.
As difficult as it was: leaving my loved ones, I knew, and took great comfort in the fact, that none of these things really mattered – not the people nor the possessions - for they were merely meant for Allah’s (Swt) Sake Alone: a means of seeking His (Swt) Pleasure, as an aid and guide to seeking nearness to my Lord (Swt).
So, as I settle and adjust to my new life, the words of my new companion resonates in my mind… ‘can you believe that after so many years… we’re finally home’.
SubhaanAllah, yaa ukht - I couldn’t have said it any better myself, wa- alhamdulillah.
Posted by Umm Thameenah bint Luqman on 7.12.08