Thursday, 10 July 2008

Day 13: Relax

It's the weekend again, and a full week of classes has passed. I've gotten used to sitting on the floor; my muscles aren't protesting like they did in the first week. I'm also really getting used to the schedule, so much that I woke up today at 9am and literally had to force myself to go back to sleep.

I've always been the kind of person who when they wake up stay up no matter how little sleep they got, so elhamdulela I haven't been finding it hard to stay awake in classes. Whenever I find my concentration wavering though, I remind myself about how many pointless books and movies I've watched and wasted time doing so—and tell myself I can definitely stay focused for one more hour.

But I can't help thinking that it must be a punishing schedule if you live here. Today we have nothing until the rawha at 4pm, and although that's how I usually spend my weekends at home (sometimes I literally do nothing the whole day) I feel strange having so much free time.

And that got me thinking: Am I being so diligent in waking up for tahajuud and attending every class because I know it's for a limited amount of time and not forever? Would I be so attentive if I was a student at Dar al-Zahra? Or if I lived here? It's a difficult question, and I'm not sure if my answer right now would be yes.

There's an optional session right now by Habib Umar's wife about raising your children in the west, and I opted to skip it (since it wasn't really relevant to me) in order to start memorizing surat al-kahf and have some time to think when the house wasn't full of women. Thank God the electricity was back on—yesterday the generator kept dying and all of us were sitting around, unwilling to move, mefalfaseen. (An Arabic expression for when a fish is out of the water and jumps around for a bit before giving up).

So I was sitting in the atypical silence thinking, and I realized that I was looking at the clock every 10 minutes. Sh. Hamza Yusuf was so correct to say that many of us have lost the ability to be silent and that meditating, or even some light reflection, is becoming impossible. There's a study out right now that says when asked to sit in a room and meditate, most Americans had an anxiety attack.

We simply can't be doing nothing anymore; we can't be content with our own thoughts to entertain us. Sh. Hamza called our generation the iPod generation, and nothing could be closer to the truth. Substitute the iPod for anything—music, books, movies, talking on the phone, facebook, etc and that's who we are.

So I left the clock behind and I climbed upstairs to the roof. And truly, it was like I had left this realm for another one, as new-agey as that sounds.

Silence is defined as the utter absence of sound. We do get silence in Egypt, though very rarely. But it's a different kind of silence—even without noise you feel that the air thrums with vibrancy; the atmosphere itself is not still. Here, stillness permeates the air which has no zing to it, I could literally feel my heart rate slowing down to match it. The view of the mountains surrounding me on all sides and the hot air blowing like a hairdryer in my face literally changed my hal (state). My voice on the wind reciting Qur'an felt unnatural, almost as if it was causing ripples in the air. That's how still it was. It gave me goosebumps and I automatically lowered my voice.

And yet, it was an incredible experience. I will definitely be doing my memorization on the roof from now on insh'Allah.

Today's Quote: Your hal (state) when you pray is a mirror of your relationship with Allah. Habib Umar

Another (later) quote: [And] your state on hearing the adhan (call to prayer) reflects what your state will be on leaving this world. Are you yearning to hear it? Habib Umar

No comments: