Thursday, 24 July 2008

Day 27: Imam Hadad's Mosque

Today we went to visit the mosque and house of Imam Abd-Allah ibn 'Alawi Al-Hadad.

Just the thought that we were in the house of the Sufi Sage of Arabia, the man who wrote some of my favorite books, was awe-inspiring.

The mosque is pretty. And although it's very modern and recently rebuilt, it's still pretty.

But more interesting was the khalwa (seclusion/ worship area) at the back of the mosque, which is where the Imam used to sit and contemplate. Back there is also his rosary—which has 1,000 huge beads:

But most interesting was his house. Truly, it was humbling to visit. It's tiny, even smaller than Sh. Abu Bakr bin Salem's. It's literally minuscule and claustrophobic—the ceiling is extremely low and I banged my head into it twice going up (and down) the stairs.

On the first floor are two tiny rooms, and I will never forget the size of his bedroom, it was literally the size of a single mattress. Each room is no bigger than 3 steps in any direction. On the second floor was the biggest room, which took up almost the entire floor: his lecture room for his students, which doesn't fit more than 30 people.

For some reason, the second floor also contains a hook hanging from the ceiling, which we were told is where animals were slaughtered and hanged. I find that very disturbing for some reason—slaughtering animals inside a house?

Like I've said more than once, houses in Yemen are very very basic, and that's because they're not supposed to be a 'haven,' they're supposed to make you remember that life is fleeting, they're supposed to support an ascetic lifestyle which means you're not supposed to be very comfortable in them. A far cry from our spacious homes. I have yet to visit a house here that has 'real' furniture in it—at most there is moquette fabric for the floor. If you peel it, you will literally see concrete underneath.

Another reason for the fact that there is no furniture is that everyone sits on the floor. And they sit on the floor because of the hadith that says

"One who humbles himself for the sake of God, God will exalt him [in rank]."
Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) used to sit and eat on the floor. Once, a woman saw him eating on the floor and said, "he is eating as if he were a slave." The prophet responded:

"Could there be a better slave than me? I am a slave of God."
And so, the people of Tarim, even the sheikhs in our classes, sit on the floor.

But I digress. We sat in Imam Hadad's lecture room, and recited his wird and his famous rateb. I learnt what the word wird means today (it's weird that I never thought about that)—it means the well which waters the earth. So the wird waters your heart. And as Sh. Imaad told us in a class, it doesn't happen automatically, you need to do it for a long time before you begin to taste it (zawq).

We then opened one of Imam Hadad's books and read the page it opened on. Subhan Allah it was so appropriate:

"Iman (Faith) is like a tree. Faith is the roots and good character and deeds are the branches. Tribulations are like a flood or wind that hit the tree. If the roots aren't strong enough the tree might be uprooted." Imam Hadad

Then we opened his qaseedas and read the one the book fell open to, which he had written after he came back from Hajj. Doing so is called mashad –it's said that what the book falls open to describes your state.

All in all, our ziyara took two hours. Imagine meeting one of your favorite authors, and imagine being invited to their house. So I'm honored to not only have been in Imam Hadad's house, but also to have visited his mosque and his grave (in Zambal).

Today's Quote: Who doesn't have a wird (litany) is a qird (monkey). Ustadha Moneeba, quoting a scholar.

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