Friday, 1 August 2008

Day 35: Back in Tarim

July is over, which means we have less than a week left before we have to go home. Our calendar is finally full:

It's very very sad.

Being back in Tarim really feels like being back home—it felt so good to get back to our normal routine today.

Being back also brought back home the fact that your environment influences you more than you might realize. Makkala was our little test, taking us out of the spiritual bubble we were living in, and I'm not too sure we all successfully passed.

Personally, I feel I didn't—I didn't pray fajr two of the three mornings, even though I've only missed it three times this entire month (partial excuse was that we were all so exhausted, but that's not really an excuse); I gorged myself on mangoes and Pizza; I didn't keep up with my awrad, and I finally caved and listened to music on my iPhone, which I hadn't done in the entire month I've been here.

Tarim feels like a different world, it makes you want to be a better person. You're better not because you feel everyone is better so you imitate them blindly, but because Tarim somehow inexplicably gives you an extra drive—almost as if the very air is embodied with little spiritual 'infusions.' It sounds silly when I read it, and I know I'm being repetitive, but it's true.

Here, I can get up at 3am, walk to Dar al-Zahra, sit for two hours for tahajjud, fajr, and awrad until sunrise, which I couldn't even do in Mecca and definitely never even attempted back home. Back home, I'm lucky if I get up for fajr, pray the sunna, and quickly do the normal dhikr we do after any prayer.

A big part of it is the fact that there's simply so little opportunity to be 'bad,' in the sense that you're so isolated. If you're on a diet, it'll be easier if you're on a desert island (though it did nothing for Hurley on Lost lol) than if you're living next to a KFC.

Which brings me to the thought: is seclusion really the better solution? There's no doubt that it's easier than being out in world, and you will become a better person—whether you like it or not.

But at the same time, I truly believe that seclusion only benefits you and no one else. If we're out in the world, it's true we'll have a harder time being 'good,' but then we must get more ajr for staying away from temptations. Plus, we'll then be able to contribute to society, do da'wah, and help others. To take what we've learnt and implement it in harder spiritual--if not physical--surroundings is better, especially since physical hardship is easier to deal with than spiritual hardship.

Today I got to try another delicious Yemeni salad— boiled potato cubes and tomato slices in a sauce made of water, sugar and a touch of beesbas.

Today we also got to pray behind Habib Kathim—he decided to keep going on after 'isha so we could finish the section.

Today's Quote: Don't sin and say: 'God will forgive me, He is Merciful and Forgiving.' Yes, He is, but don't be like the fisherman who sits on the shore and waits for a jewel to land in his lap. Yes, the sea is full of jewels but you have to go seek them. So if you sin you need to seek forgiveness for your actions. You need to shamar [roll up your sleeves] and be diligent. Habib Kathim


"[Don't be] the man who wants to be learned in the sciences of religion but spends his time in idelness and says, 'God is generous and merciful, able to fill my heart with that knowledge with which He filled the hearts of His prophets and saints, without any effort on my part, any repetition, any learning from a teacher. Again, you resemble the man who wants wealth, yet does not engage in farming or commerce or any gainful occupation." Imam al-Ghazali

1 comment:

AbuIsa said...

As Salaamu Alaykum,
I enjoyed your blog on the dowra. I checked everyday for updates, it was also interesting reading it from a sisters point of view. I regard to what you mentioned on seclusion , I think seclusion is better until you rectify your nafs, then you go out and engage the world as a purified person no longer distracted by it, as Imam Al Ghazali did.