Monday, 4 August 2008

Day 38: Muslim while flying

We found a huge scorpion-looking bug in our room today, with two strange suction looking things at its head. I will definitely not miss the bugs here, especially the fat looking ants.

Today was technically the last day of classes, and it felt very strange to know that, especially since we are in no way close to finishing the assigned texts in most of the classes.

In Fiqh class today one of the brothers brought up a very interesting topic: 'Muslim while flying.' I loved Baba Ali's video about what you should and shouldn’t do when traveling, but somehow I never realized how hard it must be to be constantly looked at with a suspicious eye simply because you're a Muslim. The brother who spoke talked about how the flight attendent wouldn't even look at him when he wanted 7Up, and how frightened she was when he tried to go to the bathroom during turbulence. It's sad how the media has managed to paint Muslims as the enemy. I wish I could somehow hold Tarim up and say "this is what Islam is, this is what its followers should be doing. What you see is not Islam."

We then had an optional Q & A session with our fiqh teacher, and he asked us all to think hard about what we will take back with us from Tarim. Insh'Allah I'll talk about that in a separate post.

After 'asr we finished adab al-nofoos, the book we are studying in the rawha, and Habib Umar gave us all ijaza in teaching it. Elhamdulela I managed to buy the CDs of the entire rawha so I can re-listen to them back home. I feel bad for the westerners since they were only available in Arabic.

After maghrib we had a surprise—Habib Ali was back. He left a week ago to go to Yale University in America for the first follow up conference of A Common Word, and we had been told he most probably wouldn't be back for the end of the Dowra. So it was a welcome surprise when he saw him. The session was a Q & A session, and it had one added benefit—the women had a microphone and were allowed to ask their questions (gasp) out LOUD. Kudos to Habib Ali.

He told us a story in answer to a question, and it was about Habib Umar and his ethar:
Some Indonesian students came to study in Tarim in a winter back when the facilities weren't as complete, and they complained to Habib Umar that they didn't have blankets. So Habib Umar went inside his house and came back with blankets. They said they weren't enough so he went back and brought more. They told him there was one more student without a blanket so he went back, stayed a very very long time and eventually came back with a blanket that didn't smell very nice.

The next day, the Indonesian students were told by someone who worked in Habib Umar's house: "Do you know what happened in Habib Umar's house yesterday? You wanted blankets so he gave you his and his wife's blanket. You wanted more, he gave you his daughters' blankets. You wanted one more, and he could only find the blanket of his baby son, which is why it didn't smell very nice.
This was at a time when Habib Umar didn't have enough money to create duplicate copies of his tapes, let alone buy new blankets.

Habib Ali then ended the story by telling us that he wasn't telling us a story of scholars gone by, but of someone in our lifetimes.

al-Ethar is a beautiful thing.

Today's Quote: Falsehoods spread with money and wealth, truth with sacrifice. Da'wa isn't a bed of roses, you should expect it to be hard. Habib Ali

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