Total Pageviews

Thursday, 4 April 2013

31st March - Masjid e Kufa

Masjid e Kufa – it’s history left me in awe. And it’s future prospects had me spellbound.  

Let me go back a little. Where Masjid e Kufa is today, was where Prophet Noah built his ark. It is also the place where many prophets and their successors lived and worshiped Allah (swt). I was thinking about this and after a bit of contemplation it all makes sense. The Tigris and Euphrates are, after all, the Mesopotamia – the cradle of civilization – the place where the human race was evolving: man was changing into ‘food grower and settler’; he was slowing becoming a thinker.  And therefore, being close to the Furaat, it is quite reasonable that this area was the focus of visitation for all the Messengers of Allah who came to guide the people of Mesopotamia, and ease the process of their ‘civilization’.  And that makes the place quite historic; I mean you are sat in a place, and thousands of years ago, to know that great Prophets sat there contemplating, is quite humbling.  And to pray where Hazrate Nooh prayed, or where Hazrat e Ibrahim prayed, or our Prophet Mohammad (as) prayed (one of his stops during Meraj) – I felt privileged.

Masjid e Kufa – the place from where Imam Ali ran the Muslim Hukumat, is a grand building with a massive courtyard in the middle. All reconstructed and beautiful with marble flooring that keeps your feet cool although the sun is pouring down its heat in torrents. The ‘Dakkatul Qadha’, or Imam Ali’s court room where he meted out justice; his maxim: ‘Innallah yamuru bil adl e wal ahsaan’ (Allah enjoins you to act with justice and goodness) was printed bold and clear on its walls. This place, with an amazing past and an even more remarkable future, is the place where the 12th Imam will establish the hub of his Government. Incidentally it is one of the four places where we do not have to read qasr namaz: we have the choice of reading the full namaz. And why not? In a way, it is ‘home ground’ for every follower of the Ahlulbait (as). Felt a deep sense of belonging. We did our full namaz there – it was a home coming.

Masjid a Kufa – ‘fuzto be rabbil kaaba’ – the place Imam Ali was martyred. The mehrab has been done up – glittering and pristine – quite at odds with the austere simplicity of Imam Ali (as) life and lifestyle. I find it a bit difficult to associate the grandeur with what we know of our maasoomeen. I don’t know if I am being obtuse, but a true to life representations of all the maqams would have been more helpful in giving us the feel of the space and time.

Did my hadya salaat ….and just sat there ….re-living the tragedy. Cried a lot ….the tears would not stop. I prayed that I acknowledge the purpose of my tears – so it’s not only 'eye service'. That my tears were not only to reflect grief but also make penitence - with purpose: to become an ‘insan’, to remove from within me the petty flaws that keep me from being ‘civilised’. Incidentally, in the lecture arranged at the hotel the speaker spoke of the conditions required for a nation of people to be considered ‘civilised’.  For eg: succumbing to anger, back biting, mocking, ridiculing  others, and telling lies, even the little white ones that are so tantalisingly attractive, show a lack of ‘civilisation’; and a people can never consider themselves worthy unless they overcome these weaknesses. Inshallah, we will return cleansed of any unworthy pretenses. Iltemase dua.

Monday, 1 April 2013

30th March - 2:33 (Najaf)

Just came back – to the air conditioned hotel room – at the Qaser al Dhiyafa – the hotel we are staying at. Sharing a room with Shamuna and Fawzia. Ah, the comfort of a warm bed in a cool room. It is amazing how one gets used to luxuries – and how intolerant, impatient and comfort-living we get as we grow older. All the promises we make our Imam – of how we want to be on his army – will we be able to keep them at all? After all the followers of the Imam have to be ready to battle their own Karbala if they want to mean: ajjilallah ho ta ‘ala faraja’.

Earlier on we were on the bus, journeying from Baghdad to Najaf: a 4 to 5 hour journey which was getting a bit tedious for some of the women; especially the older ones. They were tired, flustered and exhausted. Plenty of ruffled feathers, arguments and accusations. It was funny how all the good intention ‘ of self purification’ simply dissolved and disappeared.

Little mundane realities can cloud our mind to such an extent that we are distracted from the ‘purpose’ of the journey; and instead of elevating ourselves we end up getting caught in the mire we wanted to actually escape from!

All through the last few weeks I had been so emotionally charged – just the mention of the word Najaf or Karbala could unleash the floodgates of tears: so enamoured was I with the idea of my journey. I’d lived and re-lived a dozen times my forthcoming experiences: my very first thoughts & feelings; my first words to the imams on entering the raoza…. I thought this was going to be the experience that would change me. I would return cleansed. And yet the relatively simple hardships of the journey and just one sleepless night was enough to show me that to a great extent my devotion is simply lip service. Not good enough really. 

29th March 2013

On the flight to Baghdad
A sleepless night – the beginning of my journey. Last minute ‘pre-flight checks’ – ensure every last item has been packed. The issue with the nail cutter – Mo had to trim his nails that very evening – and magic! the nail cutter disappeared. I know now, that will be the thing I will need desperately – not the multitude of other items I did manage to pack – I will end up not needing them at all. The nail cutter though will be thoroughly missed. L
Sana, Akbar & Ailia came to the Airport – nice. Mo left early ‘cause he wasn’t too well. He had been coughing and sneezing since he reached London earlier in the evening. And the car was heating up – mo wanted to take his time on the way back. He wanted to leave – said khudahafiz to him outside the Airport.
The heating in the Airport lounges was a welcome relief as the doors closed behind us and we walked towards the check-in counters. It was going to be a packed flight – the aisles were full of travellers - quite a few hijabis – on their way to one of the many places of religious significance.
This is the peculiar things about Muslims: every holiday - travel, they must. Destination – you ask? Well, their goal and purpose is one and one alone: their connection with the Almighty. Every holiday therefore is spent in one of the holy lands where they are intent on the ‘purification of their soul’. Pouring in their pounds into the travel industry – they travel to destinations that are fixed and with a fixation. Mecca and Medina, Karbala, Najaf and Mash-had – they inundate these cities in their millions. And not just once or twice – a dozen times if they can.
Today I am one of them – seeking solace. Destination Karbala. Destination Najaf. Agenda a meeting with Imam Ali. A meeting with Imam Hussain. An oath. A promise. To the Imam of our time – Imam Mehdi (ajtf). I hope, like the millions – that I return more patient, more pious, more penitent: purified.