Thursday, September 16, 2004
Day 4 ~ Friday 27th August 2004
My companions given me the ultimatum to pack my bag before she gets out of the shower! Yes, we’re off to Cordoba – or as the Spaniards say Kurr-dah-ba. The bus to the Estacion is every 10/15 minutes and then the Cordoba one is at 10am! Gotta Go!
… I can’t wait to see the Grand Mezquita!
My favourite day of the week – YIPEE!
I’m sitting on my feet leaning against the wall awaiting the Number 1 Bus to Cordoba. Its due to leave at 10.30am. My companion is sitting many rows away – there are no benches this side. I moved from there because people were smoking like chimneys – I honestly cant take the smoke – my companion is making her way up towards me -----
She’s telling me she has left her intravenous medication (injections) at the hotel. (A request to all to pray for my companions’ health). We can’t head back now and be back for 10.30am. I suppose we could try getting a cab? Perhaps not – 20 minutes is not going to be enough. She needs to take the jab before 8pm. So we must be back at the hotel for that time.
I have told her it will mean we get out of Cordoba at 5ish at the latest. Not to worry. No point in stressing over it really is there?
I think this is where the (hajj) change has come for me. Whereas in the past I would get ‘worked up’ about things changing plan – now its just:
Ina Lila Hi Wa Ina Ilaihi Rajeun.
If God Almighty wants things to be this way then why bother putting up a fight?
Just accept and adapt to cope with the new situation to the best of your ability.
(Well I am just trying.. have a long long way to go ;)
There really is no reason why we should get worked up over things if they don’t work our way. And this extends into our personal lives and relationships with our environments aswell.
Verily, this was the pinnacle of Tawakal Allah? (Reliance on God). The focal point of reliance on the Supreme Being. And the essence of what makes a believer sincere in eeman (faith).
For time is only God Almightys’ alone and though we are the users of time, we aren’t the custodians. We merely use it as a commodity – we do not have ownership. Ownership is with Him alone who brought into existence ‘time’ and gave to mankind a gift which can lead him out of the depths of ignorance to the light of knowledge. And empower him with the ability to raise his status into a realm which will elevate him to his natural position, and that is to become an ambassador to his Creator and fulfil the celestial obligations he vowed to.
And surely if my life is about concentrating upon a return then this promise must be ever-present in the conscious actions I do.
Sitting here watching people board their coaches, carrying with them the loads for their journey; I wonder whether I have packed the correct luggage for my journey? For if my journey is to God Almighty as I hope it is – then what do I need to take with me? Will my few scanty deeds be sufficient? Have I packed the essentials? And what about the excess luggage? What will be the penalty for carrying excess? Can I leave the excess luggage behind? If its not useful – why bother taking it?
Our useless deeds are like the excess luggage. The way to get rid of them is by purifying them by constant Remembrance of Allah Almighty.
I’m now on the coach! Apparently I was sitting at the wrong end of the station! The coach is Number 10 not 1!
My companion says she was yelling at the top of her voice, calling me. Of course I had gone elsewhere. “You and your journal!” My journal gets cursed.
Well exactly! Me and my journal! Thought I don’t think I have wrote as much as I would have liked to…
My companion is sitting at the front of the coach. I have come towards the back. We both want to sit next to the window!!
It’s now 10.30am. I cant believe its only our fourth day here! It feels like a long time. I think if I was to return back to the UK right now, I’d feel very refreshed and relaxed. (Just turned the air conditioner off) I hate the artificial coldness blowing my head!.. well sometimes!
Yes – I feel very focused Alhamdulila.
Bismillah – the coach is moving…
It’s 10.38am as we leave the Estacion Bus and the sun is up high.
Alhamdulila, yes. I feel extremely touched by the sights of Alhambra yesterday. Myself and my companion still can’t believe what happened here almost 800 years ago. I believe the Muslims must have done something which lead to the fall. To this, it’s important that we read the books of history – since this is a history of us as humans and Muslims. As those who are the followers, the ambassadors of God Almighty Himself. What did these ambassadors do which led to their eventual downfall? We have read how mosques were desecrated and literature (including the Quran) was burnt. But why? Why suddenly after living in tolerance and harmony for many hundreds of years did it come to this? 10.43am
We’re well on our way out of Granada now. I am taking a few winks and opening my eyes. The view outside is so natural, scenic and pleasing to the eye. Even whilst I have my eyes closed I can sense the peace and tranquillity. It’s a beautiful journey. So peaceful and calm. Its not like a typical motorway journey in the UK that we’re familiar with. There are few cars on the road and those that are around are not making the noise often traffic creates.
If this is the state on earth – hows Heaven like? Whenever I open my eyes they are treated to such splendours of Allah Almighty’s creation and I feel the bounty of Him upon me. For giving me this opportunity.
For every soul is struggling to find peace (in its purest form). We have travelled far and wide in search of Sakinah; our spirits have encountered so many foes to reach the state of celestial nearness. A state which mimics our yearning in earnest; to be in tranquillity.
We have traversed life in search for this sukoon; which we so desperately desire. Man’s journey to reach sukoon has caused man many a time to stray; sometimes from the rights due to man himself. All in the way of reaching this state. Many have retired to the peaks of mountains to seclude from the air of disbelief. To rush and flee as one does in memory of deeds; deeds which are useless – flee to a place: far beyond; though physically still here; but beyond spiritual realms that are before him. To escape the speed of time he lives in and come to the sanctuary where he may stop. Stop to allow himself to reflect upon his promises and pledges to God Almighty.
I wipe the tears which have gathered.
Enough is this sight as a sign from my Lord above that even today is not late to transform the useless deeds into precious gems; treasures which will fill my grave with riches. I thank you Lord for your bounty. Alhamdulila. 11.18am
We are in Cordoba though still in the coach. It seems to be a longer journey than we were told.. which means we should have to leave soon after 4.30ish to be safely just in time for my companions’ jabs.
But the journey on this coach has been so smooth – I usually get extremely tired upon travelling. But this is so peaceful, I have slept a little and feel refreshed. The constant visual delights are enough to give solace to the tiring eyes.
I suppose, they do say that looking at the colour green is good for the eyes!
One thing I have noticed is that our time here seems to have barakah. So even a few moments seem like hours. Certainly this is the case when we visited the Albaicin and also the Alhambra. I can’t wait to see the Grand Mosque; it’s the third largest in the world so they say. Built towards Damascus not Mecca. SubhanAllah.
We are stopped at the traffic lights, the city looks similar to Granada. Palm trees remind me of Saudi; amazing how they are here in the heart of Europe. The station is here. 1.03pm
I’m sitting on the floor, facing the mihrab, behind cold iron bars. I can’t believe that lead from this spot were the Friday prayers for inhabitants of Cordoba. How many generations would have prayed here. SubhanAllah. Invoking the Praises of One God in peace. Times of marriages, births, and funerals; how many eid prayers must have been lead from here –
The place is a marvel of time. How it has lasted so splendid in beauty. The perfection of the architecture perfected by the perfection of the Message itself. The intricacies of design surrounding this beautiful arch, just as are the intricate Laws of the Creator. And the intricate creation aswell. How the ground we tread on today was once purified by man.
(Before coming into the Mezquita I prostrated in the courtyard. Prayer doesn’t take place in the mosque anymore. The man at the ticket office told us that sometimes groups of men have performed congregational prayers outside).
Sad how there are tourists here having their pictures taken with the mihrab in the background. I guess that’s “history”. A way of saying “I’ve been here!”
But to really ‘be’ there must have been a moment of ecstasy for mans’ spiritual and physical being. The mosque is not only welcoming to the spirit as the ‘House of God’ but is also aesthetically pleasing to the physical sight. 2.57pm
My companion is back with the dead battery..!
Reflections from the Mezquita at Alhambra, equally of weight here:
Bare walls, an empty mimbar – the pulpit has been left in peace to stand as an attraction for many aworld to admire. Eyes fill with tears as we see how once the Name of God Almighty was invoked in this dark stoned building. The walls have become saddened at the long pause between the moments when the Imam lead his followers in the Remembrance of the Creator.
We’re sitting at the Estacion waiting for our sandwiches. The coach leaves at 4.30. My companion is looking for a gift for her hubby.
Just one question comes to mind – how did such a mighty dynasty collapse? What went wrong?
We have also had a healthy discussion about Sunni-Shia interaction and how if we are not careful in the modern world, we will all end up on our downfall. (My companion is from the Shia fiqh and also a descendant of the Prophet Alaislam).
If such mighty dynasties can fall – isn’t that evidence of how careful we should be in dealing with our differences?
The modern world is visibly seeing Sunni – Shia clashes in a spectacle of violence which is being sensationalised in a most remarkable manner. We need to unite.
Sandwiches ready. 4.20pm
We’re sitting on the coach for Granada. It doesn’t seem as if we were only here for 3 ½ hours. And it doesn’t seem that the journey takes 2.45mins!
Its almost as if we were here for at least 1 whole day if not more. And the journey to Cordoba seems to be one which didn’t take long insofar as the ‘tiring’ element of a journey is usually concerned. As, usually even an hours journey is tiring and one needs time to adjust as a commuter. But here, it s not the case. Though the length of the journey was felt as far as experiencing the peaceful and tranquil sights are concerned. What I mean is that I did feel the ‘length’ of the journey and the duration of peace.
For it is truthful to say that even one found moment of peace is infinity. Just like a moment of happiness is sufficient to forget a lifes’ worth of sorrow. A moment in the Praises of God Almighty is worth a thousand without. To seek this moment and find it, is, for the spirit, an immensely joyful experience.
Time to eat my sandwich. 4.43pm
We’re back in the hotel. I cant believe it; what a day.
How come we travelled 6 hours today and still fail to feel a sense of fatigue? It must be some barakah, some mystical element within time that is helping us to stop and pause a while in history itself.
As if there is Divine Blessings in this place, a place which once saw the worlds’ most influential and powerful dynasties take lead in (global) affairs. Perhaps affairs which dictated Gods’ Message?
We’ve just met an Iraqi calligrapher. Dr Hussain al-Hussaini al Baghdadi – a professor of Microbiology, now an asylum seeker.
We had a fine discussion about current politics in Iraq. My companion speaks to him about what Fiqh he follows. Most of today has been a good heart-rendering, thought provoking day about Sunni and Shias.
We’re in Sultan Oriental Restaurant, my companion is just placing her order – done. The guy has been to Manchester apparently! My friend is a bit dubious they may not be halal (though the sign says halal). I am too naïve – we have ordered chicken!
After a chat about jinn and taweez (talismans) over dinner, we walk out and see a guy sitting with Tarot cards!!! Off home now…
(Dont ask why we had to end up speaking about ghoolish stuff at night-time; my companion loves to scare me I guess... I have to admit we didnt want to get up and leave the restaurant after that!)
Well we’re sitting in the centre (of a city square) with the 14th night moon above us. And I’ve brought 2 scarfs – my scarf shopping is never ending. My dire love for them. (I remember we must have brought a lifetime supply back from Saudi last year!)
I’m looking at the vendors on the street pack-up their goods as my companion tells me about the status of man. (I sense a side of my companion that wasn’t familiar to me before. A deeply humble side. Though I have known her for a few years and even worked alongside her in the same school, I had not seen this side of her. Her words penetrate deeply into my conscious and make me reflect upon life too).
The street vendors we met today are really nice. There were some Afro-Caribbean and Chinese vendors. SubhanAllah, they have left their homes.
He goes with his trolley in fear that the police may come. These people as my companion says, must have consciousness of God which prevents them from stealing.
I feel like crying as she says this.
Its so peaceful here, even with the traffic roaming around us. The fountain before us and benches spread out so further away.. to allow each to reflect the passing of time itself. Another few minutes before we grab an ice-cream
We met a lovely couple from Eastern Spain with their 2 ½ year old daughter at the restaurant, a lovely bunch.
Now for that ice-cream. 11.40pm
I’m sitting on the bed with the ice-cream and looking at Almeria (map) – we intend to hit the coast tomorrow!
The ice cream is hand-made by a family business – Lovely – hmmm yummy yummy strawberry flavour …. MashaAllah! (Helados).
My companion is desperately missing her hubby so she is calling him right now. “Its only 12am there” she says. Midnight caller indeed.
We have had a pleasant chat about Cordoba and the downfall. She’s just asking her hubby about the history. Yes – indeed we are perplexed by how it came to an end. Imagine if these dynasties were re-awakened today? Could we revive Cordoba today just as it was the capital (of Islamic Spain) once upon a time. My eyes are closing slowly – time indeed – time is what has stopped here. Everything is trapped in an era of many hundreds ago. 1.10am
There were between 15 - 30 photographs of the Mihrab - which unfortunately were accidently deleted by myself! I formatted the wrong memory card! It also included a picture of the outsides of Madinah al-Zahra. Ina Lila Hi Wa Ina Ilai Hi Rajeun.
I rest assured that God Almighty will send me to Cordoba again :)