Thursday, September 30, 2004


Day 5 ~ Saturday 28th August 2004

(Has it ever happened to you that you could read a whole chapter or book on something and it makes no sense. And then an event happens; not even an event – an incident – and you learn all that was contained in that chapter?

We all know that actions speak louder than words. If yesterday, Cordoba had penetrated into our personhood; then today it was our very hearts which were infiltrated by humility. The actions of the Arab brothers at the restaurant in Almeria were too much for words to comprehend. We felt like crying; like crawling under a stone and becoming ants – for after meeting these people we questioned who or what we are. And we thanked God Almighty for the many many blessings we have been endowed with. Alhamdulila).


I’m sitting beneath the sun leaning against the wall of the Estacion Bus in Granada. People walking past me with suitcases and luggage. Loads more coming out!

My companion is making a phone-call – she’s here now – come back! She’s looking for some shade – she’s gone!

(We have had this mega-big problem since we got here: my companion is finding it quite warm, boiling in fact; poor girlfriend is having hot flushes! Me on the other hand is walking directly in the sun! I had this same problem when we were in Pakistan and Saudi.. and would always get told off..)

We have booked a return to the coastal resort of Almeria today. But the Direct Bus goes at 11am. Its 9.45 right now… the indirect bus is about a 4 hour journey and went at 9.30am. Need to go to my companion.


After a heart-warmer with my companion on a side street from the Estacion, we are now sitting inside the coach.

The speaker is directly above my head; well I suppose they do say the best way to learn a language is by being exposed to it.. my ears are exposed enough. The air conditioning is on a constant ‘on’ – I’m trying to switch it off – don’t really like the cold on my face.. I’ve turned the direction of them away. We are moving – Bismillah. 11.13am

I think I will do some reading now – ahaa – lets see what we have here – “A History of Islamic Spain” by Montgomery Watt. 11.14am


We’re walking on the streets of Almeria. My companion says its not as hot as in Granada. We’re heading towards the Information Centre. We cant see any more signs for it.

Not many signs in sight. We have found a sign: Officina Municipal de Tourism (I write this down so we can show it to people later if need be).
We saw a lot of Arab Muslims at the Estacion; Almeria is on the coast.. maybe these folk are from North Africa?

Most shops are closed.

We bumped into a lovely Spanish family who are helping us. Apparently the tourist centre has closed down! OR is closed for siesta!

So we’re heading back to the Estacion to ask at the information desk located there. 1.47pm
I’ve just spotted a brother with an abaayah on!! Haha first one!

Its 32 degrees.

My companion says she can smell the sea. Just crossed a road –

Spanish people stay awaited at the traffic lights. They actually wait for the green man! Fascinating stuff. No crazy road pedestrians like in the UK! The roads have got zebra crossing lines on them – initially myself and my companion thought they were zebra crossings.

(They are actually NOT zebra crossings! We noticed that there were designated crossings which were these ‘zebra’ type. People wait at least 3 seconds after traffic has stopped to cross over. And we hardly ever saw anyone running across the road. However there are loads motorbikes here).

We’re in the Estacion. 1.55pm

OK, so we are 5 minutes from the sea. We have spotted i centre outside the station. Signs here have Arabic translations aswell. A testimony that there must be a thriving Arab community living here. We’re on Curratara De Ronda (that’s the name of the road).

Yes, we spotted a generous amount of hijabs and Arab features, more in one place than in Malaga, Granada or Cordoba.

Its 32 degrees but feels so cool. SubhanAllah, amazing how in the UK, such heat would be absolutely unbelievable. But Alhamdulila how God Almighty has given us the mechanism to cope and adjust ourselves accordingly.

I can see lots of palm trees now – need to get across a Road …. Oops … and I’m not at the crossing- this will be hard. No I’ve managed it!

33 degrees C – hey and they’re not all palm trees!

I can see the sea – SubhanAllah. Though I have a home-made fear of seeing A LOT of water at once – especially moving, AND in its live form. Alhamdulila this does look pleasant.

I’ve just spotted a rather bizarre statue sculpture of a man trampling on another below him. I wonder whether that’s historical reference? The plaque besides it is in Spanish. Hey – the water looks nice. MashaAllah woah I’m treading on sand – been ages.

And an Arab family. The swooshing sand of the water is so beautiful - so natural, peaceful.


A wet trousers and we head for some food. My companions’ taking some footage of the mountains on the other side. We spotted some ‘green’ water, seagreen as they say.

There’s a ship port my companion identified; blessed be the ….


We are still looking for food. The Spaniards are all asleep. Hey another chat with a Spanish lady and voila – the restaurants are a street away.


And right in front is Cafeteria Restaurante Miloud. Comidas Marroquies. A Moroccan restaurant and its halal!
Chicken forever!

This is all an Arab street!!!


We are the only females in here and we’ve had quite a discussion about our lunch! An Afro-Caribbean man helped us to order a plate of salad and a kebab tikka on the side. Very helpful indeed.
There seems to be a lot of Muslims on this street. I think the whole area here is Arab businesses. A lot of Arabic translations everywhere… and by now even my companion is tired of my constant journal entries.

Quite stuffy in here though the fans are on. We won’t be able to go to Alcazaba – the ruins of a grand citadel built by Abdar Rahman. My companion is deciding upon where exactly to head – she says we may need to take a bus onto another resort nearby.
I’m not at all fussed.

Alhamdulila one moment is sufficient; to get inspired, and instilled within.


They’ve brought the food – but its chips, rice and tikka –
Cant argue. We’ll eat it. They brought out the salad – we looked at each other and then at the ‘brother’ – and said: “Its OK!”
Time to eat. 2.50pm


SubhanAllah.. nice food, what an experience. The brother gave me water when I asked for a drink and then brought 2 more glasses when we needed a re-fill.

This experience has really touched us. Language and communication barriers meaning that wrong food is served maybe a normal occurrence for many atravellors – but I think its so important, well certainly for me – to count the favours and blessings I have gained. As they say, not even for one moment should we assume we are better than the other man. We could have made a fuss and a kick about being served the wrong food; but SubhanAllah I think that would be bad adhab on our part.

These people are so hard-working, makes me feel gutted. I want to be dust. 3.15pm


SubhanAllah, as we leave, we asked for the bill – we gave a couple of euros for tip. We couldn’t finish the kebabs so we asked for a bag: they wrapped them in foil. And in plastic bag.

We asked for them to fill our little bottle with water – and they pulled a 1.5 Litre bottle from the fridge for us!

That was so touching, so humble – just made me feel: “---, what are you?” both of us feel so touched. I feel dust – I really do. Can’t believe the humility of these people and as they say, words speak only half the sense as actions do.


We’re waiting for the bus to take us to a nice spot on the beach. We only have an hour and a half – we need to get back to the station at 5pm.

No sign of the bus – we’ll have to flag a cab. 3.32pm


The Taxi Base was behind the bus stop where we were waiting! We’re just awaiting the cars now. 3.42pm

(We realised that it is almost – actually it IS impossible to flag cabs here! The taxis stop at their bases, unlike in some south Asian countries like India and Pakistan where they can be stopped almost anywhere. This was a real bugger since it means you must be familiar with where the nearest taxi bases are!)



We’re in the cab listening to a Spanish guy singing, and looking out at the sea – it looks so beautiful, clean and pure. Agua de Luci is where we’re heading. Though the coasts look beautiful, we’re asking the driver to drop us off here rather than on a beach resort.

My companion tells me that the sea we see is the barrier between us and Africa.

SubhanAllah. 3.52pm


We are at a lovely spot on the coast at the Mediterranean Sea. The wimp that I am:

I saw a black something walking beneath the rock –
AAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGHHHHHH Compaaaaaaaaniiiiiiiooooooooon!!!!!!!!

I yelled and screamed!

And ran back to the top … my companion in her desperation is looking for her footwear – we are literally jumping up and down in screams!

There is nobody else here – just the two of us and a whole community of Allah Almighty’s creation! --------

I am standing far away from the sea whilst Braveheart Comp is staring at the sea still. The sound of the waves is so beautiful. I guess I look too closely at the stones for then to reveal my fears.

(In fact this is also true of life.

Often we look so deeply into things in our life that we get scared of what we see: because it does bring onto the surface, our fears. Of course there is a balance to be attained especially since we are taught to be people of depth, substance and richness – none of which can be accomplished without deep reflection.
However, what I am referring to here are those issues in life which can become points for doubting the essential Reliance on God Almighty.

By far we are weak in our nature and it is when these ‘weaknesses’ become the barriers in the way of our relationship with God Almighty that spiritual troubles set in.
In my limited understanding, man is most cruellest to himself; at times when he looks very closely at himself, he sees nothing but his weaknesses. And it is at this stage that the above argument comes into play.
Because if now he sees nothing but his faults; he is in fact denying himself of seeing the Blessings of God Almighty; which are forever surrounding us.)


We’re waiting for the bus to the Estacion, our coach leaves at 5.30pm!!

In our flee from the rocks, we left behind the map!

Bus is here!

NO! false alarm!

No bus and its almost 5.08pm – Now what?!
We may need to flag a cab.
The guy at the stop tells us the bus comes 5.30!


Ina Lila Hi Wa Ina Ilai Hi Rajeun…

Its 5.24 and we have got onto the bus. We waited a long time for the bus and decided to get a cab since it would be quicker. I ran to the central reservation of the road to ask a couple of women (who were on the other side of the road) the number for the cab. Here it is:
950 33 40 00 - Parada de Puerto des Agnadualce – oh that’s where we were! Don’t ask about my conversation with the taxi operator ?!@*#!

…. It was rather difficult getting a decent instruction going with the op at the other end. We were speaking two different languages – literally! She did say a cabby would be with us soon.

We missed our first bus for the cab – when none came – we got into this.


As we drive past the Mediterranean sea, I wonder: is this the same water that the early Muslims from North Africa crossed? Have the tides since, changed?

As we go over the cliffs where roads have been constructed, I think to myself, is it here that the armies trod over once with their horses?

Do these stones bear witness to the travels of those righteous descendents of Arabia?

Are these the same waves that splashed on the bodys of the custodians of the Message?


It is now 5.32pm
There is no point in worrying about missing the coach – and why should there be – what was Tawakal Allah (Reliance on Allah) all about? We are nearly there now. We’re just going past the place where we caught the cab from. 5.33pm

Well 5.42 and the next bus we hear is at 7pm!

Ina Lila Hi Wa Ina Ilai Hi Rajeun.


My companions a bit upset – we will see how things pan out. I’m gonna ask about actual times. The next ones’ at 7pm. Now to find my companion. Aha there she is.


(My companion and myself fell out here – a little. Oh dear. A lot!
We both had a fierce exchange of words and went our way.
I thought.
Oh My God!
That’s my dearest companion;
my lovely sis;
my sweetest friend.

Gosh are we idiots or what?!
So we both sat in totally different parts of the Estacion till 7pm – I mean how sad is that?
I remember before we came we had a chat about how friends go on holiday and come back as enemies.
I thought how silly of me:
I’m supposed to be a Hajji –
a “someone whose done hajj” …
I would never be able to live with myself knowing someone is inconviened because of me.
My my, what face would I show God Almighty on the Day of Accounts?
That this is how I showed Him Gratitude for the so many favours which He had showered upon me?
I mean, He had answered the greatest of my prayers and supplications, and here I was acting a total idiot.
Stop in your track girlfriend I thought.

So as it approached time for the coach… I walked towards my companion and as idiots we both spoke at once! My sweet comp- how could I!!! And on top of that she’s not even feeling so well! Nah – I is sozzy sis!)


I’m standing with the driver – she’s got the tickets.


We’re in the coach now. Basically we had to confirm the tickets (since they were return) so there was a bit of running involved haha

There’s an Afro Caribbean ‘brother’ on the bus – a couple of rows on the right hand side.

We had to book reservation tickets to visit Alhambra for the second time due to the death of our batteries. I phoned them but they only do reservations between 9 and 5.30pm. They do internet reservations 24 hours so InshaAllah I will have to get to the cyber café when we get back to Granada.

We should arrive back at 9pm.

I just hope the Kodak guy doesn’t throw the memory stick away. (We had to collect the pics before 9). He shouldn’t do – well I suppose this is what Tawakal Allah is all about. If I’m going to worry about it – its not gong to be a good demonstration of my eternal faith is it?
Thus why bother.
If the Lord who sent me here in the first place wants me to get the memory stick and leave with the pictures of the spiritually uplifting mihraab then I will. And if I don’t then He will send me back again. Simple really when you think of it like that. Why complicate your faith? I believe. Full stop. 7.13pm


We’re sitting inside an Indian restaurant. We have spoken to the guy in Hindi and placed an order for traditional Punjabi saag, roti and lassi – proper Punjab style in Granada!


Time for bed.
I can’t believe I used the internet today!
I needed it to book tickets for Alhambra – unfortunately none are available for tomorrow.

(I went in search of the Internet café alone – companion was really tired and I told her I wouldn’t be long. My geography and instruction-giving is as good as the Spanish we know!
I am almost known for forgetting the way and getting lost.
I mean, I cant help it – I get de-ja-vus everywhere I go, so I think I have been there before – God knows where this spirit floats sometimes eh?!
Anyhow, I managed to find the café which was not far at all in the end! My companion was worried sick about me when I got back into the hotel after 10.30! Well, I guess that really bonded us again after our miff earlier)

The walk in the alleys at 10.20pm was a bit heart jumping but I thought: hey whats Tawakal Allah?

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As we walked from the Estacion... we saw this. I thought of Aerosol Arabic :~)
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When man falls; he becomes surrounded with emptiness. An empitness that is so full; full of nothing. His vessel of nothingness is in actual fact a vessel which has been cleared of the obstacles which would make his vessel 'full'. He does not require such a full vessel which would consist of that other than the love of His Lord. Thus, this emptiness is actually a prerequiste for the filling of his life with his Lord's love.
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And if we become the true lovers of God Almighty, every hardship we encounter; every distress will become like a sweet pill. Clear will be the skies above us and calmwill be the wind that blows our face. For we will find that our spirits will become purified.
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SubhanAllah! Glory to the Creator of the Heavans and the earth, and all that is in between.
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Rows of Palm trees... it has been said that the trees were brought into Spain by the Muslims...
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Reflections of life? If my life is a boat being directed in its course by Him... how comes that reflection looks different to the boat? Man's life also sometimes gives him a reflection which doesnt appear to be a true reflection... look closely, stop, and it will be. Maybe thats what a pure reflection is?
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We can't be too far from our "quiet spot"
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Well, here we are then! How on earth do we get down there?!
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Wow - look at the colour of that!
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The force of the waves is by Him alone.
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For not only does He give us the sea - but in it are all sorts of creatures;some for food, others for utilities. And on it He keeps the ships asailing.
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And to know that the rocks which make mountains so strong will be cotton wool by His Permission?
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Lovely stuff... the sea... also scary stuff... LOTS OF WATER! MOVING!
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Me, looking at things too closely again! Watch out for the creep crawlies!
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The whole world is a sign for those who can see..
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And how often do I get to marvel at this sight?
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The waves of life hitting against the rock-like body of man..
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Sometimes, man feels his world is caving into him, with no escape. If man was to look closely at his world, he'd realise that even in the midst of his world being destroyed their is Light. And who would be able to extinguish the light sent by the Source of Light?
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A close-up..
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What man does to escape from the rat-race of life..
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Lots of water... again!
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And again...
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This is where we are - looks like a road to nowhere! Sometimes, doesn't life feel just like that?... when we think: I wonder what will happen when we get to the top?... Do we have the faith in our Lord to go to the top without being able to see beyond it? ...will we?
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A typical craving...
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Hmmm... travel by sea...
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Goodbye Almeria! And this one really reminded me of my dear camel herd :( for those who want to know: My camels have now safely arrived at Makkah and have performed their Umrah successfully :)
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Thursday, September 16, 2004


Day 4 ~ Friday 27th August 2004

(This was the turning point in the whole trip. Up until now we were merely tourists musing at historical sites. Although the trip to Alhambra had raised our senses in the Mezquita – the sight at Cordoba was one which penetrated to the core of us. So many questions were raised after this visit. So much emotion).


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.
No stress.
No worry.
No No!
(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 :)


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Wednesday, September 15, 2004


The courtyard of the Grand Mosque. Emirs from Damascus arrived in Cordoba in 719 and by 756 Abd AlRahman established himself and set about building a mosque (on the site of a Visigoth church) which was successfully enlarged over the 2 centuries. And began 300 years of Rule. The Mosque is the 3rd largest in the world and does not face Mecca, but Damascus (perhaps because Abdar Rahman was an Umayad).
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On June 29 1236, the city of Cordoba was reconquested and the Mosque was declared as a Christian monument. Work started to convert it into a cathedral. It is said that when the king visited Cordoba (after his marriage with Isabel of Portugal in Seville), he saw the mosque and told the Archbishop: "I did not know that it was like that. If I had known, I would not have allowed you to destroy it, because what you have done could be done in other parts. You have destroyed what was unique in the world."
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The Mosque was extended twice to cater for the growing population..
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SubhanAllah, we saw a lifetimes' worth of arches..
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The Mihrab is in the centre. It is made from gold and crystals. And is sectioned off by iron bars. We found that even at the Alhambra, those ares which were specificly designated for prayer were sealed off as mark of respect.
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The Mosque was illuminated by 200 lamps. There is minimal lighting here at present. Photography is not easy.
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There is a forest of over 1000 red and white arches. This building takes time to understand; it broke the boundaries of architecture of that time. One minute you are in a Arabia, the other is Christiandom. The atmosphere here is one of stillnes.
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This is the only Mosque that remains in Spain from the Moorish era. It has an area of 22.400 square kilometres. The architecture of the Umayyad dynasty of Spain is characterized by the appropriation of an existing local Late Antique architectural tradition that was reinterpreted for Islamic patrons. The Great Mosque of Cordoba exemplifies this process, with its ashlar construction, hypostyle hall of spolia columns and capitals supporting arcades of horseshoe arches (an element adapted from Visigothic architecture). Its ornamental program of mosaics and carved relief sculpture evoke the decoration of the Umayyad monuments of Syria.

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An amazing sight: Both Christian and Islamic belief is evident in the Mezquita. The man at the ticket office asked us how we felt when we came out of the mosque. He asked us if we, at all felt angered at the conversion of the mosque to a cathedral. He told us that the building could be viewed from 2 angles: 1. desecration of religious beliefs and practises 2. tolerance of two faiths. We were too numb to reply.
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Islamic belief here..
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Christian belief here..
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As we leave the Grand Mosque, I look up and this is what I see...
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Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Day 3 ~ Thursday 26th August 2004


We’re in Generalife Gardens.

I can hear the stream flowing so softly – I can’t believe we pay so much to purchase sound of a soothing stream on CD – just come here!

We’ve been walking since before 10.30am when we got here.
(It is recommended to purchase tickets for visiting the Alhambra in advance. About 1000 tickets are issued each day at two separate intervals: am and pm. These tickets are only for the specific day. Tickets for advance days can either be brought online or purchased via telephone. Cues start about 8am each day for the tickets! There are specific times to visit the Nasrid Palace, and these are usually stated on the ticket. Apparently so we were told by the Spanish Tourist Information – the Alhambra is the second or third most visited monument in the world!)

SubhanAllah such beauty. I wonder what Heavens like. We started the walk with a quiet visit to the old mosque..

(Please note: it was actually not the mosque. It was the Bano des Mezquita – the Mosque baths. Thus the journal entry has not been included here – but will be included when we visit the Grand Mosque in Cordoba.

However it is interesting to note that we only became aware that these were the Mosque Baths after our return. It is important to note that traditionally the baths have an immensely valuable and sacred role within Muslim architecture. It is only after using these facilities to purify oneself that one is able to present themselves in front of their Lord for prayer for instance. Similarly one cannot access the Holy Text without first performing ablution.

Traditionally throughout Islamic history the public bath has been second only to the mosque as a focal point of social life.

Thus, the emotions we felt when standing in this purifying ground were true in their own right since this was the ‘initial’ stage of the many actions of worship that a believer in God Almighty performs.

Eyes filling with clouds of tears upon seeing the bare walls - a natural reaction, since this was where prayer itself started).

SubhanAllah as the tears flowed in the presence of the quiet walls, thoughts filled my head; even the floor of the Alhambra must be in despair that the foreheads of the children of Adam have not touched it for centuries. Or maybe it has by those who cared to liven the ground by the kiss of their forehead. The gentle embrace of the human spirit encapsulated within a body kissing the ground to which it must return reflects the first celestial experience.

As the tears rolled, I found an empty corner where nobody was likely to come for a moment. I got down on my knees and prostrated my forehead onto the bare rocky ground. As my body embraced the earth I felt a sense of tranquillity descend upon me.

How the whole earth was made a masjid for man. How the Prophet Alaisalam sanctified the world by prostrating in the Heavens. SubhanAllah, it is the right of this humble ground that God Almighty’s Praises are invoked upon it. And it is only the right of my being that it invokes blessings.

As we continued the tour through the towers of the Alhambra, we made sure we did dhikr – to testify that surely it is by the Will of God Almighty that once stood before us in grandeur and might, a kingdom feared by all. And it is by His Will that we see it as it is today. For surely He who gave us victory in the first instance will restore His Praises on all lands of all places once again. 2.40pm


I am sitting on a bench, cool breeze and the warmth of the sun on my face. Looking through these shades and writing is a mission!

It hasn’t been as hot today, when we were walking earlier it was quite cool.

Almost 250mb of photography and over 100 Kodak snaps! 5 dead batteries and one on its way to nirvana. The place is a photographers’ paradise.

Any why wouldn’t it be; the Alhambra situated up here far from the city noise below depicts a closeness to the Heavens in an extraordinary manner. Celestial reflections can be seen in the stones which have been carved together with marble, to praise His Name. Tilework, each more splendid than the next. How the brightness of the colours is still testimony of the God-fearing craftsmen. The ceilings were absolutely amazing. The mezquitas’ ceiling had stars cut inside it – to allow the sun and air circulation.

Inside the Palace of Nasrid we see the symbolic representation of the Seven Heavens by way of the 7 types of geometric designs. These have been constructed into the ceiling of the Palace. So that man can never be deluded in thinking that it is from his doing that the magnificent architecture fascinates the spirits of onlookers.

Whole Surahs so finely etched onto the walls. The Name of God Almighty Supreme covering the walls and pillars so even the marble can testify to His Unity. How matter has been ennobled in its status by being used in this way. SubhanAllah indeed.

We are hoping to come back Sunday afternoon. My companions’ camcorder battery has also died. 3.10pm.


We are so close to an internet connection in an Arab shop. My companion is pulling me away – she won’t allow me to use it!


Back at the hotel, need to freshen up big time! Couldn’t find a 2 Pin Plug Adapter at the supermarket.

(We had the same problem when we set out to Hajj – we forgot to pack a plug adapter. It was 10pm when my cousin asked if we had it or not. There was great panic since our coach was due to leave for the airport after 2am! I remember my cousin frantically phoning every friend he had, who could give us the adapter. In the end a friend of his had a friend who apparently had returned from a trip abroad that same evening. Both of them scurried to his house and got me the adapter!)

But have found a Sony shop which is next to the hotel. Its closed at the moment – after siesta we’ll check it out.

The Arab brother (shopowner) was very humble MashaAllah in his approach and displayed good adhab. He said he could upload the pictures from the memory cards if we had a USB Port at hand. But we didn’t! He was then kind enough to show us how to get to a shop which burns the pictures onto a CD for just 4 Euros! So got to pick that after 5.45pm. (We took 3 lots of 128MB memory cards. They got full up faster than I had thought). 5.25pm.


We got back into the hotel about 25 minutes ago!

After getting back in earlier on, my companion knocked out and I decided to go and get the plug adaptors. I must have tried 4 shops before managing to find a hardware shop which sold them. Luckily the sales rep at the Sony shop (where I went first) had wrote the Spanish for me: Adaptador de Corriente. He even drew a little diagram for me! I was able to show this to the shopkeepers. I also managed to pick up the CD and formatted memory sticks!

Whilst I was out I came across an arts (print) shop. They had some lovely miniatures; Persian prose, even the whirling dervishes – and drawings of who else but the Great Rumi! Wow this was indeed a lovely twist to the day. The shopowner was an Arab I think; a very tall man with grey hair. I must admit: it was so calm in there. I really sensed something in the air. Aaah

We went in search of a certain Pakistani restaurant called Jinnah (perhaps after the name of Mohamad al-Jinnah; founder of Pakistan, not that Pakistan was lost ;) To our disappointment we didn’t find it!

(Before coming my companion had searched the internet for information on Granada and had come across this restaurant. I had not had a chance to do any research before coming due to being busy with late exam entries. She had been determined that we had to check this place out).

We tried every corner of the complex where we were told it would be – but to no avail. So in the end it had to be good old Pizza Hut! Yep, when all others fail – PH is awaits with the sizzling cheese hmmm…
A pause from my companion whose telling me about the importance of exfoliating my skin..! She’s gone to brush her teeth..!
OK since we couldn’t find Jinnah it was 10pm – we grabbed a pizza..we left the ‘hut’ in search for a postbox for the 4 postcards we got.

We asked as many people as we could about the whereabouts of the postbox but we couldn’t find it. (The fact that we spoke in English to people who replied in Spanish did not help either). Finally we spoke to a man on a motorbike who told us it was about 20 metres away. We walked down and still couldn’t see anything resembling a postbox. All we could see was a tall building with 4 letterboxes.

“No Way!”

We saw a group of people and asked them, waving our postcards – “yes!”

It was that!

Ha Ha Ha ! We were in stitches! (Update on the whereabouts of those postcards; neither of our loved ones have received them yet. This calls for a second trip to Granada to verify that those really were the post boxes. Hmmm).

Being the dime bars that we are, we’d forgotten the map at Pizza Hut – so at 10.45pm we trek back to collect it.

A concluding thought from my companion:
“What are we doing today? These people without technology did so much – for people to see centuries later.”

(We definitely want to read the history of it now).

With soar feet we need to rest – yes Cordoba tomorrow! 12.20am

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Wahey - we are here! La Alhambra - Rising above the Red Hill, the Royal city stands proud and eternal.
courtesy of camel...
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Quietness surrounds the paths... where once walked leaders of a nation so strong, today are none.
courtesy of camel...
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The Gardens of Generalife. Arches made out of trees. What a resemblance of Heavan and to the unity of the Creator Himself. SubhanAllah.
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Inside the Bano de Mezquita - Bath houses, where Muslims purified themselves to present their being before the Creator.
courtesy of camel...
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Inside the bano. Stars as can be seen in the next picture provided light and fresh air
courtesy of camel...
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As I weep in lamentation, my eyes dare to look up - is there a star and a cresent in the sky?
courtesy of camel...
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Puerta del Vino. The 'Wine Gate'. Its generally accepted the name of this gate is derived from the tax-free wine which was sold inside the portal from 1554.
courtesy of camel...
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Another tower or 'torre' . Of the 30 or so towers which originally fortified the Alhambra, 22 still remain. Perhaps they remain because the defenders of the Alhambra became helpless and agreed to surrender? One can only wonder why much of Moorish architecture has been reduced to rubble and the Allhambra still remains in tact...
courtesy of camel...
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This complex was obviously heavily defensive. This is said to have been used by the army.
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Puerta de la Justicia. The Justice Gate. This gate today is the only entrance to the walled confines of the Madinat al-Hambra (the Citadel of the Alhambra). Nothing has been able to reduce the majesty of this gate finished in 1348 - the most important gateway to the whole royal city. There are many symbolic features.. there is a raised open hand carved into the keystone of the outer arch which has 5 fingers - representing the 5 pillars of Islam. Between the outer arch and the inner door there was most likely another door.The inner arch was a defensive area, typical of the Nasrid military building.
courtesy of camel...
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A model of the Alhambra in the Museum.
courtesy of camel...
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