As salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,If you are interested in seeing what Damascus is like from a visual perspective, check out my sister’s blog, Road to Jannah. In her series of posts called ‘Road to Damascus’ she’s put up lots of beautiful pictures from her visit to Shaam and most of the major sights in Syria. She has a lot of talent with photography, masha’Allah 🙂
I want my blog to be more about ‘feeling’ Shaam through writing rather than seeing it (hopefully you guys are feeling it :)) but here are a few interesting/random pics I’ve taken in my time here…
I’m not sure if it’s clear (you can click to enlarge), but the writing on the back of the taxi says: ‘Perfume your mouth with prayers and blessings on the Prophet (peace be upon him).’ These types of statements, encouraging people to pray on the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) can be found on the back or sides of most taxis and buses in Damascus. Salah ‘ala an-Nabi is something that’s so entrenched in Syrian culture. If someone is speaking and forgets what they’re about to say, instead of saying ‘umm’ or ‘uhh’ they say ‘Allahumma salli’ ‘ala sayyidina Muhammad’! Occassionally you’ll find a bowl of candy on the counter in a shop, with a sign that says ‘Salah ‘ala an-Nabiy’; meaning take a candy, but don’t say thank you, instead take it and say a short prayer on the Prophet (saw). It’s also said by someone when they get angry, and if someone is trying to calm someone down when he/she is upset they’d encourage him/her to pray on the Prophet (saw).
I remember that in my first Ramadan here there were a number of times when I saw guys on the street, or getting out of their cars, about to punch each other’s lights out 🙂 This was during the day in Ramadan, and I couldn’t understand why people were being *more* irritable at a time when they should have been less; but someone told me that it’s because smokers are extremely quick-tempered during this time (not being able to smoke while fasting), hence the road rage and fist fights. (btw this is only a few cases, most people here are very nice in Ramadan :))
When this type of thing occurs every male within the vicinity, whether they’re young or old, intercedes in the fight, even though they don’t know who they are or what they’re fighting about. So a group of men would surround them, and some of them would take one guy to the side, and some of them would take the other, and they would tell each of them: “Salah ‘ala an-Nabi! Salah ‘ala an-Nabi!” And each would be raging mad, but he would say it, because a person who doesn’t say salah ‘ala an-nabiy is considered bakheel (stingy).
It’s really nice that you find this strong love for the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) here among everybody, even among people that are not particularly religious.
On a corner bus stop. While it was somewhat cool to see my name posted all around Damascus, I was surprised to see this poster… I think, unfortunately, what a lot of Syrians don’t realize is that what makes Syria a beautiful and unique place is the vibrancy of its history and its traditions. By taking on more and more of Western culture, they’re losing out. I was really shocked to see another poster for a jazz concert that was going to take place at the citadel of Damascus. The citadel was used during Salahudin’s time to defend against Crusader attacks, and it was later the place in which the scholar Ibn Taymiyyah was imprisoned! It’s also just a few steps down from the maqam of the sahabi Abu Darda. In my opinion, these types of events are so discordant and jarring in relation to the sacredness of these places and people; but this mesh of old and new, tradition and change, is something very characterestic to Syria.
more to come insha’Allah…