Responding to Comments


As salaamu alaykum (Peace be with you and upon you),

Over the years I’ve received a number of questions from readers about studying in Damascus, and asking for suggestions, more information, and general advice.  Here are the reasons why, if you’ve asked a question in the comments, I most likely did not answer:

1. I feel that a blog gives a very skewed picture, or just a few snapshots of the reality of living in a place, and I have intentionally left many things unsaid about the day-to-day struggles of living in Syria as a foreigner and about being a student there.  To get a fuller and more comprehensive picture, one really must speak to someone in person about their experience, and get all the relevant information and details needed to make an informed decision about whether Syria is the right place for them.  I just don’t feel comfortable sometimes giving a yes/no, short response to some of the questions asked, without the person having that proper background and fuller picture in mind.

2. Each person is different and I think Syria is not the best place for everyone, so my recommendations about it would differ depending on the person asking, their background, way of thinking, and their understanding of Islam.  I remember very clearly meeting Western Muslims who were living in Syria solely because they could not get proper paperwork for ‘more Islamic’ countries.  Many seemed to have a sort of bitter attitude towards being there, and really overlooked many of the blessings and good in the place that they were in, which I don’t think is healthy.  Before going to Syria one really has to become familiar with the way Islam is taught there, and decide whether or not one is comfortable with learning and living in that environment. (Learning there does not mean one has to agree or absorb everything taught 100%, but that at the very least you are willing to humble and open yourself enough to be a student and learn and benefit from your time there). This preparation and information-gathering comes from, like I mentioned, talking to real people who have been there.

3. A big part of studying in Syria is through private teachers and shuyukh.  Obviously, these are not things that I can advertise on the web and it’s a matter of finding good connections who can help you find teachers to sit with and learn from.

4.  I have not been to Syria in more than three years now, so I really can’t answer questions about the current state of the schools there and the visa situation, etc.  From what I’ve heard, it’s a challenge these days for Westerners to enter the country as students, and many institutes which were open to foreigners in the past have officially closed their doors to accepting new foreign students.  Please note this and find out as much information as you can before going; I know people who actually traveled there and were unfortunately turned away when they tried to enroll in certain institutions.  From what I’ve read the government in Syria (which was never particularly friendly to students) has become even more stringent with the Islamic institutions there and the enrollment process. I am not trying to discourage anyone, but please be prepared.

In conclusion, please forgive me for not responding to the comments made in this vein over the years. I pray that you all find what you are seeking.

Since I no longer live in Syria (you can visit my recently built blog about Cairo, where I now live, here) this blog is officially closed, though I am leaving the material in tact for whoever may benefit, bi’ithnillah.

wasalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah 🙂
damascus dreams

Advertisements
Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm  Comments (4)  

its all you

A while ago I attended a class at a masjid in which the sisters sat on a balcony overlooking the brothers’ area, and that has a microphone system set up so that everyone could hear.  A few minutes into the class a group of sisters came in with a number of children and starting having Quran lessons.  The noise they made effectively drowned out the voice of the shaykh, and I spent the majority of the class struggling to hear what I could from the lesson, and giving meaningful glances to the group to keep their voices down.

 

It was so frustrating to be there, ready to learn, with my book open, looking at the teacher and seeing him speak, knowing he was sharing beneficial knowledge with everyone, but not being able to access it because of the noise around me. 

 

It made me think about how often we must be in this same situation in terms of the spiritual realm… missed opportunities for knowledge, enlightenment, or remembrance due to inner static, distractions and noise… from sins, heedlessness, carelessness…  and we walk away from gatherings of knowledge wondering why we don’t feel any different.

 

I read an interesting phrase in my Mustalah book the other day, that knowledge is “fi butoon al kutub wa sudoor al ulema” (lit. in the stomachs of books and the chests of the scholars).  The last thing in this world I want to be is a book, just digesting information that I’m learning and storing it up like caloric intake, and without feeling.  I want it to be in my chest, my heart, pumping in my blood, felt like a human being.  But how can it be, if it’s drowned out by things that are already present there?

 

Ibn ‘Ataa’Illah said in his Hikam:

 

Rubamaa waradat ‘alayka al-anwaar

Fa wajadat il-qalbu mahshuwan bil-aathaar

Fartahalat min haythu nazalat

 

“Perhaps illuminations (ma’rifah…) passed by you and found your qalb (heart) filled, buried, occupied with vestiges of creation.  So it took off from whence it had come.”

 

Imam Shaf’ii said,

 

My knowledge is with me, and wherever I turn it follows me,

For my heart is its vessel, and not a ‘chest’ stored at home.

(Written June 2007)

 

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 5:34 am  Comments (8)  

the beginning of the end

 

as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah

 

dear readers,

 

I’m not sure if there is anyone still out there (?) considering that I haven’t posted in ages… but for all my readers over the years I hope that you are well and I want to thank you for visiting this page and reading my writing.   I pray that you have benefited from it in some small way.

 

I’ve left Shaam and am presently living in another part of the Muslim world as my husband and I continue on this journey of life and – insha’Allah – on the path of seeking knowledge.  May Allah accept.  I’ve for the most part stopped writing or any type of creative expression for a little more than a year and I really feel the desire to begin again, but am unsure of the means I should use.  Another blog?  An unhealthy number of posts on themadina.com?  An attempt at publication?  What to do with the words falling out of my mind and onto the keyboard?  Any suggestions?  Do let me know 🙂

 

I’m going to post a few more pieces that I’ve written from my time in Damascus, insha’Allah.   I didn’t post these earlier for various reasons, but now that I’m drawing this blog to a close I’d like to share them with you and hope that they give you a more complete picture of my time there.  There are many more experiences that colored my stay in Shaam, including some that were difficult and hurtful, but I have for the most part tried to leave those experiences behind and those words unsaid.  There were also times of beauty and spiritual awakening that are beyond the words of this mediocre writer, not to be described but only felt with the heart and soul.

 

 

May Allah (swt) grant us tawfeeq and bless us with actions adorned with ikhlaas and ihsaan and free from the desire for other than Him.

 

Please forgive me for any offense I may have caused through anything I’ve said, and please ask Allah the Most High to forgive me too.

 

wasalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah.

 

 

Published in: on January 10, 2009 at 10:43 am  Comments (5)  

Ramadan Mubarak

as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

A Persian poet relates the story of a young man who was devoted to worship and who sincerely loved the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam). This young man wished to see the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) in his dreams. But, night after night, even though he prayed and hoped for it, he was not blessed with this vision. He decided to visit a wise shaykh he had heard mention of who lived on the far reaches of town and seek his advice.

He made his way to his home one evening, and the shaykh invited him in for discussion and tea. After explaining his situation to him, the shaykh nodded sagely and said, “Be my guest for tonight, and tomorrow morning I will give you some advice.”

That night, the shaykh served the young man dinner. Everything in the simple meal was covered with salt or was dry. Salty fish, dry, hard bread… and not a drop to drink. The young man craved water, but was offered none. His parched throat made him yearn to ask the shaykh for something to drink, but his manners kept him quiet. He ate the food without complaint, his thirst increasing with each bite.

After the Isha prayers the shaykh unfolded a mat, offered it to the young man for his night’s rest, and bade him good night.

That night, the young man dreamed of nothing but water. Cascading fountains, gushing rivers and streams, oceans full of pure, delicious, thirst-quenching water. He dreamed of it until he felt he was swimming in it, drinking huge gulps, until it filled his every pore. He woke before daybreak, one word croaking from his lips: ‘Water….’

The next morning the shaykh asked him if he rested well. The young man then told him about his thirst and his dreams.

The shaykh smiled. He said, “When you begin to have thirst and desire for the Prophet, salAllahu alayhi wa salam, the way you had thirst for water last night, then you will be blessed with his vision.”

I pray to Allah (swt) that in this blessed month our minds and hearts are filled with thirst and desire for closeness to Him, for softer and purer hearts, for nufus that are effaced in love for Him and His obedience… and that being sincere and true, these desires are quenched and achieved.

Ramadan means wide open doors of forgiveness, mercy, opportunity, Paradise…. I pray to Allah (swt) that we are of the people that walk through them.

In another text the Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa salam is reported to have said, ‘Every day in the month of Ramadan an angel calls out: O seeker of good, step forward, come forward with ease, and receive the glad tidings of this month!’

My advice to you all and to myself: Ramadan is what you make of it… Be of the people that step up and step forward, that seek out goodness and spiritual betterment and the blessedness of these days… don’t let this opportunity slip away.

May Allah grant you a happy, blessed and beautiful Ramadan.

Sincerely and with love,

please pray for me and my family.

your sister.

Published in: on September 15, 2007 at 6:11 pm  Comments (6)  

saying the words

The letter Qaf: To pronounce, raise the back of your tongue to the upper palate, and make the sound from the back of your mouth.

 

The letter Dhaad: Raise the side of your tongue to touch your upper molar teeth, the sound being about 1 1/2 beats.

 

The rule of Hems: a slight breathing that should be articulated with certain letters such as the letter fa or seen.

_________________________________________________

 

Tajweed [the study of the pronunciation of the words and letters of the Quran] is an extremely precise science.  Every letter of the Arabic language has a particular makhraj, or ‘exit’, a specific location in the tongue, mouth, throat, or nose from which the sound should be emitted.  The science also includes knowing when to elongate certain words and for how long, and the manner in which to stop between sentences. (There are some examples above.) 

 

In Syria in the past few decades, women have, masha’Allah, taken the forefront when it comes to study of the Quran in all its different sciences, from it’s law to it’s letter.  Thousands of women have studied, memorized and acquired ijaazas [teaching licenses], and have now established an informal system of teachers, which makes it extremely easy for any woman to study the Quran. 

 

For Tajweed, a student must first learn the rules of pronunciation and memorize a classic poem in which all the rules are described in metre (called the Jazariyya). She then has to read the Quran with a qualified teacher, from cover to cover, with minimal mistakes.  A teacher will meet her students in her home for individual lessons (usually daily, that take upwards of one year) and teach them free of charge.  Periodically, the student must go with her teacher to the ‘doctora‘, a shaykha who has expertise in the Quran who checks her progress, and sees if there are any mistakes her teacher is overlooking.  After completing the entire Quran, she then reads in front of Shaykh Shukri, hafidhahullah, who has been testing students in Tajweed and Hifdh for half a century or more.  With his approval, the student is granted an ijaaza.  All of the teachers and the doctora are qualified to give ijaazas, but they all defer to the shaykh because of his stature and his elderly age.

 

  My anisa (the title used commonly in Syria for a female teacher, equivalent to shaykha, ustadha, or ms. I suppose) has an ijaaza not only in Quran (memorization and Tajweed) but in the 10 Qira’aat  [the different, acceptable pronunciations of the Quran, which are very restricted and do not change the meaning].  She, in short, rocks 🙂  I’ve noticed that people who are serious students of the Quran have this quick wittedness, this sharp intelligence about them, and she is a perfect example of that.   

 

There is something very beautiful about the study of Tajweed.  It’s very clear and straightforward, black and white, without the murkiness of differences of opinion.  It’s a completely static science.  You’re either doing it right, or you’re not.  And if you’re not, the only reason is because you are not practicing enough.  There are no personal factors involved. 

 

And it’s so beautiful to consider that you are learning to say the words of Allah, articulated to us by Rasulullah, salAllahu alayhi wa salam, in the exact manner it was revealed to him.  After mastering this science you receive a diploma of sorts, that links your name to that of your teacher, to their teacher, to their teacher, going all the way back to Rasulullah, salAllahu alayhi wa salam, to the Angel Jibreel (alayhis salaam) to Allah.  It’s something beyond words if you stop to think about it.  Picture your name in that chain of narration 😉

 

Personally, I’ve had a really difficult time in studying tajweed.  Your tongue just gets accustomed to only pronouncing certain letters, and to pronouncing things in the ‘accent’ normative to your native language.  To have to change that is difficult.  You have to read *A LOT*, practice *A LOT*, and force yourself through this practice to change something which is almost an intrinsic part of your being.  And it takes a lot of time.  It’s not something you can do over night, and it’s not something you can ‘cram’ for the night before. 

 

Changing something you feel is unchangeable within you to be in conformity with the Divine words; having to really put in honest and sincere effort, and not being able to get away with doing a half-hearted job; working for a goal that takes a lot of patience, the fruits of which cannot be seen until much further down the line… Sound familiar? 🙂  It has so many parallels to the spiritual struggles we are all going through.

 

One interesting Tajweed rule I’ve learned is called Madd ‘aarid li sukun: Part of the rule is that if you wish to end on a word, you have to end on a sukun [a full stop], even if that word has a fatha, kasra, or damma that would normally be pronounced.  So, the stop is not really there, but because you wish to end your recitation there, you pretend as if it is.  I think we all sort of do this with our study of Islam… there really isn’t an end, but we just put a stop to it wherever we choose to… but there’s always more to read 😉

 

I have about 20 ajzaa’ (chapters) left before I complete the Quran with my Anisa… so please pray for me!

Published in: on November 9, 2006 at 10:56 am  Comments (6)  

some lovely ramadan reminders

http://www.themadina.com/index.php?topic=717.0

Published in: on October 17, 2006 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  

ramadan kareem :)

as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

 ramadan kareem and ramadan mubarak everybody 😉

 We live in Rukn ad-Deen (literally, ‘the Religious Corner’ ) on the north side of Damascus. It’s a traditionally Kurdish area from the time of the Ayyubids, and Salahudin’s own family used to live here. His wife, famous for her generosity, is buried somewhere in the present day souq. The establishment of Abou Nour Institute, a center for religious learning built by the late grand mufti of Syria, has transformed the area into a largely student neighborhood. It’s quite diverse; walking down the street, you will see Malaysian sisters with pastel colored niqaabs mixing with Syrian women, who largely wear dark blue monteaus and crisp white or black scarves. The Somali sisters wear colorful long khimars, that reach to their knees, and most of the Russian sisters wear a complete and dramatic covering of black, because of the unwanted attention their fair skin seems to elicit. Many of the young men have beards and wear thaubs (you can usually discern the Westerners from the rest by their sneakers/timberland boots and their trademark Shukr clothing) The running joke among the students is that, if you see a man wearing traditional Arab clothing, then he’s got to be a foreigner 😉 Malaysians, Somalis, Turks, Indonesians, South Africans, Russians, Azerbaijanis, Daghistanis, and a number of Western students from Australia, the U.K., the U.S. and Canada and even some from Columbia, Brazil, and other South American countries make up our little community here.

 Rukn ad-Deen is about half way up Jabal Qasiyoun, a huge, ancient mountain, barren of vegetation, which establishes the northern border of Damascus. The people here say that it was on this mountain that Cain killed Abel at the beginning of humanity. Imam Suyuti says it was to Jabal Qasiyoun that Mary sought refuge when she was about to give birth to Jesus (alayhima salaam). (‘Relate in the Book the story of Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East’ – Qur’an)

“Go back as far as you can into the vague past, there was always a Damascus… She has looked upon the dry bones of a thousand empires and will see the tombs of a thousand more before she dies.” Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, 1869

It is absolutely mind-blowing how old Damascus is; the oldest city in the world; where relics from ancient temples of the Romans are still in existence, where some of the greatest intellectuals of our history resided and taught, including some of the sahaba. Studying here is like walking in the footsteps of a thousand scholars, and it is a dazzling and overwhelmingly feeling.

I started the new school year today. I couldn’t sleep properly last night, excited and nervous like a small child on the eve of the first day of kindergarten. I got up in the morning and rushed to get ready, looking at the clock every few minutes, and made it out the door a few minutes before class was supposed to start. It was only after I began walking on the street that I realized I hadn’t turned my clock back an hour, like the rest of the country did, so I was now about an hour early for class instead of ten minutes late. Subhan’Allah, how easy it is for Allah (swt) to change our state of affairs, and how quickly He can provide “a way out” if we are so deserving.

I went to the internet café next to the school, and checked my email. My brother had sent me a questionnaire that a non-profit organization requested Muslims students to fill out about Islam. The words flowed so easily from me, things I’ve said a thousand times or more in the past.

“Islam has a rich intellectual tradition… The Prophet Muhammad (saw) never taught violence… Oppression of Muslim women does not stem from the teachings of the religion itself, but from cultural and other social and economic factors…”

I have answers to these simple questions, but a thousand more questions churn in my mind everyday. There’s so much to learn, and when you begin studying this deen you realize that it is as expansive as the night sky.

Our day starts with fiqh; it’s history, the importance of following a madhhab unless you are a mujtahid, the brilliance of Imam Shafa’ii, from whose school we will be studying. A hundred questions spring to mind.. what if there is a clear, authentic text that contradicts the ًprevalent opinion of your madhhab? What if you know a mujtahid, can you follow his ‘madhhab’ as you may follow one of the recognized four? I keep quiet. I look to my left and to my right; a sister from Somalia, another from Malaysia. They don’t seem to have these questions. We have extra challenges in the West, as a people who don’t have a generally accepted body of ulema, and such a diverse community of Muslims in terms of their methods of practice and understanding. I remember trying to explain to one of my teachers here the moon-sighting issue we have in the U.S. every year; she just couldn’t understand. “Don’t you have scholars in the U.S.?” she asked.

Hopefully my questions will be answered with time.

Our next class is inheritance, which leaves my brain swimming with too many relatives and too many equations; then grammar, then recitation of Quran, hadith terminology, then morphology. I’m exhausted by the end of it, not used to such a long schedule (Last year the Arabic course I attended was only three hours a day). This course has about sixteen subjects, and I am a mixture of excitement about learning so much, and dismay about how much work I’m going to have to do.

I leave the school, breathing in the fresh air and excited to get home in time for a nice nap.

 In the evenings in Ramadan, we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to attend classes at a shaykh’s home. Most of the Western students here have a shaykh. We’re some of the few ‘free-lancers’ here, and for this reason, we are sometimes excluded from the close knit circle of a shaykh’s students. At times it’s quite frustrating and I often sense an exclusivist and somewhat narrow-minded mentality in their thinking; but this is probably the verdict of anyone on the outside of something looking in.

It’s been a very beautiful experience, studying with this shaykh, and being in his company for this short while. The problem is, I miss, I really miss my old teacher. I’ve realized that everybody’s got a shaykh, whether you know it or not My shaykh, as I have now come to realize, conveniently happened to be the imam in the community I grew up in. I don’t think it was a matter of convenience that made me appreciate him so much. I think that he is part of my rizq in this world.

These two shaykhs are very different, and I am trying to learn how to appreciate the different perspective, different styles, and the different positives that people have.

My Ramadan has been filled with many personalities and thoughts about people, which has really given me no sense of sweetness. I find myself contemplating shuyukh, their students, their commitment, analyzing their understanding, their adab with people… and it has also been filled with a lot of information… learning, books, grammar, concepts, notes & dates…. it’s no way to spend Ramadan, and I’m very thirsty for some khalwah and some spirituality that will make my heart feel alive. Insha’Allah the last ten days will nourish me.

May Allah make this Ramadan one that opens us up to sincere, full-hearted tawbah, deep understanding and knowledge of Allah (swt) that brings to our hearts sweetness and happiness, and renewed commitment to Him and love of Him, ameen.

Published in: on October 6, 2006 at 9:54 am  Comments (8)  

tense times

I never thought that being born and raised in the U.S. had much of an effect on my understanding of the world. After all, I’m Muslim, a minority, a history major – I know with some detail what’s happening with our brothers and sisters in many place across the globe – I’m ‘aware’ and ‘informed’. But it wasn’t until I came to the Middle East that I realized that I’ve been in somewhat of a protective bubble called “living in America”. While I knew what was going on in the world while living in the U.S., while it made me angry, broke my heart, brought me to tears… somewhere inside there was the feeling that these things were happening in a far distant place, remote and unreachable.

 For the Syrians, the oppression of their brothers and sisters in Palestine, Iraq, and now most recently in Lebanon, are not distant realities, that swim in an orbit of an individual’s awareness about world politics and affairs; but they are occurrences that happen right next door. (Literally; Syria borders Iraq on it’s eastern edge and Lebanon and Palestine on it’s western.) The children crying on television, the men killed, the women wailing… they are just like them – in fact they *are* them, the only difference being man-made borders drawn by outsiders. It is actually just like the hadeeth of Rasulullah (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) says, “The ummah is like one body; if one part of it is injured, the whole body feels its pain. ” Somehow in the U.S., I feel like we are disconnected from this body; we watch it suffer with concern and sadness, but we don’t really feel the pain.

I don’t know… perhaps there is some hidden hikmah in this – that with some emotional distance from the suffering, with a general sense of safety and well-being, we can forge ahead with a cool-headed sense of purpose and intent and help out the cause of the ummah. But sometimes ease is a harder challenge than difficulty. It’s certainly easier to get lost along the way.

Syria has become the refuge for many types of people in the foregoing years; the Kurds and the Palestinians, the Iraqis after America’s invasion, and now the Lebanese. The number of Lebanese pouring into Syria is close to 200,000. There presence is most apparent in the streets that are more crowded and the markets that are more full… but the Lebanese are similar to the Syrians in their dress and physical appearance, so it’s hard to tell who’s who. At the masajid the imams are encouraging people to donate for their assistance, medical aid and temporary housing, and there is a general feeling of support and compassion towards them, while many Syrian are volunteering in whatever capacity they can to help out.

The last few weeks have been quite nerve-wracking; the original sense of shock at Israel’s aggression (Did they really bomb Beirut?!?? — Many of the Western students studying here in Syria would go to Beirut for the weekend when they missed home – Beirut was a small taste of the U.S./U.K. in the Middle East — modern streets and shops, American food and restaurants; everything written in English, etc) and then, coupled with outrage and frustration, a sense of fear about the aggression expanding into Syria. (What if they bomb here? Will we be able to get out? How can we leave so many innocent people that we know behind, to suffer at their hands?) Watching the news very carefully; talking with other students about their ‘plan of action’ if anything were to happen; concerned calls from families back home, urging us to leave as soon as possible; and so on.

Only Allah (swt) knows what the future holds for Shaam, this region, and for us… all I know is, I have never thought so much about the shortness of my life, how abrupt its ending could be, and the importance of making use of my time before it’s all over. We forget sometimes that this is hayaat ad-dunyaa, and there are no guarantees.

Published in: on July 30, 2006 at 9:57 am  Comments (1)  

first post :)

bismillah.

I went to the University of Damascus to meet someone the other day.  I studied at the University during my first two months in Syria (about eight months ago), but hadn’t returned to the campus since I began studying Arabic at a different school.   

I got off the micro-bus across the street from the university, and headed towards the stairs that brings people underground, towards a tunnel of sorts, that leads to the other side of the street and to the campus.  In the tunnel there are lots of small book shops that sell textbooks, highlighters and pens, posters and notebooks, etc.  I always appreciated the act of one brother that worked at a shop that sold medical textbooks, who, every morning that I went to school there, used to play Qur’an.  It was such a soothing sound on my way to class.   

I went down the stairs trying to remember the name of the reciter he would play, and as I turned to the right towards the tunnel, I saw that all the lights were out.  To go from the sunny brightness of the outside world to the sudden pitch black of the tunnel before me was eerie.  The tunnel is always crowded with students making their way to and from class, laughing, talking on cell phones, crowding the stores to get their books or studyguides.  This day, all sound was muted.  I could just make out each of the bookstores in the darkness.  I could barely distinguish the outlines of many, many people moving, slowly, walking towards me and away from me.  Some people had lighters lit and these small flames floated slowly down the hallway.  It was intensely surreal.  As I joined the shadows moving through the dark, I felt like I was in slow motion, flowing in a space without time, memory, or future.   

Is this real?  Or am I dreaming? 

 Afterwards, I couldn’t shake the feeling that overwhelmed me.  Maybe it was its resemblance to the hereafter: Is that how we’ll be on the Day of Judgement? Each of us moving towards our final destination, every person we met in our life only an unrecognizable shadow, going their own way, on the day that our main concern is nafsi, nafsi… 

Or perhaps it was such a striking metaphor for my life, moving from one station to another, passing people and memories, past hurts and happinesses, floating almost instinctively to my next place of residence.  People are never still in this life.  Where will life take me?  Where will I end up?  

One of the weird things about living in Syria is that I feel like there are so many ghosts here.  Not ghosts in the jinni sense of the word (though perhaps there are many here, considering how ancient this land is… but I’m sure they’re the good kind considering how much baraka is here, and how many prophets and righteous people walked this land)…  but ghosts of a different kind.  I meet people from my past, from a different present, from an unseen future.  Everyone is here, seeking something.  Ghosts of the past: people I knew at different times in my life.  Someone I went to highschool with a million years ago, when I felt like I was first surfacing into understanding my self and life.   Another person I attended an Islamic program with in my teenage years, when I had such passion to reform my soul, and such a desire to change who I was and where I was taking my life.  It’s not so much these people, but the memories that they stir inside that affect my heart so much.  Another person who has a close relationship with one of my most influential teachers…  being around them makes me think so much of this teacher, the questions in my mind about what he taught, what I agreed with and disagreed with, what I was able to put into practice and the so much more I was never able to.  And I meet ghosts of my future: people I have met for the first time, that remind me of what I can be, or perhaps, what I should already be by now. 

Sometimes, here, I feel like I am just a jumble of tangled wires and synapses, dreams and memories, all mixed up and blurred together, poured into this simple body of mine.  

Damascus… this place of my dreams, this place of my past.  Perhaps, in this ancient place, where past, present and future seem to blend together, one can make sense of the path of one’s life, ruminating on the dust, the varying breeze, and the constancy of the sun.   

That’s why I’ve called this journal, ‘Damascus Dreams’.  Insha’Allah, it’ll be of some benefit to those who read it, and to my self as well. 

Wasalaamu alaykum  

Published in: on July 27, 2006 at 9:07 am  Comments (5)