Tuesday, December 08, 2009

On the Tariqa...

"Truth does not change. People change. People try to possess truth and keep it for themselves, keep it from others. But you cannot own the truth."

I love the Qur'an, I don't think any blog posts can come close to expressing this aspect of my character. I carry it with me, I think about particular verses that stick to my head. They berate me when I stray, and that is often, and they give me strength when I resolve on something. The Qur'an has also given me solace in times of sorrow. Somehow, the right verse always seemed to come up when I needed it.

My own personal copy of the Qur'an is in a brown covering that can be zipped up, it fits into the palm of your hand, yet it is clear enough to be read comfortably. This Qur'an was given to me by my late grandfather, rest his soul, about a week before I left Syria permanently and I was to ignore it for many years before opening it up again. As a bookmark, my grandfather had taken a page from the popular calendars used in Syria, we call it a Ruznama, the ones that have the date in Hejri, Gregorian and the Hebrew calendars, along with the prayer times for the day. On the back, there is one simple line: Allah said to some of his prophets, "if you seek me you have found me", the date on the page is Saturday, Ramadan the 4th, 1404, or the 2nd of June, 1984. So much has happened since then, and my grandfather has been dead for almost ten years. At the time he passed away I had just come back from clubbing on the Spanish island of Ibiza, which speaks much of the kind of life I had chosen for myself and the company around me. I say this not to boast, but in reflection.

When I became more interested in seeking, I came across many false starts. For one thing, I quickly began to learn that tradition and imitating from my parents or family were not enough, and in fact that was completely disastrous. I looked for different teachers, people whom I could learn from and ask questions. This method was more hit and miss. I did not want to surrender my mind to anybody, but I could not defeat the hard logic that you were presented with if you accepted and chose to 'believe' as they wanted you to. I became sterner with those around me, and sterner in my views. But that too did not hold too well when my own human frailty reminded me that my actions were simpy mirrors of those that I criticised around me at times. I thought to myself, should I stay silent or point the finger and be a hypocrite?

Since the beginning of this year, I began to frequent mosques more frequently, looking, learning, trying to understand. I saw good things and bad things. Thankfully I felt able to discern and take out exactly what I needed. Most importantly, I learnt early this year how to read and pronounce the Qur'an properly. I am not melodic, but my ability to read the signs inserted in the text about when to pause and when to continue dramatically improved my readings, and comprehension. It was simple, not difficult like we are brought up to believe, needing 'expert' guidance. All it took was for me to pick it up and read..Now I read it all times, exploring its pages, randomly selecting bits to read and ponder over. I pick apart phrases that interest or puzzle me and then see how they can fit with my understanding of the world, of biology, of physics and chemistry, of philosophy, and finally, of politics. I find no boundaries to it, and no threat. It does not chain me, instead it releases me from shackles.

Many people reading this blog will have noticed my increasing religiosity, some with perhaps a sense of alarm. But I am not a Wahhabi, I do not walk around with a short gown and grow a large beard in disarray. I am not against that, as I understand the importance of it, and beauty of it. But I do not approve of their austerity or fanaticism. No, I feel I am being guided, perhaps even pulled, down a path that I had looked at with disdain for a long time. Sufism was a dirty word for me, and there are many pitfalls for those who seek their way through its fields. But there is something profound about it, about reading the Qur'an and pushing out of your heart all that is not Allah. My iPod is now almost exclusively composed of the Qur'an and also Sufi Hadra's and chants. I do not like the silly nasheeds that some people put on their mobile phones. There is something guttural, even primeval, yet also clean and soothing, about listening to these Sufi chants.

As this leaning becomes more pronounced I begin to wonder, is my heart, like my music player, slowly pushing out what is unimportant for the sake of this true beauty? I walk furtively along the edges of this new ocean, its waters washing around my ankles as the tide pulls in and out. I begin to wade in, and I find the water is beautiful.


Amira said...

Mashallah...rabina yibariklak and may you always be guided

Maysaloon said...

Thank you Amira,
I hope the same for you too.

poshlemon said...

It is somehow alarming I must admit. Simply because of the element of 'difference'. This fear of the 'other' simply because we cannot or rather choose not to understand them is one of the main reasons behind a lot of bad and evil things going on in this world. 

I have decided a while back to not be afraid of what I don't know, understand or cannot feel. But it also requires both sides to be involved. How could I try to understand, accept and appreciate you if you do not make available to me the necessary elements? And you have :) and suddenly the 'other' is really just like me - only with different words. 

I really enjoy reading what you have to say, I really look forward for updates on your journey, I really try to appreciate these things you hold high eventhough a lot of times I feel overwhelmed with opinions, judgements, and even blasphemous thoughts if I may say. But you express your innermost self in a way that leaves no room for me but to respect and appreciate.  

Maysaloon said...

Thank you for the kind words Posh. It is always encouraging to know that other people may find what you write useful or interesting. The things you mentioned which overwhelm you come to me sometimes even when I am in salah or reflection. It is human of us to think these things, or be receptive to their suggestion, but we have a choice as to how we react to them.

ayman said...

Dear Maysaloon.

Every Ayah that is from Mecca doesn't (and can't) belong beside an Ayah (not Surah) from Medina. I see how that would cause you, and many others who are also great Muslims (not just the nut cases) concern. Yet if the chronology of descent can be established and the new found meaning of its re-sequenced structure is re-interpreted, then two things can happen;
1- Everything is a jumble and it all makes no sense at all.
2- Everything is coherent and it now makes more sense.
If one is the case there's no harm; I was wrong and that's it. If two's the case; we have a modern miracle on our hands. Being an optimist who belives in God I lean towards TWO.

Maysaloon said...

Welcome back. I can't say I have ever agreed with you, but your view on Meccan and Medinan verses is quite alarming. Still, I'm glad that you believe in God and I hope you are successful in your journey.

Anonymous said...

Why are my views alarming? Do you not share my confidence in the logic of the divine message! Meccan ayahs should follow other Meccan ayahs and Medina ayahs should be strung together with other Medina ayahs. I agree that you and I have never seen eye to eye, but since you and I (unlike so many) believe in the fact that the Quran is the last message of God to be revealed to us, we may agree to disagree. Ayman