Monday, March 14, 2011

My Syria...

There is a quite ridiculous #iheartsyria twitter trend that was annoying me a few days ago. Countless inane comments were made about Syria, comments which, in my opinion, could be made about any country in the world. Yet in a strange way there is something that I do like about Syria, and this is something that I did not wish to express in only 140 characters.

A few weeks ago my grandmother died, and as is the custom with Muslims, a wake of some sort is setup whereby relatives and people who knew her could come and pay their respects. Sitting in a large hall with many wooden chairs, they sit and sip bitter coffee whilst a Sheikh recites from the Qur'an. Every so often he asks those present to say a short prayer for the deceased, the opening verses referred to as al Fatiha. All those present would raise their hands upwards and silently mouth the words, then rub their face gently in a downward motion. The recital would then carry on. It is a deeply soothing, symbolic, act and one which unites all those present in a moving display of solidarity.

Each day of the three day mourning period, we were visited by our old neighbours of almost forty years. These neighbours included Christian Arabs and Greek Orthodox Armenians. In Christmas we used to visit them and bring them cards whilst during Ramadan we had one Armenian neighbour in particular, Jean Pierre, who would fast all day and then would come and break his fast at our home. He just loved the atmosphere, apparently, and he did this with us for years. Another of our neighbours, Jojo (short for George), came every single day of the wake. I used to go to their house as a child and we would enact epic battles of playmobil with his brother Tony before their mother would make us sandwiches to eat whilst watching cartoons. To my amazement, I watched Jojo recite the Fatiha for my grandmother's soul along with everybody else each time the Sheikh asked for it and then solemnly bring his hands to his face.

There were no Western newspapers around, no government spokespeople to make contrived statements about peaceful coexistence in Syrian society. We were just small, unremarkable, people who had shared the joy and sadness of a lifetime together. This is my Syria.


sheeshany said...

أول شي الله يرحمها لستك

و ثاني شي
إحنا سيد من عمل من الحبة قبة! عتويتر و اللا غيره


Anonymous said...

Allah yarham your grandmother and long life to Syria!

Those memories also reminded me of my own childhood and this hadith :

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As: Mujahid said that Abdullah ibn Amr slaughtered a sheep and said: Have you presented a gift from it to my neighbour, the Jew, for I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) say: Gabriel kept on commending the neighbour to me so that I thought he would make an heir?


Anonymous said...

Beautiful !

Nancy B said...

Thank you for sharing. You have a wonderful voice and a beautiful soul.

Anonymous said...

My deepest condolence on the passing of your grandmother. May Allah Bless her soul, ameen.

As for Syria, this is multiculturalism at its best!