Saturday, February 27, 2010

Enjoying the Month of Rabi al Awwal

Was salaatu was salaamu ‘alayh.
AlhamduliLLAH that we are among those ALLAH Azza wa Jall has kept alive to witness this beautiful month of Rabi ul awwal. My first coming to Mauritania was in this month and I had very nice moments that still remain fresh in my memory. Moments spent with my amazing friends like Abdul Malik Fransi, Ibrahim, Eesa Washington and others. It was also in this month that I had the privilege to meet our dear and belove Shaykh Hamza Yusuf here in Mauritania and other shuyukh who attended the guidance and counseling conference.

It is yet another month of Rabi ul awwal for me in this beautiful country full of treasures (Shuyukh). The month that reminds us of the birth of the best of Mankind, the month that brings the fresh breeze we breathe in that gives us tranquility in our hearts, the month we sing and chant so much verses of praises of the Prophet(SAW).

This month brings some kind of nostalgia to me when I remember my beautiful days in Damascus with my dear teacher, our noble and erudite scholar, Shaykh Muhammad al Ya’qubi, my friends: sidi Waathiq, Waseem, Abul Wafaa, Muhammad Omari and lots more, the beautiful gatherings in Syria where we listen to different rhymes of the Burdah of Imaam al Busiri and other beautiful poetic verses in praise of the Prophet (SAW). This year, Allah has not made it that I should be in Syria with these wonderful people who I can’t describe how nice it feels like to be in their company but in the presence of my new friends in Mauritania and venerable teachers.
In the traditional school (mahdharah) of Mauritania where I study, break is given in the month of Rabi ul awwal so no lessons all through the month. Many students choose to go to other villages to continue their studies until the end of the month before returning while some choose to stay behind doing revision and other things they find necessary.
My intention was to travel to the mahdharah of Shaykh Muhammad Hassaan al Khadim for the month, read to him some portion of the purification of the heart and the famous Ibn Maalik’s poem on Arabic grammar that I study presently but when I informed my lovely fiqh teacher: Shaykh Mukhtaar of this, he said to me in his ever soft way ‘’you don’t need to travel as long as you have me here, insha ALLAH we will continue with our fiqh lessons’’. This really gave me joy because my intention is to finish the book on fiqh that I am presently studying before moving on to something else so I don’t really want anything that will obstruct this or prolong my reading of the fiqh text. And to ALLLAH belongs all glory, we were honoured to have Shaykh Muhammad Hassaan al Khadim visit my venerable teacher, Shaykh Muhammad Faal who he considers as one of his teachers.

I decided to meet my Grammar teacher, Shaykh Muhammad Buttaar to ask him if he would be available to continue my lessons with me. Without hesitation, he said yes. This made my day and gave me rest of mind.
Now I am here, all my friends left me in the village for their different destinations. It feels so boring being alone in the small palace where I live. No one to chat with, none to turn to, I do breakfast and eat alone, read, go for my lessons then sleep. While this feels boring, it also feels great because it gives me no time to waste with unecessary discussions with roommates, more time to revise and experience the wildness of being alone in the outskirt of the village.

When my teachers and friends who are the Khuddaam of the Shaykh knew I stay alone, they reminded me of the hadith of the Prophet (SAW) prohibiting one from staying alone in a house except that he has a company. This kind of prohibition is not an absolute prohibition but a kind that is disliked.

In search of someone to stay with me at night, I started passing my nights at different places like a wanderer. People I asked to join me at my house would give excuses and end up refusing to join me. For five nights, I slept at the Shaykh’s guest room and a student’s house leaving very early in the morning after the fajr prayer for my house.

The month been so nice as the days pass by whispering into our ears salaams and broadening our breasts with the knowledge of the shari’ah. My lessons have been going smoother and I have the whole time to ask my shaykh questions upon questions.

Since the beginning of the month in the village, it has been different kind of poetic verses in the chanting tone and rhyme of the Bedouins. Immediately after the ‘Eshaa Athan, they start chanting verses of praises from old collections sitting around the Shuyukh in the two big masjids in the village. I really enjoy the Bedouin flavor and decide to run to the masjids when I hear the athan. But its unfortunate that I can’t split myself into two halves: one listening to the rhymes at the big Jumu’ah masjid and the other half at the other masjid. While I try to enjoy the rhymes from the two masjids, I get myself tired walking and returning from one masjid to the other.

The maulid was drawing closer which I was dying to witness. Many people from different parts of Mauritania were coming to the village like caravans traveling from one village to another for trade. We now see new faces everywhere in the village doing different amazing things that almost broke me down. It makes me reflect on the old Bedouin ways of life. While you will walk from one place to another, you will find old women bending down with their wrappers dragging the floor while they urinate not minding where they are. So bad to see the worst of an encounter, an old man, facing the whole world, doing his number 1. Were it to be a young boy doing that, would I have beaten him? I think would. Just like a hadith when one of the Bedouin stood up and started urinating by the masjid while the prophet (SAW) and his companions were sitting. This annoyed them and they stood to beat him up but with his mercy, he halted them and allowed the man to finish up…….and so the hadith goes.

Now came the day of the maulid, embracing us with the beautiful warmth that we had been waiting for. The village having witnessed so many people from different parts of the country was ready to give its own share back to those who have come to take from it. Here, the Maulid is not really celebrated the way it is done in Syria and other parts of the world. It’s a bit unique and worth witnessing.

People finished observing the maghrib prayer, going outside the masjid to have their seats, with mats widely spread outside and the middle part left unoccupied. Men sitting in a circular position while the women sit behind them. The shuyukh sat while their students were either beside or behind them sitting. They started with the regular Tijaaniyyah tariqah wadheefah which is done in a solo way here. While they started this, I hurriedly ran to the big masjid to see what they had there, they were busy reciting some hizbs from the Qur’an after which the Wadheefah will start then chanting verses of praises. I sat for the hizb for some minutes, ran home for oxygen then returned to the Shaykh’s masjid. Shortly after my arrival was the recitation of some amazing poems by some students. At the end of every poem comes the dua of the Shaykh and so they continued. While the verses are so beautiful and worth reflecting upon, I left the Shaykh’s masjid for the Jumu’ah masjid where the chanting of some poems was going on. I prefer the Jumu’ah masjid because the chanting is done with full energy and vigour unlike the former. I was able to record a little portion of the beautiful rhymes. After the chanting, we prayed the ‘Eshaa prayer then I left again for the shaykh’s masjid. On reaching there, the village Khateeb was reading some beautiful pages of hadith and seerah of the Prophet(SAW).

The reading took some time which followed up with a lengthy dua by the Shaykh then came a close of the ceremony. People followed the Shaykh to his house where another gathering was been held. Discussion in the Mauritanian dialect, questions and answers, stories, and so on. The Shaykh sat for some time with his guests before leaving for his inner chambers.

At this point in time, my stomach was already complaining to me and needed me to attend to it. While I was still in the Shaykh’s house waiting, “Abu bakr” a voice called out to me asking me to join the already seated men waiting for dinner. I walked down, joined them in form and there came big bowls of delicious Kouskous and spaghetti and on top of these were ridges of meats. Mashaa ALLAH, I didn’t waste much time but ate to my fill. I left for my house late that night getting set to leave the village for the capital the next village.

Was it a sound sleep? No it wasn’t. It was hot with the food not well digested but the month has been so beautiful and nice to me. Indeed, the best of mankind is a mercy to the whole worlds and we have to reflect on this signs that we may not witness again.

Was sallaa ALLAHU ‘alayh wa aalihi was sallam.