Peace On Earth...
I'm not really blogging today. Instead, I'll take this opportunity to post something my father wrote during his recent pilgrimage to Mecca. I think it's a wonderful expression of religious feeling, and I hope a few Christians or Jews ( or Buddhits or Hindus or Pagans) who read my father's words will think "That's not so different". I especially like his descriptions of all races and genders coming together for a single purpose. Sometimes (and I say this as a Bertrand Russel/Carl Sagan reading non-believer) I think that the solution to alot of problems in the Middle East isn't less religion, but more. Or rather, actually following what the religion is telling you to do. Anyway, before I get maudlin, here it is. It's pretty long. so I'm not going to italicize it like I usually do with quoted material.
I sit here in Charles DeGaulle Airport in Paris, France, wondering. This now grown adult, once New York City projects kid, never imaging that I would be here in this far away land. Wondering, what has just happened to me? I feel as one just awakened from a dream, a wonderful dream.
In reality it did start with a dream, a dream that I had this past summer. Of hearing the call of the Adzhan (the call to prayer) and looking upwards, seeing just above this extremely beautiful landscape golden Arabic letters. I remember waking and feeling an incredible inward peace, knowing within that this surrealistic dream was a premonition of something important and wonderful to come.
And come it did. For I have seen the face of the world. This long lost city kid always having imagings of travels to other worlds and stars, now dazed by an experience come from this world and yet from another.
For I have seen the face of the world. It is a face composed of faces that have journeyed from all the corners of the earth for one purpose, that of the worship of Allah Subhana Wa’tala. Come to fulfill one of our obligations of worship to him.
Yes I have seen the face of the world, the young Saudi brothers from Al Qassim amazed to see a muslim from America, the Philipino brothers who sang praises of worship to Allah with me and my dearest guide Sultan Al Sultan as we circled the sacred Kaa’ba seven times in our performance of the tawaf. I saw its face in the Egyptian, Sudanese and Nigerian brothers, whose faces I could swear I had seen before as I rode the subways and walked the streets of New York. I saw it in the Chinese sisters in their regal Asian garb that I remember seeing in the National Geographic magazine. Africa, Asia, Europe, India, America, China, Saudi, Morocco, Yemen, Russia, Jordan, Indonesia, Malaysia, all those faces were there.
Alhamdulillah, I saw the Kaa’ba with my own eyes. I felt its presence with my own heart. It’s Black-covering cloth outlining it in all its beauty like the massive monolith from a movie long ago. And there at its top encircling it round were the golden letters that I had seen in a stunning dream, reminding me of the things that were to come.
Every time I glanced at it, I could not believe that it was truly there. Was I really seeing it? Was I really at Al Haram, in the holy city of Makkah? Yes I was, and I was glancing all around me at the face of the world.
Oh Allah lead me on the straight and righteous path. For you have given me another gift, part of the one true gift of Al Islam. I have seen the Kaa’ba the place built by Ibrahim and Ishmael (Peace be upon them).
I have been to the tomb of the prophet (PBUH), Abu Bakr and Umar in Medina. I have seen the Jannat (graves) of the wives of the Rasul, the place where the Sahaba lie in wait for the Day of Al Qiyam. Oh Allah lead me and keep me on the straight and righteous path.
Was it a dream? Yes, in a way it was. It was reality wrapped in the dreams of the now grown city kid from the projects. The dream of seeing other worlds and other places, and of discovering that we are not alone, and never have been. That there is a Glorious One who created us in His mercy to live and to die, and to live once again for an eternity. A promise to be fulfilled to us, by our walking the straight and righteous path of Al Islam, the path of submission to the ONE.
Where am I? Oh yeah, I am here in gay Paris (Paree) still awaiting my sky jet. Awaiting my flight back to the states, back to the land of the free and the home of the brave. My mind is a whorl with all that has happened. Johnny Neumonic overloading on data from this my world.
Makkah a glorious and wondrous place, the home of the Kaa’ba. A place in paradox dominated by the old, the present and the eternal. A paradox of humanity that lives in splendor and also in shanties of poverty on the surrounding volcanic hills. Makkah, the home of Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him). The place where Jibrel (Angel Gabriel) first came and squeezed the sense of revelation out of the prophet (PBUH). The place where modern Makkans are blasting away the volcanic hillside, building the new and the modern, in order to accommodate their relentless growth. The integration of the old and the new within Al Haram, visible in all its magnificent beauty of Marble and Minarets, surrounding the black cloth covered Kaa’ba of ancient times. Al Haram surrounded by looming tall and modern hotels and office spaces, built to house the affluent of this society.
What a paradox! What a mix of the ancient, the here and now, and of the eternal. Yet it is eternity that dominates this place. For it is here that millions come for worship, to honor the One, the True, the Most Compassionate. Allahu Akbar, Alhamdulillah, Subhana Allah, La Illaha Ila‘llah, there is None but the One.
Oh Allah you have shown me the face of the world and I am humbled by it.
I have seen what our beloved brother Malcolm saw, that which transformed him into a better human being. For he too saw the face of the world and it transformed his mind and spirit, down to the essence of that which made him a Man. For he saw that tens of thousands of human beings could come to a single place, not caring what color, race, creed or nation they were from. That they could come together in Salaam, in Peace, unified as one by the One, by Al Islam.
I look up now and realize that I am back in the west, from my travels to the east. Here there are few hijabs, few salaams, I hear no calls of the Adzhan at Fajr, other than my inward call. I long for the call to prayer as this Parisian dawn approaches. The call that brought me to tears in Al Qassim Province, in the town of Riyadh Al Khabra. The call that started as one call from a Siddiq, then grew to another, then another, then another. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, until it turned into an overwhelming wave of calls to Salat (prayer), that you could hear outwards to the distant horizon. It was as if a mass of angels had come down from the sky singing the praises of Allah the All Mighty. Tears were my only expression that morn as the predawn coolness caressed my face.
May we lie to hear such a call to prayer in my home of America in the early pre-dawn morning. I keep having flashbacks, flashbacks of the Black Cube in all its splendor, surrounded by golden Arabic letters exclaiming that there is no God but Allah the One. I feel different. I am different. For I have become, I have caught a glimpse of that which is eternal.
Oh Allah, Al Wadud lead me to the straight and righteous path. May I fulfill the destiny that you have selected for me through Peace using your ultimate sense of compassion and understanding. InshaAllah may I be worthy of the journey that I know is to come, and may I have the strength to do thy will compassionately and with courage.
Thoughts expressed in Paris, France on my return from the Holy City of Makkah
Abdul Rauf Campos-Marquetti
My father is General Secretary of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, and since September 11th, 2001 has become a peace advocate. Last month he was questioned by the FBI, something as an old-school punkgrrl I can't help but feel is kind of cool.