Browsing "road to damascus series"
Jan 10, 2007 - road to damascus series    2 Comments

Road to Damascus 25 – Maqaam Ayyub

Description of Maqaam Ayuub

Across from Maqaam Ayyub

Maqaam Ayyub is the place where prophet Ayyub, Job (as) is buried. It’s somewhere south of Damascus near Bosra in the countryside. The pictures and the video don’t do justice to it. This place is seriously the most beautiful I’ve ever gazed upon and by now Alhamdulillah you must know I’ve seen a lot of places on this trip. I wish I could be buried there.

We parked our bus near here and walked (bus wouldn’t fit) through a little village to Ayyub’s well. This is where it is said he made wudu and washed with the water here and Allah cured him of his diseases. It seemed like a little stone house, but when we went inside it was filled with water. There were stone steps leading down and I remembered how some commentaries of the story of Yusuf talk about how the well wasn’t like some steep circular drop with a bucket like we think of nowadays, but actually had steep steps leading down into the water. (Hence, why Yusuf (as) was still alive when the caravan came.)

Some ppl in the group (can i say the brothers) weren’t sure about touching the water as it was non-moving still water in the middle of the Syrian countryside. But me and a few brave souls made wudu with the water and I even saved some of it in a little water bottle that I still have sitting on my shelf here in the US. Not sure what I’ll do with it, but I do feel it is water that Allah blessed.

I don’t have any pictures of the actual building that is the Maqam or Ayyub’s well, or what we visited after because my battery ran out! Note to self: when taking world trip buy second battery.

After the well, we walked some more and ended up at this little house and garden. We were told it was a maqaam of sahaba. (Forget which, I think a not relatively famous one, but will have to check my journal.) Again I was struck by how far the Sahabah had traveled to spread the Deen. This area was quite lush and I was surprised by all the plants and vegetable gardens around. We waited at the gate for a little while and then finally a tall striking black man in a grey dashdasha came to open the gate with this old key. Shazia whispered to me, “His face looks like he is half in this Dunya and half in the Akhirah.” SubhanAllah that’s what his face looked like I can’t even describe it. It was just otherworldy. So we all followed him reverently through the garden and into this little chamber single file and then when we were all done, he locked the door again then the gate and then disappeared back through the garden. Who was he? How’d he get there? Did he live there year round and take care of the Maqaam. What was it like to be a keeper of a Maqaam, living with the dead? I get chills just thinking about it.

Here’s a reflection upon contemplating the sunset across the road from Maqaam Ayyub:

The sky is robin egg blue
Undulating verdant hills fold out into the distance
Vineyards brilliant green against the gentle hills
And I am standing on the yellow dusty road
Watching pink gold light the sky

I have been here before
A dream within a dream
I walk and see the bottle
It is empty but labeled
‘Broken Dreams’
Shards of glass within a glass

How can this place exist in a barren land?
How can summer rain gently fall on my face
warm from the sun?
How can Allah’s mercy exist through all my sins?

The cool grey rocks beckon
I sit holding my jar close to me
Sorrow, Grief and Shukr now fill it
I remind myself that this too
was Ayyub’s paradise.

Link to the pictures of Maqaam Ayyub

Jan 9, 2007 - road to damascus series    Comments Off

Road to Damascus 24 – Lattakia Turkey Mountains

Description of Lattakia Turkey Mountains

Beautiful view near Lattakia

On one of the days when our class took the trip to Lattakia we spent a whole day just driving through the mountains to the north. We went all the way to the border of Turkey and some of the pictures you see of beautiful little valleys and villages are actually Turkish. All the signs in this area were in Arabic, Turkish and Russian! Yes, Russian because apparently there used to be alot of businessmen that came here?

We stopped at a few places just to see the view and take pictures. We also went to the “Sherwood Forest’ of Syria. Remember in Robin Hood the whole little wooden village they built in the middle of the forest, this was just like it!!

The countryside in the north of syria is soo beautiful. So beautiful it hurt to look at. At one point we came over the side of a mountain and there spread before us is a beautiful little valley with red thatched roofs and a perfectly crescent shaped beach with the sparkling blue water beyond. I felt like I was in a computer animation from Lord of the Rings or something. It was just too amazing to be real. I could just imagine buying a little cottage there and living out the end of my days.

My favorite picture of these is the one of the road winding into the distance with white flowers in the forefront and farms and orchards leading to dark green mountains. Ma’shaAllah, who would ever have thought that this is Syria just as much as Damascus is.

As we were driving, me and Aneesah (my south african friend) were in the front next to the driver. (Don’t ask) I saw a sign that said Maqaam Jaffar al-Tayyar! So I turned around and asked our teacher about it and she just froze and was like “STOPpppppppp the van we have to go back!!” So we wound up this huge mountain until we could go no more and then we got out and climbed up more of the mountain. Finally all the way at the top we saw a little green dome of a maqaam. A maqaam by the way is a grave of a sahabah or famous shaikh/awliya. The green dome represents a family member of the prophet (s).

Jaffar remember is the cousin of Rasulullah (s) being the son of Abu Talib. He was the one who gave the famous speech to the King of Abyssinia. In one of the battles (Muta) he was given the Muslim standard to carry and one of his arms was cut off so he held it with the other and then the other was cut off. He was found like that the next morning, and when the people grieved, the prophet (s) said he would be given two wings in jannah in place of his arms. So that is why he is called Jaffar al-Tayyar. Al-Tayyar meaning flying or ‘of wings’.

It’s unsure whether Jaffar is actually buried here, but a maqaam can also be a place of remembrance of where a person prayed, lived or liked to come to a lot.

Just standing there in this crazy remote nowhere place with the most incredible views (see spectacular pics following the green tomb ones) it came to me just how far the Sahabah came. This was the northernmost tips of Syria. How far is this place from Makkah and in those days!! The Sahabah left their homes and homelands and travelled to the ends of the earth solely for the sake of Allah. It was a humbling moment.

After that we made one more stop at this Christian church. The story is that the people of the towns did not have any water and one day a child saw Mary standing nearby pointing to the ground. There they dug and there they found water for a well which stands today. We were shown around by this nice Christian priest who took us to the well which is also a shrine. Our teacher never said anything like: whoa those christians are crazy. She just smiled and nodded, said subhanAllah and genuinely beleives that it was possible and Allahu alam. She was polite to the priest and said she’d been there before visiting with people. It illustrated to me how tolerant and hospitable relations are between Muslims and Christians here. They live together, work together and ‘believe’ together. The West likes to claim that they are the most tolerant of minorities, but in Syria and probably most of the Middle East it is truly practiced.

Link to the pictures of Lattakia Turkey Mountains

Road to Damascus 23 – Lattakia the Seaside

Description of Lattakia the Seaside

Lattakian Seaside

Lattakia is a city north of Syria on the coast of the Mediterranean. It has a number of beaches that go up the coast. One of the most famous is the one we stayed at called “Shaati al-Azraq’ or the Blue Beach. Families and people come from all over for day trips, to swim and hang out in the city at night (see Lattakia the City description).

The beach is quite beautiful and there are a number of pictures of it, including a boat ride we took. There was also an area right behind our apartment that looked like lava rocks and there were little cliffs. I thought it might be a ‘moor’ like in Wuthering Heights. Remember when Catherine haunted the moors searching for her beloved Heathcliff? Uhhh ok. So the cliffs kind of just fall right into the water and the view is soooo beautiful, the water is just endless and some amazing shades of blue. Light blue, dark blue, sparkling blue, cerulean blue, azure blue. Wow I could have just sat there overlooking the water forever. But we couldn’t resist so we tended to jump in fully hijabed and went swimming. We also went swimming on the beach. There were alot of kids and some men but we went towards the unpopulated areas and went far out. There were rocks in the water that were kind of sharp. My poor feet had hundreds of tiny little scratches and cuts, so the next day we bought flip-flops from one of the tourist stores. The beach itself is made up of tiny tiny shells! See the picture of a hand holding up the shells. SubhanAllah. Tiny tiny little miracle pieces of art. Each one perfect and beautiful. I brought a whole bunch home and keep them in a bottle on my desk :)

Little memory I wrote for Lattakia:

At waters edge I stood laughing

My hands gripping the black lava cliffs

The rocks beneath my feet smooth and sharp

Blue of every hue stretching into the distance

Water lapping against me, pure and clear

So much beauty blinded my heart

like the sun my eyes that day

Surely Someone loves me? I thought

The waves came and went back

pulling me towards the horizon,

pulling me, pulling me

Sunshine sparkling off the drops

I smiled,

and wanted to let go.

Link to the pictures of Lattakia the Seaside