Description of Lattakia Turkey Mountains
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.