For some reason, the image above reminded me of a certain person who used to work as a bus driver in our high school. The students in our school used to always call him names and make fun of him because he wore a shilwar kamees and looked like one of the most wanted men after the 2001 attacks on the trade center, and yet it never seemed to bother him. He used to walk with assurance in his steps. Before the call for Dhuhr prayer, you could watch him walking outside school in the direction of the neared masjed. You could look at his walk, his face, his eyes on the floor, and you could tell that this guy was at a total peace with himself, because he understood the true meaning of life.
Another image that crossed my mind was of another day, this time in Kenya, in a place with a name I no longer remember, but to reach it one had to take the Likoni ferry. You can say that the place was in the middle of “nowhere.” There was just greenery all around it. It was a boarding madrasa where young students were taught the Holy Quraan. The way they lived was an eye opener. It was so simple. Water well; a small masjid that was barely covered by janvi, a boarding house with mabamba for windows and yet people lived. Women with their full hijab and neqab welcomed us with madafu. They were there to attend regular darsas. The strangest part of the story – which shouldn’t be so strange anyway – is that they were African women, African women who would put some of us Arab women to shame. Some of them had moved away from their families who were involved in Shirk and they called the trip their own Hijra. What held them together there, in the middle of nowhere, was the love for this Deen, and one could tell that they understood the true meaning of life.
The final incident happened during the only time I went to Emirates Palace. We had some guests over from Kenya, and wanted to show them around. Since I was the only driver in the family at the time, the task was delegated to me naturally. Inside the Palace, there was a huge Christmas tree. Underneath it, young men who looked Omani (one could tell from the headwear) were being photographed under it. Leaving the Palace behind, the maghrib prayers called and on the grass strip between the two roads just in front of Emirates Palace, stood a line of construction workers in green coveralls, praying Jama3a, and one could tell that they understood the true meaning of life.
And all those people return to me over and over again, to remind me that no matter where you go on this planet, that no matter how much money you have, no matter how many languages you speak, these people might never know the difference between invincible and invisible, or never heard of a person called Shakespeare, or never knew the difference between a PBR and a PFR, they really understood the true meaning of life.
mabamba = corrugated iron (Swahili)
Janvi= type of carpet
madafu= coconut milk