A South African Muslimah's Blog

Constructing Identity: Loud Whispers, Lasting Echoes

Natural Inclinations June 1, 2008

This weekend, we took a trip to the Musandam Peninsula of Oman, a breathtaking panorama of ocean-meets-mountain.

I would like to share some of my thoughts about the weekend.
It seems, that the closer we are to the natural world, the more harmony we feel, with the self and with the Creator.

Allah says in the Quran of mountains –

“And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet); set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance.”

and of the ocean –

“It is He Who has made the sea subject, that ye may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender, and that ye may extract therefrom ornaments to wear; and thou seest the ships therein that plough the waves, that ye may seek (thus) of the bounty of Allah and that ye may be grateful.”

It seems that, as humankind moves further and further away from the natural world,our spirituality decreases proportionately.
In a world of fast moving cars, air-conditioned malls, indoor ski slopes, man made marinas, and state of the art technology, we should take the time to appreciate the wonders of a slow horse ride, a walk through the natural landscape, be it desert or forest, a dip in the ocean and a trek through a mountain, to behold the majesty and beauty of our Lord, for only from Sublime Beauty can such perfection exist. We need to do this, to remind ourselves of the limits of Allah (huhudullah), that there comes a point where we have to just stop, where materialism and worldly pursuits must halt, and give way for the spirit, the soul and the mind. We need to remember, that we are not the lords of this world, no matter what our minds and bodies can create, we are at the mercy of The One, and it is through Him that we have the capacity for such invention.

On reaching the spectacular Musandam area, we were spellbound at the untouched beauty, and I immediately took note of the villagers, they seemed to blend into their surroundings, living in symphony with nature and each other. Simple people, yet so content. That frenzy which drives city dwellers, so conspicuously absent from their behavior. The captain of the dhow we sailed in, said to me, “Hadhihil bahar, wa jabal, madrasati”, this sea and these mountains are my school”.
Subhanallah, can there be a better school?

Along the way, we visited one of the villages nestled in the mountains, at first, I could not see any village, but then to my astonishment, I realized, the houses were built of the mountain stones, they fused with the mountain, almost imperceptible to the eye without a close look. The thought crossed my mind, what causes these people to stay here? What keeps them so aloof from the animistic tendencies of the so called “developed” world? What keeps them so eudaimonic?

The answers to my questions lie in the Quran, as do all the answers to all our questions.
“Who has made the earth firm to live in; made rivers in its midst; set thereon mountains immovable; and made a separating bar between the two bodies of flowing water? (can there be another) god besides Allah. Nay, most of them know not.”

I am not suggesting that Islam is against modernization, development, or technology. To the contrary, if we look into Islamic history, it is a fact that Muslims were pioneers of science, biology, astronomy and medicine, but it was all in keeping with the balance of the world.

Alarming statistics are emerging, of the unsustainability of our current living practices, pollution, deforestation and global warming are depleting the earths resources, and the consequences touch, more than anyone in the world, the poor. We cannot continue to live in isolation, and we need to realize, that the earth, much like the body, functions as a whole, what we do to it, affects it as a whole.

We passed the day, pleasurably. basking in the magnificent scenery and snorkeling, catching a glimpse of the wonders of creation. In nature, there are signs for those who know, and for those who want to know. Just look under the sea, the array and splendour of marine life will take your breath away, and cause the praises of Allah to sing in your heart, with fish of every colour and variation, coral of all shapes and sizes, and clear blue water.

The unity of it all, the sky, the ocean, the mountains, the symmetry even with no accuracy, the ruggedness yet gentleness of it, conjured up feelings of immense gratitude to Allah, but also immense shame, for the way I have lived in the past, for the indifference I have shown to the earth and for the wastage of its resources!

At the end of our small trip, on the way home, we passed by a masjid, isolated from everything, in between two cliffs, a few metres from the shore-line. That was the pinnacle of the trip for me, and it made me think, this entire world is a masjid, a place for prostration, and should be treated that way!

The prophet (SAW) said, “Allah is beautiful and loves all beauty”, so let us love the beauty of His creation that we may gain a little nearness to Him.

Teilhard de Chardin ” We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Let us, at the very least, try to return to that spiritualness, that humanity has eroded.


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