A South African Muslimah's Blog

Constructing Identity: Loud Whispers, Lasting Echoes

Our Mother June 9, 2008

Filed under: Grave of Eve,Jeddah.,women and the graveyard,womens' rights — Safiyyah @ 12:07 pm

This weekend, I visited, or rather, tried to visit the grave site of my mother, Hawa (AS). She is buried in Jeddah, the city that honours her by naming itself after her (Jeddah means grandmother), but which dishonours her, by stealing the right of her heirs, to visit her.

I did not and still don’t know what to feel, that the first women in this world, lay only a few feet under the ground, where I was.
Awe, gratitude, reverence, fear…?

Subhanallah, All glory is to Allah, who says,
“O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his zaowja (wife/mate), and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women” (S. 4-:1)”.

On our way to Jeddah Airport, en route to Madinah, our driver suggested that we visit her grave site, and we immediately asked him to take us there, to pray.

On arriving at the necropolis, in our haste to get to her grave we didn’t even bother with the guards at the entrance, until one of them started waving madly at me and shaking his head, while tsk-tsking loudly. What did this mean? Simple, no women allowed.

Feelings of disbelieve, dissolved quickly into disappointment which dissipated into anger on the verge of tears, and finally all that was left was pity for a dictatorship which would not allow me and my sisters to visit our Mother, that women who is apart of every one of us, and we who are all apart of her, and sympathy for the women who have to trudge daily through this kind of prejudice.

So, outside I stood, praying and thinking, a thousand thoughts running through my mind. I got back into the taxi, seeing no point in standing out there while the “guards” eyed me with a very ridiculous look of disdain and victory. The driver, sensing my displeasure, commiserated with me, understanding my feelings, “Ummi Hawa is women and women must come here , but government no allow”, he said.

Isn’t it ironic, that women are allowed to visit the graveside of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), where a total of three men are buried (in no way do I want this right taken away, I am merely questioning the logic), but not the grave of the first women and second human being created by Allah? She who is the very essence of us?

Needless to say, in keeping with the trend of destroying history that prevails in Saudi Arabia, cement has been poured over the entire area where her grave is, so that visitors will not “grave-worship”, as the exact location is kept secret. I found this a bit too disrespectful, for the lady whom Allah ordained to be the companion of Adam (AS) and the women who would beget us all.

Instead of explaining to people why they should not worship the grave and rather pray there to Allah though her agency, they destroy it. Instead of venerating her, our beloved mother, they cover the traces of her remains. This is an atrocity, for she belongs not to any country, nor to any religion, race or tribe, to decide on their whim and fancy what should become of her resting place, but she belongs to all humanity, to commemorate her life, and her very being, for through her, Allah made us possible!

It didn’t matter to me when my husband came out from her graveyard, and told me what he saw was exactly what I could see from the outside, because all signs of her exact grave have been made indiscernible. What mattered, was that a wall was constructed, to keep me out. It was not an issue of “should women visit the graveyard?”, but an issue of personal choice. It is well known that are many differences of opinion about whether women should go to cemeteries, but some have decided that their judgement is the only correct one, and have barred the daughters from visiting the mother.

In my opinion, the Israel Apartheid wall is not the only wall that needs to be broken down.

And Allah knows best.

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3 Responses to “Our Mother”

  1. Khadija Says:

    A family friend, a native of Jeddah, recently regaled us with tales of his colourful experiences growing up in the immediate vicinity of the grave of Ummena Hawa. He and his friends would spend the day watching as some visitors to the grave would wail, gesticulate wildly and leave offerings at the grave. The kids, meanwhile, would bide their time until maghrib and then scramble over the fences to grab at the generous candy finance.

  2. Safiyyah Says:

    that is quite mirthful, but do I sense an underlying agenda of complaicency with the decision to desecrate the grave of Mother Hawa?

  3. Khadija Says:

    Hmmm… I’m not quite sure. I’ll be sure to engage him on the topic when next he’s in town.


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