Being taught by Sheikh Uwaisi, who learnt the Qasidah from a direct line of transmission to the author himself, was spiritually uplifting. It lasted about 7 hours, but not once did boredom or tiredness cross my mind, as every word he uttered, I vigorously wrote down and devoured with my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the method of oral transmission, the traditional way of learning, since the time of the Prophet (saw), and having studied literary theory, participating in it practically was invaluable to me. At the end of the program, the Sheikh also gave Ijazah (permission) to everyone who attended, to teach the Qasidah to others, and bestowed on everyone the chain of transmission to the author, another traditional method of education, which also came as a lovely surprise. All in all, it was a most inspirational introduction to sufism for me. The Qasidah itself, I will blog about separately.
The only time I felt a little uncomfortable is when the Sheikh was negative towards Shi’is. Those boundaries don’t exist in my mind.
One thought that crossed my mind repeatedly throughout the class, was how welcomed, comfortable and at home I felt in the Turkish masjid, and the same, the previous night at the Iranian masjid, which also held a Maulood program in honor of the prophet (saw). The atmosphere was relaxed, yet spiritually charged at the same time. I thought repeatedly, about how, I have never set foot in my own neighborhood masaajid, in whose shade I grew up, how unwelcome I am there, and how I, as a women, am perceived to somehow sully the sacredness of the place. I found my heart bursting with appreciation to the Turks and Iranians, who have made it possible for me to mend the image of myself which my community had shattered, by relegating me to the home, and setting the masjid as off limits to my species. It also made me grateful to have lived abroad in the Middle East, where I could traipse in to any masjid, at any time, without anyone batting an eyelid.