Reflecting on the last year of our life and its adventures can be summarized as martial arts training for the soul. We’ve already summarized our experiences in Sana’a and during the Hajj, but now, it’s time to reflect on our time spent in a blessed valley in Hadhramaut, known as Tarim. One of the lasting impressions we hope to take from the seven months we spent there is the realization that our time in Hadhramaut is the safest we’ve ever felt, both spiritually and materially. To walk the streets at any time of night, without fear of harm or random acts of violence was a refreshing experience. Children can be children and run freely in the streets, shop in the markets, and play in the dirt the way our parents speak of their innocent upbringing in Jamaica decades ago. To be free of the psychosocial manipulation and objectification propagated by advertising schemes was uplifting. To be in a place where people are in constant remembrance of the Maker both individually and collectively was enlightening.
Thankfully, we were both able to continue our Arabic studies there but we received much more than the nuts and bolts of the language. We had the opportunity to connect the Arabic language to the Holy Qur’an and its meanings, prophetic statements, wise sayings of sages, poetry and religious songs. Just in case you’re wondering, we are nowhere near fluent in Arabic but, hopefully, we have a functional level of Arabic and language skills, with reading comprehension as our strongest skill and verbal communication as our weakest skill. We’re sure many other language learners can identify with the frustration of being able to understand more than you can speak, but in the end, its satisfying to know that we had enough of an understanding of the language to benefit from some very special people- upright and enlightened women and men of God that really took us by the hand to walk with them on the path of gnosis and nearness to the Most High.
We had the opportunity to live in a place where people don’t recall folklores or fairy tales of imaginary characters and heroes, but rather they recall the accounts of righteous predecessors and prophets- where people praise virtue and moral fiber, not outer forms and appearances. A place where empty holidays are not celebrated, but rather holy days that connect to real historical events and have real significance are remembered. A place where people honor their elders and are merciful to their youth. A place where teachers and scholars are revered as bearers of knowledge and inheritors of prophets.
In the same way a martial artist trains, strengthens, and works toward mastery of the self, we studied the teachings and ways of spiritual martial artists. They serve as guides to the path of prophetic revelation with the goal of attaining God’s pleasure.
The challenge when you leave such a place is assessing how much of the training has been woven into you. Can you stand on your own after the crutches of your environment and constant reminding and encouragement have been removed? So, this is where we are. Trying to translate what we’ve learned into practice, in a sustainable way that will move with us as we move and live with us as we live.
Currently, we’re in the u.s. of a. We were invited to visit a friend of ours in Jakarta and spent about a week there and then took the long way home, traveling east instead of west. Our flight stopped in Korea and now we’re in New York visiting eternitysojourner’s family. After some upcoming family gatherings and celebrations, we’ll be heading to the sunshine state to visit urbndervish’s family, insha’Allah (God willing). Where’s home for us, right now? Wherever we are is where home is. As for what’s next…just stay tuned.