Belated Eid greetings, beloved family and friends! Our dear friend, Ramadan, has come and parted for now and we pray that we have benefited and were elevated by it- ameen! One of the most powerful lessons of Ramadan is the heightened awareness and consciousness- when to eat and not eat, the use of one’s time and energy, the benefit or harm of words uttered and thoughts entertained- such a vigilance would do us all well, the world over, all year round!
One very new and relevant reflection that we contemplated this season was that this is Lil’ Z’s very first Ramadan and Eid! While fasting is only incumbent on adults who are capable of doing so, the month is so much more than fasting, and we wonder how we will punctuate this importance of this blessed month to our daughter as she grows up. How do we take the spirit of warmth, wonder, and celebration that we experienced celebrating other holidays as children and couple it with the relevance, significance, and meaning of the holy-days we currently observe? We still have time to “troubleshoot” and try out ideas, but here’s a little glimpse of Eid, round one!
Walking to the morning Eid prayer together, just after sunrise, was delightful. On Eid, everyone wears the finest clothes, so seeing the children all dressed up in their traditional attire and adornment is so cute. The little boys are dressed like mini-men and the girls, like mini-women!
We took our first family road trip! Destination: Sharqiyyah, home of the Bedouins!
A former student at Urbndervish’s university invited us to his home. His village was so isolated and remote that we had to drive to the nearest town and he transported us by SUV for the remainder of the way. After only a few minutes on the rocky imitation of a road, we realized that our compact car “Suzi” could not have braved this one! As we drove through the water in a wadi (desert valley), we realized that then and there would have been Suzi’s burial place! After more bumpy roads and hills, date palm groves, and mountains galore, we made it to a tiny village named Dama wa At-Taiyyin.
As with true Arab hospitality, our hosts were most gracious. We ate well, sat with elders, walked the farms, and everyone played with Lil’ Z. We stayed for one day and one night but it felt like much longer. In this village, the people live a modest life. On the return trip, Urbndervish and I reflected on how much experiencing simple rural life helps to keep you grounded and humble. Don’t get me wrong- our accommodations had electricity, running water, and air conditioning, so when compared to the overwhelming majority of the world, we were still living in luxury! However, most people are not accustomed to the patience and forbearance of cooking all of your food from scratch, driving 25 kilometers through valleys and bumpy roads just to get to school, or growing and harvesting all of your food requires.
Meeting the wife of our guest was a treat for me! Hey, any day that I can talk about alternative education, preventative medicine, and world travel with an Omani is a good day! So, we spent a lot of time talking about family and the future. As I started to get a little tired of eating, small talk, and sitting, my new friend turned to me and said “Do you want to take a walk in the farm?” and that’s when I realized “This is my girl right here!” So, off we went. She fluttered through the forest with her cute little sandals like a butterfly- dodging date palms and skipping over the water course. I, on the other hand, was ducking and dodging, trying to keep up. At some point we stopped to sit and huge wasps buzzed nearby. One thing I can’t stand is these wasps! They’re particularly abundant this time of year, and I can’t get used to them! I fear one of them stinging us and vowed to do some intensive research about natural wasp repellants! Sharing this fear with her, she told me that she doesn’t fear them. “I say this prayer and I’ve never been bothered by them:
Bismillah al-ladhi la dhurru ma’a ismihi shay’un fi’l ardh wa laa fi’s samaa’ wa huwa ‘as-Samee’ul Aleem”
I could see the words in my mind as she said them and paused to examine them before digesting them.
In the name of Allah (God) with Whose name nothing is harmed on earth nor in heaven, and He is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
It was so simple and true- just the answer I needed for my wasp woes. It reminded not only of the power of prayer but the power behind prayer. The sweet, simplicity of her certainty reminded me that I had not yet turned to Knower of the unseen, the Creator of all that exists, as my wasp repellant! As a scholar recently reminded us, reliance on Allah (God) is doing all that is within your means and abilities, then trusting the rest and the result to the Sovereign. So, I do plan to research natural repellants but I feel more “armed and equipped” with the potency of this prayer than any herbal concoction. It was a timely reminder that I needed and it was a special Eid gift that I hope to pass onto Lil’ Z when she faces similar fears.