No Topic (or The Everlasting Relationship?)

“May peace and Allah’s mercy be upon you…

This evening, I have no topic to discuss

Nay, I sat down thinking of one

Personal contemplation got the best of me

I drifted back in time to my long-gone days

The childhood ones

When I were next to my mother and father

I used to imagine that I couldn’t be separate from this mother even for one day

And that I were part of her

And that I were attached to her

She be the lodge of my pains and hopes

As would be between every child and their mother

I thought after that

And, lo and behold; this mother, from whom I thought I couldn’t be put asunder for a single day

Or after whom I thought I couldn’t live

Passed away as decreed by Allah fifty years ago

And a new family was formed

The first family in whom I lived was gone

Others, like my grandfather, who was an old sheikh, my father and my mother were there

All of them were gone

I lived for a while with my siblings

I couldn’t be distal from them

We were as if we were pages from the same book

Flowers in a single bouquet

Organs of the same body

We parted ways

Those, from whom it wouldn’t cross my mind to be away

Each one of them married

And started a family of their own

And moved away from the rest

Praise be to Allah; love, kinship, affection and amity were still there

But we were set apart

A new family was formed

I married

I had daughters

I used to feel that my association with my daughters would last for ever

And that I couldn’t be away from them and they couldn’t be away from me

But Allah’s way would prevail over His creatures

The first daughter grew up

Someone came and asked for her hand

He took her and went

So she had her own dwelling; independent of mine

She had her own family, who was closer to her than her family of origin – the one containing her father and mother

My daughters were split

And every daughter was in a country

And every daughter had her dwelling

And what I used to believe was a permanent knot was untied

Praise be to Allah; distance occurred spatially – neither heartedly, nor emotionally nor bonding-wise

I had brothers with whom I grew up

Memories of the past used to bind us

Together with our hopes that we used to fancy

And the wishes we used to make

I wouldn’t leave any of them except on the promise of meeting again soon

Those brothers

Some of them moved to have Allah’s mercy upon them

Rather, the majority of them breathed their last

Some of them were dominated by senility and its diseases and had gone seclusive

And I were in my country…

And a human being lives in their country by memories

What is a human being’s life?

A human being lives by memories

A human being lives in the view which they see from the window of their dwelling

At the turn of the road

Through the minaret of the mosque seen from afar

In the special character of the country in which they were raised and spent the beginning of their life

Thus, if they move to another country, they are like a plant which is uprooted from its land and implanted in another

It withers…it withers

Even if you water it

It fades

Then it becomes familiar with this new land…it strikes its roots

If you uproot it again and implant it back in its first land, it also fades temporarily until it refamiliarises itself with its first land…

So all of these ties, about which we care and onto which we hold, are temporary, extricable ones

They could be severed by remoteness

Death

Changes of circumstances…

The places with which we became familiar…

I spent a great deal of my life in Damascus in an old school which was the oldest Shafi’i school

Close in age to Al-Azhar

It had served different stages, the last of which was the primary as a private school

We spent thirty years

Going to it every Friday after Friday Prayer

We would stay till late afternoon

Brothers embraced by that chamber

Could you imagine this? I went last year

I thought I would revisit it to reminisce…

Life is memories

Shawqi says: ‘Life is love and love is life’

No

Life is memories

And memories are life

If a person contracts amnesia it would be as if they were cut off from their entire life…

So I went

You know what I found?

The door of the school was still erect

Inside the school there was a market!

All of it was gone

The school was gone, and so were those who were there

I sat down thinking

So the everlasting relationship…

Who would remain with me and with whom couldn’t I break completely?

Who would always be with me?

My daughter didn’t remain with me

Nor did my father and mother in the first instance

Nor did my daughters…all of them were gone

May Allah grant them, their offspring and all of the Muslim offspring success and happiness

Each one of them was gone and had her own dwelling which would be her original one

Each one of them had her own family who would be her elementary one

And I became as if I were a second-class citizen then…

Because that’s life…

My friends, as I told you, were gone

I went away from my country

I came here

Now here I had associations

And I had memories

I had now lived here for fifteen consecutive years

Before that I lived for years in Egypt

And years in Baghdad

And one year as a teacher before forty years

In year thirty-six

And around that time I lived in Beirut…

So the only everlasting relationship which can’t be ended

And which a human being cannot severe

Is that with Allah

Only Allah remains; the rest perish

This talk which you’re now hearing from me and which you think of as an affected preaching

I say it after much thinking and contemplation and after I have reviewed the reel of my past life

Just as a human being watches a movie whose events are unfolding consecutively

I say it and I feel it, really

I say it while seeing in front of me the only everlasting truth

But our problem is what?

That we have forgotten Allah, so He has made us forget ourselves

‘And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves’

Think with me of this Aya

Haven’t we forgotten ourselves?

Now, what does any one of us do from morning till evening?

They might pray, with mind half-focused on praying and half-focused on something else

They spend their life meeting people

If they don’t find anything to do

If they go to see a dentist and they have to wait for fifteen minutes

The passage of these minutes weighs heavily on them

The passage of time weighs heavily upon their chest

Why?

Because we can’t be alone with ourselves…

I swear to Allah this is wondrous!

My soul is an enemy to me?

Squandering my life, which is my capital, on anything?

Someone asks you: How can I spend my time?

The youth ask: How can we spend our free time?

I say this free time of yours and mine, and my time and yours

This is the capital

This is life

So shall we spend our life…spend our time by reading a silly novel?

By watching a ridiculous movie?

By a chat or a meeting which would not bear fruit – neither here nor in the hereafter?

Anything…get me anything but don’t leave me with myself facing time, which is life

So I have forgotten myself

This is a punishment by Allah

We have forgotten our Lord, so He has made us forget ourselves…

Of us, who would like to ponder over this?

Someone sits down alone and mulls: From where have I come?

Unlike what Elia Abu Madi says: ‘I don’t know’

No

I know

I know, you know and every Muslim knows because Allah has made them know

Allah has told us about a part of our life which we haven’t known…

Now, what was before birth

I, as I told you several episodes earlier, spent in my mother’s womb a period about which I remember nothing

But I were then

So my life didn’t start at birth to end at death…

The One whom I can’t…He is closer to me than anyone

And I have to feel this closeness

And I have to be with Him by heart…He is Allah…

Therefore, whoever feels this finds the sweetness of belief

The sweetness of belief is not an expression of mine; it’s the Prophet’s

The Prophet peace be upon him says whoever says such finds the sweetness of belief, whoever does such…

This sweetness… the sweetness of belief, and the spiritual pleasure

This is the highest form of pleasure conceivable by mind…

May peace and Allah’s mercy be upon you.”

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