Monday, August 31, 2009

Masjids and Musallahs in Ramadan

I have never lived the sunni/shiite difference before. I only heard of it, or watched it as an unbiased spectator. When I was in school, I would only absorb the tensions or fury, the hopeful mediations or the call for unity by my friends who vocally proclaim that they are sunni or shiite, or the ones that want non of it and who proclaim: “I am Muslim. Period”.

But in a country such as Lebanon, this scene escalates and the division feels too real. I read books, too, about this situation. Although books kindle the mind, experience engraves the memory. And memory carves the soul eternally.

It is one thing to imagine divisions and wars in Islam when in Canada or America or any other “neutral/secular” state, getting it from books or TV or the media. It’s another thing to sit on this stage, down in a war-zone like Lebanon and to animate it all in your mind while everything around you reinforces division and war, yes, between sunnis and shiites. It’s no game. It’s too real.

In every country where there is co-existence, there is war. Where there is a masjid next to a church and a synagogue, there is also war. The people of the masjid fight between themselves, the people of the church fight between themselves, the people of the synagogue too, not every Jewish community is like the other. Therefore, where there are angels there are also people who want war. Never be naive about this.

I am at this Masjid you see in the photo back in Anjar, an area near Baalbeck, about an hour drive from Beirut. Baalbeck is a renowned shiite neighborhood in Lebanon. What I notice, instantly, is the soldier rhetoric. This region highlights the warrior/martyr/soldier spirit of Islam by commemorating it everywhere with huge billboards of soldiers born in this area and who died in resistance fighting. The color black is prominent.

As you see in the photo, the masjids look different than most of the ones in Beirut such as the Muhammad Al Amin masjid where I pray taraweeh during Ramadan. What is highlighted in Baalbeck’s masjids is ornamentation and decoration such as Arabic calligraphy on the walls. Other than Qur’anic verses, these writings are about martyrs. Or, about Hassan and Husseyn who are the relatives of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

In Ramadan, the shiite neighborhood breaks its fast after the ‘sunni’ neighborhoods by around 15 minutes at Maghreb.

In Ramadan the world turns in different rhythms depending on where you are in the world. And what's around you. And you are the product of your environment ...


Skye said...

masha'allah sis beautiful pics nice to meet u2 sis salaamz =D

Jaz said...

What a nice post, even if it speaks of things we would rather didn't exist, it's still very-well written. Baalbek is a very interesting place, and I still think that masjid is beautifully architectured and designed.

phalanges said...

Salam sister
Ramadan mubarak! :)

its a very well-written post mashaAllah

It's true that differences have sometimes caused wars between religions but there were many instances where people of different faiths have lived together peacefully.

Qordoba - the city of Spain of the old Islamic Empire - was a beautiful example of this. In Palestine the Jews and the Christians also lived peacefully under Islamic rule..

Anyway I shouldnt get caught up in discussions arghhh I should be reading Qur'an!

Salam said...

ramadan mubarak to you :)

I'm starting to see how peace and war live together, during one time. ...rather than working by the rule of elimination, which says that during one time Islam lived peacefully with everyone so that cancels out the time when they didn't live peacefully and fought between each it's all good kind of thing...

Avoiding the rule of elimination helps me wrap my mind a bit better around the teachings in the Qur'an, while I read them, that specifically talk about groups, or divisions such as the chapter named Al-Ahzab, (the allies) .... even the chapter of "Al-Kahf" (the cave), which talks about the persecution of the men of the cave by their own people, as well as the test of patience given to Moses by the 'wise man' sent from Allah swt, as well as the story of duhl Qarnayn, a well to do person who, indeed, was a traveler who helped the people he encountered by setting up the big wall. All these stories are in one chapter, the cave.

The common element, it seems to me, is that angelic behavior is always tested by its opposite, which means, peace and war must have always co-existed at the same time and in order to understand the art of this, I think I have to not eliminate one from the other. To think of them together....

I doubt i'm making much sense, off with the ramblings, peace out, happy iftar everyone!

Faith said...

I agree this was beautifully written
I’m coming back insahlla to read your previous posts.