(Barbados Travelogue, Part 2)
By Shaykh Tameem Ahmadi
23rd Sha’bān 1438 / May 20th, 2017
The Blessings of Travel
The flight from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale was about four hours and I took that opportunity to work on some commentaries of a Hadith compilation. It gave me four solid hours to do some substantial work. Alhamdu Lillah that a lot of work got done. I usually don’t get that kind of long stretch of time to sit down and write. Indeed, this is one of the benefits of traveling. Many pious predecessors would write and continue their academic work while on their journeys. Imam Mundhirī is known for dictating the entire four-volume Hadith compilation, al-Targhīb wa l’Tarhīb, while in safar, from memory.
There is a baraka, a seclusion in traveling that is not found while resident. This is probably because a person is technically “homeless”, and that condition of vulnerability and destitution, even though it may be by choice, is beloved to Allah. This is why the prayers of a musāfir are accepted by Allah, due to the state of difficulty and destitution experienced by him while on the journey.
Dhikr, Fikr and Ayāt
If a person can manage to guard his eyes from lustful glances and avoid the obnoxious screen that is wedged in front of his face, constantly spewing distracting images and tantalizing futile amusements, then a lot of dhikr, du’ās and munājāt can be made on safar. Even one glance out the window of the plane is dhikr in itself. As the 100-ton airplane made of steel, titanium and aluminum, rips through the clouds and heavens like a knife cuts through butter, we are literally sitting in a manifestation of Allah’s power and majesty, surrounded by ayāt (signs) of His greatness. How can the one who witnesses the spacious earth of Allah, the majestic oceans and the vast sea of air he is floating in the midst of (that too inside this colossal steel bird), still choose to be blind and prefer to remain in darkness?
“Do they not behold the birds above them, extending and drawing back their wings? None sustains them, except the Merciful; for He regards all things.”
We reached Florida at Fajr time and from Fort Lauderdale to Barbados was about a 2 1/2 hour flight. Again from one plane to another and from one side of Allah’s earth to the other, we eagerly drew closer and closer to the island of Barbados; and as we approached the island, the dark seas became lighter and lighter until we could see the clear turquoise water on the shore.
As we descend into Barbados, I am looking down from the plane seeing the beautiful coastline with white sands, and all around are people getting ready to take on the sun and waves and enjoy the vacation resorts. However, Allah Ta’ala knew from the depths of my heart that I had no desire to see any ocean other than the ocean of Allah’s ma’rifat in the heart of my Shaykh.
And I say this to my friends without any ostentation – only to declare Allah’s bounty upon me – that I never had the wish or desire to visit any vacation resort for the sake of amusement or sightseeing, rather the only sight I wished to see was that of His lovers and the only company that I seek is the company of His beloveds. And as I observe those seeking the pleasure of vacation resorts in the paradises of this ephemeral abode, I am reminded of the couplets of Ghawth Abu Madyan قدس الله سره who said,
ما لذة العيش الاّ صحبة الفقـــــــــرا
هم السلاطين والسادات والأمــــــــرا
There is no pleasure in life except in accompanying the [fuqarā]
for they are the sultans and the masters and the princes [umarā]
فاصحبهم و تأدب في مجالسهــــم
وخل حظك مهما خلّفـــــــــــوك ورا
So accompany them and show proper manners in their councils
and leave your fortunes behind, no matter how much they offer to bring you upfront
واستغنم الوقت واحضر دائماً معهم
واعلم بأن الرضا يخص من حضـرا
And value the time and always participate in their assemblies
and know that pleasure and contentedness distinguishes he who attends
وقَــدِّمِ الـجِـدِّ وانـهـض عـنـد خـدمته
عـساه يرضى وحاذر أن تكن ضجرا
Wholeheartedly make effort, and strive to serve him,
that you may please him, and take care not to become bored
فـفـي رضـاه رضـا الـباري وطـاعته
يـرضى عـليك فـكن مـن تـركه حذرا
For his pleasure begets The Lord’s pleasure and begets obedience,
and he will be pleased with you, so be cautious not to leave him
واعـلـم بــأن طـريـق الـقـوم دارسـة
وحـال مـن يـدعيها الـيوم كيف ترى
And know that the Path (of the Ahlullah) is fading away and becoming extinct
and the state of those who claim it today is as you see.
مــتـى أراهــم وأنــى لــي بـرؤيـتهم
أو تـسمع الأذن مـني عـنهموا خبرا
When will I see them, and how can I ever reach seeing them?
or my ear, how can it reach hearing news about them
مــن لـي وأنـى لـمثلي أن يـزاحمهم
عـلـى مــوارد لــم آلــف بـهـا كــدرا
Who am I to even be in their midst or to compete with them?
to reach those states (of piety and gnosis) in which I did not know any murkiness or impurity
أحــبــهــم وأداريـــهـــم وأوثـــرهــم
بـمـهـجتي وخـصـوصـا مـنـهم نـفـرا
I love them and take care of them and prefer them over all else,
in my heart; specially a group of them.