These beautiful words begin my book on Islam. These words written by Farid Al-Dun”Attar from “The Conference of Birds”.
“It is not or the next I crave
But, for one moment, to be called your slave—
With passion I embrace this poverty:
Such endless blessings flow from You to me
If I deserve this world or shrink from hell,
i am not better than an infidel.”
A mN has everything who knows his Lord—
The world and all its seven seas afford.
All that the universe has ever shown
Can find its match but God, who is alone:
And only He, wherever you may seek,
Is absolute, abiding and unique”
By the way, an infidel is a person who does not believe in religion or who adheres to a religion other than one’s own. Its synonyms are unbeliever, disbeliever, nonbeliever, agnostic, atheist; heathen, pagan, idolater, heretic, freethinker, dissenter, nonconformist; archaic paynim; rare nullifidian.
Islam, the Norton Anthology of World Religions, was served as fodder to my December 30, 2020 blog which focused upon boon-companions of a King, more about their qualities contrasting that with the qualities demanded for the Wife of King. To make a long story short, being boon-companion to a King would be preferable to being a the Wife of a King. The reasons shall be made clear.
But here in my ordinary life, living in a small apartment in Marin County. Woke up at 5:30 a.m. but then intelligently went back to bed accompanied by two hot water bottles. Sort of drifted off in dreams and revelry but was rudely awaken by a certain dampness – one of the hot water bottles sprung a leak. So jumped from bed, grabbed a towel and took off my wet pyjamas.
The pyjamas were rather chic and stylish (hahaha) – Christmas flannelette purchased in Primark, an extremely inexpensive store located throughout the UK. Naughty is the New Nice is emblazoned on the pyjamas top. A photograph may not be necessary, you may have to take my word for it. Here is the previously promised funny story about Primark.
This conversation took place in the lobby if a London Hotel the first week of November 2019 between me and a handsome man. He began the conversation:
He: Hello It is me the Sultan.
Me: Oh yes. I can tell by the eyes even though you are wearing Western clothes, not a dress and a scarf (your Arab finery)
Me: I did write about you on my blog, I shall read it to you. Oops, I am blushing.
He” Yes you are!
Me: You are holding a Primark bag. What is a Sultan doing with a Primark bag???.
He: I know! It should be a Gucci or a Door.
Me: I just guess you are a smart Sultan!
Thereupon, I shook his hand and we walked to the elevators together, chatting away. Two or three days later I self-discovered who the”Sultan” was – (the moniker on his name tag when I first saw him. Later self-discovered that he was (and I guess is) the Crown Prince of Dubai (aka Fazza). That was the first week in November of 2019. Not seen him in person since ( I do not think), but he did occupy a great deal of my thoughts during ensuing months. Now it is just an amusing memory accompanied by a sense of wonder that I am so brave and bratty as to be speaking with Royalty, as if they were ordinary people. I did go on to do that again, actually, in the same hotel but a different Royal Family (with even more money). .
But back to Islam and the life of a boon-companion. “Where pleasure and entertainment are concerned, as in feasting, drinking, hunting, poloing and wrestling— it is right that the king should consult with his boon-companions for they are there for that purpose. Sone kings would take physicians and astrologers as boon-companions “but it is not advised as both of them do nothing but keep us back from pleasures, appetites and desires of the world and make our life miserable; it is better to call upon them only when we need them.” Here is another factor in my favour: “a boon-companion is more highly esteemed if he is a man of experience and has travelled widely and served great people. When people want to know the character and disposition of the sovereign they judge by his boon-companions. If they are good natured, affable, liberal, patient merciful and gracious, they will note that the king has a kindly nature, a pleasant disposition, good morals and acceptable manners; but if his boon-companions are spear-faced, haughty, foolish, miserly and wanton, people will judge that the king is of unpleasant disposition, evil nature, bad temper and bad morals.” Then more good news: “The boon-companions must be given salaries, and treated with the highest respect among the retinue..they must show affection for the king.
Compare this to the role of King’s wives, this said, in the same book Islam, about wives, from the Nasirean Ethics. (Page 320) “The motive for taking a wife should be two-fold, the preservation of property and the quest of progeny; it should not be at the instigation of appetite or another purpose.” Then follows six strict rules for her to follow, none particularly fun. “A free woman is preferable to a slave”, and a virgin is recommended.(as she will be more easily to respond to discipline). (?????) Continence, intelligence and modesty is much to be preferred over beauty, race or wealth.
Described are the attributes of a wife: “The best of wives is the wife adorned, with intelligence, piety, continuance, shrewdness, modesty tenderness, a loving disposition control of her tongue, obedience to her husband, self-devotion in his service, and a preference for his pleasure, gravity and the respect of her own family.”
Looking and considering this two alternatives, it is my decision that I would opt for the position of boon-companion to a King rather than the wife of a King. I do have qualifications to be a wife : I am intelligent and have continence and can be modest, and tender and do not forget I am a virgin. By the way, continence is defined as self restraint, particularly as related to sex.
So I was dealing with an issue most serious – the viewing of the 2020 Qatar National Day with its intense militarism and within a day and a half did turned my concerns into something amusing and also educated readers about the wide-spread scope and concern of the Muslim faith through the ages, assisting Kings and other men on the conduct of their lives. Not bad for an old lady born in Saskatchewan.
For an obscure reason I requested statistics from my computer guru. Discovered that during the last 30 days 4,068 visitors who paid 16,483 visits. Who knows, perhaps one of them may be.a King?
Here you go m’lady. X
Me: I do love it when you call me m’lady! I am, after all, a Queen.
A treasured Edmontonian friend sent a fantastically funny video – she and her husband sent to their grandchildren – ones they could not see because of lockdown. I laughed and laughed, responding with tidbits of my life. Her response:
She: Good night Queen Ayla.
She and her husband spent their usual family orientated Christmas (one I shared for years) on the porches of their homes in freezing cold Edmonton. Many family members live in the same neighbourhood walking through the snow to coldly communicate. It was wonderful to hear from her, also to learn that the family is all healthy and moreover, they were responsibly keeping themselves safe. I did also love being called Queen Ayla – do not forget that my Muslim name is Ayla (which means Queen in Arabic) The name was given to me, did originate from a Qatar Princess. Interestingly her name sort of rhymes with mine.
Two photographs. One my Primark pyjama top , the other a dress found in the stuff placed in storage for six and a half years. It must be my dress as I never dad children so could not be one of my offspring’ s.Do not remember the dress but I was little then and have practically no memories of my childhood (it is an automatic coping mechanism.) The dress, on a darling hanger is a wall hanging, visible from my bed.