Hubbub is the word that came to mind this morning. Hubbub is something to be avoided at all costs. It is either a a chaotic din caused by a crowd of people OR a a busy noisy situation. It is not conducive to peace of mind. Peace of mind is essential to attain the very best that this dunya has to offer.
One can get severely stressed by just reading some of the synonyms of hubbub: loud noise, din, racket, commotion, clamor, ruckus, cacophony, babel; rumpus. chaos, pandemonium, bedlam, mayhem, disorder, fracas, hurly-burly, havoc, brouhaha, hullabaloo. (Hullabaloo, ruckus and pandemonium are my favorites.)
After reading those synonyms, did you experience calm?? If you did, there is something wrong with you, I fear.
To assist you in achieving calm I shall bore you slightly by telling you about this. While searching for the meaning of hubbub I came across an interesting ‘entry’ from Wikipedia. It informed that there wasn’t an article on hubbub. However one could “Start the Hubbub article, using the Article Wizard if you wish, or add a request for it; but please remember that Wikipedia is not a dictionary.” Eureka! That is how one can become a Wikipedia author. I did always wonder. But was not tempted to do so, I have other ideas and thoughts in mind.
Onto my other thoughts and ideas. It is with an enormous sense of guilt, remorse, and a slight sense of sacrilege that I admit the following: my ‘next door neighbour’ Al-Masjid an-Nabawii (in English, the Prophet’s Mosque) is a hubbub.
I feel guilt and remorse because every Muslim in the world wants to be here, that I know for certain. I am here finding it to be a hubbub? Shame on me!!!
Sacrilege is a violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred. I experience only a slight sense of sacrilege because I am giving myself a break, practice self compassion. That can help reduce stress, which restores energy and mental resources.
Self compassion came in this form. I became of the Islamic Faith during covid, mosques were closed. I learned to pray in private, alone with Allah (SWT). There is an Hadith, well regarded and accepted, which encourages women to pray at home. Attending Friday prayers at mosques for women is not required. Moreover: mosques, even this Holy Sight have not been welcoming, When speaking to fellow Muslims of my experiences, the reaction has been consistent.
They: That was not welcoming!
Yesterday finally recovered from the stomach upset, went to the Tea Room for lunch, its window facing Al-Masjid an-Nabawi. Looked out the window in horror, it seemed a sequel to Albert Hitchcock’s famed, frightening iconic move Birds was being staged. Hundreds of birds encouraged by feeding. Ragged orphan boys rush toward pilgrims with plastic bags of bird food, pilgrims spread the feed, birds swarm for free food. Videoed the sight, placed on Instagram with this caption:
Me: Outside the Prophet’s Mosque which has been overtaken by birds. Look at them, encouraged by Muslims who feed them. Creating beggars. It is actually frightening. Of course, nothing like Gaza.”
Thirteen Likes and one comment: Welcome to Medinah.
Me: Thank you My blog of tomorrow will speak of the joys and comforts of Medina which I have thankfully experienced. Perhaps a reel or at least a photograph of those.
She: It is my pleasure to serve you. I don’t speak English fluently, sorry. My mother is talking about you and I added you to Instagram to talk to you.
Me: Oh thank you! Did your mother meet me?
She: Yes, she is one of the women at the market. Do you remember them? She gave you a gift for prayer.
Me: Of course!!!! I will speak of the joys of the market next. I am so happy to be talking to you! She: I am also happy. Let me see you so that you can get to know Medina more.
Me: I would love that! I will be going back to the Market today about 1700.
Now you shall have some positivity, much needed in these days.
The joys of the market. One (if you are truly blessed) has the means, method and opportunity to leave the confines of the Prophet’s Mosque (which is how it is beginning to feel). The blessed one travels to King Fahad Park, such a delight. An oasis for families, picnicking, vast lawns, multiple varieties of trees. Also located on the site is the Medina Art Museum and Hakaya Historical Market. The Markets were found rather accidentally. The Prince of Medinah was visiting the Art Museum, ordinary folk were escorted from the Museum found the nearby market was open. It was there I met many industrious enormously warm hearted women. We spoke, laughed, hugged. With pride they showed me their creative works, based on Arabic Tradition. I have been there not once, not twice, and soon thrice. Some photos on the blog of yesterday. I have never received more gifts – ever. It is almost like ten Christmases (of olde) lumped into one.
Never have I felt more loved, being with these women. It was a mixed feeling, however, as I tried to explain to Muhammed on the way back to the confines of the Prophet’s Mosque.
Me: Of course, it feels so wonderful to feel truly loved and accepted by women you truly admire and cherish. But there is this, why did I have to wait until I was eighty to have this??
He: But you do have it now, it is a gift from Allah (SWT).
Me: It is. I know it is. I would never be here in Saudi Arabia without becoming a believer. I came for an Umrah, my pilgrimage in December of 2022. Frightened and anxious, believing in the lies of Western media. Within days saw the lies, loved the country, enjoying it more with each visit. The people are its main attraction. I am the same person here as I was in Canada, the United States, the UAE and London. There I was marginalized, used and exploited. My kind heart broken. It is the Islamic Faith. There are of course, marginal Muslims, but there are hypocrites everywhere. No religion, no country is free of them .
He: Marginal Muslims, I like that phrase.
Me: Me too. How clever of me to think of it. Hahahah
He: And how humble of you to say so.
Me: Just stating a fact, just stating a fact.
The traffic as we neared the ‘confines’ became utterly impossible. Never seen such a mess. People streaming from the mosque, blocking traffic, drivers seemingly on suicidal missions. A ambulance was unable to make any progress. Horns blared.
But blessedly I arrived back at this serene hotel. . A courteous young man helped me carry my many gifts. I awoke for Fajr prayer and began the day.
At this moment I am writing from the Market. I am now writing from the Market. I spoke to the wonderful young woman. Her mother gave me her phone while she was in conversation with her daughter – her daughter and I spoke. As I write, Mohammed, my translator is briefly away. The three woman are speaking joyously. I have absolutely no idea what they are saying. Muhammed promises to return – he has best return as I have no idea where I am and it is too far away to walk back to the hotel. I am drinking Saudi coffee with them, eating dates. On the way here I purchased dates at a date market. Many. Medinah is famous for its dates. One particular, from an almost sacred tree. Shall tell you of this in a subsequent blog. I spoke, with Muhammed’s help, to date vendor.
Me: It is so blessed to be here, eating these dates. I was in Edmonton during Ramadan, purchased and ate dates following the example tf the Prophet Muhammed. (PBUH). The dates were like cardboard, dry and tasteless. These are absolutely delicious. Alhamdulliah!
I was yesterday made aware of a Saudi custom. If one does not know the name of a woman and wishes to address her politely, one says: Sister. If one does not know the name of a man, you say Muhammed!. The reason for this: All men want to be like Muhammed. I will this over, there might be a variation or improvement on the Sister moniker. I will again, let you know.
It could perhaps be Khadiji, Fatima or Aisha. However it would be MOST confusing if Fatima were chosen as that is my Muslim name and I would think EVERYONE was talking to me.
The call to prayer rang out. It is blessed to be here in Medinah, the place of the very first melodic call to prayer. I pray in private. A wonderful young English speaking Saudi woman escorted me to the women’s loo where we both purified ourselves prior to prayer. She took me to her ‘shop’ which sells toys for children. She closed the door. I prayed. An accompanying photo will show my rather unusual ‘prayer room’. I was facing in the direction of Mecca, the Kaaba. That too is a practice originating in Medinah.
Alhamdullah! The word that says it all. Alhamdullah!