May 17th 2001 4:52pm Eastern daylight time
[Our tickets from Atlanta to New York were on Lufthansa, but they went on strike. Fortunately they kindly arranged for us to fly on other airlines to New York. But they had to put us on two separate planes.(Ed.)] In Atlanta the group was split in two, four students with Dr. Honerkamp and four with Dr. Godlas. Flying economy is cramped, but I am so happy to be here. As a person who has spent most of her life on American soil, this trip will bring me face to face with a culture radically different from the one I’ve lived in. I am looking forward to being immersed in a culture where people try to remember God in all their actions, and live ethically. Not to say there won’t be pickpockets or drug addicts, but it will be a change from US culture./
On the plane in New York . . .
I was laughed at (not unnicely) for my vest pocket Arabic book. At the start of an eight hour flight the TV monitors start flickering as if some knob needed adjusting. 3,600 miles to go and all the people in my row have bloodshot eyes (from dry airplane air). I’m anxious about our host families (mostly fearful that I’ll offend someone accidentally. . . where’s the phrase for “I’m so sorry, excuse me!”). The weird pressure on the plane makes me drowsy. . . nap time./
The food (“chicken or fish?”) was good for airplane food. At one in the morning eastern time, breakfast was served. The coffee was extremely good. The sun was rising as we passed over the Madera Islands. The little television screen shows we’ve flown over the Atlantic! Just a few miles above North Africa there’s Europe, and the Western culture where secularism (high fashion, wine, perceived ‘sexual freedom’) reigns. Kameelah and Tareq are talking about the roles societies give men and women in the western world versus the Islamic world (modesty versus skin, skin, skin). What they hope for in potential mates. Oye. At twenty-one I’m not worried about it quite yet. . .
The non-Western women on the plane seem to either be wearing little to no makeup or too much (yuck!)./
Away from Casablanca people wear more traditional dress. Sheep, cows, and egrets abound. People seem to usually walk to get around, there are some bikes and moterbikes, a few cars on this two land road. In the first town we went through a suburb of Casablanca, a lady in full hijab saw that we were foreigners and smiled, raised a henna-covered palm with the eye of Fatima in the middle in a friendly greeting. The cars surprised me. A lot of Mercedes on the road, even one in an awful Miami aqua/blue shade. Beamers and grazing sheep. Strange contrast./
My host is Charija Bersassi. She and her family are incredibly friendly, though I can only express this to Charija and her brother, Umar, who speak fantastic English. I admitted my near complete ignorance of Arabic and she smiled and said her English was not good. Their house is beautiful, it’s huge! I am so tired. . . . they have beautiful tile work and balconies on the outside of most of their upper story rooms. Beautiful Moroccan architecture.
Sleep. . . . /
Saja, Charija’s younger sister brought up some coffee and slices of cake and we talked about American culture versus Arabic culture./
Nearly the whole family speaks English. Not even twenty four hours here and they’ve made me feel at home. . . nice.
May 18th Saturday 7:25
Yum, I smell coffee. There are so many birds here. They woke me up. Turned the radio on, an English song I recognized (pop music), French stations, and there’s no Arabic on the presets.
After class Fouade and I walked to the Medina down Mohammed V. It was very aromatic in the Medina. Spices from the restaurant mixed with the smell of the trees, contrasted by the smell of many people and diesel fumes. We had changed money at the ALC so I bought some water on the walk. ½ liter for 3 dirhams (27 cents). The same would cost at least 80 cents in the US. By the time we reached the police station it was very hot. We decided to come back by busy and rest until evening.
We had dinner around 9:00 pm. After Fouade and I watched BBC News. I explained several terms for him. He went looking for something English and found TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network). This got us talking about Qu’ran and the Bible. I was explaining how 95% of Americans say they believe in God, but in my opinion about 50% act like they do. We talked about fundamentalists and fanatics. I decided to go to sleep around 10:30 since he is still studying for a statistics exam on Monday. He is working towards a Masters degree, and hopes to go to school in Texas.
Got up to go to the ALC for a tour of the Medina. Darwina is taking the journal from me.
May 20th during fajr at around 6:00 in the morning
Bismaalah l-Rahman l-Rahmeen
I had just finished my fajr prayer and managed to clear my thoughts to write in the journal. I should have written last night, but there were so many things that were happening, and I wasn’t able to reflect to what I’ve experienced yesterday. By the blessings of Allah, I flipped the Quran and stopped at Suratul Adh-Dhariyat, the title felt very realistic to me this morning for some inexpressible reasons. It reads “The Wind that Scatter”
“In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”
“By (the winds) that scatter dust
and (the clouds) that bear heavy weight
And (the ships) that float with ease
And those (angels) who distribute
(provisions, rain, and other blessings)
by (Allah’s) command.
Verily, that which you are promised
(i.e. Resurrection in the hereafter and
receiving the reward or punishment of
good or bad deeds) is surely true.
And verily, the Recompense is sure to
. . . and this continues until the end of the surah.
I guess this surah will be my guide in trying to relate the experience going round Marrakesh yesterday.
The tour started off at the Menara, Sidi Abd Rahman was reliving the supremacy of the Islamic empire, but it was not really vivid to me at that time. But imagine having troops training around the very area we were standing. . . brothers helping each other to uphold the words of God.
That passed by quickly actually, except for the time when Kameelah and I were walking through the path where there were people playing soccer and the ball came blasting at our faces, but fortunately intercepted by on of the players. I couldn’t shake off the excess adrenaline after that, I don’t know about Kameelah.
I was thinking, what next? Not knowing it was going to be the Tombs of the Saadian Princes. As we entered we were drawn to this magnificent structure in front of us. As I stepped from a distance, I absent mindedly thought “Oh its just the same with the post cards Aida gave me last year”. But as I moved closer subhanalla the architecture was magnificent, even magnificent isn’t doing any justice in trying to describe it.
Every single angles of the building was FILLED with motives, at first look it was just shapes but as I looked at the details it was the ayahs of the Quran. My heart actually skipped a beat (all of a sudden I was thinking of entopic beats!) And that was just a small part of the whole structure. Everything was done in fine detail and one would know it was crafted not forcefully but these people had an immense level of passion in whatever they did. Nothing was out of proportion, everything symmetrical, centered yet diverse, a mastery in craft and creativity.
I felt guilty being mesmerized by the architecture at one stage. After all, they are tombs. It should be a time of reflect and Alhamdullillah we had Sidi Abd Rahman, Sidi Abd Hadi, and Sidi Abd Haq to guide us through. The hadiqah mesmerized me, such peace and tranquility where some slaves of Allah are resting in peace. Upon leaving I turned back one last time, it was then vivid to me, this is not just a tour, we are walking through time; one aspect of time which is the past in search of understanding our existence.
May Allah forgive me, because I can’t remember the particular Medina we went to but it was where the traditional school Ben Youseff was (I’m not sure of the spelling either).
Sidi Abd Hadi made a point that we should try to observe how the medina is, the people in particular, the expression in their faces, ironic as it sounds I did find that distinct about it even before he said it. The place is deeply rooted, I couldn’t sense a drive of progress, or anger or oppression but pure contentment.
Most of the people around the particular Medina were dressed in the jelabah. Although I don’t feel dressed is what I’m particularly trying to point out. It did not look like a put on attire, it was rather deserving a part of them. I can’t think of a proper word for it. There are lots of small industries, a city sufficient on its own, and I recalled is where most of the poor are.
Yes there are beggars, but definitely not sad looking ones, you feel so sorry for. Maybe their wealth in tradition is reflected in their faces. Despite of the never ending houses of trade there are a lot of old men just sitting and pondering the passers by, not one of criticism, but something beyond the appearance of a person.
At this rate I wished I can stop writing, since brevity is the essence of wisdom, but I’ll do no justice if I were to stop now.
Madreassa Ben Youseff
As the group stepped in the building, everybody was entertaining their curiosities. There were no angles that you can’t look for details, even the air had weight to think about.
This was where scholars, students were assembled and molded. The architecture was superb but it was rooted with reason not out of hazy pleasure but devotion to the one God. Every single motive is dependant on the other and was there for a purpose.
As Sidi Abd Haq pointed out that surah al-Ikhlas was repeatedly drawn out. It just reflects how sincerity and knowledge seeking are heavily chained together. Knowledge has to be anchored by sincerity. The student is like a beautiful ship, initially searching for direction. The teachers or scholars are guiders, something like a navigator of the ship. But at the end of the line the final destination will be God.
I stepped in one of the rooms situated on the first floor and looked out the window.
As I read Surah Adh-Dhariyat this morning it became clear to me:
“They used to sleep but little by night. . . “
from ayah 17-23
Especially in verse 21 “And also in your own selves will you not then see?”
The students carry a mik’mat in knowledge. Knowledge of life, their Lord, and themselves. A responsibility of preserving it, enriching it, calling out to other people in words of gentleness.
As I was told in the Medina, often the craftsmen will finish work and sit in halagas/study circles with scholars.
Life without knowledge will be like walking in abyss of darkness. (I really ought to stop writing).
Then it was the Koutoubia Mosque, as Sidi Abd Rahman narrates the history, I could feel the presence of the Jumaa’ prayer. The humility of the sultan, a balance of Fear and Love of the Muslims of one God.
And who are we to claim we have achieved something or if we are of statue?
How perfect the King (Allah), the Holy One is.
Lord of the angels and the Ruuh.
Yea at certain points, I did stop and sincerely wished or wanted to know what will be the Prophet’s (Muhammad, s.a.w.) reaction as he walked down the streets of Medina. . .
May 21st 2:00 pm
Well, I wish I could give a more thorough summary of our first Moroccan Arabic class with Brahim, but unfortunately our 11 pm dinner last night left me a bit groggy this morning. Even our first lesson yesterday proved useful last night; I had fun showing off my new phrases to the family at home. My mother, or my surrogate mother anyway, speaks mainly Berber, so we are learning Arabic together. She says that I am going to learn Berber but for now one new cognitive system will suffice.
Dr. Godlas began our religion class today with an introduction to religiology. The idea, if I am not mistaken, is to evaluate more importantly define coherently our own system of beliefs before attempting to study others. It would be so much easier to be a nihilist or radical Marxist, then I’d have an answer for everything. Unfortunately though, I find myself plagued (or blessed) with inconsistencies. I’ll admit that I am not looking forward to doing an interview of a Moroccan, but only because it will be difficult, not because I doubt its educational worth.
During our pre-travel meeting in Athens, usatidatuna (our professors) mentioned that Sufis travel together as a group for the sake of inter and intra personality exploration. Well, I think that everyone’s essence is starting to show. I for one, have discovered that I have an affinity for having liquids explode on opening. Kameelah has a magnetism for avian blessings and Dr. Godlas is quite attuned to what foods will stimulate or block the digestive system. If Dr. Honerkamp does not know everyone in this city, then I am confident that he at least is only one person separated (i.e. knows someone who knows someone) from everyone else in the city. My newfound Moroccan friends know him as “the tall professor who speaks beautiful Arabic”.
12:26 am later that day
Our free time today found us traveling as a group. With the exception of Tareq, who seems to prefer solitude or, more precisely, prefers the company of Moroccans (who could blame him?), we took a trip to the post office and the suq of the Medina. Here is what we learned:
n In Morocco, Viagra does not require a prescription
n Darwina has an innate rhythm, expressed through the subtle tones of the Moroccan hand drum
n Angry donkeys will bite
n Taxies cannot take more than three passengers at a time
n Regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, men with knives in the Medina are, in fact, dangerous (at least financially, as Darwina will attest)
n Sometimes it takes a carpet store to reveal one’s true colours
n Even caveman Arabic can get a point across
n There are many Moroccan women named Fatimah
Well, that about cavers the day. It is worth noting that Tareq who (rather unsuccessfully) braved greasy chicken yesterday, faced the perils of a straight-razor shave today. I compliment him for that.
Tomorrow we continue with classes. I hope to be in a different state of consciousness for tomorrow’s Arabic class.
passing on the literary flame,
May 22nd 2001
I woke up exhausted this morning. After eating at 10:00 each night, Kamal always wants to talk until 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning! Yesterday was a good day and I feel rejuvenated. Class with ‘Brahim went well and Dr. Honerkamp’s lecture on the background of the Maghrib was interesting. At lunch we talked about movies like “Pie” and Kerosawa’s “Dreams” (my favorite). After lunch I went to the café around the corner from the ALC to read and watch people. It is hot and the sweet mint tea, mixed with the sounds of the cars and mopeds, puts me in a dusty trance. While reading about Sufi silsilas, Katie, Kameela, and Darwina show up with pastries. We split up and I walk to les Jardins Majorell – maybe the best thing I’ve done so far. I sit in paradise (by myself) with only the company of a sleeping cat (a smart cat, since he made his way in here). At least ten different types of palm tress, roses, aloe, bamboo, water with fish, frogs and turtles. . . and many doves. I’m told (by a very nice man) that Paradise is closing, so I walk home. While watching television (not something I do at home in the U.S.) with Adil and Kamal, I am informed of several fascinating “facts” they learned from TV. They’re shocked to find out that I didn’t know that “George Bush, Al Gore and all of Congress are Jewish” and that “Philadelphia is the capital of fat people for the entire world”. Sometimes one doesn’t realize how special (or even mystical) everyday life is until looking back. It’s better to be aware of these things RIGHT NOW. It’s harder to do this if you’re talking. Looking forward to the trip to Zagora. . .
May 23rd 2001
This journal is not a reflection of my intelligence
“Tareq in Morocco”
We traveled all day and visited many nice places. This town is nice, and the people I’m with interesting, each possessing their own identity. The souk was nice, and the people were even nicer. I miss the comforts and luxuries of home, however being pious and patient is a good virtue which I need to develop better. On this trip I am trying to better my flaws while I perfect my strengths. It shall be done
May 24th 2001
I sit here in peace, collecting my thoughts on a long, hot day well spent in the heart of Morocco. Each morning here I awake as if completely refreshed, like the desert after a fine rain. Or perhaps for the first time in my life I feel alive. Now, sitting here, I think of life. America versus Morocco. So many people refuse to live; refuse to accept the beauty and reality of life. If we would only open our hearts and minds then perhaps life would find its way to us. Or rather, must we find our way to life? Shall we always live with the humanity which does not exist or will, one day, we awaken to realize the creation of humanity in its Divinity.
Perhaps it is the magic of this city, but my mind refuses to sleep. I can not seem to give enough thanks nor think enough thoughts to please. Each day we delve deeper into the meaning of life, knowledge, religion, etc and each day I further realize myself.
This was a plain day, but one which I will always recall. There is no particular reason, merely because I am alive. We (Larry, Kameela, James, Darwina and myself – if I misspelled your name please forgive me for my spelling in English is even worse than in Arabic!) all walked around the Jumn al-Fna (sp?) looking for Darwina’s drum shop, which (Inshaalah) we will soon find. Instead of locating this however, we walked and walked, learning the true definition of patience with each step. Without success we eventually finished our trekking circle and staggered into a café to cool off. While enjoying our ice cream, which felt like pure paradise, Larry had to mention the threat it posed to our delicate stomachs. We’ll wait to see if the effects are as harsh as proposed . . .
Tonight again I realized my American-ness as Kameela and I attended one of the English classes at the ALC. It seems that each student (Moroccan) desires the culture of the USA. Perhaps desire is too strong a word, envy maybe? I wanted badly to explain the crowdedness and affliction of the American culture, though I feared they would not understand me and thus remained silent. We were asked the basic questions on Religion, colleges, Bush, money, time, etc. it seems our movies have done a good job in creating the “American Dream” for others. I can only hope these dreams will not quickly be broken.
Again my thoughts return to life. To learn the meaning of each individual life is a quest one must dare only to undertake. Or perhaps not. Knowledge is a quest, an undying thirst quenched only by itself. Here, in Morocco, knowledge seems so predominate and true. One only has to walk down the street to see hundreds of years of history and information which can quickly be taken up by the senses and stored in the mind’s safe. These people have a culture and a history, a life and knowledge. Who are we to enter into it and take away only to replace it with something of lesser quality? Here I have realized a part of myself, connected to ancestors past, which also is a part of each human being ever to walk the paths of life; a connection, I pray, never to be lost nor forgotten.
To live in fear of the future is to die
So let us take hold of our life knowing
who we are
And learn of the world
So that we may live.
After reading the previous entry I have become woefully aware of my inability to express myself as eloquently. Alas, I will try my best.
Coming from a place where an 80 year old house is considered a landmark, the feeling of standing in palaces that have been standing for half a millennium is indescribable. There is so much history here that if you blink you’ll miss something.
Marrakech seems to me to be a city of contrast. 500 years old buildings next to modern discos, the poverty of loneliness next to a Mercedes, the beauty of the land next to an abandoned lot turned trash dump, and most of all the overwhelming Moroccan interest in all cultures as opposed to the self centered nature so predominate in westerners who roam the streets. . .
Sorry, I’m currently riding in the back of a van on my way to the city of Orrzazat and was distracted by the beauty of the passing views of the High Atlas Mountains. Oh yeah and we were just waved through an armed military check point. Well I am unable to ignore the beauty surrounding me any longer so I will sign off.
May 26th 2001
As we weave in and out of the High Atlas Mountains carved out by God, shaped by nature, and stark in its beauty and austerity, I began to reflect on the journey that wall of us have undertaken. I wonder how many of us are like soft, wet clay, easily shaped by our experiences gained through this trop, and how many of us are like the sheer rocks of the mountain, only shaped by and when irrefutable circumstances occur. As we climb higher into the Atlas Mountains, I am amazed at how much human nature and life parallels the natural world. Looking down into the deep chasms carved into the mountains, I began to review my own journey which appears to be heading in the major direction of self-discovery. Shaped and molded by the currents of life, environment, and society at large, I have scaled some of the highest peaks (in my life) – succeeding in many of my endeavors (al-Humdulallah), and I have fallen into some chasms (deep) of failure yet I know that as soon as I pull myself up out of the chasm, as soon as I scale the highest peak, there will be more mountains to climb and more pitfalls to climb out of – Such is life.
As we pass many hamlets in small villages, I stare into the faces of the people – trying to get a handle on how they live and who they are. One glimpse into the eyes of a young woman, carrying wheat on her head, or a little boy herding sheep or goats, transports me into a parallel where I experience for that one second what life can truly be like – what life is. As an American, I am formed by many luxuries and amenities that some people here in Morocco cannot comprehend – or would not even need (or want). These luxuries somehow cloud my view of the world outside of my life – of my existence. I never really realized how much I took for granted and as such how much was lacking in my life. This drive up the Atlas Mountains (I’m speaking of it as if it were a stroll in the park – nothing can be further from the truth) was a journey of enlightenment where many of the veils clouding my view of reality was stripped away to reveal the starkness and beauty that is the underlying truth behind reality: It was as if I was standing in front of a mirror, stripped of my pretensions, my views of life, my arrogance and was finally able to see the truth – a truth that on some level I was not willing or able to see before but was now blindingly clear. As I now rest easily in my air-conditioned hotel room reflecting on the journey, I realize that the veils that were stripped away on the journey through the mountains, have been quickly donned again – maybe in an effort for self-preservation, and/or familiarity – I don’t know for sure, it is easy to reflect on the journey when one is not confronted by reality at every turn. I am fully cognizant of this. But with every veiling and unveiling the seeker gets closer to a state of clarity. I am not sure if one can maintain this permanent state, but what I am sure is that when one is blessed to see – w/ blinders off – life takes on a sweeter, unique taste.
May 27th Sunday night 10pm-ish?
A beautiful day. Maybe most of the trip would call it interesting instead, but for me all in all, it was great. In the morning we visited a zawwiya and a library of ancient books. What struck me about that place was how I perceived the children. When they came to me asking for water or a Durham, I felt awful. I gave a little girl what I had in my pocket. Later Dr. Homerkamp spoke about how the families are wealthy and happy, and that made me feel a frivolous materialistic person.
May 28th Monday noonish
Driving back from Zagora . Are these the Atlas Mountains? They look as if a topographical map were made real, with rings every ten or fifteen feet. Light to gray-red/black mountains, if the sky matched it would look like Mars. Its humbling to see how small and finite we soft creatures are. Yesterday some of us rode camels. J They make a sound I can’t imagine how to describe, a kind of bray possibly? The one who made the most carried Samad and Brenden, they’re both tall and together probably weighted over three hundred pounds. Katie fell in love with the large footed creatures. We tried to remember Qur’an references to the beauty of camels (something like how their eyes are a soft liquid brown). They have large black eyelashes, making their faces look almost cartoonishly cute./
After visiting the Casbah it began to rain. With the sky gray and overcast the scenery of the landscape looked more vivid. We passed beautiful terraced fields and some villagers whose curiosity at our whit tourist van gained from me wide smiles. We winded through the mountains on (thank God!!) two lane roads rather than wide one lane roads. The latter make me nervous because the drivers sometimes play chicken, go straight, staying in the middle of the road until the last possible second./
Everything on earth ends but with faith we have access to the infinite.
Sonnet for brendon bellamy (penmanship attributed to a moving
I, too, have seen great signs,
Donkeys swearing through sandaled waves
“these cars will swerve”
and charmers selling snake skins and charms.
Like camels kissing nomads
I, too, have wandered museum hall
Uncertainties, uncertain that my laughing
Explained certain jokes that were made.
Yes, some friends tell stories
whose endings pour forth tear –
duct anthologies of the (tormented
walls of the skull). I never knew
how god it was. Ah, Brendon
where have the chaperones gone?
May 28-29th Monday
We went atop the mountain at Casbah ait ben Haddah. It was Sharon, Darwina, Abdul Samad, Brendon, and I who went all the way to the top. There was a storm approaching, and the wind was intense. Sharon said that it was the wrathful aspect of God. I disagree. There was no wrath there. It was beautiful. The wind tore across the mountain like a herd racing across plains, without any feeling of malice or anger. I went back up to be away from the other students for a few moments, and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
I have run up against some of the Moroccan gender roles. I asked to be shown how to use the washing machine, and was constantly told yes, but when I came back from class, my laundry had been taken and washed. I envy the girls who are being taught how to cook Moroccan food. There is no way for me to ask because I have no place in the kitchen.
Some of the others seem to be a little culture shocked. They are getting impatient with some of the things that just can’t be changed.
Everyone is a little bit sick. I think it is due to the excessive heat this week. The heat has caused an inversion layer, and is keeping the pollution from the cars low to the ground. I am living on a busy street and could taste the pollution in the air when my windows were open. Once it cooled down a little the air got better, but for a few hours it was terrible. The heat is supposed to pass soon, and it feels a little cooler today (30th). Apparently it got to 42 degrees Celsius here (102 degrees Fahrenheit). If it doesn’t get cooler, we are going to have to rearrange our schedules a little bit. We don’t want to go to Timmal in the heat, because the sun is more intense up in the mountains. Time to pass the journal on I guess.
May 30th 2001 evening, rooftop terrace, jana lfna
I took the journal on another easy day. I would not want the daunting task of trying to recreate in words our trip to Zagora and the value crises of Tamagrout. Instead, I think I can safely sum up the day as a group as follows:
--went to class, had quiz, most students (myself included) have not mastered the delicates of Moroccan proverbs
--learned ways to express indigestion in dareeja (in my case not yet committed to memory)
--discussed modern and contemporary Morocco with Dr. Honerkamp
--challenged status quo motions of Democracy a la Dr. Godlas
--ate lentils for lunch
The group disbanded quickly, either to check e-mail or in the direction of home to escape the mid-day sun.
Kameelah is ill, meskinah. I hope to see her in good health tomorrow, as I’m sure does everyone in the group.
My friend Yunis at the ALC asked me to help him with an essay of his on slavery and the US Constitution. I gladly attempted to do so, but I’m afraid that I may have caused more confusion than anything. The problem, as I see it, is that teachers of lower levels demand the fine paragraph (intro, 3 body, conclusion) form. I firmly believe that any ideas of worth do not occur in this form. Instead of telling students to write papers that introduce and prove an idea (ideally many ideas), teachers simply demand a set form. So, instead of asking “how do I develop my ideas through a linear, linguistic process?” the student becomes bound by the question “how do I fit my ideas into this form?” In fact, it seems to me that the student may completely lose sight of the idea of a paper or essay as a dialectic, thinking of it only as a set form, that is, a model in which to plug words.
Well, I think I’ve made it clear as to why I might have confused poor Yunis. I think he wanted help with is English, not some jumbled mess of quasi-literary theory. Oh well. . .
There is a passage I remember from high school in The Sound and the Fury where one of the characters (nomme inconnu) looks at a flock of seagulls in the sky and notes that they all look like they are led (i.e. bound) by invisible wires. Sitting up here, I can see quite a few birds flying above the square and I can conclude with no hesitations that these birds are not bound by invisible wires. Maybe the wind effects where they fly, or other birds, or maybe they are looking for another Kameelah to bless, but those birds are bound by nothing (and neither are we).
There’s my inspirational passage for the day.
Sonnet for dr. godlas
These breads will block your bowels.
Whereas fruit may help to clear
your path. If wisdom is real
then the same knowledge binds
each of us to our respective realities.
In Iran all the men are holding hands.
A democratic society must first have bread.
To clear the path for autonomy
the people must first benefit from the fruit
of the land. Ecstatic union may
or may not be air-conditioned
in Iran they might use this plan.
Start with psycho-yogie-meta-ecology
End up holding hands.
May 31st 2001
Linguistic yoga this morning in ‘Brahim’s class. Everyone seems to be recovering from the trip to Zagora. I think I’m just now feeling the effects. Or maybe it’s the 10’000 insect bites I’ve received while sleeping on the roof. I guess that’s a fair trade for the “njoum”. They even bit my eye. I’m exhausted. Today I went with Abdul Rahim and Samad to find Samad an apartment. It almost broke my heart to see what a wonderful place Samad will live next year (I could tell it was breaking his too). In the US the accommodations would not have the same character. . . in fact, they probably wouldn’t have any character. Just like American. And Americans. Maybe it was this thought that made Samad’s stomach churn and made him vomit out of the window in Abdul Rahmin’s car! Thank God for Abdul Haddi!! Thank God for Abdul Haqq!! Thank God for Abdul Rahmim!! Forgive me for this journal entry, I’m delirious!! Allah yaster!!
June 1st 2001
So hello, a lot has happened since I last carried this football. Where to begin? Well we have talked in class about the differences between our culture and that of Morocco. Some good, some bad. One thing happened to me last night which struck me as offsetting.
After eating another delicious dinner I was sitting relaxing in the living room with the family. My brother Younnes returned from class and asked with a smile if I had enjoyed my dinner. I said yes and asked what it was. (I often have no clue what we’re eating!) Younnes replied “Arneb”. This word immediately struck me as familiar, but I could not place its meaning. I asked “what is Arneb?” Younnes then began laughing and pointed at the now empty pet rabbit cage and repeated “Arneb”. I had not been able to remember the name of the lovable furry rabbit who had been sharing the third floor with me for the last two weeks! Needless to say I experienced my first problem with indigestion!!
Well besides my encounter with the lynching of the house pet, I have had a wonderful experience with my family here. I can’t believe that our time to leave here draws near.
“Life moves pretty fast. . . If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might just miss it.”
June 2nd 2001
Bismallah l-Raham l-Rahmeen
It has been an interesting day. I’ve learned to be more receptive I guess lately. But umm. . . here’s a story. . .
Once Maria came home, whining about how tough life is to her father; how unbearable it was, how she wished everything took on her way and people would change easily.
And father’s are anyway, wise. She kept on whining until her father looked at her with a comforting smile and her whining immediately stopped.
Her father is a chef. He showed her three different items. It was an egg, a baby carrot and some coffee grounds (well I hope this term is correct anyway).
So Maria looked at the items . . . one. . . by . . . one. . .hmm. . . there must be a catch somewhere. Strangely enough her father asked her to feel those items. Now that was so weird.
He then boiled (or whatever proper adverb that goes with it) all the items separately. Her dad just hummed away happily as Maria looked on. . . “what on earth is happening?”
So he took out the boiled egg, boiled (not sure of the proper word) carrot. . . and he left the coffee brewing on the stove.
Maria instantaneously picked up the egg, well it was hardened inside.
The carrot from something solid became soft, without much strength.
Strange enough, well it shouldn’t be strange anyway, the longer the coffee was boiled the tastier it was.
He then held his cup looking at Maria’s reaction. With a gradual and steady tone, he then said “the egg was fragile and when it was boiled it became hard, reflecting there are people who are when tested/tried with tribulations get out of it being bitter and their hearts become hard.
As for the carrot after being boiled it becomes soft, reflecting that some people after given tribulations become disheartened, have no strong will, and just unable to persuade themselves to become better.
The coffee grains, when brewed gets tastier and tastier, the higher the temperature goies, the better it gets. Reflecting some people or the ideal should be somebody who is able to look through troubles and tribulations and become better and better.
Okay that aside, we had the gnawa music concert in ALC this evening, it was highly enchanting. Well, mystical in a sense, as I am in no position to judge how or what mysticism is.
Maghrib was beautiful, Sidi Ibrahim and his fellow mates played on harmoniously with the wind. The music was different, never provoking, it just plays back again and again at the back of my heart.
Brought red carpets, people calmly clapping and enjoying the gnawa music. Every single thing was contemplative that moment.
For once I was able to sit still and listen.
One of the group mates wasn’t in the best of moods. Naturally everybody is concerned. I figured hmm. . how time slowly moulds us, maturing, receptive, every single moment, atom is present and precious.
As the gnawa went on, it was music to the soul, the leaves were waving with the wind, as the birds flew freely in the sky. As the night slowly overtakes the day the moon was out followed by some twinkling stars.
I remembered during Sidi Abd Haqq’s religology lecture, he went elaborating on the level of nafs. As one step at a time it was defined, I became uneasy all of a sudden, I am scared of REALITY. I am scared to know who I really am, my only comfort is total dependence on God.
It was and still is difficult for me to comprehend happenings, subjects like politics, poverty that was discussed over and over again, just pushes me into a void. I don’t know about everybody else.
I’ve done so much organizational work but as Sidi Abd Hadi elaborates on the history of al-Maghrib the concept of unity prevails.
So easily said in texts, even I find it hard to keep myself united serving my master who is the One. A beautiful and gently soul Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.) was sent as a mercy to mankind to bring guidance. Time passes by and. We are a part of a civilization, we too will pass, we will return to Him, maybe. Surprisingly I don’t know. The thought of death had never left me.
I guess the aura of Morocco is highly contemplative. You tend to either get trapped or walk borderlessly, trying to strike middle is a severe challenge.
I’ll just shut my eyes for the night. My prayer goes to everybody in the group and whomever is dear to my heart.
11 more days to go. . . .
P.S. The birthday of the Prophet is somewhat these few days, I can’t actually remember. It might be today though. Peace and blessings to the beloved prophet of Allah. J
June 3rd 2001
Tomb of M. Ibn Aabad – King and Poet
From the 15th Century
While standing in the great tomb of this once past King, his wife, and his young son, I realized my simpleness. Hundreds of years after the passing of this man people still seem to gather around him. I hope we do not disturb his peace; but then, is that the price one pays for being ‘great’?
I can not thank Abdul Rahman, Jamela, Abdul Hadi, and Abdul Haqq enough for today. For the first time sense our arrival in this wonderful country we were whisked away from the hustle and bustle of the city and allowed to enter a small piece of Heaven. Though the group was split, the time could not have been any better!
Today I believe I may have found the beginning of myself. Though this journey of mine will be long and tiresome, at least I now have friends I know will always lend a helping hand. Bowing today before our God I realized my weakness, confusion, humility. I felt Him take my hand and gently lift me out of my beaten path.
This journey of ours here in this foreign land has helped me realize so many things. There are hidden treasures inside each member of this great race of ours. I have seen the kindness and tenderness radiating from within, though often times it remains locked away in a dark box. I have realized the straight path that so many fear. I myself am terrified. This game of life we all play is not easy.
Some fear what they do not know and instead hide from within. They know what gifts they have, but yet do not use them. Here it is so easy. One may truly be oneself – the Reality which only God knows so well. But soon this voyage of ours will end. And where will we go with this new found knowledge?
The non-reality of the place from which we left shall soon once again surround us. Once again we will be thrust about by the means of a rushed life. And again, we will lock that box of ours with all of ourselves inside. What we exhibit is but a mask. Perhaps a mask that we are trying to break off; or perhaps rebuild. This mask blocks the true person we all are from really existing. This mask of ours fears nothing and bows down to nothing. But inside we are all crying to be ourselves. Society has helped to build our mask – and it is that society that will not allow us to remove it.
Today I have seen the unmasking of nature. The cool, lush and quite apple orchards with the birds pleasantly singing to the hot, dry and harsh landscape beyond. This landscape soon denied itself and became the towering, powerful folds of mountains. We all fear this harsh reality of nature – for we all sit in our cool shade, sipping our cold water and calmly gazing out into that beautiful unknown. This we do within ourselves as we look quietly from behind our mask and into the beauty of the true representation of us. We fear to go beyond the shade of our covered selves – and so we sit idly behind masked truths and lives. The few who dare to venture beyond the safety seldom return – for if they did, would we accept them back?
Each has his/her own mask – beautifully painted and carefully built. Because of this few truly know themselves, much less those around them. What I have found within myself shall help to break down this unseen barrier between myself and God, myself and Reality. My friends, may you also begin to crack the mask which you too have painted. . .
The innocence of life is
within the Realm
of our existence
so why then do we not
We stare in silence
at this thing called Life
and yet no one can See
and no one can Feel
and no one Cares.
but yet we stare
We look at each other
and we do not
June 5, 2001
Again we are on the road – traveling to places known and unknown. As we embark on this trip, I feel a sense of trepidation and anxiety fills me. Will this trip be the same – like the trip to Zagora or will this trip be filled with new and exciting adventures that will over the course of time test the very metal from which we are forged? The cross that I seem to be bearing is the cross of little or NO bathrooms. . . people may laugh. . . and I guess if you are reading this you may feel an overpowering urge to laugh . . . so laugh. . . Laugh. . . Laugh. God knows I have heard enough laughter about my problem to last me two lifetimes . . . or should I say laugh-times? Sorry, couldn’t help that – comes from listening to Abdul Haqq’s jokes (lame -- J I mean that in the good sense). The heat, the tiredness, the long drives, oh, let’s not forget about the lack of bathrooms, have stripped me of all my pretensions – leaving me virtually naked. I am not sure I like what I see but, one question has been answered on this trip. I have found out quite emphatically that I am not the original nature girl. Oh well, I guess that puts me in my place. I wonder if other people in the group have been stripped and denuded of all their pretensions and comfort zones. One can only surmise from disgruntled expressions and attitudes that my comrades have also experienced the dubious feeling of seeing their true self in the light of reality. Most of us go through life never truly knowing who we are. We walk around in life in a dazed, sleepy state until circumstances arise, shocking you into a state of wakefulness – which strips away the covers of complacency and willful ignorance. This trip has served as a blaring alarm clock for many of us – abruptly startling us into a state of confused, astounded wakefulness. This awareness has been beneficial in that it has showed us a glimpse into our innermost selves. Some, may have seen glimpses of ugliness that they never knew existed and others, who thought that there was no glimpse of goodness, may have been surprised to find a well of beauty and goodness deep within their soul. No matter what has been glimpsed within the depths of our souls, we are the better for it because we have seen, and we have become aware.
While driving around Rabat I got a glimpse of my husband – that is my future husband. Well just kidding. I did however see a man so beautiful that it gave me a pause. His eyes were storm color – he sat astride his steed, covered in dust as if he just rode out of the desert. His face was implacable – yet there was strength and leadership qualities stamped upon his brow. I KNOW . . . I KNOW. . . it sounds like a romance novel. I must admit I embellished a little – a teensy bit – but I swear his face gave me a pause. I guess I am writing this to bring home the point that within life one can find beauty in all things. They are representative of God’s beauty and presence in the world. Morocco is a land of harsh realities – for one who looks on the surface, one only sees what one expects to see: pollution, crowdedness, juxtapose with stretches of breath-taking beauty. But if one goes to Morocco with one’s inner-eye open one will see beauty in the shape of a child’s smile, or the survival instincts of a cat, or the kindness of a stranger. Morocco – Beauty – Life is much more than a composite of the separate parts. The parts when put together encompass the greater glory of God – they show that something no matter how stark can have an underlying beauty. Just because it exists. It is.
June 8th 2001
Bismaalah l-rahman l-rahmeen
Life is like a house with two doors;
One to enter and one to exit”
Well how does one begin? First I guess I should justify my last journal. I was not prepared to write about my experiences for I am one who writes about my experiences at the conclusion of a trip, not along it. Maybe, to some, my last effort was ridiculous, but to others who know my true nature, it was acceptable. Anyway, I hope that this journal will help give credit, even if credit isn’t due. I would like to write more about three aspects that I have observed and learned more so that to write about what went on today, because today has been divided into three days and therefore I shall write about three observations I’ve made. First about this country, then about my fellow companions, and lastly about myself. Let me stress once more that what I write is strictly what I see through my eyes and may allay forgive me if I bring discomfort or pain to anyone including myself.
Morocco can’t just be summed up in one word, nor can it be said to be homogenous. I see the roots of the Arabs, Africans, and Europeans marked on all peoples. However, to label this country as being such and such would serve these people wrong. They are more patient than the Arabs, yet not as spontaneous. They are Arabs, but are Berbers. Berbers but yet Europeans. Muslims, yet with a with a tourist a taxi driver will tell one May god put us far away from hell, or not let us taste of it with the stench of liquor on his breath. Another girl was telling me how she feared Allah and loved Islam, yet at the same time was asking me to take her to dinner. It is odd for me to experience this since I have always known people who were religious no not religious, but never like this. Then I realized that the girl and taxi driver, and many Muslims have Islam stapled in their minds as a sort of hypnotic trance, or fear of hell, but don’t have it in their hearts. They try to have the best and worst of both words in that they want to drink, and party, allow their nafs to do as it pleases but at the same time, enter heaven because they say allah this and allah that. This is the state that most Moroccans and Muslims are in. This is the state that I am in. One thing that I have learned is that you can’t keep falling in the same trap, and expect Allah to just continue forgiving. Allah is most forgiving, however, he knows when its time to set sail as an individual. I don’t want to miss the ship.
I believe that many of my classmates came on this trip for a spiritual awakening, or to validify their present beliefs or to embrace the Islamic one. On this voyage I have made many close friends, yet have failed to understand some. Abdul Haddie one told me during this trip that my status was decreasing in his eyes, coming from zagora. I wondered why. Why was he upset? I realized that because he, like so many others that are great Muslims in my eyes, expect so much more, and are disappointed. I know that I will arise, buy you must wait, for my time to shine will come. I am Tareq and allah has sworn by my name, and I shall fulfill my destiny, allah willing, whatever it may be. I believe abdul haq sees himself in many ways when he sees me. He knows me, and I love that, because not many people do. Katie contemplates on making a decision that could effect her lifetime forever. She waited for allah to enter her as she so needed to be discovered. A rough childhood made her forget about him, Islam made her embrace him. May you always be happy Katie, for now you are at peace with yourself. Darwina will not accept me until I reform. Hopefully that will happen for I believe that she is truly a golden treasure who, inshallah, will be (one of the first to enter). Samad is like my blood brother (Hazem). Cool and calm, yet filled with so much talent and light that even I am blinded when I try to look inside. He is a true friend who I wish the best in the here after and life. Kameela, in so many ways has been a constant reminder to me to return to myself. She is like the big sister I never had, and truly a beautiful soul. She is made of noble blood, and inshallah, will meet a noble man to fulfill her dream of motherhood and teaching.
Brendon is in the middle. Take your time brendon, for choices need proof, but I promise you that Allah and the Prophet (PHUH) is all the proof I needed. Through your readings and observations I pray you will Discover. Gracious you are, in that you never bother, nor never hurt others. You possess the patience that I so admire.
Larry, I tried to get closer to you, but you block my embrace. I wish you comfort in your life for you need it more than anyone I know. Sharon, your observational skills are incredible, no one has a better eye than you, but your past has hurt you, and therefore much you fear. One day, I hope and pray, you will stop fearing.
James, you are an identical copy of who I am in a way. I believe that a part of me is like you more than anyone I know. I know we would have been best of friends, if we had known each other 4 years ago when were freshmen. I know you’ll succeed in the way you want too, and I want to tell you that I’m sorry about your mother, may she rest in peace, for she raised a great American in you.
“Then, as for the foam, it passes away as scum upon the banters,
While that for which is good for the mankind remains on the Earth”
I have been in search. IN search of who I am, and who I am to become. My belief in Allah, like most Muslims was through my being raised to believe in him. Only recently have I had my eyes and heart open to the Truth. I have developed no doubt in the belief in Allah and have realized the wonderful degree of perception of his Attributes. This belief is increasingly becoming averred in my heart as I see the Nafs and this world, can under no circumstance compare with the sweetness of the Almighty Allah.
I must develop better patience and perseverance. I have yet to take it to the next level. I must assume my sense of responsibility. Inshallah, we will Unite. United we will flourish, but divided we shall fall into this abyss called the dunia (world).
Morocco is a country, among many countries, among many worlds among many universes among many galaxies. Its people, are like the people of our trip and like myself. The sad thing is ////// well I guess that is the way Allah meant it to be.
June 10th 2001
Bismaalah l-Rahman l-Rahmeen
As days pass one by one, the trip is now finally almost reaching its end.
I recalled today Sidi Abd Hadi quoting a hadith before we entered the Medina in Fez. “Walk by the earth as if you are travelers”. Morocco is part of our journey, all of us.
I remembered upon seeing sunset at Volubilis after the Hamadishah performance. One of the biggest veils was lifted from me then, I understood, well had some understanding, of Allah’s Love and Grace.
Like the human body is made up of organs, muscles, tissues, and cells all have different and unique functions and structure. But the most amazing thing is all the components have to work in harmony to initiate a particular function.
For example, to flex the biceps requires the triceps to relax and biceps to flex.
My point is every human being, creature or even nature, Allah has created differently to work in harmony to serve him. Diversity is His beauty.
We have to accept each others faults, learn from each other, help one another going through life. We will all die, only Allah knows when, and this short and temporary time given has to be used fully to understand what is its worth.
I recalled when all of us were at the tomb of one of the saints where all of us sat together and did Dhicker, I found such peace for no reason.
Day by ay I struggle to make sure that when its my time to wait for the day of Judgment I will not regret or weep in my grave. But ironically as I saw the cemetery face down Fez, this is also a housing estate, but this is alam barzakh, which is also temporary.
As Katie took her shahadah, I to burst into tears, because I can never remember the first I ever said it meaningfully.
Driving through Ourika yesterday looking at how strong and firm the mountains are standing, I recalled the ayah of the Quran where to be placed on top of it, the mountain will shatter in submission. Thinking about that, I just had to shut my eyes for a while. It’s a scary thought but that is great my Lord is.
At the Zawiya I felt that everybody was at peace with themselves although I know now what everybody holds back in their hearts.
I’ve learnt one valuable thing lately. Allah loves his creatures unconditionally, not at one time, he manifests his attributes singularly, but it is what we choose to see in His signs.
For example, His Wrath clips on with Guardianship and Protector. For Allah has never ever abandoned any individual and He is Just, giving His creatures in His wise measure for a reason.
People who are exhibited or highlighted by Him in the Quran are people who realize and appreciate this.
So to ponder for a second, what makes us different from one another?
Our realization of God, what we are and life runs on His Judgment and Wisdom.
The members of the group were special to me. In a way, everybody was great learning signs of Allah.
Well I hope to meet up with the group again, but if that isn’t possible, I hope we’ll be able to talk for eternity when the Real is totally unveiled.
A companion in journey/your sister in Islam
June 11th Monday night
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less
traveled by, that has made all the difference.”
My near and dear ones were fearful that I would change on this trip, that something close to my heart would change and I would come home with a different outlook. Funny. . . Dr. Godlas said at the beginning of this trip that Sufis used to travel together, that it’s a great way to get to know others and yourself. I am not who I want to be. I am not patient and I am too often hesitant when I should act.
June 12th Tuesday
My heart aches when I think of my host famiy mom, Lalla Rashida. I told her this morning I loved her. She said “I love you too”. Awful. Coming on this trip, the think I was most anxious about was the home-stay. Now they’re what I’ll miss most.
June 12th Marrakech 13 hours remaining
As tonight is our last night in Marrakech as a group, I guess I am left with the arduous task of giving the trip, or at least this journal some closure. Or, since Brendon is here and we are sitting on the roof of the house where I will spend the next year (with Brendon, Inshallah) maybe we will make this a group effort. Here is what we have learned:
n Africa is very big. Many people live there.
n Islam is the religion of the people of Morocco
n Some Islamic people practice a spiritual and mystical branch known as “Sufism”
n Some people don’t
n Just because you are in a hot place, it doesn’t mean that the ice cream won’t make you sick.
n Ice cream is real, or maybe it’s not!
n Monkey like Ice-cream
n 5 times a day
n One time, a monkey tried to get into the shed, so we shot it.
n She’ii means barley
n “Two water closets diverged in a vestibule and I chose the facility less frequented: that probably saved me from an infection”
n al-Khoutobia is an old mosque Ouar Pastilleros in Marrakesh
n Not all superheroes wear a cape
n Darwina doesn’t wear a cape
n Cape Cod is nowhere near the “al-Khoutubeeya(ch)
n Some people chant “La ilaha ilallah”
n Some change “Un Dirham”
n “Some paint tired frescos on the tormented walls of the mind” Alan Ginsberg, or roughly anyways
n Tourism is a prevalent industry
n Death is a prevalent industry
n Down with the imperial industrial machine!!! (IIM)
n I thought I saw Obe Wan Kenobi in the madina of Fez
n It turned out to be a French guy with a cane (No buy. Just Looking. Hello, my Friend!)
n Mint tea is good in hot weather
n Marrakesh suffered a ghastly heat-wave in the second half of May 2001. Even Marrakeshis were quoted as making such statements as “it’s hot” in their own local idiom of course.
n Madinas are like physical maps of the Psyche (enjoy Bob Marley!)
n “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes” Traditional American
n I had a dream once that I was devoured by wild animals, when it was over I woke up!
n In the desert, survival is the deadliest race of all!
n In Rabat, people feed eggs to eels in order to get pregnant.
n There are easier ways (Drink Coca-Cola!)
n Couscous on Fridays brings good virtue
n Good virtue on Fridays is better than the work of one thousand mules!
n “I am God” (Drink Coca-Cola)
n Napoleon really didn’t have that much to do with Moroccan history, though he sure did like to fight!
n Moulay Idriss had a lot to do with Moroccan history: so did wheat, camels, and dates.
n My brother once dated a paper incorrectly: the professor didn’t really mind though. (Drink Coke)
n Lli yakluh jouj yakluh f’leta.
n Some people eat snails.
n Some people eat all the exotic animals of the world
n Other people eat when they can.
n There are stories of walis who don’t even need food!
n The caves in Oureeka are polluted with sound.
n “You are God” (Enjoy Coca-Cola Classic!)
n “We are Doug”
n “I am not God”
n Words make sentences and sentences make paragraphs.
n God is Immanent.
June 13th 2001
Today we departed on the Real journey – the true beginning of this traveling of ours. Each one of us here has struggled to discover something – be it ourselves, religion, life or knowledge. I can only hope and pray that we all achieved our goal in some form.
As we pulled away from the ALC I felt as if we were pulling away from a place I should call home. Our host siblings all looked on as we turned the corner, and with tears in our eyes, we were gone. All of us, that is except Brenden and Samad. The road to Casablanca was long – though not quite long enough. I watched as the landscape slid silently by, trying to take in one last scene before separating myself. The beauty I saw gazing out my window is unexplainable. Word would do no justice. I pray, Inshaalah, that we are able to return to our lives with a piece of this buried deep within our hearts and souls. That, I believe, is the point of life’s journeys – They should never end, but instead continue with each passing day to manifest within the daily life. Our journey throughout Morocco may have come to a close, but the true travels through this beautiful land will be done in the years to come as we relive, remember and revive our experiences. An adventure will always come to a draw in this linier time we exist in, but the true importance must occur with the effect which the adventure had and will have on the future, vertically and horizontally. What occurs presently will seldom be felt now, instead it will be realized in the time to come as reflection casts light on what was once seen as a shadow.
Disembarking from the plane and entering into Germany I began to feel my peace and comfort slipping away. It is something I can not explain, but here, in this place, I feel an odd air. The people here do not take the time to smile. Everyone appears to be in business attire – we are a world away from the place we left just hours ago. Back to the “developed” nations. But developed in what? How? Where is the peace and tranquility I have come so close to? Here I feel as if each word I am placing on this page is a struggle. Welcome home right?
June 18th 2001
I am behind in this journal in fulfilling my last task from Morocco. But yet that is a false statement. My duties from Morocco are only beginning. Throughout the past month I have been continuously asking myself: “Who am I?” Though I believe I came extremely close to answering this question, it still remains in the shadows. Do any of us really know ourselves? These games we play throughout life, are they really representations of who we truly are? Or are we? One’s journey through life should always define and redefine the answer to “Who am I?” But yet so many of us pass the ropes of life without really grasping them. We do not realize the Truth behind these masks. And life passes us by while we cling blindly to the wrong answer.
Perhaps an even more important question is “Why am I?” I did not think to ask myself this until we returned to the States. Here, in this land of plenty, I realized my own lacking. What do I have here? What do any of us have? A job, money, nice clothes and a fake smile. But beneath all this what do we have. There is a reason each person is placed in this realm of reality. First the answer to who and then comes why.
“Why am I?”
We, perhaps, will all spend the remainder of our lives searching for this answer. Is it possible, however, that this is not a question to be answered but yet proven? Who we are answers the Why, but we must prove this answer to be true.
I shall never forget these travels of ours. And, I pray, my dear friends, that you too will always remember. Remember with a smile.
The past month I have learned more than I have in my whole span of life, though it is quite short.
I have learned myself
I have learned to cry
to smile and cry simultaneously
to seek knowledge
to see the smallest of treasures
to try to help
though this help be minute
I have learned of patience
And my lack thereof
of Truth and Divinity
of Kindness and Giving
I have seen beauty in places many do not believe
I have seen true wealth and richness
and I have longed to fit in.
We, together, have traveled this life, from beginning to end. We saw things enough to fill one’s heart with joy and sadness.
I try to sum up our experience, but there is a great great lack of words.
As a group we have learned, And that is the most beautiful thing.
I pray that each of you will always gaze back on this place with fondness and that everything seen will always be taken with you. That is how we grow. Each experience must be recorded in the halls of life, for it is the experience which helps to build the very bricks of life. If any are forgotten you are left with a mingled web of broken dreams, but if all are remembered, then the web will be a beautiful, interconnected structure strong enough to withstand thousands of pressures.
June 29th 2001
This pas t week I spent on a research vessel off the coast of FLA and GA. Once night as I sat on the door racks watching the sun set my mind wondered back to Morocco. That world so far away – seems like eons ago that we were all there, together. Since then it seems life has carefully closed its doors around those moments – moments which now seem to be in the very back of a darkened room. I have spoken with a few of you since we left – but not many. But isn’t that how it all goes? Best friends one moment and merely a fading memory the next.
Sometimes I cannot fathom our journey. I cannot seem to remember how I felt and thought while in Morocco. There my eyes were so opened and here they are just as closed. I don’t look around with pure joy and questioning in every little sight. I don’t smile randomly at nothing, I don’t think, love, feel. Here I am, back into my old life. I tried so hard to remain open, to look and feel and to truly see. At times I do, but it is hard. There is so much here to close one’s eyes and miss.
I do miss you my friends. No matter if I never see you again I will always remember our trip into Morocco, the unknown, life. Each of you have contributed something to me, have helped me to realize some small truth – you have all given me something I shall never forget. Thank you. And my Allah always and forever bless each and every one of you, my companions of life.
August 14th 2001
I have now just finished typing this journal (for the second time I might add – just ask my computer, it knows what it did with the first copy). Each of you, in your writings, have said truly gifted and special words. Re-reading them as I typed, I remembered so many things already forgotten. One particular entry helped me to open my eyes, to see things here in this far away land as I once saw them in Morocco. Everything, no matter how common, is a wonder. Every where I look I see beauty, explicit and exquisite. Thank you for helping me to open my eyes, for allowing me to regain my perception of Life. I hope and pray that each of you also will regain something left behind in Morocco and will feel peace and tranquility throughout your life.
We all travel through this life
Some of us with closed eyes
And some with eyes open wide
What we learn comes from within
Silent thoughts of Memory
Stream slowly through
And we are leaving
But yet we are not
Together here we will always be
In this horizontal moment
transcended into the vertical
And then we are back
And the question remains
Who are we?