He sits quietly outside of his laundromat, alone, wearing a jalabyah and a traditional taqiyah (a short, rounded cap). Daily, as I walk past him, this lovely, elderly Sudanese man smiles at me.
His face is all noor, and he will be one of my favourite memories from this leg of my sabbatical.
My uncle and I discussed Islam tonight – Quranic positions regarding hypocrisy, intentions, and the subject of magic. (Referenced in the Quran is the realness of magic; we are only asked to acknowledge its presence and power, never to pursue it.)
He shared a few interesting stories about our own family’s history with the unseen, which may make it a little harder for me to sleep tonight. I have always known that there is a shade of this in the matrilineal side of my family – myself, my mother, and her mother. What I discovered tonight is that this same thread also extends one generation further to my great-grandmother. I imagine now, this continues back unending. It’s fascinating, really.
Traditionally, it has always been dreams. The women, we dream to life. I have discovered that sometimes, the message is temporary however – dreams intended to keep us static for a limited period of time, and then they shift accordingly. There is much metaphysics in Islam, by the way. I am barely scraping the surface personally. But I have begun.
Dreams are one strength, but for me it has always been what my girlfriends call my Witchy Senses. These senses have never, ever, not ever, have they been wrong. Even when I have wanted them to be wrong. Unfortunately, the wrong has come to me when I have chosen to ignore these senses. InshAllah I have learned my lesson.
That aside, my uncle made a very simple but important distinction tonight. I asked what could possibly make someone who was once so very devout, be the literal polar opposite a moment later. How could someone go from calling people to this deen, to being so far outside its walls, they seem like they’re rebuilding Sodom & Gomorrah single-handedly? Rebuilding while with a kazoo in their mouth and while others shower them with confetti, pretty much.
His response was simply: Because there is a difference between a muslim, and a mu’min.
I sat stunned because SO SIMPLE!
For those who don’t speak Arabic, a mu’min is someone who, according to my Prophet, peace and light be upon him, is someone who believes in their heart, who speaks to this belief, and who (most importantly) demonstrates such belief through his/her actions.
The point here is that if you say you’re a Muslim, and merely pay lip-service to it without behaving accordingly, then you’re generally a wanker.
It was an eye-opener which made a few little bits and bobs floating around my head fall into place.
I had to say goodbye to my uncle after our really wonderful evening, so I hugged him for the first time since I was a small child. More poignant, however, is that I told him I loved him. This, it is not something I had ever done before, though I have always of course felt it. After our conversation, it was only right to align what is in my heart, with what is on my tongue, with my physical actions.
Today, I am grateful for:
1. Not being a wanker.
2. My time with my khalo, as I am uncertain when I will see him again.