I am at the retreat. A retreat on Tawheed. The weather is freezing, we are in a large gym, and it is threatening to snow. Life’s stresses and outside contacts are ready to be broken or held in abeyance, all cell phones are off and all brains are tuned in with a focused energy on the message.
For once in my lifetime I am in a room where I am completely in tune with one hundred women from diverse backgrounds in race, culture and creed.
Sister H opens the evening with the praise of Allah, salutations to the Prophet, and supplications for an open mind for the gift of learning…. She is a Sheikha though she considers herself a student of Deen.
“ The ultimate goal of Ilm (knowledge) is Tawheed of Allah”. What is Tawheed? I think and she answers…. “Tawheed is defined as the active continuous affirmation of the oneness of Allah”
The session begins with the opening scene of the revelation of this magnificent Surah. The Surah Al Anaam brought as an offering of Tawheed to Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings upon him.
He (PBUH) is in Mecca, times are tough and painful, he has lost his beloved wife Khadija (RA) and his grandfather, protector and elder from the clan of Quraish Abu Talib, has also passed away.
The Quraish have become increasingly mean and vicious, he (PBUH) is bleeding externally from the stones thrown at him in Taif, and hurting internally by the rejection of the message he brings to his family and friends who are steadily ridiculing him.
He is sad but not despondent, sad that he is unable to instill the beauty, clarity and peace of THE message in the hearts of the pagans…….. What is he to do?
In the night arrives a contingent of seventy thousand angels with the entire presentation of the Surah Al Anaam.
The spectacle is described as breath taking; the angels filling the horizon are glorifying Allah and making a sound with their wings. Gabriel (AS) presents all 165 ayahs to Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings upon him in this one night.
Starting with…”Praise be to Allah who created the Heavens and the earth…”
And ending with: “He may try you with the gifts he has given you…”
A Surah with the hard strength of many mountains, the softness and affection of solace from His Lord, the beauty of the universe described and laid upon him (PBUH) to reflect in perspective, the promise of success from his Lord, and the Ten commandments (6:151-152) for the believer….
I am rooted to my chair, I had no idea of the innate power of every word in this Surah and the fanfare with which it was brought to our Prophet………
The night has snuck in on the footsteps of the evening and the tafseer breaks for prayer.
One hundred women silently line up and the beauty of being with our Lord in Jamaat is recreated in this gym so far away from the House of our Lord and yet so close in spirit to it.
I feel loved by Him (SWT) He has brought me this far to give me the message of Tawheed, I am humbled and I feel blessed. He has surrounded me with one hundred spiritual women who treat me as if they have known me all my life.
I taste the true essence of muslim sisterhood with the shared etiquette of the sweetness of tongue and the silence of Dhikr. I look forward to the rest of the retreat with anticipation.
Little do I know what a roller coaster ride it will be for my heart and my body. The powerful message of the Surah Al Anaam, the soul searching alternating with the challenging hours of the Qiyam al Layl.