I arrive on time and yet most of them are already there. They are sitting on the carpet, which is covered with a beautiful sheet, their Quran’s open in their lap, perusing the ayahs we reviewed at the last meeting. Today is Wednesday and I am at the Tafseer Halaqa.
As I sit down on the beautiful paisley designed sheet, I think of home for a fleeting second, the home where I grew up, and then the feeling passes for I am to ready myself to receive the words of Allah and their explanation and keep a rein on my tongue that wants to talk and a rein on my brain that wants to analyze everything logically even before it has been reviewed.
As I sit down on the floor, I am reminded that I have to face the Qibla and sit respectfully as if in tashahud because I am going to be reading and listening to the word of God. I put my Quran on a cushion to raise it so that it is above the level of my feet, I open my notebook and find the last sentence, which says… “start with ayah number so and so for next Wednesday”
My mind wanders, for a moment as I think to myself ‘I should have brought my dua book of “Accepted Whispers”. As this conversation is going on in my head, the hostess asks if we should begin. We nod our heads and someone says the opening dua and recites the ayahs for today aloud.
As the words of God resound in the room, borne on the sincere voice of the friend who is reciting, I look at her, and think, I would have never gotten so close to her so as to call her my friend had it not been for the common bond of this tafseer circle…………a circle that begins with the urge to learn our Deen and propels us into the circle of friendship.
In that circle we then become each other’s confidants, each other’s support in moments of need and distress and each other’s coach when one of us becomes discouraged with our individual progress on the path to Allah, and all of this is Fi SabeelAllah with no hidden or overt agenda.
It is a clear crisp spring day and the sun is streaming into the room bringing the much wanted light and sunshine in our lives and in the understanding of our path towards happiness.
The recitation shuts off the internal dialogue in my head as all my neurons focus on the words, I resist the urge to read the translation side by side and concentrate on the actual words of Allah.
The sing song recitation evokes a memory. I close my eyes for a minute and the picture of the woman sitting next to me in the Haram rises in front of my eyes. A random woman from Pakistan dressed in an old threadbare shalwar kameez, sitting next to me in the Masjid e Nabvi. I am arrested by what she is doing. Her gnarled aged hands tracing the Arabic printed words of the Quran as she moves with the rhythm of ‘Allah ho Akbar’. She like our Prophet (PBUH) cannot read, and has not had the opportunity in her life to memorize and recite the Quran………I distinctly remember the acute guilt that overcomes me as I watch her, I too am in a way very much like her.
I can read but I do not understand………and even worse than that I thus cannot reflect. Steeped in shame, I sit paralyzed watching her as she turns page after page of the Quran tracing the words, caressing them as if from the sensitized tips of her fingers in some magical way she will absorb the word of Allah and be propelled into His presence.
The voice of Farhat Hashmi breaks my reverie and brings me to the present. She is talking to us online, in her soft, polite though firm voice. She is explaining, giving examples, quoting other ayahs which are related and then taking all the ramifications of these ayahs with the meaning, explanation, context and references and relating them to every day life. Reminding me of the act of taking a bunch of roses, greens, grass and other buds and tying them with a ribbon.
It is almost as if she is taking the scattered rosebuds of the words of the Quran and tying them up to our everyday life with the ribbon of action and handing them to us. She is online but physically hundreds of miles away and yet it seems she just handed the bouquet to us and said: “ take this and decorate your life with it”
The tafseer ends and we talk to each other. How can we incorporate the lessons of today’s tafseer in our lives.
We are like the pattern on the gorgeous fabric where we are sitting; each person has her own beauty, her own style and her own gifts from Allah. And yet we are like the scattered flowers of a bouquet. As we came together to listen to Allah Subhanawataala’s words, He has tied us together with the ribbon of friendship…………these are my buddies from my tafseer circle and I love each one of them for the sake of Allah.
This post is dedicated to all my friends in the Wednesday Tafseer Circle,.
May it continue to nourish us in the ilm of Deen. Ameen