Somewhere in the grasslands of hilly Africa she stands in Iqama, alone, un-fearing and beautiful in all the glory that Allah Subhanawataala has bestowed on her.
In a land where a brother kills his own brother for a bite of bread and where buildings are stripped even of their window glass if left unlocked, she stands with the dignity and grace and reliance on Allah for her safety calling His ebad to come worship five times a day and to partake of a simple meal of daal and rice on Friday after Juma prayers.
Ever since I have seen her, I have wanted to go back.
This time on my trip to Africa, I request the driver to stop there. As he pulls into the parking area, it is the spiritual hour between Asr and Maghrib, and no one is there.
I am surprised as I see that the door is locked. I peek in through the glass door and the fountain stands silent in the courtyard and a soft rain begins to fall. Deep disappointment fills me, and I hesitate. My companion says, “Let me try ” and next thing I know the door is flung open. I do not ask how or why but thank Allah Subhanawataala for my childish wish to be granted that I say my first salaam in Africa of Tahyiyaat e masjid here in her arms of solace and serenity.
We silently enter the courtyard, with the earthenware tiles, wet with the steadily falling rain. As my companions disappear into the wudu area, I peek into the room for mothers and infants. Graceful sofas with engraved backs of dark wood and weathered velvetish fabric greet my eye. I am thrown back into the era of my childhood where I would wander in the dark, high ceiling rooms of my grandparents home with the same old-fashioned furniture and dream of the future.
I gently close the door to the mothers area and go up the few steps to the women’s musallah, slipping off my shoes and hiding them from the rain. I step into the interim area where the women’s prayer room is separated from the men’s prayer room by a delicate fretwork screen.
As I walk into the woman’s musallah proper, I find myself standing in front of a large Persian rug, facing the Kaaba wall almost covering the entire wall. Under my feet is the luxuriant feeling of Persian carpets and on the wall hangs the 99 names of Allah lovingly and meticulously woven into the carpet, with my favorite: Al Lateef.
As I stand for Tahyiyaat e masjid, my first in Africa, this time around, I am cocooned in the safety and sakina of Allah’s benevolence, and deep gratitude fills my heart.
I recall what I know of the mystery woman who built and now takes care of this feminine gem of a mosque and its gardens, that she and her husband also has a Persian carpet business. What a beautiful expression of making your business halal and fill it with barakah.
I pray tahiyyat e masjid and sit in Dhikr completely enveloped in peace and sakina, cocooned by the gently falling rain, as the night angels arrive and wait patiently as the day angels wrap up their prayers and their notes.
This time as there is no one else, I visit the men’s prayer area and the Imams minbar as well as the Quran education room. The gentle rain falls in and around the stone fountain and once again the wish rises into my heart to build a sanctuary like this in my home.
As I leave, I note the gardens filled with the healing and fragrant herbs that only grow in South Africa. The conference rooms that are now silent cascade with bougainvillea and the paths are clean of all debris. In my minds eye I see a tiny pair of hands gently tending to each bush personally, trimming only what needs to be trimmed and leaving that which Allah Subhanawataala gives to His patient and humble ebad as a gift.
It is much later that I realize that there are no alarms, no barbed wire fences, no armed guards as is seen in homes even across from her.
And I am reminded…………..What Allah protects no one can lay asunder and what he deems to destroy no one can protect.