Salaams, one and all...
Yet more late night blogging! It's friday night. Once, long ago, friday nights would usually find me down the pub, drinking heavily...or else sprawled out somewhere...or otherwise doing things I shouldn't. These days, I like to spend my friday nights reading or occasionally, worshipping (though, I admit, I don't do enough of this). I remember when I first 'came out of the closet' as a Muslim - the highlight of the week was walking around the Co-op Supermarket in Lampeter!
Now, as anyone who's ever been to Lampeter will know, this is not exactly the most exciting of pastimes. However, looking back, the company was the real treat. Lampeter, as a small (and I mean tiny) village in rural Wales, has a very small Muslim community, some 50 or so individuals when I was there. As such, the immediate aftermath of my conversion was faced in the bosom of a warm, friendly community (who, though we've since gone our separate ways, are still in touch).
Al hamdu lillah, thinking about it now, I realise just how fortunate I was. And, just how unusual the Lampeter community was. Salafis rubbed shoulders with Sufis and even Shi'is and everyone seemed to get along! I can't imagine that happening anywhere else at present. There was only one occasion that I can recall explicit unpleasantness. One individual arrived and within 1 week had people arguing with each other (until the source of these whisperings became clear to all).
I suppose I could be romanticising (not unheard of). But, once I left Lampeter and was exposed to what passes for 'community' amongst many of our brethren, I began to understand just how special those days were. This became especially clear towards the end of my sojourn in West Wales (outside of the University, that is). A spiritual wasteland to say the least. Those who know me well, will know what I am referring to. For everyone else, why uncover what Allah has hidden?
Having made hijra to where I now reside (South East Wales - not much of a hijra, I know, but a hijra nonetheless), I feel that I'm once again coming back to (spiritual) life. It's affected me of course - both inwardly and outwardly. But, why complain? Others have it much worse. However, the one thing that I will say is this: how odd that I should have to leave an 'Islamic' environment in order to practice my Islam? And, how bizarre it is that working amongst people of many faiths (and none) has revivified my internal life? Truly, the hearts of Adam's children are hidden from all (except their Maker).
Also, of late, I've been making efforts to contact old friends, most of whom I've not seen in the flesh for many years (hello if you're passing this way). Ya Allah, life is a strange thing. Talking with old friends is an odd experience. For some of them, the distance between the present and my memories of them seems vast - intergalactic even! On the other hand, when recalled to life, these memories still seem instant and fresh. Subhan Allah, what an odd experience.
Anyway, I've got a question for my audience (or the Ether): how do you post links? Answers on a postcard please...
Well ... I'm going to 'do one', as a Scouse friend of mine puts it.