From the Rawda

By Dr. Zakariyya Goga)

Medina has changed little since the first time I visited this magical city over 10 years ago. The presence of Habib, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, can be felt in every part of the city. We, humans that is, have changed.

Back then Masjid al-Nabawi used to shut after ‘isha and open again at tuhujjud, roughly at three am. On one particular night I left my hotel early and joined about 30 other fervent pilgrims at bab-as-salaam for the doors to open. No rush, no pushing, no harm. With ease we reached the rawda, performed tahatiyat-al-masjid and then I went to the sacred chamber to read my salam. There I was, in front of the beloved, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, all alone at the tender age of 18 – wal hamdulillah. A few minutes later an old man arrived in a wheelchair, escorted by (what appeared to be) his adult children. They attempted to assist him to stand, to which he vehemently opposed them and insisted he would stand himself. He struggled, as he tried to lift himself up from his chair, breathless, sweating and clearly weak due to old age. Eventually he stood up, hands positioned as in salat and with an incredible amount of adab that has served as a reminder for me ever since, he read his salam with tears flowing. What a dars!

As for now - things have certainly changed. As I was reading salam my concentration was suddenly broken by the sound of a man shouting, Aiwa, ana amam-al-nabi! Sallim ‘alaihi(Yes, I am in front of the Prophet, read greeting upon him). I looked up and this man was aiming his mobile towards the sacred chamber – I presume so the dude on the other line could read salaams. On another occasion a chap decided to turn his back on Habib, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and take a picture on his iPhone 4 of himself with the sacred chamber in the background. Picturess for facebook I suppose...

I am not anti-technology, the affects of technology is what is troubling me. From sisters posing with the “west side” gesticulation outside of the haram in Mecca to families filming their tawaf (seriously) on the HD camcorder – something is seriously wrong with the Muslim condition.

The camera, on a basic level, is totally based on the anatomy and physiology of the eye. The eye is the door to the heart and the heart is the receptacle of Divine light. Divine light can never be captured, it is felt and penetrated through to the soul and the effects are everlasting and not abstract or short lived.  Perhaps it is this facebook, iPhone, “information at my fingertip” culture that is slowly eating away at our souls and hardening our hearts resulting in a total loss of adab, humility, courtesy and gentleness. 

Allahu-al-musta’aan…