x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Lessons of the Prophets are rediscovered during Ramadan

There is something new to learn every time you read the Quran.

And Solomon was David's heir. He said: 'O you people! We have been taught the speech of birds, and on us has been bestowed (a little) of all things: this is indeed grace manifest (from Allah). - Quran 27:16

 

Prophet Solomon had been empowered with the "secret knowledge", the gift of being able to communicate with animals, birds, insects and even the mystical jinn. If ever there were one gift that I would have loved, if given the chance, that would have been it.

I am not the only one to think about the gifts of the Prophets. If you ask tribesmen who for decades have tended the traditional aflaj irrigation systems, you are bound to hear about the first aflaj of Prophet Solomon.

Recently I interviewed members of the Awamir tribe in Oman, who told me how 3,000-year-old secrets about finding hidden water had earned the tribe the reputation of being water diviners.

"Upon arrival to the harsh terrain of south-east Arabia, [the Prophet] commanded the jinn to construct thousands of aflaj to give life to fields and its inhabitants," one tribal elder told me.

There are many examples of the stories of Prophets that I studied in the Quran in my childhood coming to life, in this case years later in the form of a proud tribesman standing over his aflaj.

During Ramadan, we get the chance to rediscover our Prophets and their stories when we again read the entire Quran as is the common Ramadan tradition. It is one of my favourite aspects of the holy month.

Some people look forward to the TV dramas and series that are launched, but who needs those tales when the greatest stories are all in one book. And there are also religious programmes dedicated to stories of the Prophets, which I never miss.

A couple of years ago, a group of my friends and I decided to visit as many of the Prophets' tombs as we could, as part of a pilgrimage of the self. While we were in Saudi Arabia, besides visiting Prophet Mohammed's tomb in Medina, we went in search of the other Prophets mentioned in the Quran like Adam, the first Prophet.

He is believed to be buried in Mecca, in Abu Qubais mountain; Hawa, or Eve, is said to be buried in my favourite city of Jeddah. Actually, it is widely believed Jeddah, which means grandmother in Arabic, actually is named after the grandmother of all humanity.

Women are not allowed inside her tomb, but at least we got to see the white and blue signs marking the grave of "our mother Hawa".

We take it for granted that some of the most visited and often holiest sites were named in relation to the Prophets, just as Mount Arafat, an important ritual site of Haj, was named because it was the place where Adam met Hawa. Arafat means to get to know in Arabic.

There are of course debates among Muslim scholars about whether or not women mentioned in the Quran, like Hawa and particularly Mariam, the Virgin Mary, are also Prophets.

There are also debates about the authenticity of the tombs. Whether these issues can be verified or not is less important than taking the time to explore and study our religion in more depth through the Quran and the teachings of Islamic history's greatest minds and figures.

Just across the borders, one can head to Salalah in Oman and visit Prophet Ayoub's, or Jacob's, tomb and the tomb of Prophet Omran.

Debate is welcomed in Islam, as it refreshes the mind and strengthens the faith. I learn something new each time I read the Quran.

Certain verses mean different things depending on what stage I am at in my life, but the ultimate outcome is always the same: a sense of peace within my soul whenever I finished reading the whole Quran.

 

rghazal@thenational.ae