Friday, June 26, 2009

Visiting Spain and Time Travel

When I was sixteen years old, I sat in my English class flipping through an art book when I came across the most stunning photograph I'd ever seen. What's that? I asked Ms. Bruno. The Alhambra, she replied. Built by Muslims in Spain generations ago. I gazed at the fountain with lions, the intricate artwork decorating the ceilings and said to myself I want to see this for myself some day. Years later, June 2001 I saw a flier on campus calling teachers to teach English in Spain. I'm going, I resolved. The summer after my first year of teaching I'm there.

Of course, as life continues to teach me, what I plan and the actuality of what He has destined for me may not align. July 2001 I met K, and July 2002, the summer of Spain, I married him [and to be clear, I'd have it no other way!]. Since then, the desire to see Spain continues to beat in my heart but we plan our vacations using a pragmatic method: The world is beautiful, lets fly to where its cheapest! In this way we've been blessed to see many countries such as Turkey, France, Costa Rica, etc. but Spain to date has not shown up on the list of affordable countries. Until now.

Monday we leave for Madrid, Spain. From Madrid we drive South to Granada, Cordova, Seville, and small towns along the way. [If you've been to Spain and have advice, please share!] I'm reading Ornament of The World, a fantastic book about Medieval Spain and how beautifully Muslims, Jews, and Christians once lived together. [Thanks Baraka!]. While I'm excited I also feel pensive. To visit Spain is to visit the ghosts of the past. I read how there was a time that people were considered uncivilized if they hailed from outside the Muslim Empire. What a reversal it is now. As our trip inches closer I realize why my heart seems to pull me to Spain. I want to travel back in time. I want to close my eyes as I stand in the Grand Mosque and imagine what was. I want to stand before the Alhambra and look out at the horizon as others before me. To be in the presence of what they built, is to be in the tangible presence of the past. I think Islam is undergoing an identity crisis. The unity of Al-Andalus is crushed and we are scattered across the earth like shards of glass. Reading about the invention of Algebra, the tolerance for other faiths, and the beautiful things that were once accomplished, I can't help but feel sad for what was. I am going to Spain to time travel. I'm visiting Spain to understand who we once were.


Anonymous said...

Congrats. How long will you be in Spain and are you also going to Barcelona? Have a great time.

Faiqa said...

It sounds like an amazing opportunity and trip! Just de-lurking to say that I'm looking forward to reading about it and that your travels are safe.

Aisha said...

Anon, no we won't be able to go to Barcelona since we're concentrating most of our time in the south of spain, but one day we will go back and hit Barcelona. Have you been? I heard its awesome.

Faiqa, thanks for delurking! For you I will be sure to do plenty of postings on Spain when I return! :0)

Anonymous said...

nice post! have fun!

Wil Smith said...

And in the world I envision will be again. The greatest tragedy of the terrorist factions of the Muslim faith must be the resultant distraction from the strengths, ethics, charitable nature, enormous scientific, arithmetic, astronomical, navigational and literature contributions common to the Muslim world. The Middle East is the true cradle of civilization. The beauty of the architecture remains among the elite of all time. Terrorists would suggest that a return to the ways of old would by definition be a less tolerant world. I would counter that cities like the Beirut of old stood out as beacons of light to the world. Centers of learning and tolerance. An inspiration to all. I see a world where such cities prosper and grow without outside influence causing them to descend into chaos. You said that The Muslim where once considered to be the most civilized in the world. I'm not at all certain that this doesn't still hold true. The problem is that the rest of us don't get to hear about these aspects of the faith, only the extremists.

As Always, a treat to hear from you again.


raniyas said...

Was the last comment from Will Smith the actor?

rehtwo said...

Have a wonderful time! I went to Jerez, Seville and Granada several years ago - Granada was my favorite city. :)

youngMuslimah said...

have a nice trip! i too want to go to spain..esp after reading abt muslim empire that used to be..

the last para really touched my heart :( your writing is great mashaAllah.

Anonymous said...

So envious! Hope you're having a fabulous trip!!


rickshawdiaries said...

Salaams jaan,

I'm visiting Spain to understand who we once were.

Can't wait to hear all about it - have a wonderful time!


Anonymous said...

Have a great time. While you aer there, also dwell on how did we end up here and what role collectively WE played in the downward slide. WE, who kep quiet (and still do), We, who turned our head the other way (and still do), WE who remained passive (and still do) - all while our religion was hijacked by a crazy few.

WE need to be aware that EVERY religion & culture has had glorious past, successes,and victories but needed reforms along the way to reinvent themselves.

Are we in need of reforms in our glorious religion and are we shying away from them ????

Khuda Hafiz,


Aisha said...

Will Smith as always great to hear from you. Thanks for your wonderful comment.

Raniyas, not sure . . . *shrug*

Rehtwo, i can't wait for Granada!

YM thanks

Baraka its lovely here but hot, the posts, its coming :)

Ash, thanks :)

Zulfi, obviously

Anisa said...

This brought tears to my eyes. What a great post. Hope you have a wonderful time.

yasmine said...

aisha, i am so behind on blogistan, i can't believe i missed your post and we didn't get to talk about it before you left! i would have given you a list of places to see/things to do!

your post made me smile, and broke my heart a little, too, all at once. there IS so much time-traveling in spain, and i hope you enjoy all of it and come back inspired.

i, too, had/have dreamt of visiting spain for years and YEARS. and when it finally happened, it was last-minute and so practically unplanned that i couldn't even believe my luck or think about it too much for fear that god was going to laugh and yell, 'JUST KIDDING!' at me.

are you back now!? i can't wait to hear all about your journey. i hope it will inspire me to post about my trip last december, too! (i've been COMPLETELY slacking on this.)

pilgrimchick said...

Spain is fabulous to visit--you will see a lot of Muslim influences in many examples of Spanish architecture, and it really gives Spain a very unique flavor from the medieval point of view.

Aisha said...

anisa, I'm glad it meant something to you. *hugs*

Yasmine, yes please share your experiences! I look forward to reading them! Dec must have been an awesome time to go since the weather would have been wonderful!

Pilgrimchick, so you've been? I found it a very very cool country overall.

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