Spiritual Retreat

Holidays are a period where many of us take time to travel or to explore certain paths on earth that we’d never have the chance to, on an everyday basis. Every year, airports the world over handle passenger baggage which cost the world economy trillions of dollars. There are many types of holidays available out there, mostly covering leisure but there’s also the type of holiday that is closer to god, the spiritual holiday.

Spiritual holidays generally covers Muslims going for the Haj pilgrimage or Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage) or Jews visiting Jerusalem to where Masjid Al-Aqsa is located at (considered as the holy place of worship by Jews as well as Muslims) or Buddhists visiting the Golden Buddha in Thailand. But aside from such purely spiritual holidays, most travel agents these days combine both Leisure with Spiritual to ensure that travellers get the most out of their travel plans and agents get the most of their travellers money.

In my recent trip back to Indonesia (where else right?) to visit my parents who have since migrated there, I rediscovered love. A love that has long been lost but never forgotten. It wasn’t an ordinary kind of love. I remember being this much in love when I was much younger and I remember how much I felt being loved when I was that young. A period of innocence where I was surrounded by nothing but the goodness of the world. The love that I’m referring to here is love for my religion, Islam and the last messenger, Muhammad.

Funny how I say I’m in love with my religion and messenger when I’ve always been in the religion and believed in the last messenger. But I do suppose that there must have been a reason as to why I was brought to the library to borrow a book on the life of the messenger for me to read on my trip to Indonesia, the land where my father was born and bred and where my grandfather who was a Kiayi, lived teaching others in the town how to read the Quran. It felt a lot like I was being drawn into a place where I was meant to re-learn and to re-connect with what I’ve lost or forgotten.

There were several occasions when I was reading passages of the book in my room when I started to tear painfully reading accounts about how Muhammad had been put through suffering in his pursuit to spread Islam being turned away by the clan he came from and how his first wife, Khadijah, had given him love and shelter whenever he needed one. There were many accounts on how Muhammad gave his full trust to non-Muslims who were strangers but were experts in certain areas to carry out tasks and to lead them and there were also accounts of how he didn’t put in trust in fellow Muslims who were hypocrites.

These accounts were lessons good to be learned and applied even in life today. There were also accounts about how war came about during his time and how he took care of nature even in times of war such as ensuring dogs and puppies were out of harms way and reminding fellow muslims not to destroy any trees or plants in the course of war. It was perplexing to read the latter but the only time he ever did hurt a tree was when he wanted to make a point to the enemies and that was just once in his life.

As I read the pages of the book and flipped them day and night, I began to seek a more spiritual journey within myself where I’d feel closer to god and Muhammad. I began to seek questions to why dialogue cannot solve the Middle-Eastern issue where most of it surrounds the people of the book, the Jews. Aren’t Jews fellow brothers who believe in The Oneness of God, the same god that Muslims worship to? (Christians believe in the Trinity so I’m not sure how to explain about that but Christians are people of the book too)

To quote from the book which quoted from The Quran which I felt would be best related in particular to the Middle-Eastern crisis;
‘The Quran states that any hatred that may incidentally arise from a war cannot obviate the principles to which believers must remain faithful: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety; and fear God [be intimately conscious of God]. For God is well acquainted with all that you do.” ‘

“Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged-and verily, God has the power to succor them-those who have been driven from their homelands unjustly for no other reason except that they say: “Our Lord is God!”

And perhaps to whoever who claims to state that Muslims are extremists:
“Woe to those who exaggerate [who are too strict]!”
“Moderation, moderation! For only with moderation will you succeed!”

There were moments during my time reading the book when I was brought back to a memory of the time when I was sitting in one of the mosques in Singapore waiting for the call for Friday prayers when I was awakened by a voice instructing me, “Taubat, taubat! Sebelum terlambat!” (Repent, repent! Before it’s too late!) I remember the voice was one that was loud and stern right above my head and when I turned around, there was no one around me or running away. I still question myself and God in my prayers if that was a sign for since that day, I have sinned even more.

But that trip was certainly more of a spiritual retreat than just regular visit to my parents. If anything, I’m definitely falling in love again once more with my religion and my prophet and I’m thankful that I’m still being loved and perhaps, protected.

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