The sky was the limit. Yes, this is so true given you had the funding to support yourself taking a flight to a country that held historical significances.
But you can also listen from others or read to gain the knowledge and lessons. And so here is my story.“So have they not travelled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts.”[al-hajj:46]
The weather looked promising. The air was cold despite the fact that the sun was shining brightly in the cloudless morning. It was as if the whole nature was giving consent towards our plan for that day. Everyone seemed psych up, ready to take up any challenges for the day.
We kicked off our day with our newly-appointed Spain-style breakfast; tuna and mayonnaise sandwiched between baguette, or any halal forms of bread. To be truthful, that was the only kind of breakfast that we could afford due to our tight budget. Alhamdulillah.
We were wandering in front of the information booth, feeling utterly disoriented. We were hoping for the slightest aspiration as where should we start our most anticipated visit. While sitting on a bench, pondering on our next plan, a man approached us. He did not look local and in fact, he was not, but a Pakistani. He greeted us with salam and put forth his suggestion for us.
“Would you pay me €20 each if I bring you for a tour around Cordova? I know that you come here not for fun, but to understand the historical significance of this place. So I’m offering you myself as a tour guide. Insha Allah you will benefit from it.” He started the conversation slowly, anticipating our response.
We hesitated, should we trust this man and fulfil the reasons why we chose cordova at the first place or should we turn him down, for the sake of being ‘prudent’ of our safety. Having considered all the pros and cons, we went for the risk.
“Salam sir, that is a really intriguing offer and we would really appreciate it if you can show us around as we ourselves are clueless of where should we start and what to look for. But you see, one of us lost her purse so €20 per person is quite expensive given now we have only small share of money for each of us…” one of my friend voice out her concern.
The man was silent for a moment before continued bargaining, “Well then, I’ll make it €15 each. How was that? Come on, don’t you want to explore this place in Islamic perspective?”
To cut the conversation short, …
“Well, why not?? Let’s go then.” We were expectedly eager and put all our faith in Him that this man, whoever he was, will not mislead us.
Okay so, I am not going to tell you everything that we did as it will make this story too lengthy and you might give up after a brief moment so I am choosing only those that I think might benefit you at the moment.
So off we start. My friends and I were walking while taking note of the pathway that we stepped on and that was when we reached a small opening in front of a small shop. The man, Ahmad, stopped and asked us what we saw along the way. We were puzzled at the moment and almost mentioned everything that we saw when he interjected our answers.
“You know, when Cordova is still ruled by the Moorish (term used for Muslims during that century), there was this dentist. Whenever he was depressed and needed to calm himself, he would walk back and forth at his patio. During his time, his house was among those that has patio and the patio was covered with the reflexology stones, like this, the ones you are standing on now.” We looked at our feet and our curiosities bloomed again. We had always wondered why the path was made that way since we first arrived at that place, what could be the significance.
"Whenever he was in his patio, he would find peace of mind and this raised query within himself. ‘What made I feel this way whenever I am here?’ And that was when he started to realise the key lied to the gravels that made up the floor of his patio.” Ahmad continued.
We just nodded in understanding, but then, why the whole pedestrian walk was made that way?
“The dentist, having a great faith in his religion, understood that as a Muslim, he needed to benefit the people around him, so he brought forward his idea to the Sultan and then the whole pathways was fitted with the gravels. Do you understand, when you realise the good of something, you should not hold it within yourself. You need to suggest it to someone, you must always think to benefit others.” We looked at among ourselves in agreement.
We continued our journey around Cordova and then came across a bridge, the Roman Bridge (during the early Islamic domination the Muslim governor Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani ordered a bridge to be built on the ruins of what was left of the old Roman construction across the Guadalquivir river).
“Observe this side of the river (where it seemed to flow towards us) and then compare it with the other side (where it flowed away from us). Then inform me of your observation.” he reckoned.
We just followed his order. “Hmmm, the water moved faster as it passed the bridge.” we stated our observation in unity.
“Yes! Exactly! Now how would you suggest for this phenomenon?” another question was being proposed on us.
We racked our brain, trying to figure out the answer in the most acceptable and intellectual thought we could muster, (well it was spring break and we (kind of) completely shut down our brains from thinking hard and this seemed to be a wrong decision.)
“Uh well the water was going through a gap, and by the law in physics, it was diffracted so perhaps that was the reason?” But then my brain told me, water lost the energy as it went through the gap, so they should not be faster. Oh well, my mouth acted faster than my brain. “Well, no. Come on, what else do you have in mind?” After giving more and more wrong answers, he looked quite disappointed (and we were even angrier with ourselves. And you called yourselves medical students??).
Slowly he said, “Look at your right side. The flow was even faster than to the left. What structure do you notice at your right?”
“Exactly, the flow was faster on the right side because they needed it to be so. So that the water at high speed could rotate the water mill and generate power. And how was this possible? The thing you needed to know was; it was the fact that the river was dig deeper on this side of the river (where the flow is away from us) as soon as they pass the bridge. The slope was about 45⁰. This bridge was built during the Muslim colonisation of this place and it was during the medieval age but you see, these Muslims are capable of inventing such mechanism. Islam used to be great, we pioneered in everything.”
“Sir, how do you this?”
“I just knew.”
Our heads hung low, thinking of our contributions to the world, to the Muslim world.
We tend to look thing on the surface.
Some of us might not even try to discover himself/herself deeper.
We like to stay in our comfort zone, not wishing to take the risk and truly be as what we are supposed to be, the Khalifah.
It is time to explore yourself and insha Allah, it shall never be
Article contributed by:
[Someone who currently studying abroad]