All the reasons why I adore the Middle East – Poem

In the desert where oil is cheaper than water
and the blistering, merciless sun only gets hotter and hotter
there are exotic women, faces covered with expensive silk
only revealing their golden chestnut eyes
I wonder what secrets lie beneath

Nations here are rugged
Mountains high, deserts dry, starry lit night skies
Maybe you’re in paradise

Jordan-desert    camels-desert-sky-stars-night-middle-east-small

Beautiful Arabic on the tongue
Spoken since the sixth century
Only adds to this land’s powerful and mysterious history

Mosques pop up around every corner
lavish, awe-struck buildings
God must be smiling down,
at all the sound made by men each Friday
Calling out

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These countries are for the faithful
Fearers and lovers of God
Praying daily. dressing modestly, One Lord Only.

2_286 ALLh   54a5354bc48c9689d024f61bddcdd3cd ALLAH 1

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Gardening – Inspired by Islam

‘Allah has promised to the believing men and women, gardens, beneath which rivers flow’ (Quran)

The Islamic garden is created to represent paradise, to remind one of paradise. There are endless passages in the Quran describing heaven as a garden. ‘But the God fearing shall be amongst gardens and fountains’. But the idea of paradise being a garden is actually an idea that pre-dates Abrahamic religions and goes right back to the Sumerian period of ancient Mesopotamia. In fact it was the Persians who were some of the first peoples to cultivate walled gardens and parks.

Islamic garden - Spain. The Generalife gardens, part of Alhambra palace from the time of Muslim rule.
Islamic garden – Spain. The Generalife gardens, part of Alhambra palace from the time of Muslim rule.

Generalife-Gorgeous-Fountain

Green is often the colour associated with Islam, so it’s a must that a garden inspired by this faith would have an abundance of greenery. Whether that’s in the form of grass to relax upon or lines of palm trees that you can linger under to seek shade and enjoy ripe fruits.

Water is the most important feature of this type of garden. The sound of flowing water is no doubt soothing. Water is therapy all on it’s own.

Gardens are so important for the Islamic world due to what they symbolize. Islamic gardens must be as relaxing and peaceful as possible, they are a place of contemplation and for that reason there is plenty of seating.

These gardens are amazingly powerful, because not only are they a place for laughter and chatter, but for a believer it gives a taste of what paradise could be like, of what eternal happiness could be like, this will most likely make a follower become closer to their creator and want to lead a good life.

But the garden is also important for practical reasons. In the dry, heated climate of the Middle East a beautiful, shaded garden, a calming oasis is not at all taken for granted.

Symmetry is another important feature. If you take a look at Islamic gardens, you’ll often find flowers and trees being in a symmetrical pattern. Many Islamic gardens will have a small lake in the middle with palm trees flanked on either side. islamic_garden_by_redfoxsin-d3fz9ru

Geometric patterns are popular. Whether they’re painted onto the walls of arches in the garden or whether you find these patterns on the floor work paving the way into the garden. Multi-coloured stonework is used for decoration as well. Arches in the shape of the dome of a mosque are common, once again relating directly back to faith. IMG_1380-1024x768 dosa  e8bb92f598cc1f6e9ccb9a7b4a5b863b arvhes

Some more examples of well known gardens of this style….. tajmahal-35a

Al-Azhar park - Cairo
Al-Azhar park – Cairo
Eram garden - Iran. A world heritage site from the 19th century,
Eram garden – Iran. A world heritage site from the 19th century,

A great many of us are familiar of the vast amounts of Islamic architecture, but if you wish to be reminded of paradise, pay closer attention to the gardens!

‘Indeed, Allah will admit those who believe and do righteous deeds to gardens beneath which rivers flow. Indeed, Allah does what He intends’.

Journeying in Jerusalem – Have Faith

Abb12.1
Overlooking the Holy Land

19-Muslim-Quarter-Old-City-of-Jerusalem-Israel

My fascination with the history of Abrahamic Religions, unsurprisingly, led me to Jerusalem. An image surfaces in the minds of many of an ancient land, scorching, with the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat As Sakhrah in Arabic) in all its beauty and glory, glinting in the centre.

The panoramic view you’re blessed with standing at the Mount of Olives is indescribable.

A short bus ride takes you from the Mount of Olives to Damascus Gate, towards the ‘Muslim Quarter’ of Temple Mount. Coming face to face with the Dome of the Rock was an incredible moment, something I’d imagined myriads of times, but nothing truly prepares you for the real thing. It’s a stunning work of architecture.

Leaving behind the Dome of the Rock, the Western/Wailing wall is a quick 5 minute walk away. It’s a busy place, men and women dressed in traditional, conservative dress, clutching Torah’s and chanting Hebrew prayers. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. Cracks within the wall allow for letters to be written, full of prayers, a direct link to the Almighty.

Spiritual vibes flow through you, everywhere you go.

There’s no therapy like retail ! Who wouldn’t want to experience an Arab Bazaar in Israel?!   Rich and exotic. With each slow step I took, a new spice hit my nose. Gorgeous jewellery neatly lined up as far as the iris can see! Baskets upon baskets of different bean varieties, pretty silky scarves and the deeply tanned and wrinkled friendly faces standing behind each stall, calling out to you, tempting you to buy their wares.

Jerusalem is a magnificent city, where the love for travel and the love for religion can come together in the most magical of ways.