Listening to the girls reciting Qur’aan, preparing for class later this night reminds me of other nights spent under star speckled skies listening to the recitation of the night prayers during the month of Ramadhaan. Climbing to the roof, letting the sounds of the night- crickets, the far away sound of a long distance truck horn, the laughter of a child in the next house- blend effortlessly with the voice of the reciter to create a tapestry of sound that lifted my heart while keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground.
I miss those sounds now, miss walking through green fields and returning the greetings of peace to Bedouin women in straw hats, colorful scarves pulled across weather beaten faces. I miss the quiet “Bismillah” of the doctor preparing to deliver a new life into the world. I miss the chorus of the calls to prayer that delineated our days, broke them into natural sections that helped me organize my time while reminding me of what was truly important.
Everything in life seems to come with a tradeoff. We try to hold on to what is precious in our pasts while reaching, full of hope, for what the future may bring. I may no longer hear the call of the adhaan or the shuffle and bleat of goats as they meander by, looking for treats among the garbage and vegetable peels tossed out of second story windows to the streets below, but each day I listen to the recitation of the children, and encourage them to use their Arabic as often as possible so that they don’t forget the language of their religion and their adopted land. I hear the words of the scholars through time and space with the gift of the internet, their voices securing me to the knowledge like a baby is tethered to her mother at birth. I experience the joy in the voices of students when they understand something for the first time, that light bulb moment when ‘Yes, teacher, I’ve GOT it” lights up their eyes and their faces brighten with the light of understanding.
I still hear the wind running its fingers through the leafy branches of trees, and know that this same wind blew across lands far away, that remain sheltered in the shadow of memory. I still hear the recitation of the Book revealed to the last Prophet and Messenger over 1400 years ago, connecting me to billions of people the world over. I hear these things, and I know that truly, wherever I am, as long as I stand firm and hold on tightly to the rope that Allaah has provided, I am home.