Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Islamic Heritage of Where I Live

Pictured above (our family home, a 500-400 year old stone and mud structure [we also have more modern homes;) in other places of Oman]). The area of Oman where I live now is populated mainly by Arab tribes (Azdis) who migrated from Yemen when the Ma'rib dam collapsed in the first century A.D. Many of these tribes who came brought with them their knowledge of building with stone and mud (and sarooj---mud burnt with palm fibres and stronger than modern cement), sword fighting skills sharpened against the Persians and Roman Christians who had sought to conquer them in Yemen, and their Jewish religion.Mazen bin Ghaddouba Al Tai Al Sama'ili (from Sumail) was the first Omani to embrace Islam. Hearing of it, he was the first to travel to Medina where he said to the Prophet Mohamed sallalahu alahi wa salaam "Oh you descendent of the blessed and nobles, Allah has guided the people of Oman to the right path of your religion." Returning to Oman, Mazen bin Ghaddouba built the first Mosque in the country, and though it has been renovated into a modern facility, it still stands to this day, pictured below: Shortly after the Prophet Mohamed, sallalahu alahi wa salaam, sent a letter to the Kings of Oman, brothers Jaiffar and Abd, sons of Julanda, inviting them to Islam. It has long since been donated to a museum [so I've only seen the copy :( ]. My co-wife's tribe donated one of their 400 year old stone and mud homes as a heritage museum of daily life in Oman and there this copy of the letter is kept:The Kings of Julanda accepted, and to a place afterwards renamed "Izki" from the word "zakat" was where Amir Ibn Alas sent to distribute the zakat paid by Omani Muslims, to the needy and poor in Oman, rather than to the Captial of Islam, in Madinah. Omanis rapidly embraced Islam, including my co-wife and husband's previously Jewish tribe. Below is a picture of ruins from around that time period (but modernly maintained up until 1970) in Old Izki:One of the things I personally love about where I live is the Prophet Mohamed's, sallalahu alahi wa salaam, blessing on it. When it was witnessed how Omanis accepted Islam, he, sallalahu alahi wa salaam said: "My religion is Islam, and the people of Oman will be granted more fertility and game. Blessedness is guaranteed for those who believe in me and saw me, and to those who believe in me without having seen me. Allah will strengthen Islam in the hearts of the Omanis." The Omanis made several famous delegations to Medinah proclaiming their allegience to the central Islamic government in Madinah under the authority of Rasoolulah. After two particularily large delelgations led by peoples from Al Ghubaria (Oman) Rasoolulah said: "God bless the people of Oman, for they believed in me without seeing me." Upon Rasoolulah's death Amir Ibn Alas returned to Medinah with some zakat and a delegation of Omanis to give to Caliph Abu Bakr R.A.., upon which Abu Bakr said: "Oh people of Oman, you willingly embraced Islam. You obeyed him and caused no division or strife, so God has strengthed you for the purpose of good. Then when Ibn Alas was dispatched to you without army or armour, you responded despite being remote, and abided despite your great number; there is no favour better than your favours, no more honest actions than yours, and what the Prophet has said about you is honor enough until the Judgement day. Then Amir Ibn Alas resided in your land in a dignified manner and left it safely.... You had been good until the day the news came of the Prophet's death, when you proved yourself even more praiseworthy. I give council, and I share my spirit and my money with you, in order to make you, by the will of Allah, wise in what you say and guide your hearts and minds to the path of righteousness... I am not worried that you will be beaten in your land, or that you might renounce your religion. Allah bless you."
I know it isn't necessarily so in other parts of Oman, but in our village, everyone and I mean everyone prays all their sunnah prayers. Music isn't blasted out of cars on street corners (stores only play nasheeds as they know families don't like music), houses are very simple (that IS changing as people forget about showing off and giving ect and not being content with a decent salary), and hijab is very good. No one wears Gamboo3a pouf hair clips, the only makeup I see is kohl, women wear loose clothes, men wear loose clothes, and both have something on their head. No hair is seen on hijabs, and most cover their chests, mixing isn't done but people aren't extreme about it. Men and women study together at University and women work in almost all professions. Neighbors visit eachother. I actually don't hear alot of gossip or backbiting. Families are close. It isn't perfect, but it is as close as I have found anywhere. And while the black abaya has replaced the long colourful cotton lesos fringed with yarn which were worn draping over the inner garment (long mid-shin tunic and loose pants that are tight at the ankle and headscarf) as jilbab, Oman was closed from much of the world until the 70s and until then kept from modernization, so for historians many customs remain as they have been for thousands of years, including modes of dress, farming, building, and cooking. For me, it has made studying the historic Islamic clothing of Omani women very easy;). Just felt like describing where I'm at lol, and where my Canadian self is trying to fit in.


Boxie said...

I like the pics mashallah, Everything looks really nice.

Adventurous Ammena said...

they had tons of history books on Oman in the WHSmith in the airport.. I was soo tempted but then we already had soo much stuff to carry with us ;)

Anonymous said...

wow! Your house is soo nice! MashaaAllah!