November 13, 2006


Clearly, my Ramadhan break took a little longer than expected. It was a good one, though I spent nearly the entire month alone. Normally, I would break my fasts with my Jewish colleague, who skipped lunch for nearly the entire month out of "solidarity"; quite a departure from all the years of breaking fast with family, or the six years of Ramadhan at the University of Ottawa with 200 friends every evening. All that being said, Ramadhan did afford me a unique chance to be part of the community, and I quickly found my place at the nearest mosque. That particular community was a very different demographic than what I am accustomed to, but I somehow fit right in as the token young single guy.

I was a little surprised upon seeing the imam for Tarawih on the first day. He did not at all match the image of most huffaz and imams I grew up with. Rather, he seemed like the most typical Pakistani uncle you can think of, and I was somewhat disappointed. He recited fairly well, however, and made very few mistakes. Still, I was not entirely comfortable at the beginning.

A friend used to drive me home nearly every day after tarawih. One day, he commented, "the blind hafiz is amazing, isn't he?" The blind hafiz? I didn't know who he was talking about. But lo and behold, it turns out the imam I was reading behind was completely blind, even though he made no visible indications of being so. Instantly, I developed a great deal of respect for that imam, and any superficial thoughts I had of him as a typical Pakistani uncle quickly disappeared. That revelation also reminded me about the beauty of the Quran, and the miracle of hifz. It's an amazing thing, that adults, young children and even the blind equally have access to memorizing the most beautiful text in any language. It's something that appears to be quite common, but we must never lose our sense of awe at the magnificence of it all.

A person doesn't need to look far to see the signs of Allah. Whether it be witnessing the miracle of Quran memorization, or seeing the beauty of nature, the signs are all around us. As I once said in a speech I delivered a few months ago, we don't need to wait for the moon to split; there's enough evidence in our day-to-day life.

It seems fitting to include pictures from my trip to Whistler yesterday. My cousin made the trip down from Petawawa, and we had an awesome weekend traipsing the snowy mountains and navigating dangerous cliffside highways in a fun little Yaris. There's one more activity that I'm dying to try, so I just need to convince someone else to take a weekend trip to Vancouver and accompany me on another crazy adventure.

Lions Gate Bridge, on a typically wet, dark, and rainy morning in Vancouver.

In the valley between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.

A suspension bridge through the valley.

Snow sitting atop the needles of a Western Hemlock, with Usnea lichen hanging down, as gentle snowflakes fall in the background. This picture makes a great desktop wallpaper.

More pictures here: Flickr


  1. Oh my God. Those pictures are so beautiful. I am incredibly jealous.

  2. These pictures are amazing Mashallah. It started snowing in BC? Talk about Global Warming Subhanallah!

  3. Assalaamu'alaykum

    That was very nice of your colleague, who clearly deserves a plate of 'Eid cookies!

    There is a brother in the Toronto community who is a revert and is also blind. He reads from his braille Quran. Masha'Allah. He's inspirational..and his Quran rectiation is beautiful. If you're interested, here's an interview with him where he speaks about how he came to Islam and how he taught himself to read Quran: Abdul Malik [aka Abu Hafsa]

    After reading your post, it dawned on me how this Imam whom you speak of, though without physical sight, probably has an acute 'seeing heart' so to speak. Meaning that, as you mentioned, we can look toward nature and see God's signs and the miraculous nature of creation, this brother can't do the same yet he has an attachment to the final miracle..the Quran, which requires a deeper spiritual state than to observe nature. If that makes any sense at all. SubhanAllah. His story reminds me all the more of how we (myself foremost) can deceive ourselves by being content while being detached from the Quran.

    Jazak'Allah khayr for sharing those pictures. They're absolutely breathtaking and ever-so-tempting to steal :). SubhanAllah. The one posted here that I especially like is of the bridge in the valley..oh and the night sky. SubhanAllah..surreal no doubt.

    My apologies for rambling.

  4. As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

    Isn’t it embarrassing whenever you see someone and immediately think of them a certain way – and then discover something about them that makes you realize what you did? I’m afraid that’s happened to me more times than I’d like to admit…
    Ah, well, I guess it’s human nature… I always feel ashamed of myself, though, when I find out what they’re really like, as opposed to what my first assumption of them was.

    Masha’Allah, beautiful pictures of Whistler! No winter Whistler trips for me though… not this year, anyway. Here in V. the weather is crazy – wet, and WINDY! Practically a storm!
    I like Whistler… was there a couple times, in winter and in summer. Beautiful in both seasons!

    Update soon, insha’Allah!

  5. Those pictures really are amazing, subhanAllah.

  6. Safiyyah: Eastern Canada has some comparably beautiful areas, within driving distance of most of the major cities. No need to be jealous.

    Anonymous: I think it must snow quite a bit in BC, outside of the major cities in the south. Whistler gets snow year-round, from what I hear.

    Farzeen: Wa'alaykum assalam. Yes, it was a nice gesture on the part of my colleague. Unfortunately, I couldn't get him to cut smoking for the month.

    Our imam was occasionally referring to his braille Quran, it was quite a sight. You're probably right, that in the absence of eyesight, these people develop a closer spiritual attachment to the world and beauty around them, something words probably can't describe.

    Feel free to steal any images.

    Anonymouse: Wa'alaykum assalam. Weather's been bad in Vancouver as well; you probably know about (and perhaps were also hit by) the record storms we had last week. Over 200,000 homes lost power, it was quite an ordeal. We were lucky during our Whistler trip that it warmed up a bit, and the rain we were fighting along the journey became snow.

    Asmaa: SubhanAllah indeed.

  7. Assalaamu'alaikum!

    Wow, these pics are breath-taking!
    especially the suspended bridge in the snow.. Iv never actually physically seen or been in the snow, living out in sunshine South Africa, but im totally fascinated :) as for you written piece, its amazing how people and moments experienced in our lives are meant to make an awe-inspiring impression on us, and we often lose sight of these miracles.. its beautiful that you can pick them out so carefully and make them shine for all to see :)

    Indeed, why wait for the moon to split.. what we seek is before us, around us, and inside us.. the beautious moon reflected in our hearts!

  8. Kimya: Wa'alaykum assalam, and thanks for visiting! Snow is definitely beautiful even though it can be quite a hassle to shovel and makes the roads a mess.

    As for miracles, you're right - they're all around us, to the point where they no longer seem like miracles at all. But the system of the human body itself is one of wonder and mystery; there are many passages in the Quran which instruct us to reflect on these signs.

    I used to have a poster in my room showing Halley's Comet viewed from the Arizona desert, with the following caption: "We must never lose our sense of awe at the magnificence of our universe." The Quran tells us the same thing, to reflect on the stars and the mountains and the oceans and ourselves to see that magnificence, and to let it guide us towards the Creator.