Why Palestine?

gggg

Back in Canada, all I had to say to any friend was “I’m going to spend a few months living in Palestine,” and practically a round of applause sounded. Even my colleagues supported this decision, and that hyped me up some more. But for perplexing reasons (among them heavily affected from colonial experiences), many Palestinians living in Palestine do not share that same optimism. The moment anyone learns that I came from Canada to temporarily live in Palestine, I get the same reaction:

  • An incredulous face, along with a “My dear… what has brought you here?

Okay. I get it. Living under an illegal and dangerous occupation isn’t exactly a bliss. But this isn’t even the reason that people question my return.

What has brought me here? Why Palestine?

Well, for starters, regardless about my other career and family reasons… I’m Palestinian.

What’s up with native Palestinians not understanding why it’s perfectly legitimate for me to be here? I am a daughter of the land, after all. Once left, does it mean I would never want to come back? Here are just a few examples of things I can only really revel in Palestine:

  • Partying with aunts, uncles and cousins whom I haven’t seen in many years.
  • Listening to classical Arabic music in taxis, against the backdrop scenery of vast mountains and vineyards.
  • Being a car passenger alongside a galloping horse that is pulling a carriage of vegetables.
  • Driving through small villages and seeing donkeys, herd of sheep, and more horses alongside cars. Here, nature has the same space as technology.
  • Eating cups of corn on the go. Freshly squeezed mint lemonade. Date syrup. Grape syrup. The delight of discovering new cheesecake coffee shops here and there.
  • Speaking with the young people who have lived under occupation, yet still have such a zest and upbeat passion for life. It is not common for me to find bitter and angry teenagers here; rather, they have a hope and vision of the future, and want to be a part of building that better world.
  • When teaching an ESL class, and a Quran quote comes on screen, everyone becoming eager to recite it in perfect personalised melodies.
  • Olive trees, palm trees, and white lightbulbs gracing the streets.
  • Being pleasantly surprised how your heart can connect so easily to another’s, as though you grew up in the same house…

Palestine is an astonishing place, and it grows on you the longer you stay and give it a chance to. It has a beautiful culture, remarkable history of prophetic footsteps, a dizzying plurality of diverse people, and gorgeous landscapes. However, only those with beautiful hearts can truly appreciate the blessing of having a chance to walk on its soil.

So why Palestine? Because there’s nowhere else quite like it.

May God protect Palestine.

And He Knows Best.

A.S.

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Wandering Through Jerusalem

Jerusalem (al-Quds) is breathtaking.

There was no way that the photos of both masajid al-Alqsa’s (the old and new buildings), and the golden Dome of the Rock, could fit into one album. This is simply Part 1 of 3 photography taken in Jerusalem a couple of months ago.

These in particular were taken simply while walking and wandering around.

Center of Gold

Center of Gold

Glint of a Sight

Glint of a Sight

On the Way to Jerusalem

On the Way to Jerusalem

Palm Tree

Palm Tree

The Dome, Afar

The Dome, Afar

A White Sky with Blue

A White Sky with Blue

Sky High

Sky High

Art of a Mother’s Love

Art of a Mother's Love

Beige Umbrellas

Beige Umbrellas

Shops in Jerusalem

Shops in Jerusalem

Beige, Blue & Green

Beige, Blue & Green

Symmetry in Architecture

Symmetry in Architecture

Exploring

Exploring

Spray-Paintings of Holy Sites

Spray-Paintings of Holy Sites

Naming After History

Naming After History

Star Light, Star Bright

Star Light, Star Bright

Outside Markets

Outside Markets

Where Archs Are the Norm

Where Archs Are the Norm

Colors, Sights & Sound

Colors, Sights & Sound

Delicious Ka’k Qudsi

Delicious Ka'k Qudsi

Bird in Hiding

Bird in Hiding

Art for Tea

Art for Tea

el Zaatar

el Zaatar

School Established 784 H

School Established 784 H

Fading Color

Fading Color

Hustle & Bustle

Hustle & Bustle

In Old Jerusalem

In Old Jerusalem

Kuffiyahs Everywhere

Kuffiyahs Everywhere

Nets to Catch All that Garbage… (thrown by settlers onto Palestinians)

Nets To Catch All That Garbage...

Rectangular Spaces

Rectangular Spaces

Garbage Thrown by Israeli Settlers onto the Palestinians

Garbage Thrown by Israeli Settlers onto the Palestinians

Freedom Graffiti (الحرية = freedom)

Freedom Graffiti

Sisters

Sisters

Light Despite Dark

Light Despite Dark

 

Travelling Tomorrow

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I felt a most peculiar sensation this morning.

As I walked outside with the sun’s rays stroking my face, I felt inexplicably as the night before I left for Palestine in July 2009. I was tensely excited, slightly nervous, determined to make the most of it, and anxious to see my relatives that I hadn’t seen for over a decade.

But this is not even close to the case right now – I am not physically going anywhere new, so why do I still feel as if I am about to meet a long-lost sister?

What could it be? Was it a wisp of a memory from the lip balm I just purchased, since it is the exact flavor and brand as the one I’d worn with me when I’d gone to Jerusalem… was it simply the weather, putting me in an especially good mood… or rather, was I actually about to go on a vacation without knowing it… you know… slipped my mind?

I thought about it briefly and confirmed, no, I know I’m not traveling anywhere physically. (God help me if I’d forget that I’m due to visit el-Khaleel the next day!)

But I am about to travel: mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

For if Ramadan is not perceived as the ultimate yearly journey of a lifetime (excluding hajj), I don’t know what could be.

Perhaps the reason this sensation struck me as so unusual is because I have never thought of Ramadan as such. It is a month in which good deeds are multiplied, and so I do my best to accumulate as much of them as possible. I pray and fast and make lots of duaa. It is a month of worship, after all.

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But the realization that it is also a vacation for the heart, for the mind, for the soul, to refresh and rejuvenate your spirit until the next one- اللهم بلغنا رمضان  – well, let’s just say no wonder I feel as excited as a child who stands next to packed luggage and clutches a ticket to Disney World. It just sort of hit me… in a kind, gentle and loving way, of course. 🙂

May Allah allow this month to be a means for us to connect with Him, and may He increase our deeds and faith and sincerity on all levels. May He provide a way of ease for those in times of great difficulty.

اللهم أمين!

-A.S.