Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The earth of Karbala

He created human (insan) from sounding clay like unto pottery (Quran 55:14)
Earth, clay, has special signficance - our creation, and when water is not available we use earth for tayammum (cleansing before prayers). Many (though, not all) Shia Muslims, when postrating in prayer, place the forehead on small pieces of clay, often made from earth/sand of Karbala, called trubah, or mohr. And some also say that the earth of Karbala has healing properties ... Allahu 'Alim.

And in our prayers/salat/namaz the position that is said to be the highest, is the one of prostration: when we bring our forehead to the ground, the earth. Al-Ghazali said:

(You) are bringing the most precious part of your body, namely your face, down to meet the most lowly of all things: the dust of the earth.... You are restoring the branch to its root, for of dust you were created and to dust you shall return.

Over the years, I have often been fascinated with Native American telling of stories, and found the messages contained to be so familiar. A few years ago, I was at a gathering that included a Native American story teller, and he also sang a few songs --- one of the songs sounded so much like Hu Allah Hu Allah - that I went up to him, and asked him about it... he said, that those who are close to the earth, we all hear the same sounds.

As the Quran says:

Have you not seen how whatsoever is in the heavens and in the earth glorifies Allah? (24:41)

And there is also a tradition, often narrated during Muharram, about how Gabriel gave our beloved Prophet (peace and blesssings upon him) some earth from Karbala, and foretold that Imam Husain would be shaheed, when that earth turned red.

This is, then, our earth, that we so often disrespect, and treat so badly. Inshallah, if we can just take a moment to remember, what this is that we are treating so badly: this is our root, earth, that is glorifying Allah...

4 comment(s):

  • Salaams

    This is beautiful and Muharram is becoming a special time for me.

    By the way, fot those of you are a friend of the Native Americans, remember Ward Churchill.




    By Blogger Julaybib, at 2/15/2005 05:27:00 AM  

  • Beautiful, Altaf. Thank you! This should go into a "best of Ihsan" menu, IMO

    By Blogger Leila M., at 2/15/2005 07:40:00 AM  

  • As Salaam U Alaikum,

    Mashallah. nice post.

    Some have said that the clay used to create the first human was taken from Karbala, which is why it may have healing and harmonising properties...

    The concept of "Turbah" taken wholistically is very beautiful. While many scholars say it is wajib, my reading of hadiths indicate that it is mustahab (recommended) practice. I like the idea that we prostrate upon something natural, and that we are not enslaved to (which is why materials that can be worn or eaten are not recommended)...

    By Blogger malangbaba, at 2/15/2005 08:24:00 AM  

  • Salaam,

    Thank you for this post, very beautiful, and so true, how often do we treat this earth so poorly. Alhamdulliah, for the post.



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/16/2005 08:00:00 PM  

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