I’m sorry for taking so long to do a blog post. I’ve been away on vacation and it’s been so overwhelming catching up upon my return that it’s taken me a while.

It’s like I’m digesting all the things I saw in Spain and Portugal, all the ideas that percolated through the sand in my mind to be refined into new ideals within myself.

Interestingly enough my husband said that after Spain, Toronto seems kind of boring. And there’s some truth in that. But at the same time is that necessarily a bad thing?

You don’t want the place you call home to be too dramatic, do you? Safe is kind of boring, and you definitely want it safe.

The funny thing is that it’s gotten to the point with me, that getting on an airplane is not my idea of fun. But at the same time, I’ve always wanted to see Spain, and particularly the Al Hambra, ever since I read the final bit of The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery where the Barney Snaith character praises it and tells Valancy Sterling (the heroine) that it’s as close to her blue castle as she’s ever going to physically get.

I’ve seen documentaries on The Al Hambra. I’ve seen numerous pictures, especially of the lion fountain in the women’s quarters where the lions (that look kind of like sheep) spout water out of their mouths. It’s the highlight of the Al Hambra apparently, and I wondered if it would be like Stonehenge, where I’d immersed myself in the significance of the place so much that actually going there would be a huge let down.


It was not.

Walking through the enchanted halls of the Al Hambra was like nothing I had imagined! At every turn, in every quarter, I kept uttering, “Wow!” automatically, without realizing it was coming out of my lips.

It is simply something that needs to be experienced.

It was so beautiful in fact that the Spanish people did not destroy it.

Oh it became derelict over time but even through the ruins and the looting people like Washington Irving could still see the romance and beauty of what it had once been and the Spanish government took it upon themselves to restore it and not only is it a world Unesco heritage site it is the most famous tourist destination in Spain.

They limit the number of people who go there though to about eight thousand. The tickets you purchase are time stamped and if you are late by more than twenty minutes you miss your turn to enter.

And yet I have a strange reticence in revealing all the things I’ve been up to.

Came across a hadith of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) where he said something like: Be discreet in order to achieve what you want for everyone who is blessed is envied.

And it’s funny but I’d been coming to that conclusion on my own. I’m tending to hold my projects a lot closer to my chest, letting fewer and fewer people see them until they’ve come to fruition. I didn’t even want to mention I was going to Spain and Portugal before I went. But now that it’s a fait accomplie then it’s kind of safe.

The most curious thing was that as I was making my way through the beauty of the Al Hambra complex I kept wondering, and I kept asking God, “Why? Why did you allow these people, who created such beauty, to fall? And fail?”

And as often happens, the answer came in the form of an inspiration, a little while later. A little voice that said, “Because they were not good.”

And even as it occurred to me, I thought of how my own life’s journey has molded me into the person I am, and I often wonder, if I hadn’t been so persecuted, and known the pain of persecution would I have become someone who vows not to perpetrate it on someone else?

And having grown up in the shadow of western society, instead of only admiring its accomplishments, I have also grown to see its shortcomings and seen where my own Muslim upbringing has aspects that are superior and that sustain me through the mess of crass materialism.

And growing up, didn’t I view it as a competition? Didn’t I feel for the first stage of my existence that I was hopelessly outclassed by my Judeo-Christian environment? Didn’t I feel inferior? And didn’t I gradually come to see that true value has nothing to do with material possessions but rather has to do with the evolution of one’s character?

If I too had been born to the opulence of the Al Hambra without having seen any other reality, how would I have ever learned such lessons?

The original Moors who carved so faithfully into the marble walls, “The only conqueror is God” must have believed that adage faithfully, but for the generations that followed, such a text must have been no more than a sweet sentiment and part of the decoration.

the only conqueror is god this is repeated all over the nasrid palaces

My feeling of horror grew as the tour guide told us about some of the things that happened in those beautifully carved halls.

There is a verse in the Quran that urges believers to travel through the world and see what became of the people who have gone before, and it’s one of the reasons why I love to travel so much. I love history! I don’t care about the beaches on the Mediterranean we visited. Sure I could appreciate the sunset on the beautiful waters and the peace of it, but what I really love is to see the ruins of former civilizations and figure out how they went from so great a stature to such rubble.

It is both humbling and illuminating, and it reminds me yet again of the adage that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it!

I will be writing more about my Spain and Portugal trip. There is SO much to say!

But this is enough for now.