The day the camel ran over to kill me…

Illustration by 50% Syrian

Two years ago, or maybe last year, I can’t remember… I went camping with my friends in this place called Little Petra, 10 kilometers away from the well known Nabataean city of Petra, south of Jordan. (I sound like a press release, don’t I?).

El mohem, my friends stayed in the major tent at the camping site to play cards, one of the most boring things one can do on a trip (or generally). So… I decided to pick up my guitar and lyrics and sit on my own in an acoustically rich spot a bit out of their sight, but only a few meters away. I picked a cushion-filled area romantically nestling in a hollow cracking open the desert mountain hugging the site. The acoustics were great so I sat there for an hour or so singing, experimenting with sound and enjoying the experience.

At one point when I was still in the Zone, unaware of my surroundings, very much taken by the experience, focused on the new song I was making, I looked up… and it looked like a huge camel standing in the distance had just locked eyes with me. The minute our eyes locked, he started running towards me producing clouds of dust around him…

Darn, he was fast, there was no time for me to do anything other than stand up and lean on my guitar. In a second I could tell I was trapped, and no escape plan would work; I was inside a hollow, to run forward was to get even closer to him and die earlier. So I decided to accept my fate and die where I was standing. It hit me that I was going to die that day. “That’s it,” I said to myself. I savored those last moments of awareness, of being who I am, of being “alive” – and uttered “Ash-hadu Anna La Ilaha Illa Al Allah wa Anna Mohammadan Rasool Allah” in my heart. A certain quiet came over me and I was ready to leave my body to my next life.

Life felt so trivial at that moment, nothing mattered anymore, there was emptiness and a camel running over to kill me.

The camel was one meter away, one meter away, when two Bedouins jumped in from nowhere, controlled and steered him away. They struggled with him a bit, but managed to walk him back to the tree he was tied to.

I stood there for a few minutes. I had the awareness of a dying person a second ago, now I had to bring back all the attachments and mental processes related to living. I was still on earth… what a feeling!

I carried my things and went to see my friends, who were all stunned because they saw the camel run and thought I must have been dead by now. It all happened so fast and they had no time to move (or they were traitors hung on a game of cards and didn’t mind losing one of their troupies for a lousy victory). We laughed about it, and they all were happy to see me come back from the tunnel.

What I learnt that day was… death was an easy thing to do. Just trust in Allah and let go. I also captured the true taste of freedom; when you let go of everything and see one Truth, Allah – when there’s only Allah, there’s great freedom. Freedom is to shed all skins, all things, all of life and stand timeless in a moment where there is nothing, no past, no tomorrow. A moment of goodbye is freedom.

Our death is our wedding with eternity.
What is the secret? “God is One.”
The sunlight splits when entering the windows of the house.
This multiplicity exists in the cluster of grapes;
It is not in the juice made from the grapes.
For he who is living in the Light of God,
The death of the carnal soul is a blessing.
Regarding him, say neither bad nor good,
For he is gone beyond the good and the bad.
Fix your eyes on God and do not talk about what is invisible,
So that he may place another look in your eyes.
It is in the vision of the physical eyes
That no invisible or secret thing exists.
But when the eye is turned toward the Light of God
What thing could remain hidden under such a Light?
Although all lights emanate from the Divine Light
Don’t call all these lights “the Light of God”;
It is the eternal light which is the Light of God,
The ephemeral light is an attribute of the body and the flesh.
…Oh God who gives the grace of vision!
The bird of vision is flying towards You with the wings of desire.

– Rumi

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About 50% Syrian

What is identity? I was raised Arab (of varying origins), with a Syrian mother, and Moroccan, Lebanese and Tunisian great grandfathers and grandmothers. I always felt 50% Syrian, and this percentage mattered to me more than anything else. Love of my life, my late Sufi grandmother, is Syrian... all her bedtime stories were about her life in Damascus. Damascus is where the heart dwells.
This entry was posted in Sufism & Syria and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The day the camel ran over to kill me…

  1. Yaak says:

    Do I contradict myself?
    Very well then, I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
    “Song of Myself” Walt Whitman, US Poet
    Good to have you back from what you believe is a “next life”. It must have been the Shahadatain that has kept you for us!
    Ps: feel free to edit my comment.

  2. 50% Syrian says:

    How old are you?

  3. Yaak says:

    43 and still counting!

  4. 50% Syrian says:

    God bless your counting

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