Monday, July 6, 2015

A Visit with Shaykh Tosun

This Ramadan we were able to spend a long July 4th weekend with the Turkish Shaykh: Tosun Bayrak al Jerrahi author of The Name and the Named. This book is the inspiration of my 99 Names of Allah cards {Free Download}, so I was super excited to meet Baba (Shaykh Tosun). Baba's beautiful community in New York is on a couple of acres with a Masjid in the center surrounded by houses that community members own. They had chickens and a beautiful garden with play area for the children to play in. Every night at Iftar the grounds became this beautiful lit magical oasis filled with Thikr (Remembrance of God) and delicious food.

A group of our favorite people from Maryland/Washington DC rode up on a chartered bus to New York. The Tajdeed Institute is something we have been apart of here in Maryland, they have done many events to bring Traditional Islamic scholarship to the inner city and to Muslims in general. We were greeted by adults and children with the most beautiful adab (character). They made our stay there very comfortable.

Baba would have regular talks outside that we would sit and listen to. He would also have talks after iftar at night where we could ask him questions. I was so impressed by the character of everyone, Being of Service was ingrained in them from children. I was told that the first night of every Ramadan, Baba prepares the iftar meal and serves his community. No one is too big and too great to serve, reminded me of Ghandi when he tells his wife everyone must serve each other and tells her to clean the toilets. She said that was the work of the untouchables and he insisted it was the work of everyone.

Iftar and the nightly talks would happen in this room behind the Musalla. They would serve us tea, fruit and desserts during the nightly talks. I loved the simplicity of it all. These tables could come apart easily, they were made of a door with a protective layer of fabric surrounding it. And the base of the table were pieces of wood that fit together and come easily apart like a Waldorf inspired wooden toy.

The community would work together every night to prepare food, talking, laughing all night, getting things ready for Suhoor and Iftar.

One night I woke up for Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and my children were playing in the Masjid they had not been asleep all night! They told me about a midnight basketball tournament that they and Humble dad played in and about spending all night playing and talking with their new friends. A glimpse of community life that doesn't stop at Ramadan, traditions like Saturday night Basketball continue, where children grow up like family, and people are generally happy to be in each other's company everyday of the week.

The Masjid was simple, home like feel with hints of Turkish culture, not like the grand new Maryland Turkish Mosque. But with Turkish beauty just the same! Some of the artwork and calligraphy was done by Baba's wife. Pieces of the Kabah cover, a Date palm from Medina and Prophet Muhammad's hair blessed this sacred space.

Many of the children go to the Waldorf school across the street. Waldorf school is part of a greater Rudolf Steiner community complete with gardens, senior homes, and farm. We took a walk around the community with the Tajdeed group. We also went exploring further with our friend Khalidah and her children, sometimes getting lost, sometimes having to use the explanation "We're Semma's Friend"

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And if all the trees on the earth were pens, and the sea were ink with seven more seas to help it, the Words of Allah would not be exhausted. Verily, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Quran 31:27

Baba and his community will always remain in our hearts, may Allah bless them tremendously. Waving Salaams. ♥

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