Saturday, March 04, 2006

A visit to a Libyan saint or wali

It is spring, and my mother has decided to visit one of her favourite local saints : Sidi Asharef.

"Although the orthodox faith preached the unique and inimitable majesty and sanctity of God and the equality of God's believers, an important element of North African Islam for centuries has been a belief in the coalescence of special spiritual power in particular living human beings. The power is known as baraka, a transferable quality of personal blessedness and spiritual force said to lodge in certain individuals. Those whose claim to possess baraka can be substantiated--through performance of apparent miracles, exemplary human insight, or genealogical connection with a recognized possessor--are viewed as saints."

So five of us crammed into my car today and headed for the approximately 80km drive out of Tripoli. We packed lunch and outdoor games. The weather is gorgeous , sunny and not hot nor cold, such a change from last weekend's sandstorm - which was such a vision of hell that many thought was the day of judgment.

We first drove to the city of Gasr Benghashir the countryside was really worth seeing.Then we continued towards Tarhoona. I'm not good at directions but maybe the other Libyan bloggers could explain? Anyway I just wanted to enjoy the beauty of today, not give map coordinates.
So here we are driving through farmland, mountains, olive groves, arid places, since I'm going without a map or signposts (which are still very rare) it really is a feat to travel here. We stopped on the side road for a picnic and fun. I haven't done this for quite a while , why ? what is taking so much of my time that I forgot to enjoy the simple things ?

I asked twice for directions and finally 8km before Sidi Asharef's place I found a can see his mosque below where his tomb is also.There is a Qur'anic school annexed to the mosque and we interrupted some men in their learning. There were still using wooden tablets as in old times. It was so peaceful like we stepped into another era. We prayed the Asr, sat down for a bit , enjoyed the scenery , the goats and the birds.... by 5pm we started to head home.

I'm one of those people who falls asleep in any vehicle, boat, train,car, bus, plane you name, and as expected I started to drowse...BUT I'm driving and my co-travellers realised that I was asleep at the wheel only when we almost hit a truck ..still there was not much traffic , and I did not allow myself to be bothered or ruin the mood, just put the music louder and opened the windows to breath in the fresh crisp air.

I don't know what is the story of Sidi Asharef, except that he was some kind of holy man, I'm not even sure what miracles are attributed to him , but I hope I can find out and if any of you know you are welcome to tell us about it in the comment section.

Please enjoy the photos below....

Olive trees

Qur'anic tablet

Sidi Asharef signpost (yay)

His tomb

The mosque on top of the mountain

A Libyan house

mountain view


spring... farmland

Libya is so beautiful ...God bless her , sometimes we forget it sitting all day behind a computer desk .

Extra : excellent link about Libya.


khadijateri said...

Ohhhh! What a perfect day!

programmer craig said...

Wonderful! That's not how I imagine Libya at all. Thanks for the pics, and for sharing your day with us :)