Fatimah Gomez reflects on her time at the SeekersHub Retreat, and what the Walk of Doom taught her about faith and spirituality.
The night was still and quiet, pinched with a slight crisp coolness that hung in the air calmly. The gentle echo of my footsteps bounced off the surrounding trees as I made my way to the Pavillion to join everyone for Fajr prayer. I wasn’t used to waking up this early at 4:30 in the morning. The cold air made my teeth chatter and my sleepy eyes hardly had any room to blink because they were already more than halfway closed.
My gaze travelled upwards to the sky and my eyes suddenly were wide open, drinking in the scene above where it was lit with millions of stars that clustered it. If my eyes lingered for long enough, I could make out the glittering pathway of the Milky Way. So many winking stars peppered the heavens above me, unseen to those who live in the city.
I recalled what one of our scholars had told us the day before about Allah’s creation. Shaykh Waleed Mosaad had mentioned that when the revelation of the Qur’an ceased, Allah’s communication with us humans didn’t. But rather, all of Allah’s creation that surround us is a sign from Him, and it is up to us as servants of Him to interpret what they mean. Right now, I was dazzled by the scene above. Imagining all those stars and planets to fill the universe, and myself as an individual was like nothing compared to the beauty of Allah’s creation.
I hurried along my way, not wanting to be late. As we prayed in congregation, standing side by side, I was moved by the strong and firm pact of sisterhood that wedged itself between our hearts. I’d never felt the love of sisterhood to be so strong, so non-judgmental and caring.
After praying Fajr and wishing a good morning to many of us there, I would go down by the rocks that hung themselves over the lake below, where in the afternoon many of us would go swimming and kayaking. There at the rocks,a few of us would sit together in complete silence, with the undisturbed water beneath our feet. The misty fog crawled silently like a floating ghost across the surface of the lake, fast disappearing as the minutes ticked by, taking along the night as it was extinguished by the breaking sunrise.
I mean really, where can you get to unwind and reflect in such a way when you’re living in the depths of the city? Out here we were being forced to disconnect, as there was no Wi-Fi and limited network service We were able to disengage from the distractions of our modern-day world, all the while being gently led to the focus that all of us shared deep within ourselves—Allah as the Ultimate Goal.
The Walk of Doom
A number of sisters, myself included, would later take an hour-long hike around the lake, after being challenged by Shaykh Riad Saloojee. We were to find something along the way, and many of us debated whether it would be something physical or spiritual.
The hiking trail, called the Walk of Doom, proved to be a difficult one. We tripped over hidden roots, climbed steep and rocky hills, and got very sweaty. Every time one of us wanted to give up and turn back, we would remind each other of the mysterious gain that was said to be achieved at the end of our journey.
And then, the truth behind the purpose of our hike hit me. Our hike came to an end and the path through the trees broke out into an opening that led to a small, sandy beach that lay in the glimmering water, gleaming with the sun’s reflection. The sun warmed our shining faces as it glowed down on us, and we all breathed a collective sigh in realisation that our journey was finally over.
Our hike on the path had not only taken us on a physical journey, I realised, but also a spiritual one. Shaykh Riad Saloojee had been trying to show us an example of the trials and tribulations of this life. We had to go through ups and downs, stumbling and supporting each other along the difficult path, but it all had been temporary, it wasn’t made to last, like anything else in this Dunya. I realised this as I gazed across the shining lake, realising how much I had learned just by listening to the advice and instruction of our teacher, taking the time to reflect on the signs of Allah’s creation. The struggles and tests of this world will eventually come to an end the day we meet our Lord.
Fatimah Gomez is 15 years old, and the second eldest of five. She’s currently in high school and has had a passion for writing since age 9. Recently, she completed her first book for Muslim youth, which she intends to publish soon. She enjoys playing and watching soccer, training for taekwondo, jdm cars, discovering the beauty in art and poetry and connecting with Allah’s creation.