Excerpt 3 from The Nectar of Passion by Nazila Isgandarova

2013-02-11 17:20:00


Gunel was very impressed with the farewell sermon of the prophet Muhammad. Perhaps nothing else made her feel so deeply content:

   All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.

   Since her childhood she had felt a strong emotional bond to the prophet Muhammad. Like every child, she also had an interest in causal events. She had inherited this from her mother, who strongly believed in God’s existence but sometimes sounded very superstitious. Her father was a very conflicted person. Sometimes he wondered whether or not to believe in a God he wasn’t sure existed; sometimes he struggled with a demanding, harsh God he would like to have got rid of if he wasn’t so convinced of his existence and power.

   But her case was different. When Habil left for Canada, she was four years old. She loved him so much that for almost a week she could neither eat nor sleep. She had very weird, scary dreams.

   Sometimes she dreamed there was a monster under her bed or in the dresser, who would suddenly appear and swallow her father. She would wake up screaming “Daddy, daddy…”

   Asmar felt helpless in this situation. She could only take her to the bathroom, wash her face with cold water or give a glass of cold water in order to calm her. Gunel wished her mother could see the monster under her bed, recognize it and help her to save Daddy. But she couldn’t express herself, or her dreams. Some people told Asmar not to pay any attention to Gunel’s dreams; they would gradually disappear. When Asmar blamed herself for letting Habil go to Canada and causing Gunel to suffer, they even told that it was normal for a four year old child to grieve for an absent father. But they didn’t understand that she was capable of interpreting all these complex and unfamiliar situations in their lives that showed up in her dreams.

   Once Gunel’s grandmother gave Asmar an amulet with a picture of ‘Ali, the prophet’s cousin and the first child who believed in his prophecy, and told her to put it around Gunel’s neck. She strongly believed that it would help her. Now Gunel found this very funny, but she remembered that God really helped her at the time.

   That amulet became her ‘safety blanket’ or a ‘teddy bear,’ a kind of relational phenomenon, a special object representation of God’s promise to protect her from the monster. It replaced her Daddy who was supposed to protect her. But in her dreams her Daddy himself was a captive of the monster.

   The amulet also became a symbol of her affect-laden memories of her mother and father. As she grew older, it helped her to develop based on all possible crisis situations. It represented a transitional object that helped her to have a relationship with a non-physical divinity and also with her father who was far away from them.

   She felt that, despite the distance, her Daddy responded to her consistently and warmly, he was still loveable and trustworthy.

   The amulet had helped her to feel that Daddy didn’t ignore them, reject them or show less affection. Otherwise, shame would be triggered in her heart and she would feel insecure.

   So whenever she had a desire to cling to her Daddy and hug him, she touched her amulet. That’s why she protected her amulet. Since her childhood, any separation from her amulet would cause a threat of separation from the prophet and her Daddy, which would lead to anxiety.

   Touching her amulet helped her to control the monster, the absence of her father, and give meaning to life and allowed her to discover something new every day. So was the function of her amulet in her relationship with God.

   For her, ‘Ali’s image represented a relationship with God and played a function in her relationship with God. The proximity to the prophet through ‘Ali always stirred a strange yearning to maintain proximity to God, who was a haven of safety, especially in times of crisis, illness and insecurity.

   Now she wondered: did the prophet and God make up for the missed relationship with her father? But whatever the answer was, God was still a protective and caring ’parent’ who was always reliable and always available to her when she needed love, help and mercy.

   Mulling over these thoughts, Gunel got ready to go to the next class. Adir would be attending as well. She looked at her watch. She still had a few minutes. She slowly stood up and allowed her body to adjust blood pressure and blood flow. She thought: “Again another very long hour. Why does time go so slowly when you're bored.” But she had an idea. Instead of being bored in her next class, she could entertain herself by thinking of all kinds of different experiences in her life.As Rumi said once:

There comes a time

when sea and land come to rest.

There comes a time

when even the heavens withdraw.

There comes a time

when weary travellers

need a rest from the journey.

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