I like rooftops because they are freedom.
As I write this, I’m seated on one.
No ordinary one, mind you;
but one in a city of immense peace;
on top of a building so blessed that only one other is greater than it.
Generally, people aren’t aware of rooftops.
They live their lives down below,
never thinking of how serene and peaceful the world above is.
It’s the same in this place:
hundreds of thousands have come to this city,
to this building,
yet only a fraction have ventured up to this rooftop.
Down below, the crowds are swelling –
with new faces each and every day,
from places far and wide,
each with a culture,
a unique life story.
We meet each other –
all speaking different languages,
sometimes not able to communicate at all,
other than in sign language –
yet our greeting is the same;
a universal greeting of peace –
taught to us by the Messenger of peace,
who established this,
in this very place
some fourteen centuries ago.
He would be proud
to see his nation gathered here today –
such variety in colour, speech, and manner –
but all committed to the way of life he brought.
All here to visit him,
and honour his resting place –
the ground where he,
along with the giants of his generation,
strove to build a society
based on justice,
and universal principles of goodness –
recognised by every single soul –
whether they know it or not.
They walked this very earth –
by day and night,
in wartime and during peace,
hardship and times of ease;
knowing that their time here was only temporary –
a short period of tests –
the results of which would determine
their home in the eternal realm.
And some were assured of their success even before their earthly life ended;
yet still they struggled,
still they strove,
still they feared
that they weren’t living up to the life expected of them.
Yet that generation
was the best of people raised up for mankind.
They enjoined what was good,
and forbade what was evil;
and most importantly,
they believed in God.
And our generation today
doesn’t live up to that example –
to the cultural pollution
of nations that do not truly believe in their Creator.
For if they did,
their lives would reflect more justice,
and eagerness to fulfil the responsibilities placed upon them
as stewards of this Earth.
Yet in this blessed place,
this generation –
those who have come to visit –
witnesses the way life should be.
We feel the tranquillity of the way of life we call our own.
We experience it first hand –
in ways we could never experience back home.
We feel spiritually rejuvenated
by this environment –
re-establishing our connection to our Creator,
the Owner of Peace,
the Master of all things –
both worldly and beyond human comprehension.
Grown men break down in tears –
begging their Lord for forgiveness,
and supplicating for all that they need in their lives,
and all that they desire in their existence.
made with such sincerity –
both in private,
and where others can see them –
but without inhibition,
for in those moments,
nobody else matters:
it’s just them and their Lord –
without anyone or anything to break that bond.
this City of Peace
serves as a purifier for the souls that visit it;
helping to wash away years,
and lifetimes of mistakes –
and giving hope that maybe,
when our journeys take us back home,
we’ll be able to recapture some of the magic we felt here,
and live lives of peace, justice, and submission
to the One we owe everything to.
*This piece was inspired by my time in Madinah, on the rooftop of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) mosque, a few weeks prior to Hajj 2011.