Wise old sage. I met an old man today that had so much to teach me. It was as though every gray hair on his head held within it a century of experiences. He’s a German man that moved to Cairo over 50 years ago. He didn’t expect to stay here but for whatever reason God caused him to plant his feet in Egypt.
I asked him why he decided to come here, and why he decided to stay. I wanted to understand if his reasoning coincided with my own.
He told me that long ago when he was in Germany with his teacher, they sat with a large number of Turkish workers. The workers had asked the teacher to pray for them as they had left their country seeking opportunity, wealth, and sustenance to be able to care for their children and wives back home. They were good men, with kind hearts and beautiful intentions. They asked the teacher, “What should we do, as we are finding difficulties here with our faith?”
He turned to them and replied, “I would prefer that you all went back to your families and live off of water and bread, than to live in a place where you never hear the adhan.”
I know for many this seems so extreme, you might read this and disagree. Yet, I found in his words a well of purifying water. Now here I am with his student, now he is the teacher, the shaykh who has lived much of his life doing exactly as his teacher had once prescribed for him.
When it was time for prayer we stood and lined up. I had assumed my friend would lead but instead he made room for this man. I didn’t think it suitable as his voice was soft and quiet and clearly indicated his age. He stood slowly and adjusted himself in front of us, then raised his hands, “Allahu Akhbar” with such power and might that my heart shook.
At that moment I realized the power of his teacher’s words. Words that he inherited, lived, and taught. Words that I pray you don’t misconstrue but instead reflect on their value. Words that came from a person of God to people who sought God, like a door that leads to the Divine, welcoming you into His presence.
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