My Shrine...

As I was staring out of the window, I noticed the full moon.
I remember when I was a child, I associated the full moon with my love for my grandmother.
I used to tell her: " Bibi, every time I see the full moon, I see you. You are my moon."

I absolutely adored my grandmother. She loved me kindly, warmly, with no strings attached...
As benevolently and as gently as the moonlight.

So naturally on a full moon, I remember her.
As a matter of fact, I remember all my departed ones, members of my family, my great grand parents, my ancestors...Everyone I have ever heard of, even those remotely related to me.

Remembering them gives me a sense of continuity...A sense of belonging.
And now that Iraq is in pieces, their rememberance is even more of a priority for me.

As a matter of fact, I dream of them often, or more like they visit me in my dreams ... rather too often, these days.
And true to our traditions, every time they visit me in my dreams, I make it a point to offer food or alms to any worship place (be it mosque or church) in their souls name.

Another thing that reminds me a lot of my departed ones is Sheikh al Gaylani(Gilani) mosque and shrine in downtown Baghdad.

Sheikh AbdelKader Al Gilani was a sufi and a good number of my family followed his teachings.
Some even say that we are related to him and can trace our roots right back to 13th century Baghdad through the Gaylani school.

So when I heard that Al Gaylani mosque and shrine was bombed, something in me snapped.
I felt it physically, something around my heart...

I have often visited this mosque, with members of my family, one of which was my grandmother.

We would sometimes go in the morning and sometimes in the early evenings.
In the mornings, women (sunnis and shias - we never thought of these terms before the occupation) would congregate, pray and pay their tributes.
Some would distribute candies because a secret vow or wish had come true.
So whilst praying, sweets would fall around me and it was always a good omen.

In the evenings, you could hear after the muezzin's call to prayer, the chanting -Dhikr - of the sacred Divine names, repeated over and over until they mingled with the sunset and became One.

This shrine is more than just a place of worship for me.
Every time I walked in there, I would draw strength, feeling it infusing my roots with a new breath...
Everytime I sat there, I connected with all those who sat there before me, all the way back to the 13th century...
This place symbolized for me, my sense of belonging, my sense of being.

In my mind, this place was my point of reference, like some lieu that my inner compass recognized, gravitated towards, affiliated and identified with...
An attachment beyond time, space and geography. An attachment like some invisible rope handed down through generations of worshippers and contemplators. All the way back...

When it got bombed , I asked Aziz who knows this mosque better than anyone else, who was behind it. He replied matter of factly as if he knew it all along :" Mahdi of Iran, Mossad and the Americans."... And I believe Aziz for he knows.

And instead of sweets falling as a good omen, falling debris buried the wounded...And instead of sacred chants uniting with the sunset, the cries of mourning...

What have you done?
Not only have you smashed my country into tiny pieces.
Not only have you slaughtered my people.
Not only have you snatched my loved ones, my family, my friends, away from me.
Not only have you destroyed our homes.
Not only have you exiled thousands of us.
But you have also managed to shatter my memories, pull them out from their roots, like some unwanted weed.
You have managed to reach the only sacred place I had left.
The only place I had jealously safeguarded, secretly held in silence, lest you should find out about it.
But you even managed to penetrate that too.
Leaving me with nothing...
Leaving me with absolutely nothing but this pen and paper and a full moon staring coldly back at me.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Salman Shalhoob.


Anonymous said…

I can relate to the first part of your sincere account of past times with Grandmother and the anguish in the end.

For we all set under the same sky, moon, and sun. The clouds that has pass over your head has passed mine.

It just goes to show no person owns nothing but the courage and loyalty in their heart.

Stay in the circle and be true to yourself. The rest has no certainty not even today.

Anonymous said…
Dearest Layla,

I feel your pain and your sense of deep loss.

To many of us, sacred places (of worship), whether they are Mosques or Churches, are no-go zones, places where we MUST observe respect. You friend, Aziz, is absolutely right about who is responsible. I believe that many of us already know that NO Iraqi would commit such a terrible crime (and that includes the Mosque in Samarra, by the way)despite the attempt by the stooge western media which tries to portray that these attacks on Mosques are ethnically-based.

You are surrounded by enemies who are not human, and far below the animal kingdom.

I cannot find any more words, Layla, because nothing can soften the pain of your loss.
G.Gar said…

Ideas animate people. Memories are like dreams Both of them are ideas that have materialised!

Only the transparent and the faithful to his existance can see. your grandmother is there somewhere, and it is REALLY her that is coming to you princess!

I really wish that only 10% of Arab women were like you. I'm sure that we would have been better than Japan if that were the case.

Now about the mosque, Why do you think the rotten dogs have blow up the mosque?

Iraqi heritage is the most continious, original and the greatest on earth. Humanity must remain thankful till doom's day to Iraq!

So, may I ask where is the UNESCO? where is the U.N? Or they only care for stonehedges and and Iraq's self defence capabilities.
Anonymous said…

thank you for communicating your thoughts&feelings,
I feel your pen gives these places and events(irak) meaning, more than just evoking hate...
your pen has effect,go on,your work breathes live,
from the ashes of the meaningless destruction!

Layla Anwar said…
Thank you all for your support, as always.
Layla Anwar said…
I have been receiving mails that they cannot read my blog. It seems it is too dark and the print does not show. I can see my blog . Has anyone else got this same problem? any ideas? any suggestions?
Layla Anwar said…
Amre, this is a reply to the comments you made on the previous post.
I have just been listening to Saad al Hariri very long interview.
He said and I had read that elsewhere that there is an Iranian-Saudi rapprochement.
My feeling is that the one who is about to be cornered big time now is Syria. That explains why Nasrallah has kept a rather low profile (for a so called anti zionist) regarding the Nahr al Bared massacres (and the lebanese army is now the al khat al ahmar- red line according to him) and my hunch says that there will be a rapprochement between Nasrallah and the current Hariri govt.
Which means on the regional level and this is the way it will be reflected Iran will drop Syria like a hot potato.
I think Iran has reached an agreement with The US on Iraq. Saudi Arabia whose interests are the interests of the US will butt in. It is in the ideological interests of US , Israel, Iran and Saudi not to have anything remotely resembling Arab Nationalism, Patriotism, self development, self reliance...etc etc...
The first ones who paid the price and will continue to pay the price are the Palestinians and of course now the Iraqis and soon to be followed by Syria. (they will probably aim for regime change first, as the Allawis are close to Iran's shi'ism and then they will let the beast loose to run havoc.) I pray that the syrian people will realize what is awaiting them.
In other words, Iran does not care about Arabs and Iran does not give a damn about the palestinians either.
So yes, your observations on the arab street are correct, but somehow they will be contained with the new bogey man al Qaeda which will be branded left right and center and which has supposedly reared its ugly head in Belad al Sham.
LostHere said…
So very sad!

Meanwhile here in the States we read:
President Bush envisions a long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq similar to the one in South Korea where American forces have helped keep an uneasy peace for more than 50 years, the White House said Wednesday

Is he delusional?
Is this country out of their mind?
An uneasy peace? ...or a blatant occupation?
And the US population keeps on shopping...

So very sad!

Cindy Sheehan said the other day on an interview on Democracy Now, and I quote
" American population that doesn't give the Iraq war one bit of attention, doesn't think about it, doesn't have to think about it. They don't want to think about the death and destruction and the pain that's being caused by the government that they're giving their tacit support to by their silence. You know, we care more about who's the next American idol, what was in Anna Nicole's refrigerator when she died, than the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives that have been sacrificed for the greed for power and money that this country is always on the prowl for."

And this afternoon I read, and I quote again
""Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, told
Pentagon reporters by video conference that he is pressing his military officers to reach out to the tribes, to some small insurgent groups and to religious and political leaders to push them to stop the violence.

"We are talking about cease-fires, and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces," Odierno said from Camp Victory in Baghdad""

Signing some papers so they won't attack us?
How about getting the "puck" out of there and let Iraqi people find a way forwards? I mean, it was not so long ago they did not have any concerns about what dogma they followed....
I just can't understand!

By the way Layla, I have also had the same problem with your blog for the last two days. I checked today from the office at work and there was not problem, but when I got to my PC, same problem, even after rebooting. I finally clicked on one of the archive links that was barely visible and the whole thing showed up. There may be some external interference... I better check my PC defenses.

Thank you for your thoughts.
Anonymous said…
Some one posted your comment on my space and this was my response to your moving piece...

Message -----------------
From: Kyle
Date: Jun 1, 2007 4:07 AM

Your bulletin is powerful...

It invokes strong feelings... While our current state of affairs is one of great loss and tragedy. Know that the global community is watching what is unfolding before us... People appear to be going about there day to day without really caring about what is happening. But trust they are affected in ways that are not outwardly visible. I have undergone tremindous changes over the last years especially the last one. None of this goes un-noticed... There is a quote I recently read that I found to be most moving; "Only infinite patience produces immediate results." There is a spiritual awakening taking place and it is global in scale... And it's acts such as these that jar the sleepy to a higher level of consciousness. A giant is being awaken and missles planes ships will be powerless against it. I truly feel your loss. I grew up muslim. I love the call to prayer (athan) from the mosque down to my soul. Brick stone and mortar have been loss but your memories have not been shattered only jolted... Use the energy from your loss to strengthen your spirit catapulting you to a higher frequency of enlightenment. Don't conjure up feelings of hate which only take you farther from the Source (God). Practice tolerance and redirect that energy into love for your spiritual community. Use that passion to teach and reach others who suffer as you do. Your memories have not been taken from you and I believe that the ones who have passed from here who knew us are still here from time to time watching... loving...

I don't know how to close this writting... I just was moved to reach out to you... But know that while I don't in a physical sense know you... Spiritually I do and I love you. For we are all connected bound by God. To inflict harm or pain to another is to infict the same unto yourself. God has created every single one of us out of love. Even as human beings we can not create or nurture something we loathe... God is love. He loves all his creation. So how could I not love you...

War will come to a cease... As I said as people are awaken and we move as a unit change will be exacted. I feel this will happen in our lifetime and we will all bare witness to God's love in action!

Peace & Love...
Layla Anwar said…
Lost here,

Hola hombre, please tell me if you keep having the same problem or not.
Thanks for your comments.
Layla Anwar said…

Hello and thanks for your comment.
I was touched by what you had to share and say. But please tell me how do you expect to practice"tolerance" when 3 of my relatives have dissapeared in american detention camps and a few have been killed...
I would be very interested in finding out what tolerance from across the atlantic looks like.
Anonymous said…
Layla Anwar,

Tears... they fill my eyes and fall down my left cheek following your comment... Again I truly feel your loss. I will not say I know what you are going through because what you are going through I have not experienced. Yet I know loss... Loss of those closest to you due to violent acts. I know the emptiness that consumes your insides following such a loss. But do we fill that emotional and spiritual cavity with hate???

There was a story in the news here a couple of months ago that moved me to a state of awe...

A murderer in Philidelphia held children hostage in a school then killed some or all of the children. The murdered childrens parents, "Quakers" (a christian based spiritual community) counselled the gentleman who commited the killings of their children...

I was overwhelmed having 2 small children of my own and knowing the immense POWER not force it would take to even sit in the same room with the man that kills your children, let alone counsel him... Those parents reached a level of spiritual enlightenment I aspire to attain...

This kind of mercy and forgiveness is at the highest spiritual frequency. At these levels I would say you have completely shut down ego and need for physical worldly human wants or atleast learned to control them and operate at such a high level spiritually. Now I'm not christian but I must pay respect to such a selfless act regardless of what religion they are. I also understand that is not weakness... In fact it is the antithesis to resist the the most primal of human instincts protecting your offspring. What those Quakers were able to do was look beyond the murderers heinous acts and gaze directly into his spirit... Powerful. They saw a spirit lost and trapped in it's own physical cage, tourmented by emotions driving him to insanity which caused him to commit these most atrocious acts. They forgave him with a mercy typically associated with the supernatural...

God created us perfectly, our emotions are what make our experiences here on earth rich. But our purpose here I am beginning to feel is to express a love that superciedes these emotions. Emotions that drive us to do things at times we can come to regret...

Were it not for emotions our lives would be without challenge and color...

And it is these emotions while adding beauty to our experiences here, they, at the same time drag us down like a dead weight keeping us from true freedom. When we can create balance from within, appreciating our emotions from an observational stand point all the while operating from our spirit, it is at that moment we will have arrivied and will be of the most good for our global spiritual community... Salam
LostHere said…
"To inflict harm or pain to another is to inflict the same unto yourself. God has created every single one of us out of love. Even as human beings we can not create or nurture something we loathe... God is love. He loves all his creation."

WOW! my friend, very nice sentiments, but...

There is a say "With friends like this who needs enemies", well, I would apply that to this LOVE... because if he loves all his creation, what is going on?
Or perhaps we are talking about a great case of SadoMasochism... I guess love, like ice cream, comes in many flavors.

I will say, in the name of god (the one I don't believe in) stop the killing, bring peace and nothing but peace to "his" creation and then I may believe there is "love Supreme"...

Actually, talking about Love Supreme I have to think of Coltrane... (we mortal non believers have to have some earthy perks)

I think I will pull my vinyl of Love Devotion Surrender and listen to John Mc Laughling and Carlos Santana interpreting Coltrane.

It's Friday after all, not a night for mellowness.

Peas & Carrots!

Layla, I hope I am not out of place here. I do not mean to be disrespectful to anyone or their believes, just expressing mine.
Anonymous said…
I must respond to losthere?

There is a say "With friends like this who needs enemies", well, I would apply that to this LOVE... because if he loves all his creation, what is going on?


What is going on, is free will...
I'm sure you were not raised without faith? Faith in God that is. You may still have faith in your self or maybe even humanity but as for God obviously you have lost it. You have lost it because of constant disappointment. I understand. I see the videos, I see the human loss, I see the endtrails of small children, I see the pieces of my innocent brothers and sisters left in rubble... But this isn't Gods doing. These acts do not bare the signiture of Gods work. You see the miricle of God in the birth of a child, the sprout of a seedling, The rising of the sun. God appears to operate in subtlties but his power is vast and immense... When that massive tsunami devasted all those people in many different countries a few years ago did you blame God? If I sat here and shot a dog would you blame God? We can't blame God for peoples ignorance or for unfortunate circumstances no matter how small or large. The blame is ours, yet still no ones. Things just are...

Theres a quote from Epictites that goes;

"One who places blame on others for their misfortunes show want of education...

One who places blame on themselves shows education has begun...

While one who neither blames himself or others shows education is complete..."

As for your belief in God or your lack there of. You must believe in the something comes from nothing theory. I don't need anyone to prove to me God exist, I see the evidence everywhere. I would need proof that he did not. When someone (human that is) can make something, anything, the smallest thing, the size of a pen head from absolutely nothing... well then I will be puzzled, but my faith would still not be broken. Everything you see and cannot see breaks down the same way scientificlly. The key board you type with, the desk you're sitting at, the chair you're sitting in, even the skin on the back of your hands. They all breakdown to the same elemental properties. If you looked into yourself with a microscope. Well of course first you would see skin then fat, muscle, bone, cells, atoms, electrons, protons, neurons, then even smaller subatomic particles. But eventually there is nothing. But again nothing comes from nothing so that nothing is something and that something is GOD! It is his energy that flows through every living and nonliving orginism across the entire universe... Again as I said... vast and far reaching. This is what is truly meant by omnipresent. There isn't a place where God is not because without him... there... is... nothing... Pure emptiness, void of all life and energy, absolute zero... The force that triggors life, that tells the tree to grow, that keeps not only the earth spinning but you placed securely on it, that is God!!!

That being said, Lol... Layla I hope that I am not out of place here. I do not mean to be disrepectful to anyone or their beliefs, just expressing mine.. 8)

Peace & Blessing to everyone, you too losthere, I love you... I mean that, I'm not being funny.
LostHere said…
Kyle, you being funny or serious is of no importance to me, the same way that all you said has absolutely no meaning to me.
I stopped many years ago dialoging with believers about their faith, and I certanly not going to start again. If I wanted to be in education I would have becamed a teacher, I am a cook instead.
It is interesting though to see how "sure of yourself" you are on your believes...

""I'm sure you were not raised without faith? Faith in God that is.""

""...but as for God obviously you have lost it. You have lost it because of constant disappointment""

""for your belief in God or your lack there of. You must believe in the something comes from nothing theory""

""You see the miricle of God in the birth of a child, the sprout of a seedling, The rising of the sun. God appears to operate in subtlties but his power is vast and immense... When that massive tsunami devasted all those people in many different countries a few years ago did you blame God?""

In fact Kyle, I don't have any problem with your believes, they are yours, and that is OK, for you. Not for me, thank you... I actually tried to believe at one time, in fact on the day of my 18th birthday, the same day Martin Luther King Jr. got asesinated, I walked away from the monastery where I had lived for almost two years. Yes, I learned many things there, the power of contemplation, of meditation, and yes, the power of prayer. I also learned that for me, the god of all three monotheistic religions did not exist.
It's been almost 40 years since them, I have grown much in those following years, and I have grown because I had a solid foundation. I am very confortable with my believes and I am happy you are with yours... but if I could, let me give you a little advise. Talk about your believes all you want with the conviction that your faith gives you, and that is OK, because they are your believes; but when you talk about a person, any one that you know nothing of, maybe you should keep your "knowledge" a little to yourself, or you may risk to look a bit foolish...

One more thing Kyle, to your original question
""I must respond to losthere?""
THE ANSWER IS NOT "your must" nothing... you do if you feel like it. As for me, this is the end of the conversation.

Once again
Peas & Carrots
Anonymous said…
Losthere... I was drawn to this page out of compassion not to offend or debate. If you have been offended, which I will not assume either way, for that I appologize. I do find it interesting that you were so devoted to faith and were able to walk away... I'd like to hear more about that. I was presumptuous in the wording of a few of my statements... at times it is human nature to assume, for this I also appologize... My point in doing this now is to show that most if not all forms of discorse involve a certain level of give and take. It is to be expected when you have two spirits, two thought processes and up bringings. But it would be great as I said in a seperate blog if we could keep emotion out of our exchange for as I said offending was never my intention as I assume it wasn't yours either... But again your story is an intriguing one... and I wish you all the best


We need more understanding and less confrontation...

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