My Canadian friend gave me a whole MP3 (2CDS) set of Shiek Hamza Yusuf's Purification of the Heart and I began listening to it intently and masha'Allah it has opened doorways in my mind and have seen a whole new way to look at things. I'm not taking him as my own personal Sheik but his CD definitely moved my mind. Then the next day I get a message from the local New Muslims Help Place "Dar Al-Zayed Al-Islam" from my friends saying that Shiek Hamza Yusuf will be in Abu-Dhabi and will be holding a lecture. "We have to go see this together!" I told my friend and eventually we made plans for it.
A Brother she knew drove us there in his minivan, may Allah reward him. I have two kids and she has three so a total of 5 kids, two ladies, and two Brothers were in this van. Men in the front, Ladies in the middle with the babies, other kids in the back. All the kids were acting crazy and were fussy and being soo difficult (including mine, I'm taking full blame here) and we had to stop and pray twice along the way. At the Maghrib prayer my daughter needed to use the restroom and I couldn't ask these brothers (since they had already left to pray) to take her to the potty and the woman's area was a far walking distance away from the masjid so I took her to a secluded place far from where anyone would sit or walk and tried my best to have her go in the nature way but small kid, small bladder equals problems and most got on her pants and so I had to change her and wash her down in public, Ugh talk about everything going wrong at once. So finally we settle in for the rest of the ride to AbuDhabi and still the kids are all being difficult but we get to the National Theater where the lecture was being held. Women of course go upstairs to the balcony seating.
I HAD called ahead and asked if children were allowed to this function and was assured it was ok. Me and my friend and our two strollers and five kids all entered the darkened theater and my mommy radar went off that this was not a kid friendly environment and we were in for some real trouble. We took seats as fast as possible and tried to get our kids munching on snacks to keep them quiet but this only lasted a few minutes. The babies became fussy and the three older kids (3,4,6 yrs old) started hopping seats up and down the theater and of course these Emeratian Ladies who I guess were the Quiet Police all started hushing our kids and causing more disturbances than our kids were. Finally I gave up trying to take notes on the lecture. Which was about Islamic Influence on the World. LIke how Arabs were the first to make stained glass and then the rest of the world started doing it and esp the churches and now some muslims think we can't have stained glass windows in masjids when in reality we were the inventors. Subhan'Allah. We took the kids outside of the theater doors where there was room for them to run around on the carpets and not disturb anyone. Then we took turns watching the kids and then trading off to listen to the lecture. The Emeratian Ladies were kind enough to bring us tea or juices so I thank them for that. I got to see the ending of the lecture which was some of the best part where he talked about more open dialog between religions. Then a group of Shiekhs and one Shiekha came up to greet him and give him some kind of plaque (the ceremony was in Arabic of course) and he shook hands with them including the Shiekha and she was whispering many things to Hamza Yusuf while pictures were taken of them lined up and the plaque. Finally they finished and left and a mob swarmed him. I rushed to get our strollers ready to face the mob downstairs and called for my friend to grab the kids and lets go meet him. My husband demanded I not leave until I get a picture of Hamza Yusuf holding our son. I don't know why he wanted this but I was determined to win my husband's praise. So we went downstairs and it took a long time for us to get through the throng. At first we didn't think it was going to happen to talk to him because my camera died and so did her camera phone. Then one of the sisters offered to take the picture and send us it in e-mail.
Hamza Yusuf and my son, and few odd men lol.
Finally we finished and I took my baby back and we exchanged e-mails with the sister with the camera. We left and prepared for the long journey back to Al-Ain. OH! at first it was difficult again because by this time the kids wanted dinner so we had to stop at an Adnoc gas station for food and once they had eaten the kids slowly fell asleep and left the men to talk in peace and us ladies to talk in peace. Anytime I ever want more kids I remember this day and make Blessings for all those mothers with more than 2 kids.
This is not to say it was all bad because it was very pleasant sometimes when the kids were playing paper, rock, scissors, and drawing and playing I Spy etc... Discussing Islam with my friend and spending the day with her and her kids. It was wonderful but the stress of suddenly dealing with 5 kids in one car will be a lesson i wont be forgetting anytime soon. I miss her and the kids so much I wish her the best wherever she is.