Kashgar is where time stops, a throwback to another time and era. It was our last day in Kashgar before flying to Urumqi in the evening, ending our Silk Road journey. Abdul Wahab invited us to lunch with his wife and daughter. His wife has been wanting to meet me after she saw my emailed passport photo. Little did I know, my emails were shared with his wife who knew she would love me before she even meet me. Cheesy right but hey, I have a “Nur Jeti’ fan club in Kashgar. Aaaargh, yup my name was mispronounced but I was thrilled to know that she had been praying for me to come there since 2012. She told her students about me and I was embarrassed when they looked up to me. After all, “Nur Jeti” is not the smartest and coolest Muslim lady. There are others who are worth the respect. Come on Muslimahs, please inspire the Uyghur ladies by coming here.
A typical Uyghur Muslimah is engaged and married off in her late teens to a Muslim who has been carefully selected by the family. Rarely, a love marriage takes place. After marriage, the wife is expected to take care of the household chores since the onus is on the husband to work to support the family. Generally, not many Uyghurs are highly educated, working professionals or even get to travel the world. And the fact that Chinese authorities have imposed travel restrictions on them, travelling out of China is actually a difficult feat. So it was no wonder that I was ‘admired’ by my said fan club. I pray the Uyghurs continue to be bestowed with the wonderful gift of Iman, the gift of Faith, to illuminate their ways through life’s challenges. Insya’allah, Allah has better plans for them.
Even though we were strangers meeting for the first time, Abdul Wahab’s wife welcomed us wholeheartedly. She invited us to her house and even insisted on buying souvenirs for us. We were touched by her warmth and sincerity. Insya Allah, one day we will meet again. And so we left Kashgar that evening with a heavy heart as we bade farewell to our new found friends.
The mystical poet, Jalaluddin Rumi says that “Suffering is a gift. In it is a hidden mercy.” Suffering teaches us patience, Sabr, and it also teaches us Redhaa, which is total reliance on Allah, and serene acceptance of whatever He has decreed. It teaches us to persevere, to work hard to seek Allah’s good pleasure, his Ridwaan. It teaches us humility, it teaches compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h said, “How fortunate is the Believer, he endures hardship, and it is good for him [it teaches patience]; then he enjoys relief from hardship, and it is good for him [it gives a chance to be grateful to Allah]. Indeed, the true Friends of Allah are always overflowing with gratitude, in good times and in hard times.