Al hamdu lillaah, today a young brother from Brooklyn and I headed out to the countryside (baadiya). It was his first time going out there since he’s been in Mauritania. We both had the day off, me from work and him from studies, so we decided to visit the village Ummul-Qura, where the late scholar Sheikh Muhammad Saalem Ould Adood, may Allaah’s mercy be upon him, school’s situated.
The village is approximately 58 kilometers (36 miles) outside of the capital, the first 50km is paved road and the remainder unpaved. We caught a taxi to the road of the village for about $2 each. We were hoping on getting a lift from the paved road into the village. However, in the morning most cars are exiting the villages heading towards the city carrying passengers and livestock, they later return to the villages in the evenings. Since we were heading in and not out and the cars were heading out and not in, we decided to walk.
I have to say it was a nice walk. I got some time to get to know the young brother on our 8km walk, exchanging stories and ideas. He reminds me a lot of his father, who was also studying here in 2003. Before reaching Ummul-Qura, we surprisingly came across another school on the road.
Mahdharah al-Muhsineen is only a little more than a kilometer before Ummul-Qura. Its teacher, Sheikh Jar, was one of the students of Sheikh Muhammad Saalem; he spent many years under his tutelage. His camp was located within the confines of the village the last time I was here. I was a little disturbed at finding his camp outside the borders of the village, but after speaking with Sheikh Jar he assured me that the change in location has allowed him to more properly establish his school and that the change worked in his benefit, al hamdu lillaah. He allowed us to enter and take some pictures of his camp.
Al hamdu lillaah, generally the weather is hot here. Therefore, with a well built tent you’ll be ok. However, during the cold and rainy seasons this home can be quite challenging to reside in. After living in a tent myself, by myself, the thing that I recollect the most was the fact that there aren’t any doors to close on this thing. During the days this cloth condo’s pretty cool. However, at night when you want to lock up, no matter how tight you tie down the fabric there was nothing between you and outside of your home but a thin piece of fabric. It wasn’t like having a real heavy wooden or metal door to close and alarm system to turn on. There wasn’t and isn’t anything protecting us other than Allaah’s mercy and gentleness upon us. When looking at the life of the prophet Muhammad, may Allaah’s peace and blessing be upon him, and the lives of his companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, you find them in situations where they only had Allaah to put their trust in; this was training. I’m sorry, I get a bit long-winded at times. Let’s enter the next tent.
During high winds, sand easily enters through the fabric around the tent. If you have a good multi-layered roof to keep out the sun’s rays, this can be the best place to sleep during mid-day heat. It was a nice stay, but now we’re ready to leave.
Once the plates down you gotta stay. This is rice with some pieces of dried fish. The fish is dried and smoked to preservation; easy to store without refrigerators. During our last few months in Ummul-Qura our Spanish brother found a real nice smoked fish that reminded me a lot of a Jamaican dish. It was nice but its shelve life without refrigeration was much shorter, about 3-5 days. During our visit we noticed that no matter how modest the people were living, they would host us with honor and generosity.
Sheikh Jar teaches the Quraan, Arabic, Grammar, and Fiqh. Some of his students also study the sciences of hadeeth and they all hear his lessons in Aqeedah given in his halaqah (circle of knowledge). He has a little over a hundred students staying here between the four wooden homes and the three tents. They’ve been trying to build better housing for the students. Especially before the rainy season starts in a couple of months.
I wasn’t sure if you’ve ever seen these before, so I took a picture of them. I asked my companion whether or not he knew what these bags were, he thought that they were flour. I told him that this is the reason I took a picture of them- these are bags of cement.
These are two rooms that they have been working on for almost a year. They’re trying to put a roof on it before the rainy season starts. Al hamdu lillaah, we had lunch and we continued on our journey to Ummul-Qura.