One of the constancies in our lives is change. In the constancy of the movement of the sun each day, there is change; changing of the night and day, which is always mentioned in the Quran, for good reason. The sun rises and sets every day, yet we have come to take it for granted. I recalled a few years ago, a breathtaking sunset on the coast of San Diego, where we actually witnessed the disc of the sun slowly descending towards the horizon. As it sank, the color of the sky changed. Shades of pink, orange, yellow, purple traded places with each other, finally giving way to deeper reddish and orangeish hues.
I wanted to see the sunset like this again, at the beach. I sent my son to ask people where would be the best place to see the sunset and sunrise. He came back saying that the sunset side of the island was on the bay and there was really no accessible beach on the bay. The only beach access was on the gulf side. We headed for the beach anyway, giddy with excitement and anticipation.
At this time of the year, the beach was not crowded at all. Furthermore, that evening was Thanksgiving evening. There were even less people. We did what people usually do at beaches. The kids played in the water, they played a bit with the volleyball, and hubs tossed the frisbee with them. The older kids buried Z in the sand, creating Z man who was trapped under a mound of sand that he was supposed to break out of.
I mostly took in the sights, sounds in my own way, quietly, and with the camera. I did get wet too, because I couldn’t help it. The sun set behind the condominiums on the beach, so we couldn’t really witness a beach sunset, but I had a wish. I wanted us to pray maghrib there, on the beach.
And that we did. To be honest, it was easier done in my head than in actual life. In my mental image, laying down the prayer rug was a cinch. But in real life, there was the ocean breeze, lifting the corner of the rug from underneath and undulating it just like it does the water day in day out. Hubs asked,
“Are you sure you want to do this here? Not too noisy? The waves and all?”
I laughed. Noisy? Waves noisy? Waves are not noisy. They’re natural sounds. To me at that time at least. I’d rather pray with the sound of the waves in the background than pray with the sound of airplanes and cars in the background. So, noisy? Nahhh…those waves semi-crashing on the gentle slopes of the beach, they’re halal music to my ears. We pray on the beach, dear husband. So we did, because he didn’t really have a choice since I had prepared the prayer rugs and everything.
I have to admit that he was a tad right though. H, who led the prayer, had to raise his voice while reciting, to be heard over the waves. However, it’s not everyday you get to pray at the beach. We have prayed on the white gypsum at White Sands in New Mexico. There, it was truly quiet. Here, at the beach, there were the waves. The way I see it though, the waves are now witness to our worship of the Creator who created them, who created the sand, every single grain of it, and who created us, so that we could worship Him. I want as many witness from non humans as I can get to witness my worship of Him, as long as I am alive. It’s cool, and yes, it’s also self serving. Well, why not.
As much as I wanted to pray on the beach for fajr, I wasn’t willing to wake up early enough to get the whole family to the beach, especially with Z. So, that night, we planned to watch the sunrise the next morning, but we would head for the beach right after we prayed fajr in the room.
The beach was not far at all from our hotel, so by the time we headed for the beach that morning, the sky was still partly dark. H set his tripod near the water, wanting to take a time lapse of the sun rising.
It was Friday, which could only mean one thing; KAHF. I greedily wanted the waves, every single drop of the water that makes it up, every single grain of sand on that part of the beach, every passing seagull, every soaring pelican, and every sprinting Sanderling to be my witness to Kahf.
As I took snapshots of the sun rising, I recited Kahf. Ya Allah…please accept this from me. It’s not everyday you get to recite Kahf on Friday at the beach, right? Thank God It’s Friday.
This was my first time watching the sun rise at the beach. You would think that it’s dusk if you just look at the snapshots. It’s mind blowing when you think that sunrise and sunset are just opposites of each other, much like fat is opposite of thin, and good is opposite of evil. Yet it’s so similar in the a lot of ways. Allah describes the changing of the night into day in many different ways in the Quran. The imagery that was given to us in His book, we can physically observe it in real life. From my perspective that morning on that beach, the illuminating light of the sun was there long before the actual disc made its full appearance above the horizon. From a point of reflection, in life, when you’re enduring hardship, things may seem like it’s going for the worst before things get better, but maybe, maybe, just like the sun’s imminent rising sends forth rays of light ahead of it, when the hardship is about to break through, ease has already brightened the corner up ahead. As Allah says in the Quran, ‘With a hardship is many eases.’ In the darkness of our suffering, we may be blind to that illuminating rays of ease that are already there, casting shadows that shift every second.
In the constancy of life, there is change. Even in hardship, through every second of it, change it taking place. Just like the sun will rise the next morning, the ease will overcome the hardship eventually. And when that ease breaks through and makes its full appearance, its golden light will overcome whatever darkness that was there before and make you forget you ever suffered. That ease, is Jannah. May Allah grant it to all of us, Ameen.