Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Travels in foreign lands-XXXVIII (Journeys to Oman-II)

My second visit to Oman was for a longer duration and this time my relation Nazir Zaroo promised to take me to Salalah and some other places. I again took a flight from Dubai to Muscat. We spent a day in meeting friends and finalising our trip. Nazir telephoned his friend in Salalah who was working as manager of a five star hotel. He reserved a suite for us and also arranged a good car. Next day in the evening we took an Oman Air flight to Salalah. Nazir’s friend was waiting for us. Being already late in the evening, we preferred to rest. The first day we planned to visit the tomb of Prophet Ayyub which was about couple of hours drive from Salalah. The drive was through hilly countryside.
The story of Prophet Ayyub (pbuh) is one of perseverance and faith in God Almighty. Prophet Ayyub (pbuh) (also known as Prophet Job) was among the descendants of Prophet Ibrahim. God put him through many trials and tribulations. Ayyub (pbuh) was a descendant of A'mis, the third son of Ishaq (pbuh). Allah had granted Ayyub (pbuh) wealth and a large family. Ayyub (pbuh) was living in comfort and peace, when Allah decided to test Ayyub (pbuh) steadfastness in his faith. Suddenly lightening struck and killed all of his livestock, a terrible storm destroyed his crops. Ayyub’s (pbuh) house collapsed with his family still inside, killing his children.
Ayyub's (pbuh) faith did not waiver. Every time that he was inflicted with a new sorrow, he would bend down in submission acknowledging that Allah giveth and Allah taketh away. Ayyub’s (pbuh) test continued. He became stricken with ulcers over all his body and his flesh began to rot off. Several of Ayyub’s (pbuh) companions left him. His wife Raceme was the only one that took care of Ayyub (pbuh). She would find food and feed him. She would wash, and dress his wounds. Soon the people of their town forced Ayyub (pbuh) and his wife into the woods. Telling them not to come to the town.
All the while Ayyub’s (pbuh) faith stayed strong. Ayyub (pbuh) praised Allah for what tiny food and other provisions that Allah had given them. Allah was pleased with Ayyub’s (pbuh) faithfulness. God asked him strike ground at a place where a spring gushed forth. He washed in the spring and was cured. Ayyub (pbuh) soon recovered fully from his sickness, they returned to their land gaining back the crops. Allah blessed Ayyub (pbuh) with more wealth then he had before. In seeing how Ayyub (pbuh) had recovered by staying strong in his faith. Ayyub (pbuh) companions grew miraculously in number with added strength to their faith in Allah.
There is a nicely built shrine over the tomb of Ayyub (pbuh). The famous spring is also nearby. The shrine is on top of a hill. There were many people mostly from the sub-continent who were visiting the shrine. There is also a mosque there. While visiting the shrine I recollected the entire story of prophet Ayyub (pbuh). It was a rewarding experience. On return Nazir took me to another holy site. This was the place of the strangulation of the she camel by the tribe of Thamud. We also visited the tomb of prophet Salih (pbuh). Both the sites are inside the town of Salalah and we had to go through some lanes to reach these.
The story of Salih (pbuh) is also given in holy Quran. After the destruction of the Ad, the tribe of Thamud succeeded them in power and glory. They also fell to idol-worshipping. As their material wealth increased so, too, did their evil ways while their virtue decreased. Like the people of Ad, they erected huge buildings on the plains and hewed beautiful homes out of the hills. Tyranny and oppression became prevalent as evil men ruled the land. So Allah sent unto them His Prophet Salih (pbuh), a man from among them. His name was Salih Ibn Ubeid, Ibn Maseh, Ibn Ubeid, Ibn Hader, Ibn Thamud, Ibn Ather, Ibn Eram, and Ibn Noah. He called his people to worship Allah alone, and to not associate partners with Him. While some of them believed him, the majority of them disbelieved and harmed him by both words and deeds.
They asked him to show a miracle from God by getting a she camel issue from a rock before they can believe. They asked him that the she camel should be 10 months pregnant. Allah granted Salih this miracle and a huge, unique, she camel appeared from the direction of the mountain. However, the disbelievers did not relent and they killed the she camel and its progeny. Following this the wrath of God was upon them and all the people except prophet Salih (pbuh) and his followers perished in thunder, lightening, and earthquake. The spot where the she camel was strangulated has been preserved with foot marks of the she camel. The tomb of Salih (pbuh) is also nearby. There is a shrine and a mosque near the tomb. It is a very long tomb.
So we spent the entire day in visiting religious places. It was a rewarding visit especially in view of the fact that I had heard the stories of prophet Ayyub (pbuh) and prophet Salih (pbuh) from my parents and other elders. I had also read about it in the holy Quran. Now, we had to visit some interesting spots of geographical/geological importance. These were the sea coast near the border of Yemen where sea water shoots up as fountain sprays through crevices in the rocky beach and the zero gravity point where vehicles move of their own! This we did on the following day and I will describe these spots in the next episode.
(To be concluded)

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