Spiritual Reflection in South East Asia

Necmeddin Gunduz talks about his experience when staying in the villages in Cambodia during the holy month of Ramadan 2012.

“I’ve read in books that “Allahu’Alem” (Allah knows best) but this year I learnt it experientially.”

Tracking back to the night I was intuitively inspired to spend Ramadan abroad, my memory clearly recalls the turmoil I experienced attempting to sleep. I was left wondering how I would raise ten thousand dollars in almost two weeks to make this campaign real. Would this just become a fabric of my imagination or could I actually execute this? I had delved blindly and so the questions began. I knew I would need to surmount. Kept calm and carried on. Sleep you ask? A distant reality. My mind racing, wondering about the sort of campaign I could run through the appropriate medium. Was I being real? Ten thousand dollars in 10 days! The pragmatic me didn’t think so, the spirit in me did. I alternated between the two until the early morning hours.

Relief Packs to ElderlyBasic relief packs were also provided to three very unfortunate villages with a total of 311 families. The packs sustained a family of six for a full weeks Iftar at a very small price, Alhamdulillah.

I was awe inspired by the generosity of my friends and family but it immediately lead me to reflect on the endless possibilities when Allah swt is part of the equation. Amidst the haze of sleeplessness and amazement, my soul shifted. I made my intention a mere 12 hours ago and now I had a commitment from thirty people with a summation of ten thousand five hundred dollars.

“It still spins me off this world that it all happened in such a short period. At that point, I internalised that doubt is an emotion too lonely to know faith is his twin brother. I had read this amongst Khalil Gibran’s great works but now I knew it for sure.”

bed“Where’s my bed?

“Ummm that’s your bed” [insert laugh]
“No really, where’s my bed?”

For the latter half of Ramadan, Iftar was provided across 11 different villages simultaneously feeding up to 2000 men, women and children on the daily.

This experience had left an imprint in me. I feel it every time i remember the smile of the men, women and children that which radiated their faces. Their cheerfulness spread to fill the hearts of those whom i have shared fragments of my experience with. Whilst attempting to bury my ego in the earth of obscurity, absorb my surroundings and lacking sleep, the look on the face or the shimmer in the eye of a young child who had rarely ever had the chance to sleep on a full tummy made my efforts fulfilled. I knew what my purpose to be there was. Not for myself… But for them.

I’d like to share an excerpt from one single lesson that was brought to light for me through my experience. I pray you find vast benefit in the following…

The path to knowledge is indispensable. Attaining knowledge without any action is useless. However, unless this action leads to a positive transformation in ones character, it’s null-void. The knowledge one gains, whether it’s acquired by means of reading, introspection or experientially, needs to have a transformative effect on ones life and relationships. If it doesn’t, then of what benefit is this spirituality? I don’t live in a bubble, I should be an asset to my family, my neighborhood, my community, my city, my country and the world at large. 

I don’t want to probe into the interpretation of this because I’m sure you will be able to elucidate a much deeper and folds more inspiring version than I’d ever be able to.

eid prayers in CambodiaAnd then there was Eid.

Once you’re done reading this, maybe go give your mum a hug and tell her how much you love her. Perhaps mention to your spouse how much he/she does for you and wish you could do more to show them you really appreciate having them around. Feed a homeless person. Smile. Speak a kind work; its charity. Learn something new and expand your horizons. Maybe pick up a piece of rubbish you noticed on the floor. Tell your friend they’re awesome! Do something nice for someone else for the greater cause.

So here I am, in retrospect, searching for a fusion of words that could possibly transcribe what my mind and heart delved into during my short yet somewhat perennial stay of 35 days in the villages of Cambodia. I have an ocean of words crashing like waves in my mind, none of which would do justice. I recognise any attempt of trying to eloquently (clearly and concisely) convey my inner consciousness is going to be a failed one but I try nonetheless so forgive me in advance. I pray you will find some benefit in it regardless.

All praise is due to Allah for allowing me to go, see and do what I did.

Necmeddin Gunduz