The Red Sea speaks to Me

Standing on the seashore of The Jeddah Corniche. I watch the foam floating ashore, as white as milk, bubbles like soap, moistening the hot sparkling desert sand, and pulling back with its debris. It brings with it shimmering sea shells, taking sand and debris in return, as if  sealing a trade. I look up. I see the gleaming yellow-gold sun setting in the horizon, streaking pinks, reds, and yellows throughout the sunset sky, almost like a painter’s canvas- each color carefully splashed on, each shade gently blended to give it a sense of belonging. The Sun showering its sparkles as if to show its pleasure, the waves dancing gracefully back and forth in glee and harmony. Years of Geo class remind me it’s the Red Sea, it must be.

I take in the breeze around me. The fresh sea scent tickles my nose. I inhale the air carrying distant sounds of laughing children flying kites, African vendors marketing their goods- firecrackers, party streamers, anything to spur fun on the beach. I smile at the sight of a Saudi family of 10 pulling over their SUV, unpacking their portable Majlis and barbeque grill to enjoy a relaxing Friday afternoon before the busy week announces its start. Their women gather, draped in flowing garments of black gracefully falling over their heads and shoulders, displaying modesty in its utmost beauty. The men in their ankle-high white thobes, topped with the traditional triangular red and white headscarf, sharply creased above the forehead, kept in place with a black ring, shading their faces from the sun-a very royal look to one coming from the land of jeans and sweatshirts.

My eyes return to meet the sea, the sky now a brighter shade of orange with tinges of yellow, the sun lingering low in the sky, inching lower, ready to fall into the sea at any moment. I feel the Red Sea speaking to me. We both have our stories to tell. We share a common ground. My memory jerks back to the story of Musa (AS) splitting a tributary of this same old sea with his stick, its waves instantly becoming two towering mountains with a dry dirtpath in between- an escape for the noble prophet from Firawn the tyrant. It’s gone through changes, transformed. It has been kicked and turned by the crashing waves, by the powerful winds, by the thunderstorms. It wailed in dread as Abraha’s army marched through it, from Abyssinia to the heart of the Arabian Peninsula to launch his vicious attack on Makkah. Looking back, the sea laughs in irony as this same route was taken by the migrants fleeing from Makkah years later through these very waters, to seek refuge nowhere but in Abyssinia itself. Perhaps their ships set sail from this very shore that I stand on, from a port not too far from where I live today. The migrants from Egypt, the migrants from Makkah, the migrants from America. The times and tides have changed but the resolve remains – to venture to a safe haven where Islam can live and thrive, away from speculation and political propaganda. And the Red Sea waves today as a witness to us all.

The same sea that has been a victim of erosion, man’s intervention, pollution. Each confrontation only strengthens its tides and adds a new chapter to its ever-growing chronicles. I can relate to it for my story is no different. By the crashing waves of life, I’ve been carried, tossed back and forth in fate’s hands, surfed the high tides of difficulty and low shores of ease. I’ve experienced change of season, change of life. Change is all I know and it keeps me going. In the eyes of the sturdy palm trees standing behind me, I’m an uprooted branch with no core or trunk for grounding. But the Red Sea and I take pride in our instability and agility. And that’s why the Red Sea speaks to me.

أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَسَالَتْ أَوْدِيَةٌ بِقَدَرِهَا فَاحْتَمَلَ السَّيْلُ زَبَدًا رَّابِيًا ۚ وَمِمَّا يُوقِدُونَ عَلَيْهِ فِي النَّارِ ابْتِغَاءَ حِلْيَةٍ أَوْ مَتَاعٍ زَبَدٌ مِّثْلُهُ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْحَقَّ وَالْبَاطِلَ ۚ فَأَمَّا الزَّبَدُ فَيَذْهَبُ جُفَاءً ۖ وَأَمَّا مَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ فَيَمْكُثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ

“He sends down from the sky, rain, and valleys flow according to their capacity, and the torrent carries a rising foam. And from that [ore] which they heat in the fire, desiring adornments and utensils, is a foam like it. Thus Allah presents [the example of] truth and falsehood. As for the foam, it vanishes, [being] cast off; but as for that which benefits the people, it remains on the earth. Thus does Allah present examples.” [13:17] Sahih International

-Niqabinja, turning the tides on that writer’s block 🙂

Historical references taken from “Atlas of the Qur’an by Dr. Shauqi Abu Khalil”

@Umm Saifullah, finally…Rofl u know why 😛





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