By Syed Saad Husain
3rd Place Winner, Photography Competition, 2019 NY MSA Showdown
Editor’s Note: Muslim Youth Musings had the honor and opportunity to collaborate with NY MSA Showdown for their 2019 Competition, assist in judging the Creative Writing and Spoken Word contests, and publish selected winning entries in the categories of Creative Writing, Spoken Word, Photography, and Short Film. We congratulate all of the competitors and winners on producing high-quality work that is now being shared with Muslims across the world.
Recovery this year started with faith. I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Madinah. It usually happened right after Fajr salah, as the sun rises and the colors behind the masjid change from black to blue to purple to pink to orange to yellow. The birds can be heard chirping around the golden accents of the pillars that provide shade to the land, the cold floor can be felt below the feet, and rays of golden light seep through the canopy gaps. Accessing your thoughts becomes easy when the environment itself cradles you to do so. My relationship with faith has always been up and down. This time around it was at an all-time high and I prayed at this time every day for me to be able to close my eyes and feel what I felt in that moment wherever I may be.
The environment I was put in gave me access to faith. Faith provides access to a powerful lens. The process of recovery transitioned to relationships with my family. Around the same time every day, right after Fajr, I strolled the neglected alleyways hidden behind the flashy hotels surrounding the center of Mecca. I meet siblings racing each other in the tight streets. They hug afterwards, rub each other’s shaved heads, and smile as I take their photo. They ask me if I have siblings. I say yes, but after a long pause. It didn’t seem like I did as I thought about the question. It seemed like we were in a race as well, except we ran in different directions and never met at the end. This was a good time to turn around.
Lastly, recovery transitioned to hardships that are external. This photo was taken hours past midnight. A mother sits in the masjid grounds with her child asleep in her lap as she prays. Perhaps she did not have a place to sleep. Perhaps she did not have a husband. Perhaps the child was sick. Regardless, she was there to pray. Empathy is easy to come by when your hardships diminish in front of someone else’s. However, I realized the tool for hardships regardless of the difficulty was still prayer. I take it for granted way too many times.
Link to photographer’s Instagram: @syedsaadhusain