For last Eid al-Fitr, someone gifted me a CD set of an "in-depth study" of Al-Fatihah, by Jamaaluddin Zarabozo. I've recently started listening to it--but I haven't yet gotten past the first CD. Actually, it was a while before I even got past the first track--the introduction!
Because after introducing what the CD set is and the publisher, etc., there is a recitation of the surah that is just so clear and beautiful, I didn't want it to stop. I listened to it over and over and over and over and over...
Isn't that strange? I mean, we read al-Fatihah so many times in a day--and in Ramadan so many more times. And yet in the last couple days I haven't been able to get enough of just hearing the recitation of Al-Fatihah. As soon as it starts, I can just feel myself calming down, and my mind clearing and focusing on the recitation with all of my attention.
After all these years of listening to Al-Fatihah, every day, I felt like all of a sudden I had never heard it before. And this is not after listening to some 25+ hours of lecture on the surah, but rather before listening; rather, just acknowledging that Al-Fatihah is important enough for me to begin a CD set of such magnitude on such a short surah.
It was really an amazing feeling, to have some recitation of Qur'an strike my heart that way--like I had never heard it before even though I thought I knew it like the back of my hand.
I had listened to it so many times that without even being entirely aware of it, I was sort of reciting it under my breath while at the gas station last night. So consumed was I with the beauty and flow of the words that I didn't realize the woman at the pump beside me. So I was a little bit shocked when she said "As-salaamu Alaykum!"
Having learned in class just hours before that we should always return a greeting with what is equal to it, or better than it, so I replied with a smile, "Wa alaykum as-salaam!" And I asked her if she was a Muslim--since I have been greeted as such by non-Muslims before, but she informed me that she was a Muslim though reluctantly admitted that she did not practice like she should.
So we talked for a minute about how beautiful Islam is as a middle path--comprising both outward manifestations through the law, and inward aspects of spirituality, and that it accommodates people of all nations and races and even with physical disabilities.
It was just a reminder to me to be grateful not just that Allah has guided me to Islam but that He has made Islam a part of my life, every day. So even while I was whispering al-Fatihah under my breath, I was blessed to remember that Allah did guide me. And that only makes me cling desperately to that guidance, and to beg for more.