I have to confess, I am definitely not as big a Harry Potter fan as many of my diehard friends are. I stopped reading halfway into the second book, and I probably could not tell you the title of the one I actually did read. I have, however, been dedicated enough to watch all seven-ish or eight-ish movies without fail, and I shed a lone tear when Hedwig the puffy owl died in the last film. I guess the only real reason I kept up with the hype was because it reminded me of my childhood, and it was invigorating to witness the transformation of Harry, Ron and Hermione. For many of us – silly as it may seem – Hedwig’s death along with the finale of the Harry Potter series signified the end of our own claims to youth. Who knew that Harry Potty had more depth to it than just a couple of kids with awesome British accents?
Continuing in this stream of confession, I spent one of the best days this past summer immersed in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal — but that is truly the extent of my dedication. I promise I am not one of those closet Harry Potter fans who dresses up in costume prancing around midnight book and movie releases with other devotees way too old to be there. Nor do I use the spell application on my iTouch to engage in cyber battles with other Harry Potterians — at least not actively. And my involvement with the park had little to do with my desire to live in an imaginary world of wizadry. My intention, however, was twofold. First, my intention involved an amazing best friend. I wanted to savor our day at the park and the little time we had left together before she got married in the coming weekend. Second, I had this unexplainable urge to be the first Muslimah ever to set foot on platform 9 ¾. I like to imagine I was doing my fellow Americans a service in exemplifying that Muslims can, in fact, integrate into even the most mundane affairs of Western culture. Maybe these two friendly, smiling and approachable hijabis changed someone’s perceptions that day.
We sipped on mugs of crisp and refreshing butterbeer beneath a sun which merrily glistened upon our skin, paying no mind to our frothed upper lips. We frolicked in sheer glee down Diagon Alley when no one was watching, and managed to make friends with the little elf workers who were so nice that it made me a bit suspicious. The native New Yorker in me had no idea how to react to southern hospitality except by grasping my bag tightly and giving them the squinty eyed skeptical stare — but I soon realized they were genuinely nice human beings (a complete shocker, I know). We dined at the Three Broomsticks contemplating what foods were certifiably halal, and we were literally like kids in a candy store when we got into the toyshop and stocked up on mounds of enchanted chocolate frogs and Bertie Botts’ jellybeans.
I cannot candidly say the whole day was as magical and exciting as one might think. I was romanticizing about the sun earlier…it was more of a burning beam of fiery rays piercing through our hijabs and layers of clothes. We stood in the longest lines known to man, with a record three hour wait outside Olivander’s Wand Shop. At one point, it started to downpour. We were both sticky and drenched at the same time without an umbrella or one of those really expensive, yet desirable, limited edition HP ponchos they tried to sell us. We also happened to miss our midday bus back to the hotel where we were going to pray and take a siesta, and I realized that sandals were not the way to go when you walk around for twelve hours straight. Let’s just say my feet were not happy campers.
Yet, despite all the difficulties we encountered, I wasn’t exaggerating about it being one of the best days I spent in summer. Those hours of waiting gave time to my thoughts, and I reflected upon how I could live out my Islam with a sense of purpose and clarity, knowing that in every situation I have an opportunity to find God. I thought of the ways I could faithfully commit to Islam in those particular moments of difficulty, and suddenly something as seemingly unimportant as a day in the park became a chance to seek God’s pleasure by merely approaching even those miniscule actions with beauty and ihsan.
One of the shops we stopped in at Hogsmeade had a bludger, a quaffle and a glorified golden snitch in the window. I contemplated how the golden snitch is essentially the epitome of achievement in Harry’s world. It’s small and fleeting, yet there is a colossal sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in being able to retrieve it. There is an art in the game of Quidditch that is much like our own experiences in this world; a world that is temporary, ephemeral and incomparable to the Akhira. Yet, still we are given pockets of time to work towards something meaningful, no matter how small it may seem in the grander scheme of things. Think of what the golden snitches in our lives might be. The goals we project for ourselves and how we are strategically working towards them in a way that will bring about His ultimate satisfaction and pleasure. That day I came to the conclusion that you don’t have to “avada kadavra” the hard stuff out of life. We should, instead, take whatever it is we are struggling with and use it as an opportune means to beautify our relationship with God.
Amidst all the flying dementors and the tourists throwing wads of money away on souvenirs that they have all but forgotten by now, I was thankful for the blazing sun and thought of the irony in our pleas for heat during cold winters and for snow in the peaks of summer. I was thankful for the time I spent with my hijabi other half because of the sweetness of moments of love and laughter with people I care about. I was thankful for the sticky rain even though we grew up singing songs telling rain to go away, and I was grateful I had feet that could even hurt because I’ve known so many who would do anything for that physical sensation. Most of all, I was thankful that God allowed me to recognize my vast sense of purpose and that He is constantly reminding me of it.
My purpose that day laid partly in the valiant responsibility of being a walking testament of Islam; every day we make the choice of either elevating its status in the sight of people and our own status in the Sight of God—or debasing ourselves by not living up to that task. Even further, my purpose laid in the wisdom of sincerely remembering that with every difficulty comes ease, and perhaps more importantly, never leaving this remembrance of Allah especially in what we perceive to be trivial moments in life. Because what are those moments except opportunities waiting to be sought in the path of God?
I got all that from staring at a lifeless snitch, which to my disappointment was not even all that golden. Nonetheless, I leave you with parting words to tickle your imaginations and inspire. One of the wisest fictional characters I know once said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Sir Albus Dumbledore
May the treasure hunts towards the Divine, commence.