Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting away from the urban jungle

For those of us living in major cities, we really don’t realize what we’re missing out on. We’ve become so accustomed to life in the city, everything’s busy and in constant movement. There’s no time to stop and just take a look around to notice things. We tend to take for granted the most simple things in life, like nature; trees, flowers, plants, animals and water. The level of urbanization that we’ve reached is quite strange. About a month ago I spent the day with some friends at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. This is not even a far distance out of Johannesburg, but as soon as we stepped into the Gardens it was like we were lost in another world. We were surrounded by greenery and the nature was so calm and relaxing that we all wished we could just stay there forever. You can see the pictures below, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way. We went for a hike and admired the nature along the way and of course there was the beautiful natural waterfall that’s the highlight of the Gardens. The strangest thing about this was that something that’s supposed to be normal and natural was actually unusual for us to do. One of the ladies even joked with us about been real city girls, you know, completely out of touch with nature. I think it’s really weird that this is what has become of the human race. In Johannesburg everything is very urban and although there are some beautiful parks and gardens, most people rarely have time to go to these places, and when you do go on weekends it’s usually very full and with all the hustle and bustle going on, it’s hard to appreciate the nature around you.

In the city people only get to see animals by going to a zoo, and yes, even the cities in Africa are like that. I think the whole idea of a zoo is unnatural in itself. Animals caged up so that humans can come and see them. This is so strange and it goes against nature, yet we’ve become so accustomed to urban living that we don’t even realize that this is so strange. And it’s not the only thing that’s strange about the city. People are so busy with their hectic lives that no one even has time to stop and talk to the next person. Everything’s so cold and unfriendly, and people seem to be constantly in a hurry. I don’t know exactly what things are like in other cities, but here in Johannesburg, if you’re taking too long to move after the traffic light has turned green (and by too long I mean like a matter of seconds) then you have people hooting behind you because they’re in such a big hurry, really its unnatural to be that stressed out and in a constant hurry.

I always used to think that living in the countryside would be amazing. Clean fresh air, quiet and peaceful surroundings, fresh fruits and vegetables instead of the frozen stuff we buy in supermarkets; space for children to play, and, a simple community where everyone knows each other and cares genuinely about one another- as opposed to a community that’s based on capitalism and constant competition. Seriously, rural life just sounds so much better!

In any case, since I am living in the city and chances are that I’m probably not going to be moving to the countryside very soon, at least it’s nice to take some time out and appreciate the beauty of nature, because appreciating Allah’s natural creations is also a form of worship. This is definitely something that I think us city people should try and do more often, because really, the city life just drains your energy and makes you forget that life can actually be very simple. When you are in natural surroundings you automatically seem to be more in touch with things, not only with nature, but also with humanity, your own humanness and that of others, but more important than this is that it makes you feel so much closer to Allah (SWT). You feel calm and peaceful, stress free, like there’s no care in the world and it seems that time can stand still because nothing really matters. Just writing this post makes me want to go back to the Gardens again.(Inshaa Allah that will happen very soon. )

So let me end off by saying that just because we’re living in the city doesn’t mean we have to be like city people. We don’t have to become part of the constant rat race, we can live by our own rules, and by that I mean we can take time out and appreciate nature, we can stop to talk to someone and ask them how they’re doing with the intention of really listening to them even if it takes a long time, we can spend the day getting dirty doing gardening. We can chill out on the roads and actually take time to look at what’s happening around us instead of just driving past everything in a hurry. There are many things that we can do to remind us that life is not about the constant rush, it’s not about working hard so that we can get more money to buy a bigger house or fancier car. Life is about worshipping Allah Almighty and appreciating the beautiful natural creations of Allah is one important form of worship. Let us try and take life easy instead of rushing through everything.

I hope that this inspires all you city people to take some time out and spend that time in natural surroundings, really it will make a huge difference in your life!

Masha'Allah, truly Allah's creation is beautiful! Isn't it?


  1. Beautiful post. :)
    Yeah, we really do get too caught up with life in the city.
    We fail to recognize the real beauty of God by experiencing a day in the natural world.

  2. Aminah- Thanks for the comment:) I say let's start reminding ourselves and everyone we know about the things that really matter in life, those are the things that we all tend to have forgotten and we take for granted, let's go back to simple times. There's this saying that I like; "only dead fish swim with the tide", I can't remember who said it, but yes, let's break out of the common things we city people have become so accustomed to doing and start appreciating the things that really matter.

    Stay well sister, stay in touch!!!

  3. Salam Alaikom dear sister,

    First time on your blog here. This post is so very true. Due to my husband's job I am currently living in a rural place. We miss out on A LOT of urban stuff. The main one being disposal of garbage which we need to incinerate ourselves. It wouldn't be so tough if my son was not in diapers, but yet living here is great Alhamdolillah.
    Well the point I want to make is in spite of being alone here and having so many problems, I do not miss the hustle bustle, noise and pollution of the city where I have lived for 25 years of my life.
    There is altogether a different serenity that comes along with living in a rural place Mashallah.

  4. Sister Alima- Wa alaykumus salaam, welcome and hope that you find this blog useful. Thank you for your comment,I know what you mean, there are many advantages to urban life and we've become so accustomed to having things done easily like getting rid of garbage for instance, that we will find it difficult without these luxuries, but as you've said, living in a rural place is more serene and I'm sure that there are many more advantages once you get used to it.

  5. Salam aleikum,
    I have just found your blog a while ago and agree with your post. I'm also one of those who admire some parts of the rural life, even though I could not imagine myself living totally outside of city. Masha Allah, in Finland we have cities that are middle-sized so we can actually mix urban and rural life.

  6. Wa alaykum salaam Nadia, thanks for your comment. I'm sure the balance between urban and rural life that you're talking about must be really nice, that way you have the benefits of both:)

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