The Saga of Odin/Chapter Three: In the Southern Lands
In the Southern Lands
A few months passed before Odin continued His narration about Olav, and when this happened, I found myself at an unexpected turn. Before me, images of a Mauritanian styled palace, which reminded me, by its beauty, of the Alhambra, began to unfold.
There, among other things, there was a patio with an arched marble colonnade around its entire perimeter that provided shade during the stifling middle of the day. Refreshing streams flowed from one pool to another gleaming in the sun and murmuring. Each pool had a beautiful mosaic on its bottom. There was also a garden with orange trees and peach trees, and a large room decorated in oak wood served as a library.
“Where is all of this, Odin?”
“This is the south of Spain during the greatest flourishing of the Arab caliphate. In those times, almost all the countries of the Mediterranean constituted an integral part of this great world of the Arab Empire and of its religious and cultural influence.”
* * *
A brown-skinned Arab, who was not very young and who was the owner of that luxurious palace, walked through the market being accompanied by his armed bodyguards. The market was located near the port. Everything was sold here, from gold-plated jewels and fabrics to aromatic spices and mature fruits, from fish and clams to slaves. An adolescent was the subject of a negotiation between a buyer and seller. It was possible to hear their conversation:
“No, you are wanting too much! He may not even live until tomorrow, and then I will lose my money!” said a buyer who was indignant and who wanted to pay less for the slave.
But the seller did not yield, saying:
“He only looks weak! He is very robust and will be a good worker! It was not more than yesterday that we fished him up from the sea! If he managed to survive there, he will not die here!”
“But this almost dead little fish is not worth this money!” said the buyer and continued on his way.
The eminent Arab attentively looked at the young boy, who was Olav, and paid the seller what he was asking for. Then he motioned for Olav to follow him. The latter did not even try to escape, since he barely had enough strength to walk.
* * *
The name of this eminent Arab was Amin Abduljadi. He not only rescued Olav from slavery, but also treated him as his own son given to him by Allah in place of his only other son who recently passed away.
Amin began to educate and teach Olav as his heir. He was very rich and possessed many merchant ships that carried both travelers and cargo across the Mediterranean Sea.
Subsequently, he and Olav travelled very often together on these ships. Thus, Olav learned to sail and to carry out trade negotiations, for Amin dreamed of handing over all of his affairs soon.
Olav learned Arabic very quickly, since Amin Abduljadi hired many professors for him. He studied Islam in all the beauty of its Sufi wisdom, the philosophy of the Greeks and Romans of ancient times, the scriptures of the Jews and Christians, mathematics, and astronomy.
Amin was not a religious fanatic. He called himself a philosopher and did not force Olav to adopt Islam.
At times they discussed the differences that exist in the beliefs of people. This topic always interested Olav, because he wanted to find the truth hidden in the many religious doctrines of different nations, which he could now observe and study.
* * *
One time they rested on the sea in a small sailboat that Olav had already learned to steer perfectly. It was a clear morning and a gentle breeze filled the sail.
They talked about the differences that exist among religious beliefs.
Amin explained to Olav his own worldview with the following words:
“I love the wisdom and beauty in everything!
“I enjoy the beauty of this day and of the blue waters of this calm sea!
“I love these seagulls that fill the expanse above the sea with their voices!
“I receive Truth from everywhere, no matter where it comes from. For me there is no difference if wise words come from the mouth of a Muslim or from a Christian who adores the Sacred Scriptures and worships Jesus or any other manifestation of the Power of God, no matter what name they call Him.
“I believe that there is only one God beneath all the disagreements of human beliefs!
“Here, in this country, we can see how many people live in complete harmony, even though their beliefs are different. If the Arabs began to annihilate those who follow different beliefs, we would be surrounded by ruins instead of the flourishing of culture, of art, and of commerce. But now, many people adopt Islam voluntarily.”
“Yes, but this occurs because the slaves get their freedom in this way. And other people do this so that they do not have to pay taxes for the right to follow their own faith. There are also those who do this to obtain a preferred position in society.”
“You are right Olav. Many people want to gain earthly profit from everything, including from their religious life. They believe that this will bring them happiness and success.
“However, happiness has a different nature and is discovered through love for God, the Almighty and Merciful Lord of all!”
“But if God is One, as you say, why then do such different beliefs exist? Do the gods adored by people really exist or is this simply an inherited tradition?
“My father told me that my mother could talk with God. Can you also do this? Can you listen to God, ask Him questions, and receive His answers? Can you teach me to do this?”
“I myself cannot, but I find the answers to my questions in the sacred books.
“If you would like, I can invite a sage, a Sufi, who says that he can listen to and understand the words of Allah. It would be interesting for you to speak with him!”
* * *
The name of this Sufi was Ali Djamal.
“Tell me, oh venerable one, can you listen to Allah?” asked Olav.
“Yes, I can!”
“And why can’t I do this? Why can’t other people do this either?”
Ali Djamal was silent for a while looking at Olav attentively and later answered him thus:
“God speaks with a person in the language of the heart.
“Those who learn this language will be able to understand God.
“The ability to perceive God with the spiritual heart that can see and hear is a simple and accessible ability for each person! And this ability is easily developed by the one who knows how to love! You already know how to do this! And you only have to learn a little bit more in order to understand the Highest!”
“But I do not hear His words even though I want to! I have so many questions for God!”
“Do not be in a hurry. You will be able to listen when it is time!
“Meanwhile, you can feel His Will in the same way as you feel the favorable wind that fills the sail and gives the ship the power to move. Or, on the contrary, you can feel it like the warning in the sea when the black clouds cover the sky and the blasts of wind burst.
“With time, everything around you will become an open book wherein you will see His Divine indications and learn to understand them.
“You will realize that the Divine Power always abides inside you, in the depths of the spiritual heart!
“Yet, some other events in your life must first occur before you can feel the Power of Allah in all His magnitude.”
So, Olav gradually began to learn all this, in the same way as every person can learn it. For this, he transferred the center of his perception of the world to his chest, in which not only breathing is performed and the heart beats, but also love is born.
And with this love, the soul can embrace everything that it sees around itself! And then the spiritual heart can grow and become gigantic!
Olav could do this especially well on the open sea during good weather. It seemed to him that he could embrace with his love all the sea and all the lands and that his love could even reach those places where he had previously lived! It also seemed to him that he could embrace his mother and his father, even though they had left this world, and many other people whom he loved and respected, as well as others whom he had never seen!
In this love of his, there was the tenderness of the morning sun. There, the power similar to the power of the ocean also grew! God, Who created all of this and Who loves everything and everyone, was present in this love!
It seemed that just a little more was left before it would be possible to listen to the answers to all his questions and understand all the setbacks of human destinies. But this did not happen, and the sensation of the happiness of the Mergence with the All-Powerful Sovereign of the world disappeared for a time. In this case, the habitual perception of the ordinary material world and of people returned to Olav.
* * *
One time, Amin Abduljadi asked Ali Djamal:
“Tell me, what destiny do you see for Olav? Will he abandon me? He longs to return to the land where he was born and raised, and I feel that if I let him do this, I will never see him again. Do I have the right to keep him here?”
“This young man, given to you by Allah for his education, is special. Even I, who have been walking toward the light my entire life, cannot understand his entire destiny. It is this way because he came from the Source of this Light!
“Soon he himself will come to know what is necessary about himself, but not now. One more important event must happen to him before this, and then he will remember his Divine Nature and bring the Light of Truth to this world!
“I do not have the right to intervene in his destiny. I can only help him a little and teach him certain things.
“Still, I can console you and tell you that you will abandon this life and pass to other worlds in his arms.”
* * *
Many years passed. Olav sailed with commercial missions all over the Mediterranean Sea. He had business with some European countries and carried out increasingly distant sea voyages.
He gathered in his ship a group of brave and faithful sailors, and each one of them became a loyal friend.
Olav knew that we would have to travel north! He knew this in the same way that he knew the Will of God, and he only waited for the right time to come.
Thanks to the lessons of Ali Djamal, Olav not only learned to feel the Will of God, but he could listen to His advice and indications as he addressed Him with his questions. He felt His Love, His Power, and His constant presence more and more vividly.
When Amin Abduljadi, who had replaced his father, left this world, Olav understood that God filled the new course of his destiny with a favorable wind.