Thursday, 3 February 2011

Rain at Last

Jordan is mostly a very dry place. It doesn't have any major bodies of water to draw from, so it mostly depends on rainfall, which isn't that plentiful in a country that's mostly desert. What about the Jordan River? I've seen it a number of times, and from the hills it's hard to tell that it is a river, there's so little water in it.

Back in November, the Jordanian government called for people to fast for three days and then gather all over the country to pray salaat al-istisqa, the prayer for rain. There were posters everywhere, and a group prayer was held in the paved yard of my college. The rain did come, I don't recall exctly when, but shortly after the prayer. Some people will say that it was going to rain eventually anyways and praying has no effect, but personally I believe that Allah heard our prayers, forgave us, and send the rain.

Rain in the desert after nearly a year of dust and dryness is a miraculous thing to witness. The water has nowhere to go, so streets and many houses flood; the whole town is shut down and classes are cancelled, very much like the effect a few inches of snow has in a certain pathetically and chronically unprepared city in Canada.

Despite the problems it causes, children stand rapt and watch the raindrops fall, and adults rejoice. I was standing under the eaves of the masjid, sheltering from the rain while waiting for it to open, and a woman joined me. She remarked happily about how lovely the weather was, and I thought for a moment that she was joking. In Canada, pouring down rain is ordinary and dreary, but here it's a miracle that only happens a few times a year.

When it finally rains, it really rains. Water comes rushing down out of the higher desert and fills the wadis that were formally used as footpaths, playgrounds, and garbage disposal with torrents of chocolately brown water. It happens very suddenly, and I wonder every year if anyone got caught in the wadi when the water came crashing down.