To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. I got to know Maryam through milk... Al Haaj Fahfu's family are herders, and as a matter of fact, he must possess perhaps 100 cows or more or less...
Slowly slowly I noticed that students were getting some milk every evening. As I love milk so much, after enquiring, I discovered that students were getting their fills under the tent of Murabit al Haaj!
Salik, the grand son of Murabit told me: "if you want some milk, go and see Maryam?" I thought, who is Maryam..?
Indeed Maryam was a very discreet old woman... Anyway, I was told to go and see her after my dinner with an empty recipient. Which I did.
I walked to Murabit's tent. On the open side of it, 10's of recipients were on the floor. Maryam, always wearing dark clothes, was sitting behind them all, and as I arrived, I bent down and habded over my wooden recipient. She looked at me, wondering who I was. Her grandson arrived to the recue: "It's Abdelmalik, the foreign student!", he told her, in Hassaniya.
There was not one day I missed my meeting with Maryam. Standing in front of the tent while she was pooring some milk into my container was always a mystical moment: here she was sitting down on her rug, with 10's of bowls in front of her, some big, some smalls, some empty, some filled to the brim with still a warm milk fresh from the cows! I could always hear Murabit at the back, in the darkness of the tent, mentionning always always the name of Allah. Bamba, a freed slave, was coming forth and back with the milk he just had from milking the cows 50 metres away.
I never understood the exact system she was using; why she had so many bowls in front of her, that she was always placing in specific order. One day I couldn't find my own bowl, so I came to her with the recipient of a friend; although it was a normal metallic bowl no different to others, when I put it in front of the tent for her to fill it, she took it, touched it and said: "This is mine". When I went back to my tent, I told my friend what Maryam had said, and he said: "What what she'd said is true". I was then realisng that she knew exactly every single bowl she had in front of her: to whom it belong, how much people will drink from it, hence how much she should put in it...
I never got to speak much with her.
She was very reserved and desinterested mashallah.
One of the things that stroke me when I first got to Twemret, was the how loud the imam, shaykh Hadd Amin, was reciting the prayers, especially the takbirs throughout the prayer...
I later on realised that it might be because Maryam was praying with us, from behind a tent. It seems she was showing strenght and endurance in prayer with the jamaat mashallah.
Perhaps I can say that her husband, murabit al Haaj, and her brother, Shaykh Khattry, perhaps indicate the excellent quality of person that she was.
Visitors always enquired about her, addressing her as "alwâlidah", the mother.
She was always quiet, ready to answer people's questions, but never speaking first.
Shaykh Hamza have paid an emotional and moving tribute to "alwâlidah"; and her disappearance is a great loss to Twemret, its people and its students.
She was living for the mahdhara and was an integral part of it.
We ask Allah to forgive her and to grant her Jannah; may he also grant her family relieves and give them patience in that difficult period. Amin