in Sierra de Grazalema (Cádiz)

October 26th, 2017

On the third weekend of October 2017 a group of young Muslims between 11 and 16 years from the cities of Granada and Seville, accompanied by some adults, made a trip to the Sierra de Grazalema, in the Andalusian province of Cádiz (Spain). The activity was promoted and organized by the Foundation Mezquita of Seville and the Al Andalus Foundation for Education.

This camping of Muslim youths took place in the “Los Linares” campsite, located on the outskirts of the town of Benamahoma (in Arabic: Ibn Muhammad), within the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. This Natural Park is a beautiful enclave of nature (53 hectares) close to the Costa del Sol (Southern Mediterranean coast) of Andalusia / Spain.

On Friday afternoon, after the Salat of Juma (Friday Prayer), both the participants from Seville and those from Granada, set off for Benamahoma. We arrived at the campsite a little before the time of Maghreb (sunset prayer), so we had little time to greet each other, before distributing the tents and setting them up before it got dark. The boys soon noticed that this place was far from any artificial city lights, its noises and technological devices of urban life. We immediately enjoyed an atmosphere of simple joy, enthusiasm and a certain excitement the youths felt by spending the night in a sleeping bag, next to three other boys of your their age, in a tent on a mountain, under the stars.

On Saturday morning we woke up early. It was a wonderful day and the morning dew kept the soil and plants moist. After gathering strength with a great breakfast and preparing the backpacks with the sandwiches for lunch, we started an excursion on the Pinsapar trail. This is a path that goes from Benamahoma to the town of Grazalema, crossing a forest of Pinsapos (Spanish fir trees) that is located on the north face of the Sierra del Pinar. That area is marked by special microclimatic conditions, which secure its humidity and temperature. It is amazing to note that – although being in the hot South of Spain – the Sierra de Grazalema is that area of Spain where it rains most throughout the year! This was evident in the lush vegetation along the trail and in the humidity of the earth, despite the sunny and hot day we had. In the past coal and wood were extracted from these mountains and this path was used to transport the merchandise on mule backs to the villages of the Sierra. The path is classified as a path of high difficulty, since it has a steep slope of more than 5 km that requires an intense physical effort. Nevertheless the tour was enjoyable. We were changing groups of boys and adults, while the harshness of the terrain sometimes caused some silences to save our breaths. But most of the time our conversations did not stop, sometimes they were serious, sometimes they were accompanied by laughter, some were of general interest, others less so, some were loud and some more intimate and peaceful.

Throughout the tour we admired the wonderful creation of Allah. We admired the birds of prey that flew over our heads and the valleys, peaks and mountains that were appearing as we ascended. At midday, after having climbed for more than 3 hours, we made a stop to eat and rest for a while, before we started the descent back to our campsite. The descent was easier and faster and we arrived at the camping area around 6:00 p.m. In total we walked about 13 kilometres.

After the Salat al-Maghrib we cooked dinner. After dining and praying Salat of the Isha we all sat in a circle to make some fun cooperative games with the aim of strengthening the trust between the members of the group and developing logical reasoning, as well as spending a pleasant evening together.

That same night coincided with one of the best moments to observe the meteor shower of the shooting stars of Orion. Before going to bed we were lucky to contemplate again the majesty of Allah, identifying in the darkness of the night and away from all artificial city lights some of these shooting stars.

The next morning, after breakfast, Sidi Muhammad Palleiro and his son Yasin offered us a theoretical and practical introduction to archery, one of the sports practiced and recommended by the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). After this we played a game of cricket, a little-known sport in Spain, which is very interesting and fun. Finally, we folded up our tents and headed back home. Those who went to Seville left directly to their destination. Those who returned to Granada stopped in the city of Ronda to have lunch there and to contemplate the impressive gorge of Ronda, which is spanned by an impressive bridge. For most of the boys it was the first time they visited this breath-taking place. They youths were very impressed with its beauty when walking on the famous Puente Nuevo (New Bridge).

After this cultural stop, we resumed our trip until we reached the city of Granada, where we concluded our trip.

The reason for this Camp, apart from visiting these beautiful places and do some other interesting activities, and which emerge naturaly during this period of coexistence, is to create links between muslim youths which provide them the feeling of belonging to a peer group, a group of people who follow the Messanger of Allah (peace be upon him). Strengthen their identity as muslims and feel proud of it. Convey adab and courtesy, the behavior of a muslim: generosity, service, collaboration, good manners and respect to their companions and to their environment. Also in this kind of trips, situaciones arise in which the young boys feel free to express their doubts or their personal, social or existencial concerns.