RUNNING FOR THE HILLS: Dispatch from Muslim Homesteaders



A Heave, A Ho, and a Big Dua'


















heave (heev) v. 1. to raise or lift especially with great effort or force; a. to raise or haul by means of a rope, line or cable.

heave ho (heev hoh) v. 1. to raise or lift with such exertion that it produces a forceful, completely involuntary expulsion of breath, subsequently causing one to wish he had employed “a” above; 2. the method commonly used to move heavy objects in the time of your great-great grandfathers, before the introduction of gas-powered machinery.

Before the invention of the wheel, and hence, pulleys, people heaved and ho-ed all over the place: the pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the U.K., the totem poles of the British Columbia Indians and the stone Olmec heads in Mexico, to name a few. Here in North America the Indians wisely configured branches or poles into various shaped dwellings according to their climate and geography, covered them with their choice of animal hides, tree bark, grass mats, earth or even more poles, and voila, home. Convenient, largely waterproof, sustainably sourced, and often portable. Very little heave or ho. Now, when the soon-to-be new Americans arrived on these shores with all the pomp and made-up privilege of manifest destiny, they quickly began chopping at the forest to make logs for their version of “home”. And not being inclined to take design cues from the dwellings around them, or even ask for help, much heaving and ho-ing naturally ensued.



In one's twenties and thirties the ability to lift large and heavy objects is more or less a given. In one's forties it is a cause to boast. In one's fifties and beyond, heave-ho is pretty much out the door and doing anything more physically demanding than sajdah is a cause for, well... sajdah. So my husband, Tariq, and I, being firmly ensconced in the later part of that latter demographic, had cause to call upon Allah 'Azza wa Jal quite frequently during the construction of our cabin. In the early stages when we only had four or five levels of logs put up, we had employed the use of winch, ropes and log ramps, methods favored by the pioneers, and which worked so well and made the raising of each log so easy we felt like we were in our twenties again! But as the cabin walls rose to the sixth level of logs, reality set in and reminded us that we are indeed quintagenarians badly in need of gas-powered machinery.

Now, Allah has a really cool way of knowing just what you need, when and how you need it. He tells us in Surat-ul Talaq “And He will provide him from sources he could never imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.”  And what He sent us was Scott Canda with his wonderful mechanical claw. Mr. Canda is an old-school logger and the man who supplies us with our logs. He is also the owner and operator of a rattlin', shakin', blue smoke-belchin' log loading truck with a temperamental hydraulic grasping claw. But when he sat in that truck's operator seat he deftly manipulated the control levers of that claw with a nimbleness so exact it was freaky. Cyborg-freaky. He maneuvered it to swoop down, hover like a hummingbird, then gently pluck a 1,000-pound log from the pile, twist up, swerve and rotate that claw as deliberately as a child's hand in a game of pick-up-sticks, then place it delicately atop another log on the cabin wall. The number of logs he could place in forty minutes would have taken us four hours.

Allah provided an extra set of hands from a young Muslim brother named Ridhwaan who helped us for a year, a tractor from neighbor Jack Maurer, who cut out and graded our main road, and a backhoe from another neighbor, Suzy Johnson, who dug the hole for our outhouse. In every step of the building process we made dua'. And Allah Subhana wa t'Ala answered. Each time we cut into a log, dua' was made. For every hole drilled into a log and every piece of rebar pounded into that hole, a dua'.  Before each challenging task, dua'.

Each step of the journey necessitates dua', whether learning a new surah, seeking a spouse, cooking a meal, or building a house. The dua' is the inner tool you use. Craftsmen have a saying, “the right tool for the job.” Some endeavors feel as if you're working and struggling with a teaspoon when what you really need is a pickaxe. That teaspoon is you trying to make something happen on your own. It's the wrong equipment so put the teaspoon down. Come on, you know the ayat, say it with me: “And your Lord says call on me and I will answer.” Enough with the heave-ho. Don't make things difficult. Make dua'. It's the right tool for the job.

Sister Jann McClary and her husband Tariq moved from the Washington DC metropolitan area establish a new home in the mountains of Colorado, building it from the ground up as part of their plan to become free of from the spiritually and physically stress of modern urban life. Sister Jann is documenting her experiences for the Muslim Link. See her first two installments at by searching for “Running for the Hills”. Make sure you select “Exact Phrase” in the search options.