Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Falling Off the Wagon

The prayer wagon, that is.

I'm not sure how it really happens. I don't plan it. I'll wake up, intending to make my five prayers that day. Or I'll go to sleep, intending to wake up for fajr. (Let's face it, fajr is the hardest one of all for so many of us.)

But then I sleep through fajr because I was up until the wee hours (a more common occurrence than I honestly want it to be).

Having done that, I'll procrastinate the rest of them. *adhan app goes off* Thinks to self: "I'm doing such-and-such, I'll go pray in a few minutes." But I forget, and suddenly I've missed dhuhr and it's asr or (worse) magrib. Then, oops, I missed magrib, too. "I'll pray isha before I go to bed tonight", I tell myself. But then I don't do that one, either.

All of a sudden, I've missed an entire day - and those days become a week, then two... and even longer.

I think about all the time that's passed, all the prayers I've missed, and feel guilty. When I do pray, I love the way it makes me feel. I make that connection with Allah. I step on that prayer rug, and it's like a 2x4 spot of peace. That's when I really settle in to my identity as a Muslim. So why do I have these long gaps where I don't make a single prayer in an entire day?

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. I can't even try to excuse it by saying "I'm busy", because I'm not. I don't have a job. I'm not going to school. (Though I am looking for work and will be taking a continuing education class at the local college in a month, inshAllah.)

The only answer I can come up with is that I'm lazy. It's true. I'm lazy. I don't try to be. I don't intend to be. I just let myself get bogged down with frustration over my aimless, jobless state, and so I don't do anything.

I want to get myself back on track. I really do. Of course, the only way to do that is to pull out that rug and pray. Being consistent in my prayers really is #MyJihad.

How do you get yourself out of it when you fall into a prayer rut?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Sign of the Times

I got an idea of an experiment that I wanted to do a few days ago. Given the date, I thought that it seemed like the perfect time to try it out, though the timing wasn't deliberate on my part.

The experiment? Take my cute hijabi self and stand at a busy intersection with a sign that said "Peace Be Upon You". I wondered what kind of reactions I'd get. Let's face it - my new town is in the Bible belt, and you can probably count the number of Muslims in town on one hand. You can hazard a guess at what would happen, but I wanted to know for sure.

Let me tell you what happened. People waved at me. They smiled. They gave me thumbs up and honked their horns. More than a few flashed peace signs - including (not surprising to me) a trio of soldiers in one car. Two comments: "Salam aleikum, sister. Islam is the path of peace. America needs Islam!" from one middle-aged African American brother. Another drove by and shouted "That's right, sister! That's right!"

In short, on a day most Muslims dread because they worry about negative comments and behavior, the response I got was overwhelmingly positive. Not a single person made a negative comment. Not a single one made a negative gesture. People understand, by and large, that Muslims are their neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members. They understand that we're normal people, just like them. This new understanding and acceptance is a sign of the times that we live in.

To me, this just goes to show that a little faith in the basic goodness of humanity can go a long, long way. Alhamdilullah.