Praying in fear

My latest post is up at the Religion Dispatches blog, about the complexities of praying namaz in public: “Praying in Fear.”

Also check out this lovely video “Forbidden Love” (h-t Safiyya.)

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14 thoughts on “Praying in fear

  1. :) yay!
    We watched “Rendition” last night and for the first time I’m totally spooked!
    Will look forward to more discussions on this topic (there has to be a way to make this easier!!) across the blogosphere…

  2. The topic owes its origins to you, maximus. It’s been on my mind but you helped it bubble over.
    Of course there’s always the “get over it” approach … :)

  3. But it’s the picking at a thing till you’ve resolved it somehow that gives the spice/headaches/’joie de resistance’ to life, no?

    Thanks for the nod! :)

    BTW, hope the bronchitis and all are gone now!

  4. Oh God its happening to me too! I tried praying in one of the study tables in the library, with a newspaper in front of me, the moment I started and bent my head down I saw the word “sexy” looking up to me, prayer broken, started again and when I bent my head it hit HARD against the cabinet I didn’t notice was there *sigh*
    Here people tell me that I might get reported if someone doesn’t like me praying in classrooms, doing wudhu in the common wash areas so even when I do, I’m scared someone might walk in and report! *sigh* its such a pain

  5. Shabana thank you for such a beautiful and honest piece. It’s rare to hear even fellow Muslims talk about prayer in such a moving way. I loved this sentence: “It is my centering, it is the Holy Mosque around which my soul revolves.” And this one was so poignant it made me gasp with almost-tears: “It’s like trying to reach through barbed wire for a loved one on the other side. I dare not reach.”

  6. It’s so true that’s why I try to *hurry* home to pray because of those *looks*. We used to have a room allocated for muslims in college and we had khutbas. I would attend sometimes and you could just see the looks on other non-muslim students, it was PRICELESS! :D

  7. great piece, cuz. i soooo know the feeling. with our road-tripping and stuff, usman has been talking about how he feels like it’s not right for him to be praying sitting down in the car, so we find the back corners of parking lots and take out the rug and take turns… but about half the time, depending on where we are, he says he feels better if i pray in the car instead, because with the hijab i’m much more obvious (i dunno tho, his beard could be scaring people too).

    i remember the summer hassan got married, he and rabiah and i went on a day trip to the beach at wilmington, and i still vividly recall praying maghrib on the sand with rabiah in front of everyone.
    this weekend we took musa and my in-laws to hains point in DC, by the water, so musa could see the planes take off against the setting sun, and we ended up praying asr on a rug over the grass in the crowded park (over a whole bunch of nasty goose poop too!). alhamdulillah it was fine – there were several of us after all – but the feeling is just not the same. at least in the DC airports they have those chapel/prayer room thingies… :)

  8. excellent article! I remember when i first converted doing wuhdu in the bathroom at work while girls were spritzing and spraying and flipping and … there’s me with my socks and shoes off, doing wuhdu. It was so surreal to me. I had never been one of the spritzers but i had never really noticed them i guess. Praying is a whole nother thing. It’s so sad we have such fear of praying in public. Even then i was afraid in conference rooms because occassionally people would walk in and i’d hear them whispering as they walked away.

    Great article and one that needs to be out there!

  9. Sorry to do a double-post, but this piece really stayed with me. I was thinking about what else I liked about it…One thing is how you manage to “normalize” the namaz, to show how it can be a very everyday experience for Muslims, and show how it isn’t some exotic strange thing. Like when you describe asking Paki shopkeepers for a place to pray, and how they’re always ready to oblige without it being at all abnormal. I’m hoping that details like that serve to convey to non-Muslim readers the regular, rhythmic, part-of-our-everyday-ness of the prayer.

  10. I am glad I did not write what I was thinking for so many years now.
    Yes you have done the job much better than I could have done. Yes baitee my eyes were wet, specially knowing your whole life and that of your mother.
    This has also reminded me of the Qur’anic ayat of salah of fear
    So the Muslims with the prophet SAWS also must have gone through these feelings we are experiencing. May be some like us, any way. Not comparing my prayers to theirs but what it means that the Almighty is fully aware of human weaknesses and therefore He will, out of His bountiful mercy accept our prayer no matter how timid or how much trunkated it is. Namaz expresses so much more than just salah or prayer as you have mentioned so beautifully.
    Like Usman I have felt the same thing that praying in the car is not good but I feel that avoiding problems you ahve mentioned and they are real, is also important. Is’nt it heart-warming to know that He knows what is in our hearts? I believe this is taqwa.
    I am so proud of your writing and love you baitee. This is a problem that is going to be with us for, I dont know how long. I do remember the days when I could pray anywhere with pride in this country of US.
    O! I must mention the Pakistani luxury.
    I wanted to blog it separately but here it is.
    I land in Islamabad on 26th morning (Dec. /07) after a long fight and My sister and her son come to get me at the airport. We get out and load the car and walk over to the masjid at the airport. I make a wudu (water is cold) and I offer sunnah and wait for five minutes, they stand up for Fajr in Jama’t at 6-20 am. I was totally and refershingly relaxed. Did I enjoy the luxury? you can imagine. (I, personally, love the Fajr prayer most out of all the five)

  11. Pingback: Daily Terror Sun-Thurs « Critically Unstable Muslim

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