Hello and Salaams dear readers,
I’ve missed you all!
AlhamduLillah, I’ve been inspired to write after a very hectic day at the wonderful Winter Fayre at Elmfield School yesterday. My daughter asked us if she could have a stall there to sell her home-made cakes. Little did we know that her dad had a pre-booked tuition session planned for her at the same time. Cue long day ahead for mummy selling cakes (and desi chai and halwa)…!!
So, amidst all the selling and smiling and catching up and loveliness I was aware that I’d have to take two prayer breaks as the days are so short that by the time I get home it’d be sunset. I was slightly frazzled by this fact but then also very grateful that I didn’t take my two year old with me as that would’ve made things all the harder.
AlhamduLillah, my lovely sis in law was present to help me with my first break, may Allah bless her, but it was my second break I want to talk about.
The first thing is that I was so happy to leave the stall at that point because I desperately needed a break. I put up a sign saying we’ll be back and walked to the quiet place designated by one of the organisers. After having washed for prayer, I reflected on how refreshing it was to have to wash at this point in the day, my feet specifically felt like they needed a bit of love. I was so aware of the significance of the water waking me up spiritually and getting me ready for an exchange and remembrance of my Creator. Not only did I feel refreshed, I also felt grateful for the excuse to hide away in a quiet corner for a while. I needed the clarity of mind and thought that this break would give me.
I walked into the quiet room with my son and shut the door behind us and then propped up a chair next to it so I wouldn’t be disturbed. I had just put my hands up to my shoulders to proclaim Allah hu Akbar to begin the prayer when up popped a head from the corner of the room. ‘Hi Sidra!’ a voice that I recognised as my son’s former classmate’s mum. My heart jumped and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. She had been lying in the corner of the room, hidden behind the desks, with her eyes closed and her feet balanced on top of a desk in front of her. She said ‘I’m here for some quiet time too’. How brilliant. I’ve got to admit that up until now any quiet room I’ve been in has been used by other Muslims but rarely anybody of a different faith or belief. It was so wonderful to see somebody who was benefiting from a bit of quiet time in the middle of all the busyness. We whispered a quick exchange and then we each got on with our own quiet reflection and meditation. After I’d prayed I got up and quietly left the room, feeling so grateful for this prescribed time of prayer every day, something that I probably would never have given myself a chance to do, if I was given a choice. Of course, I do have a choice, but as a practicing Muslim I truly believe that praying five times a day is emphasised so much that to miss it would be detrimental to our spiritual lives.
This encounter made me think that maybe people are starting to understand the significance of a spiritual time-out and even a quiet reflective experience in the middle of a busy day and how it might help reset one’s faculties and become a means to cope with the rest of the day or indeed when observed regularly, the rest of the week, month, year and ultimately lifetime.
This comes at a time when, for the first time ever, I’ve been getting more and more positive reactions to me praying in obscure places in the middle of the day. Previously, I’d found that people would simply tolerate the ‘weirdness’ of praying at allocated times in he middle of the day (whatever floats your boat!), but recently I’ve had more positive reactions. One teacher thought it was ‘cool’ and another said she ‘wished she had time to pray at lunchtime too’. Amazing.
This brings me to another aspect of prayer. As you know, praying five times a day is incumbent on all Muslims and there have been times, whilst being a mum, that I have found this difficult. When the toddler is screaming yet again for something you don’t want to give him (the phone, a sweet, his dad..!) it’s really hard to drop everything and pray. But in hindsight, I’ve realised that this is what has kept me sane throughout all the ups and downs of parenting and even marriage. It is a grounding mechanism that reminds you why we are here and helps you to put things in perspective. The actual physical act of one’s forehead touching the ground neutralises electrons in our bodies! SubhanAllah!
I once read a mummy post by somebody who wasn’t Muslim who couldn’t put her child down, after having just come out of the shower herself, because her daughter was unwell. She stayed like that for a few hours, afraid to wake her daughter who was finally resting. I remember responding to the post saying that one must always remember to look after oneself first and that she had rights too (to be dressed and warm) that needed to be fulfilled. I think prayer taught me that. No matter how hard your day is, whether your child needs you more on a particular day or not, you need to take a break for yourself, go for a quick wash if needed, and stop everything to pray. If you’re about to miss a prayer time, dinner can wait, a child whose bottom needs cleaning can wait, even a person at the door can wait until you’ve finished that prescribed prayer. What a blessing to have a moment to yourself in the day. Five blessed guilt-free moments that connect you to your Creator. The real challenge is to be mindful at this time and really managing to concentrate amidst the chaos.
I wonder if I’ve changed anybody’s view of prayer through a busy day. Do let me know your thoughts.
As I promised, to balance things out I’m going to outline three things we’ve had to work through over these few months.
1. High School isn’t working for my second child so I’m entering the world of home ed again and am in need of your duas!
2. My lovely toddler is now nearly 2 and a half. I’m fervently hoping the terrible twos will not descend and we will defy all odds -I’ll simply distract him by reading his favourite books to him when the going gets tough- but he’s already having significant breakdowns! Duas are needed again please!
3. Meeting the needs of my children who are significantly different in age, and therefore needs, is proving to be challenging. I feel that I’m spread quite thinly at the moment as I try to apply my parenting and teaching skills to the children in my life. May Allah make it easy for all mothers who have a lot on their plates inshaAllah.
And here are three things to be grateful for, with a little commentary (because I can’t help it!):
1. The blog-
I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last wrote to you lovely people. It feels great to be able to share things once again and I’m hoping to do it more often now that the book (which is based on my blog) is now written, AlhamduLillah!
2. Family holidays –
Since July we’ve been busy holidaying within the U.K. FYI, England has actually been voted second best tourist destination in the whole world by The Lonely Planet. Fabulous news since we beat Dubai and I’m always letting my sisters know that I prefer walking around in muddy boots and witnessing the majestic scenery in England Wales (or even Scotland and more recently Cornwall for that matter) than exploring the latest ‘world’s best’ development in the flashy cosmopolitan city of Dubai. Although the gorgeous beaches and tax-free salary are a definite pull factor! Not to mention the fact that I miss them to bits and pieces throughout the year…So yes, we had family reunions etc over the Summer and it was all so lovely and then September brought us back to Earth with bump.
3. ‘FINDING PEACE THROUGH PRAYER AND LOVE’ IS COMING OUT SOON INSHAALLAH!
The book finally has a name. It went through the last round of edits over the Summer. It was a slow process as we all had a lot on but I’m so happy to say it’s done. Of course, every time I read it I end up tweaking it one way or another! I’ve been reassured by a fellow writer buddy that this is normal and to make my peace with what I’ve done I simply need to start on something else. So that, dear friends, is what I’ll do.
And that’s it from me for now,
Lovely connecting with you all again!
Until next time,
Peace and Love,