My first prayer
I woke up at 5:30 AM to conduct the morning prayer, the Fajr. This prayer is supposed to be conducted before sunrise, so I only had a half hour to get this done according to the prayer timetable on my Muslim Pro app.
I took a shower, and then I performed wudu, a ritual cleansing that you’re supposed to do before you pray so that you’re in a pure state of mind. It requires you to wash your hands, face, mouth, and ears. You’re even supposed to snort water into your nostrils. That’ll wake you up.
Because my travel prayer mat has not yet arrived, I borrowed my girlfriend’s purple yoga mat.
A Muslim friend of mine stayed with me this past weekend and gave me a quick lesson in how to pray. I remembered the motions for the most part, but I had to use a print out of the instructions to recite the blessings at the proper time
Of course, it’s difficult to do the prayer movements if you’re holding a sheet of paper in your hands, so I awkwardly fumbled through the bowing and the prostration. I read the wrong things at the wrong time and had to start over again.
I finished the prayer and went on with my day.
My 2nd-5th prayers
My day was busy yesterday. I had to be at a client site for the morning, and then drive to another client site in the afternoon. Fortunately, in between those meetings I was able to come home and do my noon prayer (Dhuhr), but I had to rush through it. It’s a strange site to see someone try to quickly snort water up their nose and then awkwardly bow and pray and such.
At my last meeting of the day, I was nervous because I knew I was going to be late for my third prayer. I rushed home, did wudu, did my prayers, and then I was able to relax a little bit.
However, after eating dinner it was time to pray again! I conducted my fourth round of Wudu and prayer. Then my girlfriend came back and we watched 24 (yes, Jack Bauer is back).
Then I had to do my last prayer of the day, Isha. I was very comfortable on the couch and I was not excited about having to get up.
But, being the dutiful fake-Muslim, I did it anyway. Then I watched Veep.
My first day of Salat made me realize how inconvenient the whole thing is. I was worried about the logistics of Salat the entire day, and when I wasn’t worrying about it, I was irritated that it interrupted my relaxation time.
Due to the fact that I’m still learning the mechanics of Salat, I didn’t feel spiritually rejuvenated either, just awkward….
But, I’ve learned enough from my other months that I’ll only receive the benefits if I consistently perform Salat. It’s unrealistic to think that I’ll become spiritually enlightened in one day of performing Salat.
I also believe that the inconvenience of Salat is a feature, not a flaw. By interrupting your day, you acknowledge that whatever it is you’re doing is not that important; that physically demonstrating your submission to God and his will is a more worthy goal. As important as it is to watch Jack Bauer rescue Chloe from the CIA, it’s probably more important to remind yourself of your humble place in the world.
I’ll report back on day 2 tomorrow.