4th January 2016, Monday: I’m an absolute faithful when it comes to the oneness of God, though habitually I’m not that ritualistic. I try hard not to, but sometimes I pass up while I’m offering prayer to the extent that I lose count of the number of “rak’ahs”1 that I’ve completed and that still remained outstanding. It’s quite shameful actually, and I’ve no qualms in admitting that I’m the only one to blame.
In the past I have prayed ‘Tahajjud’2 only occasionally, especially when I was in dire need of a good turn from Him. But since the last ‘Ramadan’3, after being through the experience of offering the ‘Qiyam al-layl’4 prayer during the penultimate nine days5, I did not change the alarm mode in my cell phone, eventually submitting to ‘Tahajjud’ as a regular.
The governing body of mosques in our township have put in place a centralized prayer call system. The ‘adhan’ (prayer call) is called from the famed mosque named after the Father of the Nation, which is relayed to every single mosque under its administration within town limits. This is technological advancement and a demonstration of how spirituality and science go hand in hand. But some elders who have fallen arthritis victims and have to offer prayer sitting in chairs with back support are nostalgic; they miss the old world charm of the long winding village dirt tracks and the muezzin’s real time ‘adhan’ called from the minarets of surrounding mosques at a-fraction-of-second-long disjointed intervals.
I reach the mosque for ‘Fajr’ prayer a good thirty minutes before the ‘adhan’ is heard. The apartment where I live is a little over five hundred yards from the mosque and enroute I have to cross the rear entrances of ‘Via-Delhi’, an Indian restaurant, two Philippino ready-to-wear apparel outlets, a pharmacy and two ceramic tile showrooms. Earlier today, as I drew close, a cat with a mix of grey and white fur, who was licking the droplets of water from a leaking sewage line, looked up. When I returned its gaze, it broke the eye contact by resuming the act it was already engaged in. As I climbed the steps that led to the main entrance of the mosque, I wondered whether I should have driven the cat away from drinking the tainted water. Should I have gone back home and brought some potable water in a container for it? And what if I didn’t find the cat in the vicinity at all when I came back? As a matter of fact, I didn’t go back home, but promptly entered the mosque.
By the time I was retracting my steps towards my apartment, the obscure night that had been resting over the township like a bear on its hind legs had begun to give way to the first rays of dawn. Automobiles still crawled like columns of fire flies through its black arteries. Above lay a dimly lit azure sky. From the top of the distant sky scraper an insurance company’s neon ad blinked, ‘Do the Right Thing’.
It was my call alright. But did I get it right this time? May be I’ll never know.
1 Unit of prayer performed by Muslims 5 times a day; the ritual consists of a combination of bows, prostrations with Qur’anic and other prescribed recitations.
2 A voluntary Islamic prayer that is offered preferably during the last third of the night.
3 The holy month during which the first revelation was received by Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
4 A voluntary prayer performed during the last third of the night during which longer verses from Qur’an are recited.
5 Because it is during one of the last 9 days that the first revelation occurred.
This article appeared in Caravandaily portal: