Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is it time yet? Bad habits of muslims....

It's 11pm, your tired, you sip your tea trying your best to stay awake. You turn to your spouse and ask if its almost time...He says its almost ready, give or take a few minutes. You stretch your arms over your head and calculate how many hours until fajr. You figure 5 hours.... 30 minutes later it's time... You grab your stuff and go into the next room where the women will be sitting and leave your husband in the other room to join the men. It's dinner time, and your famished! You make gestures while eating to communicate with your in-laws who unfortunately only speak arabic. You hear laughter coming from the other room where your husband is sitting with the other men and from time to time he comes to check on you to make sure you are ok. You glance at your watch and are shocked that it is nearly 1:30am. You mouth to your husband that your tired and its time to head up stairs to get some sleep, he agrees and 15 minutes later you are passed out and in a deep sleep....

Around 4am you hear the athan (call to prayer) and feel paralyzed. You are so exhausted it takes every ounce of willpower to open your eyes. You desperately want to go back to sleep and bury your head under the pillow. You half heartily tap your husbands arm and tell him its time to get up for fajr. He groans and says, "already?" Your eye lids feel heavy and you decide to give yourself a few more minutes to rest them. You close them for one second, and the next thing you know it's 10am! Your eyes pop open and you realize that you never woke back up to pray fajr! You can hear your in-laws waking up and going downstairs for breakfast.

Last summer I went to Morocco with my husband to visit my in-laws. Alhamdulillah they are great, however i never got used to eating so late and I found that the habits of Moroccans made it very difficult for me to practice islam properly. My first challenge was not mixing with my brother-in-law since most muslims find no problem socializing with in-laws and cousins. In Moroccan culture as in many cultures, brother and sister-in-laws eat together as do cousins, their mentality is that they are family (even though you could potentially marry them) whereas eating with strangers of the opposite sex is less likely to happen.

The second thing i noticed is the over-populated markets! All day and all night the markets were busy with men and women shopping, mingling and having tea at the outdoor cafes. The streets were so crowded that it was near impossible not to bump into someone or touch them as you passed them. Another thing i noticed is that dinner is served very late. Most families do not eat until after 10pm. Dinners are usually long and you spend time conversing with the people you are eating with. The average dinner lasts 1 1/2-2 hours, especially if you are there as a guest. This habit makes it very difficult if not impossible to get up and pray fajr, especially when fajr started around 330am.

I found shaking hands to be common, especially amongst in-laws or relatives that are not your mahram (someone you could marry such as a cousin). It's funny how an American revert who comes from a culture where shaking hands and eating together in mixed groups is normal is teaching born muslims not to engage in cultural practices. For those of you who are like me and love to wear sneakers, you will be looked down at by the locals if you step out in a pair. In morocco women must wear Moroccan style shoes which usually have sequins on it, are colorful, and have a small heal that come in a variety of colors. They are pretty and flashy, but not very comfortable for walking long distances. Even though i was wearing proper clothes (niqab/abayah etc) my sneakers still made women turn their heads and look down at me like i was a peasant. It was amazing how people judge you on your shoes! Not to mention my sneakers probably cost more than 10 pairs of Moroccan shoes!

I am mentioning this because awhile back i listened to a wonderful lecture on the sleeping habits of our beloved prophet Muhammad (saw). The sunnah is to go to sleep after isha, whereas most people stay awake well past isha and often times miss fajr and find it near impossible to get up and pray the night prayer. They often sleep in late and find that they are exhausted throughout the day. I have seen foreign kids staying up until 1am because their parents are up eating dinner or having tea with friends. I look at my own nephew and niece who are in bed by 8pm at the latest!

InshaAllah i will post more information on the sleeping habits of our prophet (saw) and inshaAllah we will change our cultural practices and try to incorporate the sunnah into our everyday lives.


NiDa said...

I should take a lesson from that - Jazak Allah Khair sis. It's kind of difficult being still a full time College student and trying to have a proper sleeping schedule. Too often it is completely out of order... reading, writing until way past midnight - 3 am just the other night actually. And it has done a bad turn on me, I really hope I can manage my sleeping times a little better because I have not been wakeing up early enough for fajr - but in the last quarter of fajr time nearing the end. :( ... while it is best to pray in the first quarter.

InshaALlah, it gets a little easier :)

struggling said...

So many simularities to Syria, except with my inlaws dinner was at 3pm, it was way too early for me :P. The men and women all sat together as well, actually at the time I was comfortable with it since DH was always there to translate what was going on, but I see what your saying and your right. Thank you for the reminder

Melda :o) said...

Assalamu alaikum

great post, thanks for the reminder. I'm a little confused tho..what were you trying to say when you pointed out that your sneakers probably cost ten times more than their moroccan style shoes?

Thirst For Knowledge said...

walaikum asalaam,

I just meant that a pair of US sneakers costs between $35-$60 and a pair of moroccan shoes costs about $4. Therefore if they are judging a person on shoes, they should realize that the sneakers i am wearing are better quality and cost more, therefore they shouldnt judge =)
i dont judge them on their shoes, so how can they judge me on mine?

Melda :o) said...

Salam sis,

sorry, what I was trying to say was...what does it matter how much the shoes you guys were wearing cost? They shouldn't have judged you on your shoes...end of story. It doesn't matter whose shoes are more expensive or of better quality. They were wearing flashy/pretty shoes which, if they can be seen, defeats the purpose of hijab, while looking down on you even tho you were doing the right thing. In other words, even if they'd been wearing Manolo's they should not have given you dirty looks :o)

Thirst For Knowledge said...

exactly =)well said melda!