Remain Within These Frames

For the first time in the West, the last few weeks I felt extremely overwhelmed by how inconvenient the way of life here is to the practice of Islam, especially prayer. No water in the toilets. No public call to prayer. There are so many easy excuses not to pray. The lack of regular azaan was the most disturbing aspect to me. Why, I wondered, would any practicing Muslim wish to live in an environment where the words "Rush to prayer" cause offense or disturbance? Where Islam is considered an inconvenience to life, rather than this way of life a hindrance to Islam? What kind of a society was this, that framed Muslims into being recognized one-dimensionally by only one identity, that of being Muslim? What kind of free country requires people to practice their religion (their way of life) within boundaries created to ‘contain’ it?

Not having the azaan remind me to pray at the right times, missed prayers became a burden, and kept piling up. Time seemed to stagnate. Being in a new environment, it became impossible to tell the time without looking at a watch. The prayer call would certainly serve not only as a reminder to pray, but also as a reminder of the passage of time, and a reminder that the Almighty exists, no matter how many vices one is surrounded by, or how desperate times seem to have become. Any prolonged sound sounded like an azaan, and still does. Listening to the sound of live azaan during a friend’s phone call from home was my sole respite.

Yesterday was the first day of class. I went to the studio for the very first time, and in looking around cursorily, the edge of a prayer mat, sticking out from underneath a model, caught my eye. It was easily recognizable, the velvety texture, the tassels… so used to seeing prayer mats anywhere, I did not give it a second thought. Until prayer time. When I took a break from my group discussion to pray, I realized that it was the image of the prayer mat in my subconscious memory that made me get up.

Here was a reminder to pray. Here was my azaan.

Blessed be the one who left that prayer mat lying around. For not only will they be rewarded for praying themselves, but also for having led a fellow Muslim to remember the Almighty.

This entry was published on October 7, 2009 at 07:19 and is filed under Forca. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “Remain Within These Frames

  1. Mahpara on said:

    oh wow… MASHAllah at your correct and focused thoughts… i hit on the azaan concept this month too 🙂 xoxo

  2. Beautifully written, Tabeo… 🙂

  3. Tasneeem on said:

    hi…this is tasneem …asna\’s sure u \’ve heard of me from here….just wanted you to know what you have written has really touched my heart…

  4. Siddhartha on said:

    i was overwhelmed by the choices that I had to start the comment. I think instead of a long lecture I\’ll jot down the points that I can conceive after reading your post:1) You are either ignoring the fact that the country you are residing in is Secular (by West I am assuming that) or you are not aware that people don\’t follow other faiths. So if they go on calling for prayers one might end up listening to only "call for prayers" for the most part of their day.2) Is your faith so weak that you need yourself to be reminded about it time and again despite the fact that you may be following it the whole of your life? If you need to be then am really sorry (wel not exactly) to say that you are doing it for the sake of it. Its a sort of trade-off with God that OK sir I\’ll pray 5 times a day and somewhere in you subconscious you expect something in return, don\’t you. Ha I caught you don\’t u lie :P. In case you are furious at me for having said this re-read the last line of your post. Doesn\’t it sound like a trade agreement? Get over it. Don\’t make your prayer a necessity, a burden. It should be out of love and affection, and not compulsion.

  5. Takbïr on said:

    @ Tasneem: Just saw your comment! Thanks =)@Siddhartha: I don\’t know where you reside, but I reside next to a vicarage in England, and I do not mind hearing church bells everyday. The country I come from is secular, too, but secularism there is defined differently. It is the freedom of all faiths to follow their practices without bounds or being answerable to people from other faiths about why they do what they do. In that country, I am still a Muslim who does not agree with people immersing non-biodegradable idols into water bodies, but I do not question their faith for it. Similarly, others in my country may not agree about my need or relevance for the Azaan, but they do not question it. Neither do we prevent each other from our practices. Perhaps you have never lived in such a vastly plural country.The West claims to be secular by allowing only those religious practices which are within their narrowminded scope of acceptance. Bells versus Azaan, for instance.It is not for a person from one faith to decide the practices of another. You cannot regulate the practices of Muslims if you do not believe in Islam yourself. The same goes for any other religion or philosophy.To you your way and to me mine.

  6. Siddhartha on said:

    <i>@Siddharatha- I read your comment, it was a little irrelevant. Religion is not forced. But it has fundamentals and when you follow a certain religion you are brought up with it closely. And then it\’s a miss. More than a mention about practise it was more on the non-presence of the prevalent prayer call we hear and answer it. </i>@Arshiyathose are the very fundamentals i am questioning hereof course its your belief ur fact cudn\’t agree morebutwhat i am not comfortable with is the way one goes about living it or following it for that you really need a public call to remind you that you need to grew up with something and if that is not the case anymore surely will make u uncomfortable..would be the same with me..but I would really question whatever I am following whether it holds any relevance for me or not..I was born a Hindu.there are many things that my parents follow that I don\’t..because I feel that those don\’t fit into my kinda ideals..agreed my comment was not entirely relevant..but this was in response to the 2nd para <i>For us life is divided into 5 parts based on the call of prayer and even though instinctively its morning-noon-night. Certainly we live in a secular state and when further ahead things get amissed, its natural for anyone to long for it.</i>what bothers me here is us and them thing..the moment you say us or I you are automatically differentiating between people..there\’s an US and if there\’s an US there would be a THEM too..did you get to chose Islam as your religion or were u born with it?i guess its latter..u cud very well be born in a Hindu family..just a coincidence..having said that am not questioning ur faith at all..but the way one commonly goes on practising it..since you said its instinctive why do you need a clock or a reminder??ur body is the perfect clock..gets adjusted to whatever things happen on a continuous basis..but maybe that strikes a chord and you are mentally there the very moment u hear it..if thats the case i take my entire crap back 🙂

  7. Takbïr on said:

    @Siddhartha: Please check your premises. Are you questioning faith or a way of practicing it? This discussion has no relation to my article. My article was about freedom of practice in a secular state.Now, if you wish to question the relevance of the Azaan in the life of a Muslim and in the public realm, you must first find out what the Azaan stands for, the history behind it, and what it represents, in Muslim and non-Muslim countries. The Azaan is not just a reminder to pray. It is a reminder that God is One (and we do need that reminder because there are many people who do not believe this and have not gotten past this fundamental aspect of belief). The Azaan is a reminder of the presence of God (we forget, and thus, we sin, and thus, we are human). It is a reminder of the presence of Islam; yes, Islam is here, whether you like it or not. This is what the West is afraid of. This is what threatens their entire system. And many other systems.Conformity does not equal faith. When you have faith in something, you do not need to question its applications. If you are born a Muslim, you may face a point in your life where you try to understand the meaning of life and what your role is in it. You may continue to practice Islam with greater understanding and faith. Questioning practices does not necessarily lead to abandoning them. It may lead to a greater fervour in following them.My beliefs and practices will remain the same, whether I am in England or India or Saudi Arabia. They are not adaptable and mutant. What I wrote was about how outside conditions are accepting or hostile to what I am inside, in different places.Lastly, what gives you the right to question anyone\’s faith? It is God alone who has this right, and knows all. I do not wish to get into an argument about why I need or want Azaan, and a justification of its relevance. You do not need to know why. You are not ready.

  8. Siddhartha on said:

    @Takbirsorry for judging you..buti am not questioning you faithas i had posted in the comment below..i am not preventing you from following anything u want tobut if I logically question some of the things which don\’t make sense to me why dont u come up with an answer..or may be you dont have an answer to it as u never gave it a thought..i dunno what pissed u..its certainly not my decision what u shud follow and vice versa..but i never said a thing about my belief in Islam..cuz it actually does not have to do anything with it..its not an ego trip for me..if you have an explanation for whatever i asked i\’ll be ready to accept it with open arms (of course if thats me)i dont have a shame of being on the wrong side..PS: I live in India which has one of the most diversified people in the whole world..PPS: how do you italicize your words?

  9. Takbïr on said:

    @Siddhartha:I will answer your questions for you, but not for myself. Because I don\’t need logic to follow my religion. That\’s what faith is for. The web of logic is twisted and confusing; what is said in one context can be misinterpreted in another. That\’s why I don\’t bother with it.That said, Islam is a very practical and reasonable way of life. The Azaan must be looked at not only in the context of everyday life, but within the context of the history of the world and of the hereafter (the afterlife). When God gave the message of Islam to the last Prophet (Muhammad, Peach Be Upon Him), he gave him ways to follow Islam. Prayer is one fundamental aspect of an Islamic way of life. Remembering the Creator five times a day. Muslims do not do this in isolation, we do it in congregation. We are required to assemble five times a day and profess our faith in unity. There are social as well as political reasons for this. (Islam is not free from politics, as it is not just a religion, but a dictat of the way to live.) Congregational prayer garners unity and strength in numbers in the Muslim community. Anyone who hears the Azaan is required to repeat its wordsGod is the Greatest! God is the Greatest!I profess that there is no God but God!I profess that there is no deity except God!I profess that Muhammad is the Messenger of God!I profess that Muhammad is the Messenger of God!Make haste towards worshipCome to the true successGod is the Greatest!There is no deity except God!Anyone who says these words will have renewed their faith in the Almighty. In the beginning, there was an option of using a bell or conch to gather the prayers, but these were ruled out because they were already in use by Christians and Jews of that time.The Azaan is full of a deeper meaning and relevance than just a reminder to pray. Understand how relevant it is in this age. A congregation of faithful Muslim men gathering together five times a day: does this not threaten those whose own faith is weak and whose existance is sensitive to those who are different from them?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: