Monday, 11 June 2012

I Took A Picture

I took a picture tonight and it took awhile for me to get the right words to go with it, but there is something powerful about the picture and what it means to me.

It's a simple picture, actually.  I'll include it at the end.  But it really is a simple picture.  It is of four men I know and respect - three the husbands of the sisters that I gather with every week, the fourth the brother in law of one of them (her husband's brother).  It's the simplicity of the picture, yet the action of the picture that says to me that we are lucky for where we live.  Lucky, may not be the word.  Honoured?  Privileged?  You see, the men are praying.  They are making salat, the traditional Muslim prayer that we pray five times per day.  They are at the point in the prayer where they are making sujood - the prostration.

To many, they may say "well, so what's the big deal?"  Well, to me, it says that unlike certain countries in this world (*cough* France *cough*) the men (and the women, if they are) can pray in a public park, breaking from the conversation, the meal, the fun (the rounding up of escaped children), and make salat in the park where no one bothers them, no one comments, and for what I witnessed, no one stared.

For a Muslim to make salat in public in the west is still sometimes a spectacle.  We try to make it not to be as we can, but if you're with your family at a park, and even though you may go off to the side to do it, some people will still stare as if you've just dropped down to Earth from the Mars.  Or Saturn.  So to do it in the middle of a public area, quietly, untouched by comments and stares, is something that I really, really, like to see.

I know that most people will stare not out of disgust or hatred, but due to the fact that what we do, how we pray, is totally foreign to them.  If it were me, seeing something like that probably for the first time, I probably would take a second, maybe a third, look as well.  There are things around here that have caused me to do a double take and I grew up here - like Blinky showing up when he's not expected.  I mean, a seven foot tall lighthouse walking down the sidewalk?  On Saturday nights I expect him.  Walking down the sidewalk on a weekday afternoon?  Not so much.  So I understand the natural curiosity of things that aren't the norm in a community.

So I took a picture.  The picture is simple, yet complicated; easy, yet difficult; yet beautiful.  We live in a country that has become so completely secular that it is as if we are afraid of religion.  Or, if not afraid of religion, afraid of different religions.  I have made it clear in the past that I am not for religion in public schools unless it is the teaching of the basics of all  religions (or at least the major four or five).  Canada is a multicultural nation, but in being multicultural has become a nation in which you sometimes feel forced to hide your faith identity, part of who you are.  Canada is a multicultural country, but in being multicultural has sometimes become a country of smaller countries where one community doesn't associate with another.  And then there are scenes like this.

Before I took this picture, I almost didn't.  I wasn't sure whether or not it was respectful.  I wasn't sure whether or not the brothers would be annoyed with me (and seeing as I see them daily, I really don't want that).  I wasn't sure whether or not it was appropriate.  But something in my heart told me I needed to take this picture.  You see, I thought about it and realized that this picture is more than just a picture.  It is a picture that says it is okay to pray.  It is okay to show your faith in public.  It is okay for anyone to pray in public as long as it is done with two key factors in mind - it is quiet, and it is being done with the respect it and the others in the public area deserves.  That it is not being forced upon anyone who doesn't want to be part of it. It's okay to pray in public - that if you are part of a faith that prays at specific times, to do it where you are, in a quiet part of the park, or office, or mall, or wherever.  That it is okay to say "bismillah" before you eat or join hands around the picnic table and say grace.  That it's okay to practice your faith in public, in a personal way, in a way that doesn't disrespect the faith (as some are wont to do, of varying faiths), that it's okay to be who you are.  And your faith is part of who you are, no matter what faith you may practice.  This picture says that it's okay - be it in a big city or a small town like ours.

I took a picture today.  And a picture is worth a thousand words.

1 comment:

  1. Dear sister, I really find this picture inspiring, thank you so much for sharing it with us.
    P.S: your kids are so adorable masha'allah, may Allah protect them from any harm.