The pitter patter of the rain interrupted the hustle and bustle of the afternoon, the chores left to be completed for the weekend, the seemingly mundane tasks. It brought with it an appreciation of a divine gift, a feeling of serenity. We paused, for our midafternoon prayer in almost ritual like fashion but today something was different. Today we were mindful of the brevity of life, and its unpredictable nature. We were reminded as we are all too often of the carnage that surrounds our world. Infusing our daily prayers with the mindfulness spoken about in yoga and meditation help create the path through which our lives can flourish. When we take the time to truly connect and surrender to our creator, which is in accordance with the principles prescribed in Islam then we find peace and tranquility in our hearts. How I wish and pray for the day when society at large can engage in the spiritual struggle of fighting their own inner demons, go against the temptations of evil and instead embody qualities like honesty, respect, compassion, etc which our beloved Prophet (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him) displayed.
Still sitting and thinking and praying for a better world, my daughter eager to carry on with the afternoon fun, oblivious to the world around her and still watchful through the eye of innocence asked me to paint her hair in “hair chalk”, her new item of interest which we luckily found heavily discounted while perusing a popular department store. Still thinking of the graphic image which tugged at my heart strings of mothers embracing each other, evidently wailing, their faces twisted in gut wrenching pain as they wait to find out the fates of their children, she said “mama take a picture”. I snapped one, her long locks with tints of purple and blue as she danced and twirled herself around the kitchen. In that moment I couldn’t fathom the insurmountable loss, sadness and anguish that others were enduring at the hands of some unscrupulous criminals. She jostled my mind once again and just to ensure, she ran to find her dad and brothers and excitedly got their opinion about her hair. Send it to aunty she urged and it was then while chatting with my younger sister that the atrocities came back to haunt me, she said, “they detonated the bombs close to a swing….who does that?” meanwhile a friend with whom I was texting said she avoids the news hoping to evade issues such as this one. Why? Perhaps in that is the hope that they do not permeate our skins and affect us while we try to sleep at night. We tell ourselves all we can do is pray, and while the Quran encourages us to be mindful and seek help through patience and prayer, is that ever sufficient?
While I am grateful that I have never experienced the suffering people undergo every day, every hour all around the world and I don’t know the kind of violence that turns someone’s life into constant hell, I do not alienate myself from their pain. This daily physical and mental torture of people who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, those whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, whose houses are demolished, who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal but yet, I cannot help feeling afflicted as a mother, sister, daughter, wife and friend.
Those mothers taking their children to a park to enjoy an afternoon could have been me. They too thought they were in comfortable surroundings. Any murder and attack is horrific but when committed with religious persuasions, it adds a whole other dynamic that creates a ripple effect of hatred and intolerance. Practices from the Quran and the way of life of our Prophet tell us to treat everyone the way we would like to be treated; and what a beautiful world this would be if we tried in any miniscule fashion to emulate some of the ways our beloved Prophet lived his life.
The unfortunate truth is that issues such as the one in Lahore, Pakistan are what keep us full time worshippers. It’s what keeps us aware and in constant repentance. It is our reminder that life is short, and every soul shall taste death.
We flinch at hearing about genocides, attacks that leave the innocent dead and we weep over the images portrayed on T.V. of innocent bystanders in a bomb explosion. We question the sanity of government officials who allow such barbaric acts to go on…we let our tears flow easily at the sight of a baby with blood slowly oozing out of his head, as his tiny body holds on to fractured limbs and ruptured blood vessels. We feel our heart being squeezed at the sight of a parent holding their dead child. These are people who see the stages of life played out for them all too crudely. These are all the typical types of deaths we mourn about…cry for a little…say a prayer about…and then return to our daily lives. Acknowledging and being mindful of death for only a period of time…
Let us strive to live our lives in a more mindful fashion, mindful of what is going on in our society and of the ways in which we can help our brothers and sisters; mindful of the ways we can help everyone regardless of their religious affiliations and especially mindful of the temporary nature and the borrowed space that is the life we live.