8024 Miles to go to get to Mecca.
From reading these posts, you can probably tell that I am not the most consistent person in exercise or in correspondence. That is because I have a life. I look at each busy day, and I know that there is a lot to do. At this point it is mostly for others, and some of it is for me. A doctor once told me that I needed more sleep. I told him that I would sleep when I was dead.
I get a lot of exercise jumping to conclusions and sweeping the room with a glance, doing the 4 rings til the answering machine picks it up dash, and opening every door in the house until the cat decides which portal he wishes to use when making his entrance or exit. But on my walk to Mecca, I am only counting the miles that are dedicated and purposeful.
One of the two miles on my journey I walked on the treadmill while trying to re-memorize the words of prayer in English. The other mile I walked on a jogging/walking/biking path near where I live.
The reason I was trying to re-memorize my prayers in English is because I gave 2 lectures to High School Students about Islam. No, it was not about conversion, just education, and Yes, the Rabbi was with me going over the tenets of Judaism for the same class. I have presented with her before, and she is wonderful and I think that I have learned more from her than the kids ever do.
(What? Muslims and Jews getting along? How can that be? Oh, yeah, if they are following the beliefs set down in the holy scriptures that both profess to adhere to, I guess it IS possible. You know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and Want for your brother what you want for yourself…)
Anyway, as I was explaining how and when and why I became a Muslim, I realized that it had been YEARS since I had recited ANY of my prayers in English. That might sound funny to you, but it remains true.
Let me explain how this works for those who don’t know about Islam.
One of the basic assumptions of Islam is that the reason the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had to come along and reveal the message of the Qur’an to the world was because of the mistranslations and apparent corruption that had occurred in earlier revelations… specifically the Torah and the Bible. When you read these scriptures, especially the English translations, you find that NOBODY has an original copy, that the were originally in several DIFFERENT languages, and that language shifts have changed meanings in several significant ways. (Isn’t that Cool? Did you get the point?) The Bible itself was not “gathered” together and arranged in it’s current order, until the Council of Nicaea, over 300 YEARS after Jesus revealed his message to the Jews.
Historical Note: Among the things decided by the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. were:
- The relationship of Jesus to God
- Which “books/material” would be in the Bible and how it would be arranged
- When Easter would be observed every year
- The promulgation of SHARIAH, (sorry ’bout that) CANON Law.
Muslims believe that the Qur’an is Incorruptible because as it was revealed to the Prophet, (who could NOT either read or write), it was memorized by many believers, and then committed to paper in Arabic, with all of the noun, consonants and diacritical markings already in place. This means that the SAME words that were given to us over 14 centuries ago are pronounced the SAME way and have retained the SAME meaning. And because of their timeless message, the Miracle of the Qur’an is proven.
But as an American who realized her Islam in the late 70’s, I learned my prayers in English. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I found out that I needed to recite them in ARABIC. Isn’t that stupid? Isn’t it more important that I UNDERSTAND what I am saying? Well, yes BUT…
Muslims are a world-wide Jummah (community). Regardless of our skin color, national origin, or LANGUAGE, we pray the SAME 5 prayers, using the SAME words, the SAME body movements, and in the SAME direction (towards Mecca.)
We do need to know what the words mean, but that is why we are encouraged to learn Arabic, so we can understand our prayers and the Qur’an, without having somebody “TELL” us the meaning and possibly lead us astray.
Remember that many people have tried to capture the beauty and the poetry of the words of the Qur’an but the basic ENGLISH translation of what ALL Muslims say at EACH prayer is:
I seek refuge in Allah, the All-Knowing, the All-Hearing from Satan the accursed, from his evil suggestions and from his vanity and from his abilities. In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due Allah, the Lord of Alamin. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgement, You (Alone) do we worship, You (Alone) do we ask for help. Guide us on the Straight Way. The way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who have earned Your Anger, nor of those who have gone astray.
After this part of the prayer comes a verse from the Qur’an, either recited by the Imam (leader of the prayer) if Muslims are praying together, or recited by the individual. This verse can be any part of the Qur’an as relevant to the Believer. One verse that I learned early and recite often is:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Say: He is Allah, the (only) One, Allah, the Self-Sufficient Master. He begets not, nor was He begotten. There is no one equal or comparable unto Allah.
Muslims also believe that you are closest to God when you are at your most humble. It is not easy to be proud when your butt is in the air and your face is on the floor.
Upon re-reading the English translation, I find that I did remember most of it, and in correct order, but it is good to refresh my understanding of WHY I became a Muslim and What I am saying when I pray.
I wonder if I should give myself “Frequent Walker Miles” as a bonus for doing my prayers every day…