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Jo mein sar basajdaa hua kabhi tou zameen se aanay lagi sadaaalt
Tera dil tou hai sanam aashna tujhe kya milega namaaz mein

When my head bent to the ground for prostration, I heard a voice beneath
‘You are a lover of idols, what are you expecting to gain from namaaz?’

Who me?  What nonsense!  I am not a ‘lover of idols’.  Have you seen me praying in front of one?  I am a BORN Muslim Alhamdulillah.  I pray regularly five times a day.  You hear that?  FIVE TIMES A DAY!

And my conscience went back to sleep, thanks to my ‘sleeping pill’ argument. Thinking of which, it had been sleeping since a long time (snoring too!). No kidding. The praying-five-times-a-day was quite a potent tranquilizer that did not permit me to wake up. Even when I did wake up, I chose to soak myself in the softening rays of my ‘piety’ rather than face the harsh glare of my sins. But just because I ignored it that did not mean it didn’t exist. In fact denying this reality is even more stupid than skipping breakfast and lunch and binging on junk food after dinner and then expect oneself to lose weight.

Can you imagine how great of a bimbo (being the non-sexist that I am, I loathe the fact that there is no male equivalent of a bimbo) you have to be to have such a ridiculous approach? Even soap opera actors know better than that.

To my nonexistent chagrin, this state of denial ran as successfully as The Bold and Beautiful. Most probably it would have taken a cricket team of shrinks to end my slumber party.

At least I thought so. Who knew reading the Qur’an would prove to be a free therapy session – a session that WORKED! And believe you me, the ‘waking up’ part was just as ‘comfortable’ as a dinner meeting between Jolie and Aniston would be. I felt like a Japanese in America just after the Pearl Harbour attack.

My surprise knew no bounds when I did not try to go back to sleep again. As trenchant as the truth was, I couldn’t dare to concentrate elsewhere when Allah was conversing with me, one-on-one! Shock registered wave by wave as the parcel of my life unfolded before me.

Tu bachaa bachaa kar na rakh isay tera aaina hai wohh aainaa
Jo shikastaa ho tou azeeztar hai nigah-e-aaina saaz mein

Don’t save your mirror (your faculties- everything from tangible possessions to intangible abilities) as it is that mirror
Which, if worn out in the midst of toiling hard, would be dearer to the Creator of your mirror

Toiling hard?  Of course I have!  I raced my brain (given my lack of employment of the device, it was meant to be dhakkaa start) to search for a toiling moment that would have made me dearer to my Lord. So annoyingly earnest was my effort that the result was not less than Waqar Younis’s famous yorker and my goodwill wicket fell faster than I could ever imagine!

If there was anything more mortifying than forgetting my speech in 8th grade before the whole school, this should be it. Right on target as usual, Iqbal predicts me so conveniently as if he has known me for years. My ‘panj-waqtaa-namaazi’ claim felt like a joke….but wait, not so fast. My prayers would have some leverage at least.

Like a shivering middle order batsman, I tried to extract some ounce of meaning from my prayers, to observe if my namaaz did anything to enhance me on the character front….if my prayers generated any additional energy to serve Allah better….eeks….clean bowled again!

My last hope was to check out my state of emotions during prayers to detect any modicum of fondness and reverence that one would feel while talking to a Loved One. Isn’t that what we are doing during namaaz? We are talking to our Beloved Creator, the One Whom we are supposed to love the most! But then how would I feel any sort of affection and veneration if I didn’t even know what I was talking about. THAT’S IT! Not to my surprise at least, my denial lost fair and square, thanks to my irksome conscience that didn’t even give me a chance to nurse my ego’s wounds and took my brain back to the Quranic ayah that had started the match in the first place.
[29:45] “Observe the Salat (Contact Prayers) for it prohibits evil and vice.”

When my Allah was so hell bent on helping me, I didn’t have the guts or the heart to run away. How could I run away from Someone Who loves me seventy times more than my mother does?

If nothing else, I couldn’t stop myself from trying to instill some emotion in my namaaz. To enliven the feeling of affection while standing before my Lord and talking to Him, to believe that He is right there, not only hearing my voice but also listening to my heart, cherishing my reverence, treasuring my clumsy attempts to come back to Him after getting distracted every now and then. Making an effort to understand the meaning of what I recite in my prayers has helped a great deal too.

At least now I have some kind of idea about the result of the upcoming match between my ego and conscience. The latter, all thanks to my Allah, has been such a headstrong nut after getting out of its coma. While my laziness continues merrily and my moments of luxury still outweigh my instances of toiling hard, someday, I have faith, sacrifices for the One Above would bring me pleasure instead of difficulties. And to my jumping delight, our hakim-ul-ummat agrees with me here:

Do aalam se karti hai begaanaa dil ko
Ajab cheez hai lazzat-e-aashnaee

Makes the heart indifferent to the mortal pleasures of the world
The taste of knowing Him is a mysterious marvel in itself

Would love to experience this ‘lazzat-e-aashnaee’. Who wouldn’t?

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