By Dr Fozia Kamran Cheema
You might be wondering who I think I am and how dare I make such a huge statement, whereas the entire Muslim world mutely watches the brutal massacre of Palestinians doing practically nothing at all.
But in our favor, I must say it’s neither our (Muslims) nor our Muslim leader’s fault.
We are practicing our moral obligations and religious duties on social media.
We are executing all that we can. Our leaders have jam-packed twitter telling how much they despise the act of barbarism towards unarmed praying Palestinians during the holy month of Ramzan. My Muslim brothers and sisters are building the loudest noises with their half-baked ideas and hypothesis, yet again on social media.
Bear with me please, I will tell you in detail, why it is not our fault.
10 years ago, I immigrated to Denmark. And although I don’t consider myself a good, let alone a perfect Muslim, somehow after moving to this foreign land, I found myself becoming very particular about my prayers. And that exactly was the time, when I realized how blessed I was to be born in a Muslim country where I always had the opportunity to pray in peace.
In Denmark, there is religious freedom, yet there are not many Muslims who practice their religion at their workplaces. It is not forbidden but the majority of Muslims are shy to perform their religious duties at workplaces or in front of people. However, in my case, … never had I been so mindful about my prayers and their punctuality, as I was after moving to Denmark.
My prayers became as sweet and satisfying to me like a forbidden fruit or stolen kisses.
I kept arguing verbally and non-verbally for my right to pray, not with Danes but with my fellow Muslims. We discussed it so many times, we got irritated with each other, we encouraged each other to talk about it openly and overtly. We always started our discussion with spur and enthusiasm telling each other what to do and how to act, but we practically did nothing about the elephant in the room.
And after years of observation, I came to the conclusion, that we Muslims are people pleasers. And if people are “white “, we actually go dreadfully low to please them.
When I read about Palestinian people, I understand them to a petite extent. Praying without fear, without being judged, those five minutes alone in front of Allah Subhan tala is a luxury, a blessing we can only appreciate and understand after we have experienced deprivation from it…, real or imagined.
And losing the right to pray in peace feels exactly like losing any other essential basic thing in life, exactly like not eating food or breathing fresh air, it feels like not living one’s life fully. I appreciate it because after arguing with myself for so many years, I just started praying secretly. Whenever I was at work, I chose a hidden place, where nobody came and just prayed there . And believe me, I prayed at most awful places, under the stairs, over the roof, in storage rooms, behind the closets, and even inside the shower areas.
Was I a good Muslim? No, not at all.
I only was a human being, I was acting according to my primitive instincts, human instincts of living our life without fear, humans’ instincts of doing whatever we can for our survival, clinging ferociously to our identities.
As I was aching, I was also realizing that doing whatever we want to do in peace is very crucial, and spiritual/mental existence is as significant as physical survival.
Last year I started at my dream job, a job I wished for many years. I became extra careful with everything and I was trying to please everyone more than ever.
And then started the real battle. One part of me kept on arguing that it’s my right to pray on time and my inner coward kept on insisting to compromise because the nature of my job was very demanding and most of the time to leave my chair at a fixed time (prayer timing) could compromise my professional duties. My life turned into a dilemma, one day I was determined to protect my principles, my pride, and respect, and the next day I was striving to act cool and taking care of my reputation as a moderate Muslim and good colleague. As I could not find an ultimate solution, I started praying for my right to pray. And every day along with health, prosperity, and decent life, I prayed for an opportunity to pray at my workplace without fear, without reluctance, without feeling like a thief, and with peace and comfort of mind and body.
As my life is filled with experiences that may only be explained by the involvement of supernatural dominances. I one day was summoned to my boss’s office, and it was not a kind invitation. I went to her office, my heart beating out of my chest, steps uncertain, meanwhile imagining the worst possible scenarios. I could see that her eyes were blank and hesitant to look at me, her tone was odd, and her sentences were clipped and gelid.
She was sitting in her office, still avoiding eye contact. She then said in a distant drone voice, “Fozia your colleagues have complained”, She paused for a while and continued again, “they have reported that you at a particular time go to the storage room and return after 10 to 15 minutes”.
I was stunned and embarrassed at the same time. I could not answer for a while, there was a compact silence in the room. After a while, I came to my senses and said in a shaky voice, “I pray”.
My Palestinian brethren, believe me when I say that I can understand, at least from that aspect, what you are going through.
Sitting in that spot, I felt humiliated, I felt deserted, I felt insecure. I was torn, miserable, devastated, furious, and angry. I was at my lowest, regretting the day, I migrated to this country. I felt like a mendicant, fuming with anger and helplessness. In two minutes, I experienced a world of emotions, and none of them were pleasant.
Another awkward silence prevailed. She was sitting there with a surprised face trying to comprehend the whole situation. I, on the other hand after saying just two simple words was feeling weirdly relieved.
Finally, she spoke inflexibly, “Fozia pray as much as you want, I have your back “.
I could not believe what I was hearing as she carried on,” do you want a clean place, we also have a chapel here, go there and pray if you want, leave the rest to me, I will handle everything “.
She took a pause and repeated for emphasis; “pray as long as you want Fozia, I have your back”.
I wanted to drop down in prostration(sajdah) to Allah SWT right there. There she was, a Norwegian lady ready to fight the good fight for a new employee, promising her fortification, providing her confidence to pray, offering her a clean place. She was not Muslim, but she was practicing Islam. She somehow recognized that praying was as akin to me as breathing.
Maslow’s behavior pyramid became truthfully clear to me after I suffered a nano fraction of what Palestinians are experiencing for years.
My desire of praying at my workplace was guarded by my non-Muslim boss and my non-Muslim colleagues.
And I assure you Palestinians, there will come a day, a group of people empowered by the most powerful one will stand up and say, ”pray to your heart’s desire Palestinians, we have your back” and the entire world will echo with their voices.
But I am sorry Palestinians, that nation will not be of Muslims, at least not of born Muslims. Since we can only concentrate on ibadah. We can give the loudest of azans, we can burn Israeli flags, give hate speeches, and cut each other’s throats for real and on social media in the name of sectarianism. What we consistently lack is action. It is not our fault, perhaps knowingly or unknowingly we are turned into a generation of pretenders who have not only stopped practicing Islam but have also strayed far away from the core values of humanity. Our worship is without reflections.
We Muslims are hypocrites and weaklings and are somehow wired in a weird way that we are incapable of doing anything practical. We are a group of people suffering from cognitive laziness and mental misery, sticking to the words because that makes us feel good rather than actions that require thinking hard and working even harder. If you look around, in streets, in offices, at homes, you will notice that we are generation-defining duplicity and indolence. We are all words and no actions. and I mean EVERYONE, a housewife, a wanderer, a doctor, an army officer, a firm owner, a minister, or even the President of Pakistan, all of us are mere words, gorgeous or ugly sentences. A crowd of loud voices and enraged tones, lacking knowledge and empathy, trying only to win arguments to fill our empty closets and hollow souls with imaginary medals of ego and selfishness.
Please do not hit the roof while reading this. I am one of you, undoubtedly a bit phonier than you, as I soundlessly watched Palestinian’s sufferings and was too tired to say a word, yet again only words. We all must go through the introspective process to scale ourselves and to decide who are we? Useless creatures? Or Human being— The Naib of Allah on earth?
But there will be humans, humans with souls, who will believe in action and who will stand for a life of respect and dignity for everyone. Possibly Scandinavians, perhaps Americans, can also be Canadians or even Chinese and Russians. They will be humans, but sadly not Muslims. And when they will come frontward with their broad shoulders, firm steps, and torches in their hands, with voices shattering mountains and being heard around the globe, then maybe and only maybe some cowards Muslims, some double-dealers’ like me will also come forward and join their walk with unsteady voices, lambent torches, and measured steps and then perhaps you will also hear a tiny teeny echo of us too, “keep on praying Palestinians, we are watching your back “.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.