Saturday, August 15, 2009

Why are you kissing the floor?

I met a Nate.

Not a Nate.

But a guy with the name Nate.

I've been gone this past week to a New Teacher Orientation for my new job as a first grade teacher.(Insha'Allah)

I stayed in a five start hotel, and was spoiled like crazy. And loved every. single. second. (Alhamdullilah)

George Bush Sr. and Jr. stayed in this hotel and Colin Powell and some other really VIP-ish people.

(If you look closely, you can see me in the reflection. Don't you love my polka dot shawl. And my fake Coach purse :) )

And the chandeliers in the hotel were the size of a house.

There were 200 new teachers hired by our employer. Most from this state and others from other states.

It was a week filled with teacher stuff. Free stuff. And fun stuff.

The girl I was supposed to room with couldn't make it due to a family emergency and I thought the hotel and my employer would overlook that and let me stay in a room by myself.


They assigned me a random roommate. I checked into our hotel room first and decided to relax before our meet and greet.

I took off my hijab and started to unpack and a half our later, my roommate knocks on the door. I looked through the peep hole just in case it was room service or a guy or both.

My roommate turned out to be a really sweet girl that was going to be teaching fourth grade. We clicked right away.

Before we left to the meet and greet, I had to pray one of the five daily prayers that is obligatory on Muslims. Also one of the five pillars of Islam.

When we pray, we don't just bow our heads and clasp our hands. It's a totally different process. We recite surahs (passages) from the Qur'an. We prostrate in front of Allah. We kneel on our knees. And we bow down to our Creator. We go from one movement to the next while reciting Surahs.

Its a bit of a complicated method.

And to people who may not be familiar with it, you might not understand what exactly is going on.

I wanted to explain to my roommate what it was I was doing so she wouldn't judge me and think I was a weirdo kissing the floor.

I will admit that I was wary of explaining it and kind of shy about doing it as well.

I'm not ashamed to talk about being Muslim and explaining my faith. Nor am I embarrassed of it.

I am scared though, that people will judge me.

So I kept hesitating. But I needed to pray. And she wasn't leaving the room without me.

So what to do?

I just told her, "Muslims need to pray five times a day and I need to pray before we go to the meet and greet.Cool?"

And she said Ok and asked if I needed some privacy, and I said it would be ok if she stayed.

And that was that.

As the week went on, she asked more questions which I really,REALLY appreciated. I love it when people ask questions about Islam and Muslims instead of just wondering.

She wasn't the only one.

Remember the Nate I mentioned before? Well we spent an hour just talking about Muslims and Islam. And he even told me at the end of the convo that I explained (and hopefully wiped away) a lot of stereotypes that he had before.

I guess what I really want to say to you all is that, if you have questions for us, we would really appreciate it if you would just ask them, and would be more than happy to answer them.

To the best of our abilities that is. And in due time. (Because if you haven't noticed already, we are a bit of a slow bunch here at Symphonic Discord)


Soda and Candy said...

Thank you!!! What a great post.

I really appreciate you opening yourselves to questions like this, I know it can be hard.

So you are going to be a teacher. You're in America, right? Are you teaching at a school with a large Muslim population? Is it going to be hard for you to take the prayer breaks when you have to be in constant supervision of six-year-olds?

Faith said...

I know how you felt cuz I work with a Buddhist girl who caught me praying few times and it felt so weird I had no idea why .. now the way you explained it made perfect sense to me.

so proud of you sis :)

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Christians can learn to understand Muslims. I lived in Jordan for two years, and I kept a prayer rug both at home and at work for my Muslim friends. I am now back in California, and I still have a prayer rug at work and at home -- just in case. (And once, a visiting friend from Bahrain, happened to need it.) Christians have something to learn from Islamic dedication to prayer. It might make the world a better place if everyone were to stop and pray several times a day. You should not feel weird -- and really it only matters what God thinks, not what people think.

Heckety said...

Sounds like you had a good time! Its good that your roommate was interested in your faith, I find people here are pretty bad looking at things from other's point of view. In East Africa the mix of Christian and Muslim was never a problem, in fact we were married under Sharia Law as it is the State Law, and our best man (the Hub's best friend) was/is Muslim. I did offer to marry him instead but his Mother didn't find that so funny! My daughter's best friend was Muslim and as she stayed with us sometimes we kinda just learned how she liked to do things.
I seriously DO NOT see where the problem begins; why can't we acknowledge differences and accept people for themselves, not judge them?

Sorry. Rant finished.

ladytruth said...

People are so easily proned to stereoptyping and just a general lack of knowledge. Tourists over here still ask where the ox-wagons are and when we direct them to the museum, they speak in a slow manner because they think we're retards who don't have English schools amongst all the wild animals just wandering around. Hmf.

Thanks for stopping over at my blog; I found yours very insightful and interesting :)

Abstaining Irene said...

Sounds like you had a terrific trip and great roommate!

You should never be scared that people might judge you. People will forever judge each other for the most pathetic reasons...but what they don't realize is that they are just making a fool out of themselves.

Thanks for sharing your stories! I'd love to learn more about your faith! (And more about this Nate)

Kate said...

Wow, this is amazing. I want to know what school you're teaching for, because I would really like to apply for a job there...are there any 2nd grade positions open!?

In our district, we have to bring our own napkins for lunch!

Selba said...

I'm living in Indonesia where it has the biggest population of Muslim in the world. Within the radius of every 1/2 mile, you can find at least find 5 mosques.

Here in Indonesia, 5 religions are being allowed by the government, which are Islam, Christian Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist and Hindu.

So far, we are living in a harmony. We do respect each other religions. Like during the fasting month, people who are not Muslim will try their best not eating in front of the Muslim, even restaurants will close their windows with curtains to respect those who are fasting.

EmptyWords said...

Speaking from a muslim perspective, I think we all just get scared for no reason... everytime I explain why I cover my hair, I get nervous... but then I find the other person completely interested and ironically, in complete agreement with what Im saying.

I think its time to come out of our shell ;)

Amalia said...

This was a really great post. I'm a primary teacher too, I teach year 2 (British system) and they are the same age as grade 1. It's an amazing age to teach - you're going to love it.

Looks like you had a really great weekend and your room mate sounds awesome. I also get nervous when I have to explain to people about hijab or praying and still find it awkward when my mum sees me praying. I know it's not something to worry about - your post was really inspiring.

Artistic Logic said...

so cute. im glad you answered her questions and yes it does feel good when someone is interested to know...

i gotta find out more about your week. if we ever get to talk, that is.

linlah said...

Your roommate nad Nate are a good example of how things can be if we all try. And your school district must have an account in Switzerland cause DANG that's some swank digs.

Hajar said...

O-hey! Good for you! Plus the hotel looks absolutely fabulous!

Every now and then, people of other faiths or no faiths at all will ask me about Islam. And it sure feels good to share it with them. ^^