I missed the fajr (dawn prayer) this morning-  a combination of a late night, and worrying about getting to the Canadian embassy on time. It always sets my day back – a whole lot! One of my biggest challenges as a practising Muslim is being consistent with the dawn prayer, which involves having a fairly regular sleeping pattern coupled with a very strong will to get out of bed in the wee hours of the morning and semi-bathe! The fajr is the first and one of the 5 daily prayers which is part and parcel Muslim life. For me, the fajr is an anchor – helping me to stay focused and keep things real. Waking up before the crack the dawn to bow before Allah (God) is the most humbling experience. At the same time, I feel as if those few seconds of prostration – my head touching the floor, my knees bent under me – when I am at my lowest point physically possible, I am at my highest, spiritually.

Reading your “take care of yourself” post reminds me of a saying by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) who said, “your body has a right over you”. I too sometimes fall into the trap of neglecting my self, slouching in front of the computer for hours, sleeping far too much and over-indulging in the wrong kind of foods.  I have found some respite in taking up yoga! The physical and mental stimulation of the exercises help me to be in tune with my body, and I think it complements my usual prayer rituals quite well.

I’m glad you’ve been reminded to take care of yourself, and “to grow”. It reminded me as well – about my own lazy habits, which turn the simplest of tasks into mountains that need to be scaled.

“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)” Quran: 13: 11



I lay awake in the middle of the night because I haven’t been disciplined about taking hormones.  When they seep regularly into my system, I sleep all night without waking.  When I’ve neglected my doses, I wake up burning hot, cast off the covers and toss and turn.  I pay the next day in alertness, energy, and capability.

I am guilty of  “sin as refusal to grow”, as described by Ochs and Olitzky in Jewish Spiritual Guidance. They say we must grow, and it requires effort, change, and acceptance of possible discomfort on our part.  The sin is to stay asleep, to refuse the call, and not open to the beloved.  The real sin could be of growing weary, wishing we could “just stay put”.

I am not guilty of this sin at large – I do diligently try to stay present, connected, and listening.  However, an interpretation of this sin could be laziness. I get lazy.  I’m aware I’m lazy.  I know there will be consequences, but I stay lazy.  Unfortunately, a single contagious laziness begets many.  I don’t go out and exercise in the gorgeous weather, because it is easier to sit in front of the computer.  My hand gets sore from the keyboard, especially when I slip into game after game of mind-numbing-habit-forming-life-stealing solitaire.  Lost in the stupor of laziness, I don’t eat well.  A box of Junior Mints suffices as a mid-morning snack.  Popcorn serves as dinner.  I am too lazy to take the good, real, nutritiously balanced food out of the refrigerator and cook it – too indolent to grab a handful of nuts and fruit for that snack.  I am not taking care of myself.  The contagion covers me like spider webs on patio furniture in winter.

So, in the middle of the night, I was gently reminded to take care of myself.   I did.  I took the meds I needed to take this morning.  I did my contemplative practice before reading the juicy Sunday New York Times.  I lugged the rowing scull off its rack and stroked on perfectly flat blue water, slicing through golden reflections of autumn birch trees cast by long sparkling rays of citrine sunlight.  Creatures were celebrating with me.  A puppy sat on a back deck, not even turning his head as I slipped by – too intoxicated by the dazzling warmth to lift a whisker.  Two pelicans shared Chevy’s rooftop with shrieking gulls.  They must have been so torpidly full of fish they merely tuned out their noisy neighbors.  Rowing backwards, I heard voices.  When I reached my turnaround point, there were two kayakers, spread-eagled over their craft, sunbathing.  It is almost December.

Returning to my dock, Labrador  Lucy awaited me, delirious that I had disconnected from the computer.  She joyously swam after the ball, thrilled at my attention and at playing one of her favorite games.  Little kitty, Rita,  hid and sought, stalking me while I waited for Lucy to return with the ball.

Yes, taking care of myself by hanging out in the sanctuary of nature with her creatures was exactly the right advice.  I must remember it for tomorrow, and ward off that oozing slime of laziness.