Monday, January 09, 2006

First day of school

Oh yeah, I started school today. Lovely.
Item 1... still a long walk to EB1.
Item 2... Persian professor for 302... he's funny. Seems like a nice guy, wants people to go to his office hours.
Item 3... Really weird linear systems professor... yeah, weird. Really weird.
Item 4... Really tall statistics professor...
I'm so judgemental. :(

Anyway, it looks like this semester is going to have a lot of work, across the board. I wish I could afford my textbooks already to get started! Alas. Payday is Friday, though. And unfortunatley I have some higher-priority bills. Sucks to be a student sometimes. This is just sad, I'll probably even end up paying more having to buy them later--no used copies. I should take a look at my notes before going to bed though for my class tomorrow--that class has no book.

Think Fast

Today was the Day of Arafah. As such, it is a day of optional fasting for Muslims, and fasting on this day is said to, according to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to expiate two years worth of sins, being the previous year and the following year. That's a lot, and with a fair amount of encouragement, I was able to fast for the first time today, mashallah!

When I got up (which was an incredibly early 5am!) I fixed myself some eggs with salsa, and had some toast as well. Why? Because for me, that is a long time to go without food! I had also bought some dates which I caried around with me all day. But I was able to keep my fast all day, and didn't start with the dates until after the sun went down. Of course I am addicted to caffeine, and the withdrawal headache began shortly after noon. This afternoon was rough, I won't lie. I was at work, exhausted (I did a fair amount of hiking this morning for classes) physically and mentally. But I suppose I shouldn't complain too much. This afternoon some excedrin kicked the pain and I feel really happy about what I did.

Tomorrow is Eid al-Adha, and I'm planning to pray the Eid Salat at the exposition center. Inshallah it will be a very moving experience. :) I have class and work following, however, and won't really get a chance to celebrate. But the prayer is exciting for me.

Tonight my dad asked me, when I happened to mention that I fasted today, why I am fascinated with "that Arabic stuff" but not with "the Christian doctrine." How do I explain that I'm Muslim? What Islam is, how it makes so much sense, and how I can worship now in so many way that I never did before. (Not that I couldn't before, just was never really encouraged to.) One day I'll have to have an answer, I think. Inshallah, it will be easy.

Inshallah it will all be easy!

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Jummah Story

I decided to take a late lunch (and long) lunch today so I could attend the jummah prayer at the IAR. Jummah is the congregational Friday prayer for Muslims. It's a lot like going to church on Sunday for Christians. There is a khutbah, or sermon, followed by the ritual prayer Salat. I went to the same masjid (mosque) I attended last week because it is closest. However, the experience last week was not satisfying. Girls were constantly talking, moving around, and walking around in front of me. And I don't mean little 3, or 4, or 5-yr olds, but teenagers! It was very distracting. Also, from my vantage point I could not see the imam, or whoever it was delivering the khutbah. People kept coming in late, too. Now, the ladies all sit behind the men, and there is this gap in the middle. So men who come late are behind all the other men, and women who come late are in front of the women. Sound silly to anyone else? Yes, because if you get there early, you have to watch all these people come in. And when you come into a masjid you are supposed to do two rakahs of prayer. A rakah involves bowing and prostrating and silently reciting a few things. So I was in the back with people around me talking, and people in front of me praying and coming in. To top it all of, the doors to enter the room were very squeaky!

This week was much better, mashallah. Everybody was quiet and still. People still came in late but there was no big distraction--they were quiet! I didn't know where to sit since I was a little late (oops) and I don't know anyone there, so I sat with the little girls. Maybe they were 8-10 years old. I was at the end of the line and maybe I did something wrong, but this little girl (4, maybe) came up beside me as I was about to start praying and pointed up at me while looking at someone down the row (I didn't follow her gaze.) Nobody said anything to me, though, so I went ahead and did my rakahs and sat down. I also was sitting in such a place that I could see the speaker. Unfortunately, most of the khutbah was in Arabic, so it didn't do me much good.

You know how there is some quality of speakers that makes you want to believe them? You feel sure they are being sincere, and that they are speaking the truth. This imam did not have that quality. Not that I thought he was lying, or didn't know what he was talking about, I just found myself second-guessing everything he said. Perhaps I was just prejudiced against him because 75% of what he said was in a language I don't understand. That must be it.

The first one

Thanks for reading!

A few weeks ago I started talking to this guy who had a blog and I thought, hey, that's a neat idea. I could do that. And then I saw the blogs of a few other people and... well, here we go. A place for me to discuss my oh-so-fascinating life.