Today as I went to the first day of orientation for the Ameri Corp year 2010 -2011 – I felt like Tantalus. Everywhere I looked people were eating and drinking – did I mention they looked well rested too?
Now that’s not to say this is a complaint but rather an observation of myself and how I dealt with today’s temptations. I realize now why fasting is given so much reward – because no one knows except you and Allah – that your fasting unless someone asks why you aren’t eating or drinking.
What gives me comfort is knowing that there is another Muslim – who I now work with who is also fasting Ramadan and has a cold no less. So I didn’t feel so alone knowing someone who I saw today was also fasting.
So back to why I felt like Tantalus. Ok I didn’t have water the would recede from me if I attempted a sip or food that would move just out of reach. Instead today Allah challenged me and my Imam by providing multiple opportunities to eat food or drink beverages – water, soda, juice spritzers etc
I was even asked to fill pitchers of water again and again.. sometimes by myself and I was amazed at my own will power! I was even urged to take a sandwich, cookie and candy – which I did.
I was able to take the food package it up and take it home and not even be tempted. I had so many opportunities to break my fast it was outrageous – seriously it was like Shaytan was taunting me.
Today I was able to do that again.. it was simply amazing. Alhumdualillah. I then found out the Muslim I work with isn’t really fasting – when he sat down with a group of other Ameri Corps members and took a big bite out of his sandwich. I have to say I felt a bit betrayed – like.. he violated the code of Muslims or something. But Allah knows best – he might be ill or something that prevents him from fasting.
During this training I again found myself uncomfortable praying in public – I can literally feel the eyes on me as I pray but pray I did.. in the back of this convention hall with people looking on and walking behind me. I always feel awkward about it.. and I have been Muslim for four years now – Alhumdualillah. I just feel shy.. its my personal time with Allah and I don’t like feeling like I am a side-show at a circus while I am praying – I also feel that – although Alhumdualillah these times my concentration has been fine on the prayer – in the past I would be distracted by the noise or people walking pass.
I also don’t like feeling vulnerable while I am praying – which is another reason for the uneasiness I feel. I prefer to pray with my back to a wall in public or a large object – a bush, tree or car – so I don’t have to worry about anyone coming up behind me. I know it may sound paranoid but as a single woman – its something I take into consideration – especially when praying alone. I trust Allah will keep me safe – but it pays to be conscious of these things.
The good news is the fact that I am fasting has struck up a good number of conversations about why and then of course Islam! So I am happy to note that people are curious in a positive way. Oddly enough one girl – when the subject got to pork was scary enthusiastic about being anti pork – keep in mind this is a young woman from inner city Oakland – I just felt she was being fake about her enthusiasm – Allah knows best but my BS meter was off the charts with that one.
Maybe she really wanted to make a positive impression with me and make a connection but a discussion over pork really isn’t going to warm the cockles of my heart towards you. I rarely just click with people – it usually take a good long while for me to observe you and talk to you to know if I want to really be a friend or not and since most of my friends have always been guys – I just don’t do the girl social things. Its just a waste of time.
Then another girl in a different break out session commented on the sign on the sidewalk outside of the meeting center that read “Free Saddam,” saying, ” The only people who would want Saddam free would be Arabs.” This from someone who is aspiring to go to medical school and be a doctor. I asked her why she thought that but then the presenter ended the small group activities and I never got an answer – assuming from her last name – I could say a lot of things but sometimes I am just dumb founded by individuals lack of awareness regarding domestic and international politics.
Tomorrow is the last day of this orientation – THANK GOD! I still haven’t responded to the Public Allies people.. which I will do tonight via email because – I forgot my phone at home today as I rushed out the door.