A mat that means something to me helps me show up.
This is shallow, but it was easier to pray when focusing on a mat I connected with. Prayer was always wrapped up in some tension that I was too Busy avoiding to name. Then I considered that Muslim prayer is a ritual in a framework of natural time. Natural time anchored Muslim civilisations before the shift from guilds to factories, lives now regulated by clocks instead of the sun. I got onto this timeline later, into that new metallic blueprint of progress. So I grew up deep in the ticking and the shame. Always in the sun, always wired, always something. It's hard to care about spirituality, modern work, science, and politics all at once when we're Developing. I'm Not Sure I Can Find The Time.
What changed was connecting caring about prayer to caring about me in all ways at once, not as something God needs from me (God needs nothing from me).
- Spirit: I thought about moving with the sun, how refreshed I felt from the obligatory rinse before prayer. To know what I was saying, I studied the al-Fatihah. Just like how the first chapter of the Tao distills it, how does that surah skeleton-key both Quran and prayer?
- Politics: I learned to see the point in checking out a few times a day from the politics of body and identity, from news of humanity burning thru the world.
- Science: Doing it meant insisting on my mental health in a meditation-yoga combo that research says is good for my entire physiology too.
And then every time I hit the mat, I note what I ache about, my hopes, what support I need. I ground myself in my breath like how I learned from meditation and yoga. I consider that every transmission to the Source is a purposeful event. Light candles, smell good, favourite mats. Making it an intentional occasion has helped me move away from how automatic it used to feel when "praying" was a quick, trained, and precise offering from a younger heart. Forgiveness is spiritual technology, so I had to believe arriving here over time was okay— like a tree making shade.
Liy Yusof, 32. Inherited prayer as a child but is building their own prayer practice as an adult. Berlin, 2019. First posted on Instagram.
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