For my Master’s Degree, I attended a Private Catholic College in Los Angeles. Unlike my experience at UCLA, there weren’t a lot of Muslims attending in the evenings, which is when I would take my classes. What was nice about this school was that there was a designated room for Muslims to perform their prayers, but it was a little far from my classes.
Maghrib (the sunset prayer) would hit right before my class started, so I kept my prayer mat in my backpack. I would usually find an empty room near my class and pray. To be honest, I would rush sometimes because I would be paranoid that someone would walk in.
One day, I was praying in an empty room, and I heard voices outside the door. The door had a clear square where you can see through it, and I could see several students standing around. This made me nervous because I was in the middle of my prayer. Nevertheless, I continued praying, hoping that the students were waiting for another room.
Suddenly, I heard the door open. In my head, I thought, “Should I stop praying….should I continue….will students be coming in and sitting while I’m praying….will they say something to me?” I was getting really nervous, but I just continued. While I was praying, I could hear the door opening, and I also saw a student walking in. As soon as he saw me praying, he stepped back out. I could not believe how respectful the student was. I could hear more footsteps, but I guess he told others that I was praying because no one else walked in until I was done. I was so relieved and finished my prayer.
I wanted to share this story because I learned a lot from this experience. It taught me that when it is time to pray, the world is our prayer mat. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The entire earth has been made a place of prayer,except for graveyards and washrooms.” We should try to make it to our prayers on time whenever we have the opportunity to do so. Secondly, it taught me more about humanity and respect. Even though we all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions, we should always show respect to others because “Indeed, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed.” [Quran 4:1]. May we all enjoin kindness, and May we all worship Allah (swt) in the best way possible. Ameen.