I had a spiritual experience sitting in a plastic chair in the kiddie play area of a fast food chain this week. It was while rocking my baby’s car seat, trying to keep him asleep, with an eye on my two older children, all the while reflecting on a verse from the Qur’an.
The morning began as usual, except I had to take my son and daughter to the dentist for a check-up, balancing the baby on one hip, pitifully trying to assuage them all at once. The french fries and sugary drink were their granted, wiggling-fist-under-chin pleas for going to the dentist in the first place. Ironic, and ridiculous, I know; but true.
Everyday I look forward to an entirely different patch of time, late into the evening, the food digested, the children tucked in and the house somewhat picked up. There I am, hopefully, with a cup of chamomile tea and a book. That is my inspire-hour, or rather minutes because I can fall asleep where I am sitting. I expect to feel Allah (swt)’s closeness because it is just silent enough to seep deeply into myself like the tea bag in my cup…to remember that I have a self.
I read the verse which states, “He knows your secret (thought) and that which is even more hidden. He is with you wherever you are.” I repeated the words “with you wherever you are”….and again the word ‘wherever.’
Back in the restaurant, I thought: Me?! Here?!
I looked to my right, I looked to my left…I giggled, but then awkward tears glazed over and threatening to fall down at an unexpected hour in a strange place. I wanted to have a good cry there amidst the foam and netted play kingdom my children were climbing, calling out: “Mama, look at me, look at me!!”
It is easy to fall into states of forgetfulness. Allah (swt) is always near me, even when I’m pleading with my two-year-old to stop yelping and twisting so I can finish gathering her hair in a ponytail or clipping coupons to put a homemade meal on the table.
I need no intercessor. My Creator already promised that He is with me wherever I am and He is closer to me than my jugular vein.
One verse of the Quran at an unexpected hour jolted me into a state of remembrance, a deep satisfaction and spring of gratefulness that erased the parched longing I sometimes feel, alone under the seeming burden of many tasks. A burning shyness also rushed over thinking that I ought to be more dutiful in deeds and attitude toward my Creator who not only guided me to this beautiful way of living, but also gave me a family to cherish it with.
Danette Zaghari-Mask is a Muslim homeschooling “mama,” attorney and activist, from many generations of Florida natives. She draws sweet joy and humor from nurturing her family’s shared Southern American and Maghrebi heritage. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and two sons.