Peace in Prayer

Peace in Prayer January 15, 2015
Image by Bob Orsillo

Have you been following the heartbreaking story of Mohammed Soltan? He’s a twenty-seven year old American citizen unjustly detained in an Egyptian prison. What was his crime? He stood up against the tyrannical military dictatorship that overthrew Egypt’s first democratically elected president. Mohammed has been on a hunger strike for over 300 days and both his physical and mental conditions are rapidly deteriorating. If you are a parent, it’s particularly difficult to read about his recent pleas to see his father, the Egyptian government’s refusal, and the subsequent transfer of his father from a nearby jail cell to another notorious prison. It’s even harder to read about the way he banged his head against prison cell doors in desperation as he weakly called for his father. As I lie in bed, I sometimes hear his calls, Baba, Baba

As a mother, I can’t think about Mohamed without tears coming to my eyes, the same way the tears flowed for the children of Gaza, the children of Syria, and the children of Peshawar.  After reading or watching the news, I often hug my son, Ibrahim, tight. I hold him in a long embrace, wishing I could shield him from all of the evil in the world. If I could, I would make sure he never realized that humans are capable of such cruelty and I would protect him from it. But I know that I can’t. As this realization sinks in, I feel a rush of dark helplessness come over me.

One night, I lay in bed haunted by images of Mohamed Soltan lying weakly on a stretcher with his father hugging him (before they were prohibited from seeing eachother). I looked at the time: it was around 5 am. Remembering that the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “The closest any worshipper can be to His Lord is during the last part of the night”, I got up to make dua’a (supplicate) for Mohamed Soltan and all of those unjustly detained in prisons around the world. I also asked Allah to help me feel less disillusioned with the world: less helpless. A mentor of mine once told me to let my heart make dua’a; she advised me not to think too much about the dua’a but instead let the words flow from deep within. As one dua’a led to another, I found myself saying one of my favorite prayers, “Our Lord, grant us from among our spouses and offspring coolness to the eyes and make us leaders of the righteous (Al-Furqan, 74)”.

Once I got back in bed, I wondered why my heart had taken me to that dua’a. I certainly recited it a lot when I was single and seeking a spouse. I also make that dua’a quite frequently when Ibrahim gives me a hard time. But why tonight? Then it hit me:  I am not helpless. Instead of reacting to current events with fear for Ibrahim, I need to think of him as a potential leader, a future vehicle for positive change. As his mother, it’s up to me to remain strong and instill in my son a sense of justice. I have to raise him to stand up for the oppressed like Prophet Musa. I need to teach him that as the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said, “The Muslim Ummah is like one body. If the eye is in pain then the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain then the whole body is in pain.” I will also tell Ibrahim about young man named Mohamed Soltan who teaches us to remain steadfast in the face of oppressors. I felt empowered by the realization that what I give Ibrahim could one day contribute to a kinder, more just world.

I smiled. Allah had answered my dua’a with another dua’a. As I fell asleep, one of my favorite Quranic verses lulled me to sleep, “And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me.”

Bushra Tobah

Bushra is from Toronto, Canada. She has a Master’s degree in business and has now put her Phd in Organizational Behaviour on hold to stay at home with her toddler, Ibrahim. She loves to write because, unlike toddlers, writing makes sense.

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