Monday, February 15, 2010
‘I can feel God in my heart’
COLUMN: SPIRITUAL MATTERS
By Shevlin Sebastian
Every morning, at 5 a.m., N. Meherunissa Begum prays to God. Standing with her hands folded across her chest, and facing west, where the Holy Kaabah in Mecca, is located, she recites the first chapter of the Koran in Arabic: the Sura Al-Fatiha.
Here are a few lines: ‘In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful/ Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds/ Most Gracious, Most Merciful/ Master of the Day of Judgment/ Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek/ Show us the straight way.’
Thereafter, she recites a couple of other verses from the Quran. Then she raises her hands up, says, ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is the greatest), goes down on her knees, and recites the ‘Subhana rabbiyal alheem wa bihamdihi’ (Glory be to my Lord Almighty) three times. Thereafter, she touches her forehead on the floor.
This is known as a rak'a (a unit of prayer). In the morning, she does two rak'as. When it is over, she prays for herself.
“I thank God for whatever he has given me: health, wealth, children, grandchildren,” she says. “I ask God to always show me the right way.”
Like any devout Muslim, Meherunissa prays five times a day. Apart from the Sura Al-Fatiha, which is recited at all times, she recites other verses.
“I know around five hundred verses by heart,” says Meherunissa. Incidentally, the Koran has more than 6,000 verses, spread across 114 chapters.
For Meherunissa, her close embrace of Islam has helped her to cope with a recent tragedy. Her husband, M.A. Abdul Khader, an engineer, died in 2003. Her two sons live in America, while a daughter stays in Bangalore.
On every Friday, Meherunissa, a secretary of the Ernakulam area of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, an organisation which upholds Islamic values, goes to her favourite mosque: the Masjid-ul Da'awa in Kaloor, Kochi.
There is a belief among Muslims that those who come early and sit in the first row receive the most blessings from God. So, Meherunissa arrives at 12 noon for the 12.30 p.m. Juma prayers. These prayers last for only ten minutes. The main event is the 45-minute sermon by the maulvi.
“I like the sermons of Basheer Maulvi,” she says. “He is able to link daily life and currents events with the teachings of the Quran.”
Meherunissa reads the Quran every day, but does not have an image of God in her mind.
“Muslims pray with their eyes open,” she says. “We need to keep all our senses awake and concentrate on the words we are reciting during the prayers. This is one reason why I don’t have any visual of God.”
With no image, what is the proof for her that God exists? “Every day, without fail, the sun rises and sets,” says Meherunissa. “Then the moon comes up in the sky. This has been happening since time immemorial. How does all this happen, unless God is controlling it? I can feel Him in my heart. And that is enough evidence for me.”
(The New Indian Express, Kerala)