The other day the Hubby took Eryn so I could have some well-deserved girl time with a good friend. We had a fabulous date at a swanky restaurant — two Muslim girls drinking faux cocktails, laughing into our high-calorie salads, passing a chubby baby back and forth, and gossiping about our respective academic-stressed and dirty diaper strewn lives.
By the time I got home, Eryn was fast asleep — worn out by her own lovely date with Baba. He let her watch TV, they learned some sign language, then they went to the mosque before laughing into halal burgers and acting all cool playing with pretend mobile phones at a local cafe.
We’ve been extremely successful with potty training over the past month and recently started venturing out without diapers. So naturally, after finding out how the evening went, I just had to ask about bodily functions:
Me: So how’d it go?
Him: She had to pee when we were at the mosque. While I was praying.
Me: Oh no! What did you do?
Him: Well, I tried speeding up, but it was going to take too long. So I left prayer and took her to the bathroom.
Me: You stopped praying? You gave salaams?
Him: No. I left prayer, took her to the bathroom, came back to the musalla and picked up where I left off.
Me: Can you even DO that?
Him: *shrug* Not sure? Guess it’s time for a fatwa.
Apparently, as Eryn did the impatient pee-pee dance, the Hubby thought it would be better to risk a fiqhi issue than explain to the Imam that his daughter defiled a place of prayer. I probably wouldn’t have done that — but only because I probably wouldn’t be praying in the mosque anyway.
Today in a game of “laundry” Eryn decided to empty my closet, and with cyclone flaire threw all my hijabs onto the floor. Not only did it teach me to never trust the silence of my toddler — but I clearly have too many hijabs. Five shades of teal is completely unacceptable. So Eryn and I will be playing a little “sadaqa” in the upcoming weeks, and gifting scarves to others. It was a valuable lesson in recognizing my hijab addiction and the value of downsizing.
Now, I can easily laugh off a lot of mundane parenting woes. A busy toddler is going to make a mess whether it’s a pile of crafts, paint and glue, or a pile of hijabs. Yoghurt will get splattered all over me, the floor and the wall. There will be plenty of tantrums in my foreseeable future. And we’re coping with smiles, creative distraction, and when necessary, faux cocktails. But when it comes to the more “religiously squirmy” episodes — I’ve had to learn to bend even more. Or at least, to ignore the mufti in my mind telling me I’m in the wrong.
For years I’ve tried to live my Islam the “right way.” Sometimes this meant secluding myself from non-Muslim friends and family, casting my eyes down to the floor or refusing to shake the hands of unfamiliar men, and sometimes this meant making an effort to educate myself on Islamic law, spending my nights in dhikr or reading the Qur’an for myself. Along my ever-evolving path I’ve gathered a list of classic taboos that impress greatly upon me — and give me reason to pause when they’re transgressed.
Such as making excessive movements in prayer. Before, I’d avoid sneezing if I felt the urge during prayer. But now, when I’m not holding a wiggly Ivy, I’m honing my “death stare” to keep Eryn from hitting, poking, annoying, moving, or sitting on the baby. I’ve instinctively leapt up during sujood to save Ivy from tumbling off the bed. I once even considered nursing Ivy during prayer — and justified it since breastfeeding is an act of worship. But, you know, I am supposed to be thinking about God and not my baby, so I decided against it.
Now that Eryn is old enough for Qur’an stories, I’m introducing her to a whole slew of new characters, who unfortunately have to compete with Elmo and Mr. Bloom. So the first time I told her the story of King Solomon and the ant, I paused and felt a little shocked when I gave King Solomon a goofy voice. There was a moment where I may have half asked for forgiveness after making fun of a prophet (respectively of course) — but I just went with it anyway.
I’m not sure yet what I’ll do when it comes to stories of the Prophet.
And then there’s the ripping pages out of the mini-Qur’an incident and the time Ivy spilled lota water all over the floor. Which we’re just not going to talk about.
I’m not sure how I’ve made the leap to easily transgressing taboos. Perhaps it’s simply because with children, it’s sometimes easier not to sweat the small stuff. And perhaps because it actually makes things more fun and easy to not to obsess over the right way to do things when it comes to balancing their needs.
With kids or without, has there ever been a time where you’ve broken personal taboos or taken on the mufti in your mind?