As some may have heard from a previous story of mine on Twitter, I was almost arrested in South Carolina for praying in public. In short, me and a few brothers decided to pray Maghrib at a strip mall on a Sunday afternoon. We were abruptly stopped and threatened by local police officers for praying in public. It was a pretty intense day, but I’ll save that story for another post!
Anyway, this story begins about a year after the South Carolina incident. I was invited out to dinner one day with my family.
The time for Maghrib had come in and I needed to pray. Up until this point, I avoided praying in public because of the incident a year earlier. I was paranoid that I was going to be spotted by some ignorant citizen who would call the cops on me. Well, I didn’t really have a choice, I had to find a place to pray so I excused myself from the table.
I walked around for a few minutes until I found a large open field that was completely vacant. More than that, it was adjacent to the restaurant I was eating at and separated by a large fence. I thought to myself, “This looks like a good spot!” I was completely isolated, or so I thought.
I brought a napkin with me to use for when I go into prostration. The field was green with some patches of dirt. It was a cool spring night.
“Allahu Akbar”, I commenced my prayer. The first rakah was great. I reflected on every word. I always feel closer to God when I pray in the midst of nature.
Getting back up from prostration to begin my second rakah, I began to hear footsteps approaching from me from behind. I thought to myself, “Again?” Nevertheless, I kept praying. I lowered my voice a bit because I was trying to pray and listen for the footsteps all at the same time.
The footsteps became louder as it approached. I was not in the best neighborhood, so I figured I was about to either get arrested or mugged, perhaps even stabbed. If there’s one thing I learned about myself that day, is that I’m a stubborn dude. I refused to stop praying, although my fight or flight senses were going crazy at this point. I felt vulnerable, yet persisted.
I was in prostration at this point in my second rakah. I heard the footsteps come up right behind me. I could FEEL someone watching my every move.
I gathered myself and put my trust in Allah and managed to get up for my last rakah. That’s when I heard the footsteps stop. My heart sank.
The footsteps picked up again and moved to my left and then to my right. It all happened so fast but it’s pretty much in slow motion when it’s happening to you.
All of a sudden I saw a shadow approach me from the right. The man put his feet next to mine, but a little further back. That’s when I saw the man’s hands go up. “Allahu Akbar”.
It was then, that I realized that the cop/mugger was really another Muslim brother looking for a place to pray and had stumbled upon the same spot I had picked for prayer.
Subhan’Allah! It is amazing that Allah chose this field to be a field of victory where not one, but two completely random individuals happen to come together in some isolated field to praise, thank, and glorify Him.
I will never forget this day. You never know what will happen and when it does, it may not end how you think it will. For the believer, the grass is always greener on the other side.