Piety unveiled...

Let's see what does the above title conjure up in your mind? Hmm...let me try to guess a few responses. First perhaps you might think it is about veiling. Second guess, about piety. Well, its neither really. Let me start with looking at what piety means:
pi·e·ty (p-t)n. pl. pi·e·ties 1. The state or quality of being pious, especially:
a. Religious devotion and reverence to God.

Yes, it is a reverence to God, to be devoted and revere God - most Muslims will struggle the rest of their lives to reach a high level of piety, Inshallah we all can strive towards this, nothing wrong with that.
Now, back to my original question, rather answer. For a few days now, well in reality its been a few months, something has been running around in my head, an incident that happened to my husband actually. It was the time during Ramadan, close to the end of it and we were meeting with another couple to break our fast.

Ok, before I begin let me start with a bit of a background about this couple well, really the wife, lets call her Mrs.S. My husband and Mr. S. are friends, so naturally me and Mrs. S. are expected to be friends too, I have no problem with that and think that Mrs. S. is friendly and likeable - she also wears hijab; scarf & abaya. Now I mention that she wears these items only to make a point, which I will come to later on in the story. When we visit we keep to separate parts of the apartment - men in one room us women and child (Mashallah, she has a cute 1yr old son) in another room - once again I have no problem with this, if she feels this is necessary and feels more comfortable then by all means! She knows that I am a convert and has mentioned in the past that she can help with Quran and recitations, etc, I was happy and thanked her. Every time we meet I can't but help thinking that she has really got it 'all together', she came from a family that was not very religious and she has now incorporated a more religious lifestyle - I kind of felt she was a very dedicated Muslimah - I am sure that she is and I would never imagine saying she was not - but slowly my perceptions were eroding away into reality.

Now back to my story.
That same night we were there for Iftar and it came time to pray, she said "do you mind?" I of course said, "no why would I mind?" I was too shy and to ask her if I could say Salah with her, so I just sat in the corner of the room on the floor and watched her discretely, wishing that I would have had more courage to tell her that I wished to pray as well. She came back from doing her washing and I sat there thinking that I will just follow along in my heart the words and movements to what she is doing, at least in a small way I could participate. So she starts, and I start in my head with "Allahu akbar, Bismillahir rahmannir rahim, Alhamduillah ..." and I kid you not she was already doing the rukoo (bowing) so I stopped my recitation and just started to watch her more closely and I just could not believe how fast she was doing the prayers! Now, I do understand the longer you have been performing the prayers the faster it must go since you know the recitations so well, but I just could never imagine doing it so fast - it some how looses a bit of the 'feeling'. I take Salah as the part of the day to slow down and contemplate the day and above all thank God for everything he has given to me - can it be meaningful and heartfelt in just 5 minutes (She was doing Isha prayer). When I told my husband he said that out in the other room he had experienced much the same scenario, Mr. S. was doing speed praying as well. Needless to say it dimmed my thoughts on her - I hate to say it but is doing the 5 prayers quickly better than doing maybe 1-2 slowly and heartfelt? I realize this is entirely between God and the individual but still it nagged at my heart for a long time, even now when I think back on it. There was one more small incident that happened, and I shudder to relate this for fear that it may constitute backbiting, but I just need to get it out in the open (venting a bit I suppose) and may God forgive me if it sounds like backbiting. It was time to give donations, and we gave our zakat the 2.5% due of all Muslims. Mr and Mrs. S. are very active in a certain community and they give quite frequently to that organization, now hubby dear is not really apart of that community but he has donated in the past to this organization. Well , Mrs. S. felt that my hubby had to donate more and proceeded to tell him this, in a very demeaning manner - basically she informed him that as a man he should be giving more money , and that she as a woman was donating at least the same amount he had pledged. Ok, jaw to the floor , I mean really was that necessary and was that the best way of saying it? Needless to say that hubby felt hurt by the remark and did not say anything else to her. Another chip, another break in my perception of 'piety' - I should have know better than to base my perceptions on clothing and outward appearances, Mashallah I feel a bit more relieved and stronger in my faith, realizing that we all have our struggles!

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