Sholat. It’s a must! No matter where and how you are.
For brothers and sisters living in muslim countries, it’s very convenient to conduct our five prayers (sholat) everyday with full support of the environment they reside. Adzan is called everywhere at every beginning of the ‘sholat’ time. The office/school will provide break time for the people to conduct their most significant obligations. We have friends reminding us that it’s time to pray. And the mosque (‘masjid’) is everywhere around us. We can conclude that the environment is supporting us to conduct the ‘sholat’ together with our friends (‘jamaah’).
Meanwhile, staying in other countries where Islam isn’t really recognized, neither did many people believe in, is not easy to conduct our pray. There are some burdens, which we dont face in the muslim countries, that might not support us to fullfil our basic need. Sometimes the environment prevents us from doing it.
Having staying in United States of America (USA) for 1 year and Republic of Korea (RoK) for the other 3 months gives me a clear understanding toward this circumstance. While I was studying in Gaithersburg High School (GHS) in 2005-2006, I have to take more than 1 hour to go to the nearest masjid from my host family’s house. Even in our biggest day of the year the “Eid Ul-Fitr” the school isn’t in holiday, I have to ask for permission for excuse in my morning class so that I can go to the tennis court, 45 minutes away, to join my brothers and sisters in celebrating the most merciful day of the year. Afterward, I have to go back to school again to attend the next class.
Residing in RoK (South Korea) isn’t much better. In the town where I live in, there is only one small ‘masjid’ (we call it “musholla”) in KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), about one hour and half from my dormitory. During my daily routine, I have to conduct the “sholat” in some places that I’ve never imagine to practice such important religious duty.
Sholat in Korea
At school it might be a little bit not easy. Usually we have class from the morning until late afternoon, so I dont have time to go back to dormitory for my ‘sholat’ conduct. Therefore, 2 of my “muslimah” (term for female muslim) friends and I usually do our “sholat” in the class, either during the break time or after the end of the class. If we have any events with our ASEAN friends of Daejeon University, where I study, we have to sneak out and conduct our pray. Last time on the Teachers’ Day, we had party with our professors from 6.30 pm until 10.00 pm, meaning that the Maghrib and Isya’ time was in the middle of it, and therefore we went out to International Office nearby the party was held for the sake of our sholat need.
Things might get worse if we go out with others who dont really know about Islam. One of this example is when we joined a field trip for Floretopia Festival in Asan, the tour agency didnt give us break time for sholat. Therefore, we had to find out our own time and place to do that. I did my ‘sholat’ between the bus chairs, unconvenently, since the space was not clean and wide enough for a single man to conduct the pray.
Another story was when I had an internship period in Incheon. Working for UN-APCICT, the UN agency whose goal is to strenghten the use of ICT for the developing countries in order to achieve the MDGs, in Incheon gives me less space and time to conduct my sholat since there’s no muslim there, neither is a masjid nor musholla. One day, my friend from Malaysia and I were going to exercise in the gym. Since I hadn’t conduct my sholat, then I gotta do it there. After looking for some places, unpublic and clean enough, I found the ‘changing’ room inside the gym since there was nobody there. I did my Sholat THERE! The funny thing was when I just ended my sholat, someone came seeing me sitting on the floor as I finished my praying.
My fellow brothers and sisters, you might be from different religion or belief. That doesnt really matter to me. What we should do isn’t judging that the other religion is wrong, and ours is the best one; but we need to stick up to our religion no matter what! Eventhough we are living in a country in which there are no many people believe in our religion, eventhough there are no place to conduct our worshipping to God, eventhough no friends to accompany our praying, LETS JUST DO WHAT WE’VE GOTTA DO FOLKS. Praying to the God is the most important thing. In the words of Steven Covey, he would call it ‘The Quadrant II” activities, and I even put it as the most importan quadrant 2 activities.