I never wake up for Fajr, but today my heart is racing and my skin does not fight back the freezing cold water that is pumped from the nearby lake. Sweatpants and a cardigan, dusty sneakers and uncombed hair, I trudge up the hill with thirteen frustrated and crying girls behind me. I call to them, “Sing your dhikr! Look at how gorgeous the mountains look with the sun approaching!” They cry even more and I smile.
The sky is dark and clear, the air is cold and welcoming, and the sound of such an earnest and ululating adhan nearly makes me cry. She makes the mornings so welcoming, and I reject them almost every day of the year.
With an aching, twisting back and a black cotton hijab, sweat and droplets tickling my neck from wudu, I watch the trees bow down in a graceful shape of worship, and I attempt to mimic their elegance as we begin. I tell myself:
Slowly leave the depressive haze of the morning behind and make the intention to love yourself through the eyes of God. Close your eyes but peek when you think the leaves will look pretty. Remember that the pebbles that are caught in our hair after submitting to sujood are made of the same clay your skin is created from, and try to give yourself completely to Her. You won’t always be able to, but that is why She is available at every degree of the sun rising and setting-just as you are moving your body for Her now.
Push against the usual chaotic and numb routine of your day and stand after ruku’ for an extra 60 seconds. Whisper self-affirmations and inhale the cool morning breeze, embrace the discomfort and doubt and stretch your back when you fall back into sujood, you will rise again but for now find beauty in the darkness and your brief meeting with loss and the possibility of not being able to leave the ground and dirt. When you greet the angels and return to reality, hold onto the peace you were able to achieve and try to return throughout the day by counting holy names on the ridges of your fingers.