Nawaz is a Muslim from Sri Lanka. He is almost 30 years old and he is working here in Qatar as a bus driver on a 5-year contract.
Over the past couple weeks during my bus rides to and from home, I have had the opportunity to talk to him about his life as a migrant worker. One aspect of his living conditions has really stuck with me.
Unfortunately, as I suspected, Nawaz lives in a labor camp on the outskirts of the city where he shares a room with 7 other migrant workers. In order for Nawaz to get to work by 630AM to start his shift, he leaves from home around 515AM.
I asked Nawaz when he usually wakes up for work. He says 3AM…
Since there are 8 people to one room, there are 8 people who share one bathroom. Nawaz tells me that in order for him to have enough time to shower and get ready before anyone else needs to use the bathroom, he gets up at 3AM. After getting ready, Nawaz has some extra time before the prescribed time to pray the first of the five daily prayers comes in. On a daily basis during this period, Nawaz performs Tahajjud (the virtuous voluntary night prayer).
Simply put, Nawaz’s story exemplifies for me the idea that wealth and material comfort do not directly equate to any increased level of mindfulness or spiritual devotion. I have been blessed with a bathroom that I can utilize when I desire (Glory be to God, what an overlooked blessing) and I know that there are physical/mental pressures that I have never experienced in possessing such an amenity. But if the lack of ability to use the bathroom at any desired time of day has given Nawaz the opportunity to submit to God on a higher level by voluntarily performing Tahajjud, then it makes me wonder: have I really used my material comforts as a means to seek an increased mindfulness of/closeness to God? Does the existence of my bathroom in the first place positively impact my submission to the Possessor of All Bounties or does it solely influence my physical reality? Am I now becoming more heedless of my Creator, comfortable knowing I can skip my Morning Prayer and still have time to wake up, relieve myself, get ready and arrive to class on time?
Things to think about. Unexpected conversations like these can indeed reveal spiritual truths.