At Rumi’s Cave This Jum’ah

In a suburban street in North London there is a place called Rumi’s Cave. Not knowing my pseudonym had already destined me to end up there, I’ve been going as often as I can since this summer, when just one Eid celebration turned around my image of British Islam, my long-term disavowal of performing music, and introduced me to a fluid, open, loving community I’d always imagined existed but never quite believed could be real.

Today was Jum’ah; we got there late, walking the wrong way down Willesden Lane, and had to slink through the whole crowd (qibla is more or less towards the front door) while the imam was just about ending his khutba.

He finished with a hadith qudsi, a long one I had never heard before. One line stood out: “Do not ask for your sustenance of tomorrow, for I do not ask you for your prayers of tomorrow”. It was such a simple message I don’t want to clutter it with lyrical analyses. It just made me consider what I have right at this moment, the uselessness of freaking out about how much I need next month – even though feet still move forward in pursuit of food.

If you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in the fridge then you are in a state of abundance. Future hunger doesn’t make your stomach empty now. In prayer you have to be utterly present: it’s no good trying to stack prayers up in a nuclear bunker for such time as you’ll need them. They are absolutely present, and require absolute presence. “I am in need! Ya Rabb! I am in need!” Can anything make you more present? Is there any perfect future that could offer such immediacy?

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