By ZAHRA NOORBAKHSH
When I was a kid, Mom used to say, “You know you’ve become an infidel when you forget the Fatihah.” The Fatihah is the preamble to the Quran, a prayer Muslims repeat five times a day.
Mom used to warn me to be grateful for the practice. That on the Day of Judgment, Allah would call upon me to recite the Fatihah and I would realize that I had forgotten the words and know what it means to be a lost soul.
While other kids went to soccer practice on the weekends, I went to a religious Farsi school, where prayer was homework and I heard the Fatihah all the time. They would check to see that I was praying correctly, and that I was emphasizing the right “qh” and “ha” sounds, and performing the correct poses and postures.
Dad paid particularly close attention to my religious education. “Don’t say ‘God,’ ” he would order, if I was being flip. “When people say ‘God’ they’re thinking of a man god, and that’s as bad as idolatry. We shouldn’t turn people into gods. Say, ‘Allah!’ Allah is the everything in the universe!”