Six years ago, Sana Ullah went up on a mountain to pray.
The young Muslim woman, born and raised in South Florida, had traveled to Ontario, Canada, to attend her sister’s wedding. It was her first time seeing so much snow and being in weather so cold.
“All I wanted to do was make snow angels, snowmen, and have snowball fights every single day,” Ullah told The Huffington Post in an email. “Florida winters are laughable, so nobody was going to stop me from getting the whole winter experience.”
After the wedding, an uncle took her and her family out to a mountain for tubing. Before long, it was time for namaz. Even though the family was away from home and from their mosque, when the time for prayer came, they stopped what they were doing and turned their focus inward and upward.
“[The uncle] pulled out a blue tarp from his trunk, laid it out in the snow, and called the adhan (the call to prayer). We lined up and prayed together,” she wrote. “It was incredible. The winter silence, the endless snow, the hundreds of people that didn’t mind, the ability to pray almost anywhere—it was something I will never forget and to this day, it is the most memorable place I’ve ever prayed.”
Ullah said that prayer has helped her in times of stress, confusion, and despair. It puts her at ease and reminds her to be patient. And most importantly, it reminds her that even during a time in her country when it’s getting increasingly harder to be a Muslim, she’s not alone.
“This project is constantly reminding me how large and encouraging my community is (both Muslim and nonMuslim) and I couldn’t be more grateful for the support and contributions people have made towards it,” Ullah said. “To know that despite the hate or prejudice towards a group of people is intensifying every day, Muslims are still holding on to their identity and realizing it’s okay to be Muslim. It always was.”