Peace amidst mosque commotion

I love the mosque and I love going to the mosque not for anything in particular, just for the fact that it is the mosque. For me going to the mosque is not just about praying or attending talks or meeting people, it’s about getting away from everything, taking a rest, seeking solace in the peaceful and tranquil atmosphere of the mosque. I am able to put the whole world behind me sitting at a corner in the mosque freeing my mind from everything else, even myself. Most of the time when I go to the mosque, I really don’t like talking to people beyond saying salaam, I like to just be by myself with no interference from the people, this way I can fully enjoy the peace and solace I seek in going to the mosque. Sometimes, I don’t plan on going to the mosque when I leave home but my feet somehow take me there. This happened last week, I found myself at the mosque, I prayed Asr and waited for Magrib. Even though it was late, I did not feel like going home, I wanted to sleep at the mosque because I was so much stressed out that the thought of going home gave me panic attack. I wanted to revise my hifz too because my memory seems to be leaking somehow. I met a friend there, she too was not planning to come to the mosque but somehow found herself at the mosque early enough for Magrib. Meeting her at the mosque was good because I was able to clear a misunderstanding we had over the phone earlier. I eventually went home as much as I would have loved to stay the night the mosque, that won’t happen until last 10 days of Ramadan.

That said, making a fuss in the mosque is a feature of the mosque unfortunately, for someone like me who goes to the mosque for peace, it could be very disturbing and discouraging. But I learnt to block it all out not letting it get to me. People fight over the most ridiculous of things such as, “I sat at this place first at that marks it as my space” or “I usually pray in the first row and I must be on the first row” Most of these fights happens during Ramadan and Juma’ah Prayer, I wonder what it means to these kind of people when they decide to put up a fight on these auspicious gatherings when nothing is more important than the pleasure of Allah, seeking forgiveness and the reward in extending salaam to others. On some of these occasions, I usually find myself sitting at the back in a corner, watching, observing and wondering at what kind of Muslims are these. There was a very memorable event that I will never forget, since I still have not been able to forget it after many years, it looks like it may forever be in my memory unless Allah (swt) wills otherwise.

It was the month of Ramadan, year in year out; I have observed a group of women, leave it or take it, they’ve got to be at the front row.  There is nothing wrong with being at the front row actually it is encouraged especially for the men but the fact that people fight for it and mark a space for themselves no matter what, fills me with disgust. If someone sat in the first row yesterday, it does not mean they’ve got to sit there today if somebody else has got there before them. If you sit with your friends at the front row last year, it does not mean that this year you will have to, if some other people are sitting there this year. The mosque is spacious and there are lots of places to sit, other than the front. Everyone is equal in the mosque, we have no hierarchy at the mosque, no one has a special space reserved for them, its first come first served at the mosque. Unfortunately, this does not apply to some people, they just have to reserve space for their friends and fight others away, even when their friends are not yet at the mosque and others already there can’t find space to sit.

Just as we have the front row huggers so do we have the back row huggers, there are these group of women too, come rain come shine, year in year out, the far back row is theirs and they fight tooth and nail to reserve space for their friends against the rules of the mosque. That brings me back to the memorable event, it must been Juma’ah during Ramadan, there was this disabled Asian lady, she always sit at the right hand corner of the first row with her friends and further in the middle of the same front row were some Arab ladies. The Imam started the khutbah in Arabic, who does not know that it is haram to talk during khutbah; even you are not supposed to respond to salaam during khutbah, noting that giving salaam is not an obligation though highly encouraged but responding to salaam is an obligation. Yet, we are forbidden even to respond to salaam during khutbah let alone talk. Despite this, one of the Arab ladies was talking loudly to her friends when the Khutbah started, the disabled Asian lady started to motion her hands at them indicating to stop talking but she was ignored till she had no choice but to speak, saying “stop talking khutbah has started”. Can you imagine what this almighty Arab lady said back to her? “you shut up, you are not Arab, you don’t understand Arabic”.

I was shocked when I heard this, I could not believe my ears, what has being an Arab or understanding Arabic got to do with obeying the command of Allah to keep quiet and listen during khutbah. If you as an Arab person, who understands and speaks Arabic does not understand and respect the sanctity of the khutbah being the delivered in this language that you are so proud of, what right have you got to respond to someone admonishing you in that manner. Her sheer arrogance was sickening, the rudeness in her response, unforgivable, I lost any iota of respect I might have had for that woman. Looking at her then, she was quite an old woman in her late 50s or 60s. How could people this old not have a sense of humility and respect for others, having been admonished doing wrong, the least she could have done was just to keep quiet and look away instead of thrusting her chest forward to prove that she is better than the person admonishing her. Right there and then I remembered this ayah:

The desert Arabs say, “We believe.” Say, “Ye have no faith; but ye (only) say, ‘We have submitted our wills to Allah,’ For not yet has Faith entered your hearts. But if ye obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not belittle aught of your deeds: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”  (Al-Hujurat: Q49:14).

For the Asian lady, she has done what any one else would have done because the Arab lady talking was speaking so loud as to distract others trying to listen to the khutbah. But Islamically, the Asian lady was wrong; she could have just ignored them because it is regarded as a sin even to ask someone to stop talking during khutbah. The wisdom behind this prohibition is simply what resulted in this case, they talked, she asked them to stop and they responded with an insult, Shaytan could easily jump in-between them and a big row could ensue in the middle of the mosque during a Juma’ah khutbah. May Allah(swt) forgive us all our mistakes (Amin).

Such are many of the things that go on at the mosque. What about children? Subhanallah! I have seen and observed people creating a big fuss about children, even babies. It is true certain children are completely out of control, perhaps their parents should think twice before bringing them to the mosque. But generally, people need to show more tolerance to the children at the mosque even when they are running around and being noisy. If children are stopped from coming to the mosque because of this, they might grow up hating the deen. Of course the parents play a big role in this but generally the Muslims need to watch out on their attitude towards children at the mosque. An instance last Ramadan, was a lady with her baby, the baby was barely a month old then. During the Salaat, the baby started crying and the mother was praying, at the end of the Salaat she picked up the baby to console her and there was this other woman who sprang at her telling her off, the baby’s mother responded and it turned into a shouting match between them. From what I could understood from the angry words exchanged in Arabic, the woman was telling the baby’s mother, why does she have to come to the mosque with the baby to distract others during Salaat. The baby’s mother went, nothing stops her from bringing her baby to the mosque, and the prophet does not stop children from coming to the mosque and so on.

Subhanallah, all those things go on at the mosque and that does not stop me in the slightest from enjoying my presence at the mosque whenever I want to, I always make sure I don’t get involved with people should there be a slight chance they might cause trouble, I say salaam and go my way. Besides, I go to the mosque sometimes during the week when there are rarely many people around when I am passing by on my way home, so I don’t have to worry about trouble makers. But surely, it is inevitable during Ramadan and sometimes Juma’ah, which I really don’t attend, except on rare occasion since it is not compulsory for women to. Ramadan is due again in August, Insha Allah. Hopefully as always, I can find my peace and solace each time I am at the mosque despite the inevitable commotion.