Friday, January 27, 2006

Jummah Tales

It's Friday, so let me talk about religion. As I sat at my mosque listening to the speaker go on, I looked around to note the other attendees at the prayer. One man was playing an imaginary tic-tac-toe on the mosque carpet. He would use his fingers to make the grid, place what looked like crosses and 0s, and then rub it off. A few people had a very peaceful look to them, as if sakina had descended on them. Later I found out they were actually asleep! Yet another person had his legs tucked slightly underneath his body, his hands repeatedly scrubbing his socks. Later, on moving closer to him as people got up for prayers, I understood why. He must have been wearing the same socks for the week, and he was hoping no one would notice (little tip: rubbing socks repeatedly does not make the smell disappear).

The good thing about the mosque where I attend Friday prayers from work is that they rotate their speakers weekly. If you don't like one speaker or find him boring, you are not stuck with him. He comes back every three or four weeks. When I was growing up in the Middle East, all khutbahs were given in Arabic, so it didn't matter what they were talking about, it was all equally dull. It was after coming to Canada that I started to understand the speeches.

I am not saying all khatibs are bad or boring. Just last week, there was a khatib who spoke about the election. He told us why we should vote, a bit of history on early Islamic democracy, how the Prophet took decisions by majority and how we today can judge our politicians. That's what I want, I want speeches on Friday that I can relate to. A few ones back, one speaker told us about business etiquettes. Yet sometime back, another speaker told the congregation of the importance of spending time with families, particularly spouses. He actually talked about fishing and golf!

At many Islamic talks on Fridays, I don't feel as I can connect. The things they talk about - yawn. At one time, one speaker in a bid to 'connect to the youth', talked about how two teens were so eager to join the Badr campaign they followed the army despite the Prophet's prohibitions. At another time one young Muslim used to read the whole Quran at one night. That's fine, but he didn't have to submit an CSCA02 assignment by Friday 2 pm. Or drive through rush hour on the DVP to get to an early morning presentation at work. I know the reply would be that they would have their own problems of their time. That's fine. In today's world, Muslims have other issues. The preachers should talk about akhirah a little less, and duniya a bit more.

Giving me the example of a man who ten centuries ago broke all his teeth because he heard the Messenger of God had broken a single tooth at Uhud is not going to inspire me to pray five times a day. Rather, talk about how the Prophet stood up in respect when the funeral of a Jew passed him by, or the tips Ayesha gave to an Ansari women to make herself more attractive (!), or how Usman conducted his flourishing business - those are the ways Muslims today can be inspired about how practical Islam can be.



Shabina said...

Ah, jum'aa woes. I feel ya, bro. I got into this argument with my pops; he likes it when the khutbah is all about Qur'an and hadith, because he thinks that's what the sunnah is.

But a friend of mine made a good point...back in the day, the Qur'an and hadith dealt with current events, no? So there's nothing wrong with addressing today's relevant issues...right?

Nabeel said...

okkk .. u shouldn't have a problem with the person sleeping .. you feel sleepy when you are calm .. a mosque is a peaceful place .. it's the House of God .. so once in a mosque you feel peaceful .. which results in sleepiness !!

Yes khatibs do need to talk about current issues .. but there is a reason they talk about the akhirah than dunyaa .. if we knew all about the akhirah they ya sure let's talk about duniyah .. but i think we know ALOT about duniah and akhirah is what they need to know ..

So in other words .. I don't need to hear how to spend time with my family from a khatib .. because I already know how to .. what I don't know is the akhirat stuff .. so I guess the preference changes from person to person haan ..

mezba said...

Shabina: Exactly.

Nabeel: You are right about different preferences. I grew up in Middle East where everything was Islamic. We learnt Science and no evolution theories. Biology sort of skipped over the whole, um, reproduction thing. Plus, talks about religion, spirits and akhira were everywhere. However the issues we face here in the West, living with other religions, living with people hostile, living with interest, and other factors termed 'unIslamic' begets the need for discussion of duniyah.

For example I don't know how to answer this question,

"Scientists now say drinking a small amount of red wine is good for your health. Why does Islam legislate against it?"

And other similarly interesting every day-to-day life questions.

jamal said...

Im totally with you o the socks issue. I always remember being directly behind a man with a veruka on his foot!

Anisa said...

AMEN!!! I wish it would be more relevant to the world today. And don't even get me started on how disrespectful women are here during Eid...they talk over the Imam, and it is SO annoying and disrespectful!