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.
Tags: Islam Jummah