Now that the last 10 days of Ramadan are here (wow!), I thought I should rehash some of tips on how to attend the night prayers at the mosque during this holy time.
Tip 1: It is not a hurdles competition.
I know that there is a reward for being in front of the mosque. The closer you are to the front, the greater the reward, so the saying goes. Having said that, if you want to go to the front of the mosque, COME EARLY!
I am sick of people in overflowing robes coming late to the mosque and the bumping my head off as they try to leapfrog into a more 'rewarding' position. Must be a 'calculating muslim syndrome'.
Tip 2: You are not having dinner
I remember getting a chain email long time ago that if you want to show you appreciation to an Arab host, you burp to signal that you have enjoyed your meal. I have no idea if this is true or not. However, the mosque is not a dinner table nor have you been invited to a meal. I am speaking of course of the famous 'biryani burp'.
Yesterday I moved up (see tip 1) after 8 rakats to get closer to God. And then stood next to an uncle who kept 'burping the Ameen' for the next 12 rakats. As for my salaat, alas I spent less time contemplating on the meaning of the Quran and more time on fantasizing if I can order a hit on this guy.
Seriously, if you are going to stand for long time, control what you have for your iftar. An iftar is not another word for a 12-course meal.
Tip 3: Allah loves cleanliness.
And for muslims, cleanliness is half of faith, as told by the Prophet.
And besides, nowadays we all have Tide. Heck, even the Dollar Store has a cheap detergent you can use.
I know you are very worried someone will steal your precious "Timmi Hilfigur" socks (or else it's playoff hockey time and you haven't taken your socks off as you are winning - remember superstition is alien to Islam), but please, stop trying to kill other people when they are doing sujood, even though it is a blessing to die in sujood it is a greater blessing to have a long and virtuous life.
Tip 4: Stop scaring little kids
Children are a blessing, said the Prophet. When he used to pray, his grandkids would climb on his back and otherwise 'bother' him during his prayers, yet he never scolded them. Yesterday I saw an old uncle morph into a godzilla and scare the crap out of this little kid who had the misfortune of running in front of the dude while he was praying. I am sure that kid will have fond memories of the mosque in the future. Later on, when you are lamenting as to why the youth of today do not come to the mosque, it's because you have scarred them when they were the baby of yesterday.
Tip 5: Sleep first.
It's the NIGHT prayers. Most people SLEEP at night. That's why those who pray are doing something special. Note: pray. NOT SLEEP. If you have to sleep, please remain on your bed, not on my shoulder. There is actually a saying that you should not pray when you are sleepy. So either sleep before and then come to the mosque, or please stay in your bed.
To desi FOB uncles: If you follow the above tips, I am sure you can make your experience and the experience of the rest around you a lot better.