It had been a long and exhausting week of illness and recovery. I needed a sanctuary to find peace and strength to take on the next phase of recovery and redefine my direction.
Driving back from an errand I decided I needed to go to the mosque for Maghreb. As I pulled into the parking lot, surprisingly there were more cars than usual. I walked into the new mosque, Dark and empty, but not peaceful. I made my way to the women’s musallah, which is situated in the back of the main mussallah partially separated by screens.
Inside there were only three women including me, which was wonderful for me because I needed the seclusion in the worship, and Allah had granted it.
Before I could pray Tahiyyat e masjed the Adhaan was called, the Pakistani Muezzin prolonging the tail end the sentences, reminding me of the long twilight in the evenings of Karachi.
Soon the iqamah was called and the Imam in his melodious voice recited the two surahs that begin with “was samaaa …… “ one of them was Surah At Tariq reminding me how humble are mans origins and how fragile life is. How in a moment ones life can change from everything to nothing……
The halaqa began shortly after completion of the fard Salah, and the Imam spoke of two hadiths, which were a continuation of the utilitarian items of life. However I sensed that something was wrong with the atmosphere in the room. I leaned forward to view the scenario.
The Imam sat below and in front of the minbar and around him in a semi circle sat some men in their late fifties or even older, some on the floor with their legs crossed as if they had come to listen to a musical concert of Ravi Shankar. Some sat on chairs their necks craned forward, in a posture ready to pounce, others sat with their backs to the wall with their feet outstretched their hands busy with their phones.
What was remarkable in its absence was the line of basketball players.
The Imam seemed hesitant and careful in his presentation and the semicircle of men seemed to be exuding hostility.
Soon enough the disturbance in the atmosphere that I had sensed morphed into concrete reality as one of the men in the frontline asked tongue in cheek questions about the hadith he had recited. Another tried to trip the Imam by asking the four categories he had mentioned but had explained only two. Somehow the questions were not innocent they seemed to be calculated to make the Imam look bad and I noticed that his voice changed and became conciliatory………
I looked up at the gold plated chandeliers and wondered what had happened to the men in the front line. Weren’t they supposed to be the sabiqoon, thirsty for knowledge of Deen, not critical of it!
The scene here was not one of students eager to learn the Prophets word with extreme respect in stance, posture and expression. They not only did not acquiesce on the Hadith but also wondered why a mule was not to be sacrificed for food, when it is not longer used for transportation.
I recalled the Mercedes and BMWs parked outside and pictures of thousands of Muslims rose to mind who still cannot afford anything more than a mule to ride on to make a living in 90% of the Muslim world.
How removed were these men from reality, and compassion, for the human spirit. How heedless were they of the respect and etiquette of listening and absorbing the Prophets pbuhs words.
My sense of peace was shot; my attempt to seek sanctuary and strength laid waste. Here were men who had come to pray and stayed to learn or did they stay to ridicule the word of the Prophet pbuh coming out of the lips of the Imam?
I was reminded of what I had read about one of the four Imams who when preparing to recite the Hadith of our beloved Prophet pbuh did ghusl, and wore a fresh set of clothes before he sat down to recite the Hadith of the Prophet pbuh. He treated it with the utmost respect both in words and demonstrated it by his actions.
What had happened to our men? the lord and masters of their Muslim homes……….
How could they become comfortable in their less than desirable form of sitting, speaking and understanding of the etiquette in receiving the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him.
I left…………..hoping for a replacement of the first row, praying that Allah had not stamped their hearts irreversibly………
Surah At Tariq recited beautifully with english translation: