By Mahmoud Ahmad
Jan 2, 2017
THIS week I would like to take a step back and introspect. I would like to start here by citing an example of a man who has been called to meet with the top manager of his company. Imagine the extra care that this person would take just because he is meeting with his manager. He will be at his best when it comes to appearance and behaviour. This man will see to it that he is wearing the finest and most expensive clothes. He for sure will go to extreme lengths to make a good impression on his manager in order to gain a step over his colleagues and whatever advantages to boost his career.
But do you’ll notice that the same person, who groomed himself for a simple meeting with his superior, does not apply the same effort and care while going to another important place. Sadly when it comes to going to a mosque this is not the case. I would not be surprised if this person comes to the mosque in dishevelled clothes or even pyjamas. He will also not smell as good as he did when he went to meet his manager. On occasions, he may not be at his best behaviour at the mosque and, for sure, coming to the mosque itself might be a big burden to him. Imagine the contrasting attitude and effort — the first for meeting a man and the other one for standing in front of Allah.
This example is now becoming more of a norm, as sadly, I have seen this stance on the rise. I keep noticing, every time I go to a mosque, people disrespecting the place, to the level such negative behaviour can be seen on a daily basis. Muslims in general are required to be at their best in appearance when they go to the mosque. They should groom themselves in such a manner that they are clean and presentable. But more and more Muslims are coming to mosques in scurfy attire or even clothes that are dirty. Some people are even showing up to the mosque wearing shorts and pyjamas. Add to this their unenthusiastic or rough behaviour then you really wonder why do they make an appearance at all.
I would like to ask those who show up to the mosque wearing pyjamas or unpresentable clothing, that would they dare to appear in a similar manner at work, wedding or meetings with their top managers? I don’t think so.
The noble Qur’an states in Soorah Al-A’raaf, 7:31, “Children of Adam, wear your best clothes to every mosque.” From time to time, imams advise worshipers during Friday sermons on the importance of dressing up nicely when coming to the mosque, yet these appeals always fall on deaf ears. I wish if this were the only violation committed by those going to mosques, for there are many others committed inside and around the mosque. Most of these violations are committed out of pure neglect and not disrespect.
For example there are many, after hearing the Adhan, rush to the nearest mosque to pray. Most of them, in their hurry, just park their car in such a way that they become a hindrance to others. The car, invariably, blocks the entrance of the mosque, blocks another car or parked wrongly such that traffic on that road gets affected. Imagine the irony here; this man is going to pray inside knowing fully well that he has committed a violation outside. Fridays maybe are an exception to this and accepted because many people go for Jummah prayers all over the city and main roads are temporarily blocked.
Then there is another source of irritation in the serene atmosphere of the mosque. We have people who come to the mosque and leave their cell phone on that has a musical tone and worst of all, they let the music play out loudly without attending to the call or closing it when the phone rings because they are too busy concentrating on the prayer or showing off to others that he is praying at a mosque.
Many arguments break out all the time between the faithful after prayer with many berating those who leave their cell phone open during prayer while some calling on them to at least mute the sound if they need their cells on. Again imams have spoken out against this shoddy habit and practice many times yet, people who go to mosque to follow the right path just keep ignoring this plea that calls for respect for the mosque’s sanctity and your neighbour’s privacy during prayers.
Another thing that is on the increase and I keep noticing all the time is that worshipers never adhere to mosque’s rules of putting their shoes at the designated place. Instead they leave their shoes in front of the entrance door thus leaving many slots in the shoe racks empty while creating an ungainly sight of cluster of shoes at the entrance. In addition, I have seen people, especially the elderly who have difficulty in walking, tip over because they stumble over a shoe left in front of the door. Why cannot we Muslims adhere to this simple rule?
It was reported that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever eats garlic, onion, then keep away from our Masjid because the angels get offended from what offends the children of Adam.”(Bukhari and Muslim). This again brings us to people who eat food, such as garlic, which leaves a stench in one’s mouth and then come to the mosque. Such careless attitude in hygiene bothers worshippers, yet it keeps happening out of neglect and not disrespect.
The other day I saw an old man criticizing youngsters who were praying next to each other after a football match wearing shirts of their favourite players with their names Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Xavi and Ibrahimovic on the shirt’s back. He was angry at the young boys not only for wearing such shirts inside the mosque but also for their shorts that was of varying lengths. This brings us to people who come to the mosque with T-shirts imprinted with English adage that they don’t understand. Some wear T-shirts with offensive words and others with gangster rapper sentences and sometimes even their pictures. I am sure this is being done out of ignorance and not disrespect.
But elders, family members and friends need to enforce the need for decorum to youngsters and each other while practicing what they preach. Mosques are places of worship that deserve respect from us. We need to respect them and protect them, especially from such violations that can be simply avoided with a little effort from all.