By Asma bint Shameem
The Khutbah had already started. She knew that she was late, but she wanted to attend the Jumuah prayers anyway. She quickly picked up her baby and stepped anxiously into the Masjid, looking to the right and left. After all, she had just moved to the area and didn’t know anybody.
As she sat down in the Sister’s Prayer Hall with the baby in her lap, her heart was thumping in her chest. She could feel curious eyes turn in her direction, but she stared hard at the ground, too nervous to meet their gaze and tried to concentrate on what the Imam was saying.
But her baby was nervous too. He didn’t know this new place….all these new faces. He had never been in a Masjid before. He wanted to go home.
She knew her baby would be uncomfortable in the new setting, but she thought she would manage. She herself had not been very ‘practicing’ all her life, but now that she was a mother herself, she felt the importance of an Islamic upbringing. She was determined to teach her baby all about Islam right from the very beginning, but first she had to work on herself. She wanted to learn, too.
But the baby was getting restless and she could see that he had started to whimper. Yet, she hoped she could console him long enough to last through the Prayer. However, as the Imam started the recitation of the Qur’an, she was not prepared for the loud howl that her baby let out, nor the hysterically loud sobbing that accompanied it.
Oh my GOD! What a terrible noise he was making!
What could she do??!!!
She didn’t want to break her prayer!
She tried to pick him up, but he was squirming too much!
She realized that he was wailing loudly, but what could she really do? After all, he WAS a baby! I am sure they would understand, she thought to herself.
She wished that the prayer would be over quickly so that she could console her baby.
But before the Imam had hardly finished saying the ‘Salaam’, that they all jumped on her!
“WHY DON’T YOU KEEP THE BABY QUIET!”, they screamed! “DON’T YOU SEE WE ARE PRAYING?”
“Why did you come to the Masjid?” Someone muttered, grinding their teeth.
“STAY HOME, NEXT TIME!” Another one hissed.
With her head bent low, her eyes downcast, she blinked hard to fight back the tears that suddenly welled up in her eyes….she tried so hard to swallow the HUGE lump in her throat.
She thought this was the Masjid….this was the place where she and her baby would be welcome…..this was the place she wanted to be……to learn Islaam and to teach it to her child!
Without saying a single word, she hurriedly gathered her things, picked up her baby and quickly left the Masjid, WITHOUT EVEN ONCE LOOKING BACK……
Now let’s go back to another scenario……1400 years ago…..in another Masjid…..when a Bedouin enters the Masjid and begins urinating in it.
The Sahabah want to stop him, but what does the Prophet (pbuh) do???
Does he shout at him? Does he kick him out of the Masjid?
Instead, he (pbuh) calls the bedouin and gently makes him understand that the mosques are not places meant for urine and filth, but are only for the remembrance of Allah, prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an. He (pbuh) then asks one of the people to pour a bucket of water over it. (Muslim)
And what did he tell the Sahaabah? He said to them:
“You are sent to make things easy and not to make things difficult” (Bukhaari).
This illustrates for us the perfect example of how OUR behavior should have been. It shows us an unwavering principle of Islam, that is, in social life when any unpleasant incident takes place, we should keep our cool and show tolerance and patience. We should concentrate on finding a solution to the problem and not just think in terms of what punishment to hand out to the problem-maker. We should find means that would alleviate rather than aggravate the problem.
Where is our sense of tolerance and patience? When and where will we show mercy?
“He who does not show mercy to others, will not be shown mercy.” (Bukhaari)
Did the sisters forget the time when they had little babies and they cried too?
The Prophet (pbuh) understood the agony that a mother goes through at such times.
“When I enter the prayer I intend to prolong it. Then I hear the crying of a child, so I shorten it knowing the difficulty his mother will have with him crying.”
And aren’t we supposed to warmly receive a newcomer, and make them feel wanted and welcomed….especially one who is just coming back to Islam?
Isn’t being kind and tolerable, the very essence of Dawah?
“By the grace of Allah, you are gentle towards the people; if you had been stern and ill-tempered, they would have dispersed from round about you” (3:159)
Aren’t we supposed to behave courteously towards one another?
“He is a bad person in the sight of Allah who does not behave courteously and people shun his company because of his bad manners.” (Bukhaari)
Was this the way to behave with the new sister?
Why weren’t we gentle and merciful to her?
Why were we not patient with the situation?
Couldn’t we have dealt with the situation better?
Were we a means of pushing her away from coming to the Masjid?
Did we push her away from Islaam itself??!!
These are some of the questions that we seriously need to ask ourselves.