I was reading online rihla’s lastest post and I started asking myself, what’s up with the children in masjid? It doesn’t matter if it’s Jumah or another masjid event; you will often see children running wild like someone gave them a 5 lb bag of sugar. They’re flipping up, jumping, ripping and running as if they’re on a playground. Better yet, what’s with their parents? Why do they sit there as if they don’t notice their children’s behavior? Why do they behave as if it’s someone else’s job to take control of the children?
Time and time again I’ve seen sisters sitting around talking, engaged in conversation with not even a care as to where their child or children are. (As rihla mentioned, sometimes the children may even wander outside). You know what I’m talking about! Even if, for some reason, you do not witness said children and their inattentive parents during Jumah, you have surely witnessed it during Taraweeh. Subhanallah! It’s like nothing I’ve seen in my life! A few examples:
-I went to the masjid to pray Mahgrib one time. (The sisters’ area is in the basement).There were only two other sisters waiting to pray- they were both teenagers. Meanwhile, three very young children ran around the musallah playing with a rubber ball. They were making so much noise that I asked them to be quiet several times. Once we started praying (and there was no one to tell them to keep it down) they became louder and louder. I could hardly hear the imam and I definitely could not concentrate during salaah. I kept thinking, why are these girls not saying anything to their brother and sisters? After the salaah finished I was getting ready to leave and I noticed the two teenage girls were also getting ready to leave. We all looked at each other in confusion. I thought the kids were with them and they thought the kids were with me. We asked the kids where their parents were and discovered that their father had sent them downstairs alone. (Some brothers behave as if there is free babysitting available in the sisters’ area!!!) I was appalled. I really wanted to be evil and just leave. If their father wasn’t concerned about them then why should I be? But alas, I waited with the teenagers until we could locate the children’s father.
-I went to a masjid barbeque in the park. A busy four-lane street ran alongside the area where we were sitting. Knowing that, a logical person would think one or both parents would be keeping an eye on their kids. WRONG. One little girl almost got hit by a car. Not long after that a car narrowly missed a little boy who darted out into traffic. Where were their parents? Engaged in conversations, enjoying food. Just like in the masjid…
-I was in jalsa, finishing up my salaah. Someone’s child actually came, stood in front of me and started making faces. When I did not laugh, smile or entertain him in any way, he hauled off and punched me! I AM NOT JOKING. He ran down the aisle laughing. He came back a second time- by then I had salaamed out- and tried to hit me again. I grabbed his little hands and said no in a firm voice. He started crying and ran to his mom who was SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO ME. She didn’t say one word to him she just looked at me with a blank stare on her face! WTH?
– An older sister was praying while sitting in a chair. She leaned her cane against the wall. Someone’s child took the cane and ran away with it. When the sister finished her salaah she needed her cane to walk. I was so overcome with anger that I chased down the child and snatched it from her. Only after her mom saw me reprimanding her child did she say something. (And I really got lucky because some parents want to argue with you for saying anything to their children).
-During Taraweeh, in one masjid, if a sister puts her purse down in front of her I’ve watched kids come along and rifle through it. They will empty the contents of your purse in front of everyone, carrying away whatever goodies you might have in it. One time, someone’s child took my bottle of water from my bag and started drinking it. When I finished praying I went to get it back from her. Instead of chastising her child, the mother asked me if her daughter could have the water! WTH?
-Speaking of water and Taraweeh, how about the kids who were playing in the toilet? They were dunking the containers we use for istinja into the toilet and pouring water onto the floor. Ewww…the crazy part is, the masjid has a room with toys and babysitters for the kids to go into during Taraweeh. However, some sisters have flat out refused to send their children into the room…
I grew up in Black Baptist and Pentecostal churches. The only way I could ever run up and down a church aisle was if I caught the Holy Ghost! Not only was there no running around or playing but we couldn’t even talk in church. (The one time I did my grandmother gave me a cold stare which was really a warning that she was not beyond taking me into the bathroom and giving me a swat or two). I learned early on that I was in “the Lord’s House” and I needed to respect it as such.
I wonder what kind of message some Muslim parents are sending their children. Are they being taught to respect the masjid? To respect salah? Or is the masjid a place to play and salaah a time to do as you please (even if it inconveniences other people?)