ü The VIP Entrance. As a child I always dreamed of having VIP entrance into a place. I saw myself stepping out of a limo, on the red carpet, cameras flashing…I was fierce! Sadly, my dreams of celebrity never quite came to fruition. Not to fear though. As a Muslim woman I do have VIP access. I, like many other Muslim women, have my very own VIP entrance into the masjid! Yeah, it may be in the back of the building, near a dark alley, but it’s an exclusive entrance. We even have our own door marked “Ladies Entrance” or “Sisters Area.” Moving up in the world y’all!!!
ü Watching what I like to call “the transformation” take place. What is the transformation you ask? It’s when Muslim men and women who interact with members of the opposite sex on daily basis suddenly become frightened of one another once they’re near the masjid. I know you’ve seen it. Maybe you were waiting for your brother/husband/uncle/father outside. The door swung open and you thought it was your brother/husband/uncle/father so you turned around to say something and were met face to face with a non-mahram Muslim man. He immediately jumps back as if someone poked him in the eye. And you find something interesting to stare at on the ground. You both are suddenly very shy and a little frightened of one another. He is a man and you are a woman. You are like kryptonite for him. A fitnah. It doesn’t matter that you’ve seen the same brother walking on campus engaged in a conversation with Becky Non-Muslim or sitting next to her on the bus. The fact is you both are Muslim. Because he respects you he cannot talk to you. In fact, he respects you so much that he can’t even look at you. And you, well, you need to behave as if you have a sense of haya. That means: no talking to men, no looking at men, no interacting with men and better yet, not even THINKING about men.
ü The Welcome Committee. You’re new to the masjid. You have not yet discovered your VIP entrance nor do you know where the sisters VIP section is. Timidly you enter the masjid through the only door that is apparent to you. Suddenly, a member of the welcome committee, who has taken the form of an outraged brother, barks, “Sister’s entrance is in back!” You feel embarrassed, chastised or a little upset but you say to yourself, let it go, you’re in the masjid. You finally locate your VIP entrance and step into it. You look around for the bathroom or wudu area. Maybe somewhere to place your shoes. You feel lost but you eventually find it all on your own. Once you locate the sisters VIP section you are ready to pray. At this point you may or may not be greeted by the “Women’s Welcome Committee.” Usually, their greeting takes the form of pointing out some minor infraction on your part. Minor infractions may include: the manner in which you are praying, the fact that your feet are uncovered, the lipstick you’re wearing or in some cases your nose ring*. Once the minor infraction as been dually noted by the Women’s Welcome Committee you will be left to your own devices. Welcome to the Masjid, come again!
ü The “Creative” Parking Arrangements. No place on earth has such exquisite but bizarre parking arrangements as the local masjid. Everyone has had the following experience: You left your job extra early, arrived on time for Jumah, parked in a space and went to get your salah on. Once the salah was over you realized you needed to high tail it back to work. You rushed out to your car and discovered someone had blocked you in. You tell yourself to be calm. You are at the masjid. The people in the masjid are Muslims and though the offending party insensitively blocked you in your parking spot, they will come out of the masjid soon because they KNOW they’ve blocked someone in. So you’re standing outside in the blistering cold/pouring rain/blazing heat trying to conjure up incredible amounts of patience. You try not to look at your watch and think about how late you’ll be returning to work. After standing around for 15 minutes you are starting to become angry. Where is this person? Don’t they realize some people leave their jobs to attend Jumah? You have to get back to work! UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! 10 minutes later you’ve lost all patience. You’re ready to tear the head off the person as soon as they show their face. No sooner than the thought crosses your mind you notice an individual casually strolling towards the car. He/she seems blissfully unaware of how much they have inconvenienced you. He/she may not even glance in your direction. Or maybe he/she might throw a half-hearted “sorry” in your direction before getting in their car and driving away. Ahh…such beautiful etiquette!
ü Being suckered into attending a Guidance Financial presentation. Here’s how it happens: After Jumah one Friday, an announcement was made that there would be a lecture and dinner at the masjid. You thought to yourself, sure beats sitting at home on a Friday night watching “Bones.” So, you get dressed and come to the masjid. You’re excited to hear a lecture that will motivate you and increase you in your knowledge of the deen. Much to your surprise you discover the “lecture” is actually an hour long presentation by a Guidance Financial representative. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! You are not in the market for house and you certainly did not come to the masjid for this. As you try to hide the disappointment coursing through your veins, you consider leaving. Would it be rude to get up and walk out? You don’t want to be rude. So you sit through the presentation and tell yourself, well, at least there will be free food. Sucker!
On as serious note… The masjid is Allah’s house. It is a place dedicated to the worship of Allah. Despite the many annoyances a person must endure while in the masjid, I love it for that reason alone. When there are little to no unruly children running around, when no sisters are yammering away about their husband/new abaya/latest recipe, the masjid can feel like a place of peace, a place of tranquility. Have you ever set foot in the masjid and felt like the weight of the world was taken off your shoulders? It’s quite the experience…
*A friend of mine was actually approached by a sister in the masjid and informed that her nose ring was haram because it was “drawing attention to her.”