Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yet Another Random Post - Question Time

Am I the only one who remembers things that bugged her at the time way, way after the fact and chews over them and chews over them until she decides to bring the question to the general public?

Probably. And yet here I am, inflicting it on all of you!

Okay. So, as some of you may recall a while back I girded my loins, etc. and got over my social anxiety enough to actually go to the local mosque. I've talked about it a couple of times.

Anyway. One of the things I didn't mention was this: I sat near the back and there was a woman between myself and the sliding doors that formed the barrier between the men's section and the women's section. During the service she had cracked it open, presumably to hear better (there was a perfectly functioning speaker in the room and the imam wore a mic so we could all hear, don't misunderstand). During the actual prayers one of the children in the room started to cry and the mother (being busy with salaat), let the baby keep crying.

One of the women to the *other* side of me wanted me to reach across the woman to my right (the side with the door) to shut it (so the crying didn't bother the men I guess). Only I felt as though I couldn't because there was not enough space for me to actually walk around the praying woman to get to the door. The room was not cramped, but the way everyone had seated themselves took up the front part of the room and there was no space behind where we were sitting - we were up against the rear wall of the room.

And I felt there were two things against me trying to time reaching around this praying woman to close that door. One - it would be rude. I'd inevitably wind up bumping into her because my arms are short (I'm a short person!) and I wasn't that close to the door. Two - I seem to recall something about it being very rude (at the least) in Islam to walk in front of someone who is praying. That second could be wrong, but that's what I was thinking at the time. That it would be really rude to get up, scoot between the row of chairs in front of us and this woman trying to pray, close the door then have to scoot back to my seat.

So that's my question. Was I right to not close the door? The baby was crying, yes, but it didn't seem to bother anyone on the men's side. No one turned and shot glares at the barrier or anything. They were all praying and there were little boys running around behind the men praying too. And also, am I right about it being rude to walk in front of someone praying unless, say, there's some sort of life or death emergency? Outside of Islam, even when you have a Christian or someone else who is praying where there's clearly a ritual involved it strikes me as incredibly rude to just sort of stroll in front of them. I only mention the ritual aspect because it can be hard to tell a Christian is praying sometimes, since there aren't always movements or gestures involved and they can just look like they're sitting there enjoying the weather. So you have no way of knowing, see?


  1. Nah, I do that all the time too. I'll look back on things years, even decades later and think about how I should have acted. So this looks kinda normal!

    I'll say right away that I have no idea. I've never been to a mosque that had other people in it (I saw one at a retreat not in use and the guy who ran the place let us explore), and it's hard for me to even picture it let alone know what to do. But I'm me, so I'm going to guess anyway. :D

    If I was in your place, I'd probably have done the same thing. From what you say and the mom's response, it seems like the focus was supposed to be on prayer rather than dealing with inconveniences. If the mom didn't stop praying to shush her child, and the woman who opened the door didn't stop praying to shut it, I wouldn't have either. My guess would be that that's why the other woman wanted you to do it. Visitor = non-Muslim = not praying? So you'd be free to do something and not worry about how you're supposed to act. But again, total guess, I don't know whether it actually makes sense or is true.

    Out of curiosity, were you praying? Or was it a specifically Islamic type of prayer where you wouldn't have been welcome/comfortable taking part?

  2. I would have thought it rude to stand up and close the door infront of the praying women. I dunno if its a rule but I always made sure not to do that myself when at the mosque. Just seems rude to walk in front of someone and block them.

    And I'm an over-thinker. So yes, I do this too

  3. sanil,

    Ah, I feel better then! :)

    Yeah, I mean the only person that seemed to have an issue with the baby crying was the woman who wanted me to shut the door. And even if I'd shut it, she'd still have been listening to the baby crying. So I don't know. But lacking any way of politely getting up and closing that door without disturbing the woman praying I just wasn't going to do it. And I still have this niggling idea that me crossing in front of her while she was praying would have messed up her prayers somehow.

    No, I wasn't praying. It was salaat, not dua, during Jum'ah. I don't know how to perform salaat and even if I did I don't think I'd have done it. I'm not Muslim so it feels too much like a lie for me.

  4. LK,

    Good. I feel vindicated! :)

    And no one complained, so I'm guessing it was just that one woman who was having an issue with it. Or maybe they all talked about me after I was gone. I don't know. :)

  5. Yeah, I bet they are still talking about that visitor who refused to shut the door! :-P***

    I'm like Sanil, I think of things years later and wish I could do things differently or wonder if I handle them in the right ways at the time. :)

  6. Susanne,

    I'm sure they are! Crazy white girl in bad hijab who wouldn't shut the barrier! I'm the talk of the local Muslim community! SHAME! *hides her face*

  7. I know I'm late to the conversation, but I think you did the right thing. I was always taught, that you NEVER walk in front of someone who's praying (unless it's an emergency) as it invalidates the prayer. Something about you being in front of them means that they're praying to you (symbolically). If you must, you have to place an inanimate object in front of that person first (such as a chair) (apparently that is okay, as long as it doesn't have a picture or something else on it).

  8. Becky,

    Ah, you know I love it when you come around! :)

    See, that's what I thought was the rule. I wasn't taught that, specifically, but somehow that's the impression I got. That unless there was a 'wall' (the object in front of them) then you shouldn't pass in front of someone praying because it would cause their prayer to not be accepted.

    Good to know I wasn't entirely making that up!


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