Islamic Prayers In Congregation: So Much Fun
One of the most important things for me as a Muslim living in the U.S. is to live close to a Masjid. If I had the choice, I will never want to live more than a ten minute drive from one. I’ve done it before, and it’s not fun.
The reason I love living close to a Masjid is that I want to pray in congregation, especially the dawn (Fajr) and evening (Isha) prayers.
But while I love praying in congregation, there are some drawbacks.
These mostly occur because it can be difficult to fit a couple hundred Muslims in a limited space.
Sometimes they happen because of carelessness on our part.
Nonetheless, I wanted to share my experiences praying together with other Muslims for many years here in these wonderful United States.
So, this is my list of congregational prayer incidents.
By the way, I credit Maniac Muslim for writing about this first and doing a pretty good job.
The Fidgety Muslim
I can’t stand this guy.
I’m standing in prayer, trying to concentrate, trying get my Khushoo together, and the brother next to me is fluttering like a leaf on tree.
He’s scratching. He’s twitching. He’s tussling his hair. He’s checking his watch. I’m thinking: “Is this guy gonna start break dancing or something?”
All of this fidgeting usually leads to one or more of several personal feelings within me:
- I feel like kicking him for ruining my focus and concentration in prayer (this is the most common).
- Whatever twitching disease he has crosses over to me and I start itching all over.
- I start to imagine he’s not really fidgeting but he’s actually dancing to whatever beat’s playing in his head.
There’s not much you can do about the Fidgety Muslim. Maybe if you have the focus of drone, you can block him out. But most likely you’re going to start wondering what song he’s hearing and if it’s any good.
The Head Stepper
This guy exists because Masjids put lines in the Musallah (which, as I point out in this article, is an innovation) in order to squeeze as many people into the building as possible.
This is all well and good for those people who are five foot ten and under.
But I’m six foot three.
My head and my back suffer because of the ridiculously small spaces mandated by these lines.
My back suffers because I have to scrunch my body up so as not to cross over the line in front of me when I make Sajdah (prostration).
My head suffers because my back often gets tired of scrunching up. This allows my head to wander too close to the heels of the brother in front of me (the Head Stepper).
So when he stands up…BAM! My head gets kicked and stepped on.
Fortunately, I’ve found a solution to this problem…sort of.
I try to gauge if the person in front of me is a tortoise or a hare.
The Tortoise Head Stepper takes his time getting moving from one position to another. If the guy in front of me fits in this category, it’s no problem making sure I get my head up before he gets his heels up.
But if he’s a Hare Head Stepper then I’ve gotta be on my toes. I mean that literally.
I usually find out by the second rakaat (unit of the Muslim prayer) if I’m praying behind a Hare Head Stepper. That’s because my head’s gotten stepped on in the first rakaat. So now, it’s just a matter of timing my prayer so that I stand up before the Hare Head Stepper does.
The Rump Bumper.
I’ve been both victim and culprit.
If you’ve ever wondered what’s worst, getting smacked in the head by someone’s behind while going into Sajdah, or smacking someone’s head with your behind while going into sajdah, I can assure you it’s the latter.
You can imagine the awkwardness.
Really, how do you apologize for something like this? “Salaams brother. I’m sorry for hitting you in the head with my butt.” That just doesn’t sound right.
Besides, what’s his head doing so far ahead anyway?
The flip side is “what’s my behind doing so far…behind?” Sorry, I couldn’t help it.
The Sick Cougher
Unlike the other issues on this post, this guy really can’t help his situation. He’s just gotten over a cold and he has every right to pray in congregation with his fellow Muslims.
I just wish he didn’t pray next to me.
This is the guy who sounds like he spent the last two weeks living in a freezer.
He’s still a little sick. He’s coughing all over the place. He’s sniffling. He’s constantly clearing his throat. You can hear him swallowing his phlegm after a good hacking session. He’s wiping his drippy nose (with his right hand no less and you just know he’s gonna offer it to you after prayer and be like “Salaam’s bro” as if it’s nothing!)
The Sick Cougher is so annoying because it’s actually much more detrimental to my health than the Head Stepper and Rump Bumper. Take a cough drop! Eat some chicken soup. Take some Vitamin C. Just please do something!
The Tasty Burper
This is the funniest but grossest of all.
He’s guy who standing next to you who just had a big plate of food and wants to share it with everyone else.
I’m sure you’ve been there. You’re in prayer, listening to the Imam recite when someone next to you lets loose a silent, breathy burp.
About three seconds later, you’re hit in the face with the smell of rice, beef, chicken, and digestive juices.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
I’ve experienced this so often, I already know what to expect based on the ethnicity and age of the perpetrator.
- Pakistani – Without a doubt, you’re gonna smell Biryaani.
- Arab – Almost always you’re gonna smell beef or goat.
- A kid of any ethnicity – You’re gonna smell either Kool-Aid, candy, or something cherry-flavored.
- African-American – All of the above.
Like the Head Stepper above, I’ve also devised a way to avoid the smells of the Tasty Burper.
As soon as you hear a burp, immediately hold your breath. According to my calculations, the smell should pass in about 7 – 10 seconds. Afterwards, you should be free to breathe easy.
Of course this has backfired on me at times.
Sometimes, I’ve held my breath, but miscalculated how long the meaty smell would linger. So I would exhale and then inhale deeply only to suck up ten times the burpy vapor.
Other times, when I was surrounded on both sides by Tasty Burpers, I was simply outflanked.
The Burper on my left would let loose, and I’d hold my breath. After a few seconds, just when I was beginning to think it was safe to breathe again, the guy on my right would unleash a barrage.
So I’d be stuck. I can either submit to the second guy’s burp and breath it all in, or I can continue to hold my breath and hope I don’t pass out.
In the end, I always had to admit defeat and breathe in the Tasty Burper’s fumes.