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Children @ Taraweeh: Storm in a Teacup

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Gateway to all Ramadan related posts on MM

Bismillah

“Please refrain from bringing little children to the mosque in order to maintain its sanctity,” reads a poster on the wall of the women’s section at a local mosque in Karachi nowadays, i.e. during Ramadan – the month during which women flock to the mosques for praying taraweeh. Although those young mothers, who nevertheless bring their wards along in complete disregard of the sign, are not denied entry, a stern eye is still kept on their children’s behavior. Any rowdiness is immediately curbed by the mosque’s female caretakers, who also intermittently issue reminders to the praying women to keep their rows straight.

Photo courtesy indiatimes.com
Photo courtesy indiatimes.com

I find this quite preposterous, and not just because I have young children. I remember how, when I would pray at Masjid Al-Nabawi during my Hajj journey a few years ago, as the imam would start obligatory prayer in congregation, the whole women’s section would start resounding with the collective bawl of infants as their mothers stood up and left them lying on the carpet. Toddlers would whine at their mothers’ feet, clinging to their abaya’s and crying in protest at seeing her loving attention turn into indifference, and her embrace suddenly disappear into thin air.

At the start of this Ramadan, I couldn’t wait to pray taraweeh in congregation again. That is because, for the last two years, my second born was initially just 2 months old and the following year, a sprinty 14-month-old  toddler prone to run off recklessly if left unsupervised. This year, however, when I asked my husband to keep one child with him at the local street mosque, intending to pray there in the women’s section while keeping the other child with me, he gave a shocking response.

“The mosque has denied entrance to children under the age of 7. They just announced this.”

I could not believe my ears! This was not just any mosque. It is one of the more reputed mosques of Karachi, with a solid foundation based on the Quran and Sunnah. It also runs an authentic program of Islamic education in its intrinsic madrassah (Islamic school). I decided to give them a call to make sure. The Imam who answered the phone confirmed the news.

“But both my children are under 7. I live nearby and it will cause me some difficulty to go farther away to pray taraweeh,” I protested.

“If it were up to me, I would never disallow children from coming,” he reassured, “It is on the repeated complaints and requests of the women in the women’s section that we have enforced this restriction.”

“I am sure you know that our Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] never stopped children from coming to his mosque. In fact, he led the prayer with his granddaughter Umaamah held up in his arms.”

“Yes, but have you heard of the narration in which he sternly reprimanded his grandsons from running in the mosque? If children are rowdy inside, they can be reprimanded.”

Since I had heard of no such narration, I kept silent. I also reminded myself that since its Ramadan, arguments should be avoided, particularly with custodians of mosques; he hung up.

What saddened me was the revelation that it was the repeated complaints of women in the mosque that children under 7 had been disallowed entry during taraweeh.

I was reminded of a similar incident during taraweeh a few years ago, at the congregation held in the lawn of a private home where Al-Huda classes are held, which I attended diligently every year. After the witr ended, as the women in the separate ladies’ section were still sitting in tashahhud and making dua, an elderly lady sitting on a chair suddenly started shouting to the crowd, turning her head from side to side, “Alright, that’s enough! Where are the mothers of these rowdy children that have disturbed my whole prayer? Please stand up. Why don’t you all control your children? Their running around and screaming has disturbed me throughout! Here….this boy, whose son is he?”

I, unmarried then, looked down in embarrassment and thought, “Oh boy. May Allah help the mothers of these children now.” I recognized an acquaintance of mine as she stood up, her eyes lowered with humiliation, admitting in a low voice, “He’s mine.” She walked calmly to her son, who was standing still, wide-eyed with embarrassment, and took him away, as the elderly lady went on:

“I will complain to the imam and ask him to stop these children from coming to the taraweeh. They are uncontrollable. Please don’t bring your children if they can not behave themselves.”

The next night, during break in taraweeh, the imam addressed this issue in an unexpected manner that took the women’s congregation by surprise. He said, “I have a point of view about children coming to prayer that is very different from others. I say: let them come and listen to the Quran, and watch everyone pray. The Quran will enter their hearts and they will have fond memories of Ramadan and taraweeh when they grow up. Please practice patience like our Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] did, who would not lift up his head from sujood if his grandson sat on it during prayer.”

This advice by the imam was very similar to that given by Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda in his recent post on taraweeh, in which he claimed how his regular yearly visits to the mosque for taraweeh during childhood, became the incentive behind his eventually wanting to memorize the entire Quran. Today, he leads taraweeh every year during Ramadan, alhamdulillah.

It Takes Two To Tango

Although I, by no means, endorse negative reactions towards having children at taraweeh (which, in my experience of observation, usually come from older women), I can see where they are coming from. An unruly, rowdy child that has not been trained on how to behave at the mosque, definitely becomes a nuisance for those praying there, making them lose out not just on their patience but also on their khushoo during salah.

The responsibility of children’s behavior at mosques rests totally on the parents’ shoulders. Parents of young children should train the latter on how to behave at a mosque or congregational prayer, if they want to bring them along. They should come amply prepared for any worse case scenarios that can occur wherever there are little kids. Such preparation can help prevent the extreme reactions of others, whose irritation with the antics of little children entices them to instigate banning their entry into mosques. Here are a few tips:

  • Train children to take off their shoes and place them properly at designated places in the mosque. It is very irritating for someone who is praying to have a child with shoes on, walk or run over their clean musallah (prayer rug).
  • Never let your child take up space in the rows designated for people to pray in. Instead, you can occupy the latter rows that are usually empty on either side, or the corners of the first rows, so that your child can sit or lie next to a wall or the end of the prayer hall, with you on his or her other side. This will ensure that your baby or child does not create gaps in the saf (prayer row), which affects the validity of congregational prayer.
  • Do not feed a child a large meal or lots of drink before coming to the mosque; this will inevitably make a trip to the toilet, or a diaper emergency, imminent, causing distractions during prayer. Check and put on a fresh diaper just before leaving for taraweeh.
  • Although basically I am not a big fan of making children snack at places designated for other activities, parents can bring along light snack-type finger food, which will not crumble or leave a stain e.g. diced carrots, nuts, stick cheese, or dates. This should be done as a contingency measure, in case hunger overcomes the child; as all parents know, a hungry child is a cranky child. Parents can also bring along water or milk in tightly sealed bottles or sippy-cups that are spill-proof, to deal with children’s thirst brought on by the heat.
  • If any wrappers are left after snacking, teach your children to place them back into their food box or bag. Note: if the mosque prohibits food, you should obey instructions and not bring any; rather, feed your child a light snack just before leaving; one that is enough to prevent hunger for an hour or two.
  • Teach your children, however young they may be, about “amanaat“: i.e. things which belong to others are ‘trusts’ that should not be touched, taken or used. This applies especially in the mosque, as people are praying, and hence they cannot immediately stop a child from handling their handbag, mushaf, cell phone or other personal belongings. An older sibling can be made in-charge of ensuring that the younger ones do not touch others’ things.
  • Bring along some crayons and a coloring book for older children to scribble on. Again, ensure that there is no clutter on the mosque floor as a result of their activities.
  • If your infant/toddler has a favorite toy, security blanket or pillow, bring it along so that s/he stays pacified, or even dozes off during prayer next to you.
  • If the mother’s infant starts crying, she should pick it up to stop the bawl, and if that doesn’t work, she should take a break from her prayer and nurse it. Do not wait until the imam’s tasleem to pick him or her up. This will cause chagrin to the others who are praying.
  • If your toddler comes crying to you during prayer for some reason, pick him up during prayer to pacify him.
  • Teach your children, as soon as they are able to understand it (which, in my experience, is after the age of two) that no one should speak when the Quran is being recited. The best way to do this is to not respond verbally to your child, no matter how much he or she prods you to, when the Quran audio is playing; if you need to speak, turn off the audio  first, when an ayah ends, then do so. Eventually, children will start to imitate this behavior of their parents i.e. they will automatically stop talking when they hear the Quran recitation commence. At the mosque during taraweeh, the same children will therefore, only speak when the imam and congregation is in tashahhud, rukoo or sujood. Shouting and talking during the recitation of the Quran is of course, something that should not be undermined or left unchecked. Again, as I said, if the parents never talk during Quran recitation, only then will the children also remain silent, likewise.

As for those of my sisters in Islam who,  for whatever reasons, can not attend taraweeh at the mosque or in other privately-held congregations, and who, after reading this article, might be feeling that they are missing out on the rewards of night prayer during Ramadan by praying supererogatory prayers at home on their own, I can leave them with no reassurance better than the one below:

Narrated by Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Messenger [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] said: “Do not prevent women from mosques, even though their prayer at home is better (for them).” [Abu Dawud]

And  the best advice for their menfolk:

Narrated Salim from his father, Abdullah Bin Umar, the Messenger of Allah [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] said: “When women ask permission for going to the mosque, do not prevent them.” [Sahih Muslim]

In the end, I’d just like to say that as a mother of two children, aged 4 and 2, I can testify that it is indeed possible for mothers to train their children to follow proper mosque etiquette, and to be strict with them regarding rules of behavior, and its do’s and don’ts. Believe me, you can make them behave well; all it needs is some wisdom and tact; some privileges which you can threaten to take away (“No more pineapples for you!”)….…..and a pair of eyes that can shoot daggers at the drop of a hat!  :)

Take a look:

Women Bringing Their Children To The Mosque For Taraweeh Prayer

Can Women With Children Be Prevented From The Mosque For Taraweeh?

Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan. 11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette. Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'. For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

91 Comments

91 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Amatullah

    September 6, 2009 at 11:11 PM

    jazaaki Allahu khayran Sadaf. I love your articles, I know I always say that :) I especially love your titles, they’re so creative! ‘storm in a teacup’ lol, awesome.

    I personally love seeing children and families come to the masjid.

    It doesn’t bother me when a child cries, because the mother doesn’t really have control over that.

    What gets me is when children misbehave and become rowdy while their parents sit back and watch. We should actively teach our children, younger siblings, nieces/nephews the etiquette of the House of Allah.

    I have a friend whose sons, 5 and 3, are the most well-behaved kids I’ve ever seen mashaAllah. The older one will even pray tahiyyatul masjid before he sits down quietly next to his mother, mashaAllah. May Allah bless their parents! I wish more parents would be stern with their children when they get rowdy in the masjid, or else they won’t understand how important it is to respect the House of Allah.

    Last week our masjid had a fundraiser in a nearby hotel, and the Imam of the masjid had to send out an email to the community afterward because of the children! Children were roaming around the hotel, going up and down the elevators, some even ended up in the bar/lounge area! SubhanAllah.

    I wonder if this is a new thing, because I remember being taught how to act in the masjid and man would we be grounded if we became rowdy there! Allahul Musta’aan!

  2. Avatar

    midatlantic

    September 7, 2009 at 12:06 AM

    MashaAllah if parents followed your tips Sr Sadaf there would be few problems with kids at taraweeh. The reality is that where the masjid is relaxed about kids at taraweeh there is inevitably some behaviors that completely spoil the taraweeh experience for almost everyone else – hence I fully endorse masjid decisions to put mothers with children who are (1) not praying, or (2) not completely silent, and (3) not sitting still next to the parent in a separate room or in childcare.

  3. Avatar

    Px

    September 7, 2009 at 12:42 AM

    I could not believe my ears! This was not just any mosque. It is one of the more reputed mosques of Karachi, with a solid foundation based on the Quran and Sunnah. It also runs an authentic program of Islamic education in its intrinsic madrassah (Islamic school). I decided to give them a call to make sure. The Imam who answered the phone confirmed the news.

    Wow you’re making it sound like Pakistan is full of jaahils, and most mosques are apparently against Qur’an and Sunnah. Hummm…

    Anyway, there’s a visible answer to this dilemma: do what’s best , a woman’s prayer at home is far more rewarding. Oh wait I forget, this part of sunnah is apparently politically incorrect.

    Woopsadaisy.

    • Avatar

      Hassan

      September 7, 2009 at 2:52 PM

      We can not stop women from coming to masjid, but I agree, sisters forget reward of praying at home, and also the factor of disturbance caused by children should also motivate to stay home

    • Avatar

      abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

      September 7, 2009 at 2:57 PM

      Forbidding women from attending prayer in the masjid is against the sunnah. Nor is mocking them from the sunnah. Nor is it from the sunnah of how the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam taught anyone to improve his or her practice of Islam.

    • Avatar

      Ibn Masood

      September 8, 2009 at 3:11 AM

      Akhi what’s your point? Pakistan is like that :)

  4. Avatar

    Ikram Kurdi

    September 7, 2009 at 1:04 AM

    There is no wisdom in taking young children to the mosque (other than not having to give them to a babysitter). It can even be considered abuse. The poor children have to spend over an hour being sporadically left alone in a strange place having no idea what is going. It is also abuse to the rest of those who are praying when the child starts crying.

    You’ll be doing yourself and your brothers and sisters a favor by just not going to taraweeh (for women). And for men, leave the babies at home.

    My father never made me pray, he never made me go to the mosque. I started praying when I was old enough to understand what it was all about and I start following my father to the mosque when I was old enough. From then it became second nature.

    You don’t need to associate a child’s worst memories with a mosque to make them want to go there when they grow up.

    • Avatar

      abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

      September 7, 2009 at 2:32 PM

      I think it is only abuse to the extent (1) that the parents only visit the masjid during Ramadan (so the place is really strange), (2) that the parents only pray (subhanAllah) in front of the children during taraweeh (so the act is like a strange adult form of play), and (3) that other parents fly into a rage (which teaches children it’s okay to do that — assuming the child’s own parents are someone angelic themselves).

      • Avatar

        Hassan

        September 7, 2009 at 2:55 PM

        I know some parents that bring children through out the year, and since children are more aware of surroundings, they are more comfortable in causing chaos, once you see them, you would not like professional wrestling more, as the children wrestling is more genuine.

        • Avatar

          abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

          September 7, 2009 at 3:06 PM

          LOL, I was speaking towards what might be abuse of a child, not about reducing the rambunctious nature of children.

          To keep a child ignorant of salat, ignorant of the love of the jamat, those are abuse to the child. On the other hand, one day I pray that I will someday forget, parents brought their child and their child’s favorite toy to the musallah. The toy, a soccer ball. The eventual goal post? Yes, the imam.

          The parents of the boy did not move a muscle. Nor did they so much as apologize to the imam afterwards. Was the parents inaction due to Khushoo in salat?

          • Avatar

            Ikram Kurdi

            September 7, 2009 at 3:53 PM

            The problem is that children of 2-5 are too young to understand they are not supposed to have the usual type of fun at the mosque.

            A crying child disrupts the prayers of 50 people around him or her. I wouldn’t be surprised if Allah prescribes punishment for the fathers and mothers who are so careless as to allow this to happen time and again.

            Nobody pointed out what the use of taking a child of 2 to the mosque is. You’d be exposing them to all types of germs and a very low-oxygen environment (as the musallah tends to become after all those vigorous prayers).

            I seriously question the manhood of any man whose kid causes chaos either by crying or by running around.

            Can anyone please mention the expected benefits of taking children to the mosque and the proper age for this benefit to be applicable?

    • Avatar

      Ibn Masood

      September 8, 2009 at 3:28 AM

      Ikram… seriously akhi… you either need knowledge, need to think, or a need a good chappayt… do you even have any kids?

      And please consider the ahadeeth of when children climbed on the back of RasulAllah (saw) when he was praying in the masjid… when he was leading the prayer!

      Did that make him forbid bringing children to the masjid? Nope… oh wait.. he actually prolonged his sujud so he wouldn’t disturb the poor tyke.

  5. Avatar

    A Sister

    September 7, 2009 at 2:17 AM

    BarakAllahu Laki Sr. Sadaf, may Allah SWT reward you with the best. Ameen.

  6. Avatar

    o

    September 7, 2009 at 3:22 AM

    they have a similar rule at Faisal Masjid in Islamabad….one of the biggest masjids in the world: women with kids are banned from the main prayer area but are allowed to pray in the courtyard where they have not even provided any fans. It’s quite sad.

  7. Avatar

    Faraz Omar

    September 7, 2009 at 3:39 AM

    masha Allah nice post….we are really failing in bringing up well-behaved and well-mannered children… illa masha Allah

  8. Avatar

    muslima

    September 7, 2009 at 5:12 AM

    JazakAllahkhairun for the timely and well-written article. Since you have enumerated the children-masjid prepration tips, then most likely you follow them, thus your kids must be well-behaved and well-controlled.

    But the reality is that the vast majority of children are NOT. 90% of women who bring young children to the masjids have not trained their wards to abide by the etiquettes of masjid. The kids run wild across and between the safs, chatter loudly, fight, wail, create gaps, etc once the prayer is in progress.

    While i dont agree on imposing an all-out ban on their entry, i do understand why the masjid authorities have done so. Rules are based on general and majority behavior and NOT exceptions (which is unfortunate for the 10% of moms who have well-trained kids).

    Peace and tranquility are sought to obtain khushu in salah. We just dont get that conducive atmosphere anymore as a result of the daily “storm” that ravages the women’s section in the masjid every taraweeh.

  9. Avatar

    Zi

    September 7, 2009 at 5:25 AM

    As-salamu ‘alaykum,

    I think I can sympathise with both sides here, but probably more with the women who are losing their Kushoo’.

    I can’t understand that if the Prayer is better to be performed for a woman at home, why would she want to seek what is inferior? I’m not going to prevent women from going to the Masjid, but why go when you get more reward at home??

    Similar question to the men: if the non-obligatory Prayers are better to be performed at home, why do the vast majority pray them in the Masjid??

    Zi

  10. Avatar

    Px

    September 7, 2009 at 6:46 AM

    Apparently a sunnah is only sunnah, when our warped understandings dictate so. Anyone other opinion is no opinion. Or just feign ignorance…I haven’t heard of that hadith, so it means doesn’t exist. Or, that hadith is weak…or even better ‘oh what an awful and misogynist hadith.’

    But with regard to women, their prayer offered at home is better, because of the marfoo’ hadeeth of Umm Salamah: “The best places of prayer for women are the innermost parts of their houses.” Narrated by Ahmad in al-Musnad, 6/297; classed as hasan by the editors of al-Musnad.

    Is this hadith oppressive? Or, in fact a rahma and concession by Allah ‘azza wa jall?

    Shaykh al-Munajjid:
    A woman’s prayer in her house, even if it is offered alone, is better and brings a greater reward than her prayer in the mosque, even if it is offered in congregation. This is indicated by many hadeeths from the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him).

    Link: http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/122393/taraweeh%20women

    Maybe, it’s just the misogynist shaykh strikes back! [ Instead of lamely negging those who don’t agree with your shoddy fiqh, can someone explain why anyone would leave more ajr for less ajr? Probably, empowerment of women by rejecting the patriarchal hierarchies, and insisting oh yeah we’ll go out…That about explains it.]

    As for the kids creating a nuisance, if daddy’s too busy attending all the possible halaqahs in town, and mommy is too busy with her khushoo in salaat in masjid- how’s the kid supposed to learn anything… The paradox of religious parenthood…(in all honesty religious parents tend to have messed up kids, atleast in my experience),

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      September 7, 2009 at 8:19 AM

      brother/sister, sisters know that salah in their house is more rewarding. But for ONE month out of the whole year, we’d like to enjoy praying in jama’ah behind an imam who recites nicely.

      Sisters may not know the Qur’an or do not want to read out of a mushaf, so they will go to the masjid to pray behind someone who did memorize the Qur’an.

      No need to get sarcastic and accusatory…No one said that hadeeth is oppressive, rather it is a great ni’mah from Allah azza wa jal.

      • Avatar

        Sh

        September 7, 2009 at 10:09 AM

        Thank you! That’s really true as for some sisters truly feel a better eman rush when going to the masjid rather than staying home alone.

      • Avatar

        abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

        September 7, 2009 at 2:38 PM

        Indeed, it is sad that most men do not practice the sunnah of praying the sunnah prayers at home. Among the sahabah it was regular for men to offer the sunnah at home and to lead their household’s women in salat at that time. The women make the niyat for the fard salat, and the men pray their sunnah or other nawaafil.

        And if the man pray’s nawaafil at home, his wife can hear the qirat in salat and enjoy that aspect of salat which can increase her khushoo. Of course, the man should beautify his recitation in this case, too. ;)

      • Avatar

        Hassan

        September 7, 2009 at 3:02 PM

        In ramadan good deeds are further multiplied, so praying home plus ramadan would make great ajar, but again its choice of women what they want.

        The rules of children should apply to both men and women, dont bring kids unless they can stay calm, and if they cause distress among praying men and women, the parents should be intelligent enough to take them home or atleast discipline them.

  11. Avatar

    Humaira

    September 7, 2009 at 7:46 AM

    I don’t mind kids in Salat but there is a limit to my patience sometimes. I know my mum took us to mosque when we were younger, but only when we were old enough to understand what was going on.

    Even when we went for Umrah, my little sister who was only 2 made the experience difficult.

    • Avatar

      abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

      September 7, 2009 at 3:45 PM

      I think you touched on a point that most of us have glossed over, “…there is a limit to my patience sometimes.”

      It reminds me of one way Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef prepares his students for Hajj: whatever you least tolerate, whatever you fear most will overcome your patience, you will definitely find it as a test for you during Hajj. You have to realize that tests will come, and when they come focus on the good around you instead of on something negative that may be beyond your control anyway.

      Wherever you are, patience is also part of Ramadan.

  12. Avatar

    Amatullah

    September 7, 2009 at 8:15 AM

    Well, masajid should then have a separate room for moms with children so they can come to the masjid but not disturb others.

    • Avatar

      Holly Garza

      September 10, 2009 at 6:06 AM

      Salaam Alaikum very good point. However I have seen those rooms. They are very loud and the women who do have children in there get stuck with 12-26 other people unsupervised children interrupting Her prayer and that is not fair to the few who do the right thing. I know my child often goes into such rooms when I am praying. However I am very strict in teaching her manners and prayer etiquette so I don’t feel ashamed. Nor do I feel any shame in reminding people who remind me to be patient with her that patience does not not mean negligence of a child or not raising them in a loving yet strict & respectful manner. Truth be told Many people just Have their child(ren) they don’t Raise their child(ren)

  13. Avatar

    Akh

    September 7, 2009 at 9:50 AM

    Creative Solution: Sisters with young children should organize a babysitting cooperative so that they can rotate with the babysitting duties and still attend taraweeh for most of the month.

  14. Avatar

    tabassum ahsan

    September 7, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    nice article mashaAllah:) very frankly when i started reading it, gave a sigh of releif that they re banning kids during the taraweh, as i once went to ‘qayaam ul lail’ and couldnt understand a word of the tafseer due to the constant disturbance the kids caused. but ur right simple and easy tips so that the kids behave in masjid .. never thought on those lines :) . i think most of us have just stopped disciplining our kids

  15. Avatar

    mms

    September 7, 2009 at 1:40 PM

    Nice article and tips. If only every mother followed these. Personally having experienced lack of Khushoo with screaming/rowdy kids creating nuisance, I am totally for those ladies who request for certain regulations in the Masajid.
    An alternative arrangement would be to have childcare in a separate room within the building and pay a small amount to a few teenagers for childcare. At least that is what is done in out local Masjid.

    A request to the author of this article and to future authors, to please use respectful language for our elders…”old lady” can be replaced by “elderly lady” a better and respectful alternative. Translate these words into urdu “boodhi khatoon vs buzurg khatoon” where the former connotes verbal abuse while the latter, respect.

    JazaakAllahu khairan

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      September 7, 2009 at 9:21 PM

      Jazak Allahu khair for pointing this out. I have made the changes…although, “old lady” being verbal abuse? News to me! Perhaps I should see how it feels to be called that when I get old! :)

      But you are right, the word buzurg or the word “senior” is a good alternative to “old”, I suppose.

  16. Avatar

    Sakina

    September 7, 2009 at 2:35 PM

    I enjoyed the article and the tips are practical, I don’t see much of a problem with babies and children at the masjid, they cry but thats expected and I think if I was a mother I would want to be able to come to the masjid and pray in Ramadan, the masjid has a totally different feel to it then staying at home.

    The issue at my masjid is moreso with the older kids ages 10-15 running around, shooting spit-balls and generally causing problems (boys) and the girls chattering. They’ve either been allowed by their parents since a young age to not be respectful in the mosque or their parents try to start bringing them to the masjid now that they are older and they havent had those habits throughout their lives.

    • Avatar

      Abu Rahman

      September 7, 2009 at 4:41 PM

      “The issue at my masjid is moreso with the older kids ages 10-15 running around, shooting spit-balls and generally causing problems (boys) and the girls chattering. They’ve either been allowed by their parents since a young age to not be respectful in the mosque or their parents try to start bringing them to the masjid now that they are older and they havent had those habits throughout their lives.”

      Spot on Sakina. This is the same problem we are facing here in a mosque in Massachusetts. I am not sure why their parents bring them to the mosque. Although prayer is Fard on them they will be no where to be found after the Fard prayer and they will come with handheld games and put gangstar rap as a ringtone in their cellphones and will play inside the mosque. The latest incident was playing soccer inside the mosque. It even happened that parents called 911 when rowdy behavior of a kid is pointed out by elders. In each and every ISNA and ICNA conferences there were multiple sessions on youth development, but if the training of prayer is not there then all being done for them is just going in vain. Some of the sisters here are pointing out about “aunties”, but know that Hadith where it is said that as our parents grow older they also become childish. So, the non-aunties have a bigger role to play in this case and have to find a middle ground. Think about the way we teach manners before sending our kids to school just so that other fellow Americans do not call us out as uncivilized. Why cant we do the same and teach them about mosque manners?

  17. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    September 7, 2009 at 2:54 PM

    May Allah bless our Shaykh, Waleed Basyouni, and his masjid, the Clear Lake Islamic Center. For a decade they contented themselves with a small musallah even while they organized the large annual Texas Dawah Convention. And Allah gave them tawfique to move into a facility with 30,000 square feet!

    And every sister reading this article will be glad for the women of his community when the masjid is complete inshaAllah — remember the hadith of Uthman radi Allaho anho who said that the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam said, “Whosoever builds a masjid for Allah’s sake, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise,” reported in Muslim; so be generous in your contributions and please send them to Clear Lake Islamic Center, 17511 El Camino Real, Houston, TX 77058.

    Why? More than 1/4 of all the space in the facility will be for sisters alone, and it will include TWO women’s musallahs. One for women with children and one for women without children.

    Well, maybe the sisters who bring their children will wish for their children to be among the whole jamat… And I sympathize with those of them who are such a good example to their children that their kids come to the masjid with some idea that salat is not play time.

    • Amad

      Amad

      September 7, 2009 at 3:26 PM

      ^Agree & agree again :)

      If there is one thing I miss in Houston, it is being part of the clear lake community… if anyone has a chance to move there, they should strongly consider so!

      For donations: http://www.theMasjid.org

  18. Avatar

    Hassan

    September 7, 2009 at 3:07 PM

    A pratical and creative suggestion: Sisters with young children can organize baby-sitting cooperatives in places where its difficult to go to the masjid with them. They can rotate watching each others’ children and thereby be able to attend most of the taraweeh prayers. Or even pool funds and hire a baby sitter.

  19. Avatar

    Arif Kabir

    September 7, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    Some time ago, I had attended a parenting workshop at my local Masjid and the Imam was actually talking about this exact idea of bringing children to the Masjid. Basically, he was saying that it’s not a good idea to bring the children until they have the power to think for themselves logically and until they learn how to behave. One of the attendees asked, “but what about the Hadith of the Prophet when his grandchildren had come and they were playing around and on top of him?” He answered and said, “The reason that the incident was mentioned was because it was such a rare occurrence – this didn’t happen on a regular basis, and that is why it was specifically mentioned.” And Allah Knows Best.

    I think this statement draws a middle line in the sense that yes, children should be allowed to come to the Masjid, but doesn’t it make more sense to bring them regularly when they start to understand what is going on?

    On another note, when I was younger, it was basically set in stone that we would pray in the Masjid every day when we came home. One of my earliest recollections is once when my father took me to a Masjid in Toronto and said that this will be your future school and Masjid insha’Allah once they finish construction. I didn’t end up going there as we moved soonafter to the States, but I attended an Islamic school there. Whenever I would attend the prayers or Halaqaat, Alhamdulillah I was always encouraged by the elders to come and even speak up in the circles of knowledge, so from a young age, I really enjoyed studying Islamic knowledge because it was looked upon instead of frowned upon. A smile can make all the difference to a youngster, so everyone, keep that in mind insha’Allah :)

  20. Avatar

    jannah

    September 7, 2009 at 3:28 PM

    Children are still children. No matter how “well behaved” they are. It’s not natural for them to sit for 2 hours as quiet as a mouse listening to Quran and khutbahs. And as many have mentioned 99% of kids are left to be WILD in the Masjid by parents who think it’s free babysitting.
    In many Muslim countries, bringing young children to Taraweeh is just not done. You’ll get yelled at very well by the old ladies. Alhamdulillah taraweeh is very peaceful there. IN the US/West Mosques need to start accommodating mothers and children.
    Every Masjid should have a designated room for mothers with children. It’s an absolute must. Do the brothers above really think that women should stay at home for all their child-bearing years? That’s ridiculous, women with kids are a growing part of the population and they need to pray at the mosques and learn as well. Taraweeh is a very important, very special experience and they need to be able to participate too. What does it say about us that the malls are more welcoming towards mothers with children than mosques. So please build and plan your mosques with these things in mind!!!

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      September 7, 2009 at 9:25 PM

      I totally agree with your mall argument.
      Those brothers who object to women and children coming to mosques don’t emit a single peep at the fact that these same women and children “hang out” without need at malls instead, even though our beloved Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] described the mall/market as the worst place, and the mosque as the best.

    • Avatar

      Umm Abdullah

      December 22, 2009 at 4:18 PM

      I really enjoyed reading this article and the comments….and have a few comments/questions of my own…
      If Allah’s and the Prophet’s (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) instruction and will was for the women to stay at home and pray because it was more rewarding:
      Why are there ahadith mentioning :
      1. how he would carry Umamah on his shoulders while praying,
      2. how he picked up Hassan and Hussain when they walked in during a sermon and kissed them,
      3. how he SHORTENED HIS SALAH FOR A WOMAN’S BABY WAS CRYING
      4. how he forbade men from forbidding women to go to the masjid
      5. how he made it necessary for women to participate in the Eid salah and dua (even if they don’t have to pray)
      Don’t you think all this is telling us something? Didn’t the women of that time know that salah at home was better? why did they go out in the dark for fajr and isha salah (perhaps because it has loud recitation which brings spirituality to an otherwise mundane day).
      Why did they pray in congregation at all? Why was the mother whose baby cried and caused the Prophet (pbuh) to shorten his salah, not be forbidden from coming to the masjid, or any mothers with babies? no woman has the time to go to a masjid 5 times a day…its sometimes that she wants to seek the spiritual comfort and strentgh that comes in such a place.

      Why are our children running away from masaajid, maybe because of some harsh experience they remember from childhood, why do the people become so harsh in deen, why not show them some love, lend a helping hand to the struggling mother? Its not just about women with kids too….the intolerance in masajid in pakistan is on every issue of insignificance, such as that kid should be wearing a cap for salah (it actually happened), why is he raising his hands too much, why is his finger moving in tashahhud, why is he saying ameen aloud. Hence we have forgotten what was really important for the sake of non-issues and killed the spirit of salah.
      I have seen fights and doors being slammed in the face of mothers and sreaming in masajid during the salah, in Ramadan , the month of mercy.
      If our mothers are forbidden from masajid, who will acclamatize the children to them? Who will teach them how to act in a masjid if they are not allowed inside.
      Yes mothers need to be taught how to handle kids in masajid…but this needs to be done in a planned civilized manner, maybe a few short talks after every salah in ramadan, maybe fliers…not this way….

  21. Avatar

    Umm Khadija

    September 7, 2009 at 4:09 PM

    Subhanallahi wa bihamdihi Subhanallahil adheem.
    I would like to narrate my own experience on this subject.
    When my first child was born, my husband and I didn’t really think twice about whether to take her for taraweeh or not (Alhamdulilah we have been taking her for 3 years now – regularly). Ofcourse we were going to take her. Alhamdulilah the first year she was too little to be any trouble. But I did begin to notice some “aunties” picking on some sisters (who usually did not come to the masjid all year long but wanted to come during Ramadhan)…some of them left in tears (literally).
    The second year she was a busy toddler and I knew the “aunties” would be on my case. (even though usually they quite like me). So a few of us asked our masjid shura to open a room for us (separate from the main prayer area) mothers to pray in with our kids. Alhamdulilah they agreed to do so but it was very ad-hoc and only 3 of us actually prayed there, none of the other sisters wanted to be separate from the actual prayer area (they took the risk of being “terrorized” by the aunties). The other problem was that we could barely hear the Qari…we ended up resorting to baby monitors!!! My husband would set one up near the Imam and we could hear atleast some of the prayers and follow along (till some child decided to switch it off).
    Finally, this year, on the first night of taraweeh, some aunties took it upon themselves to bar any sister with kids from the main prayer area, forcing them all to go to the room. Alhamdulilah this year we now have 2 rooms for mothers with kids to pray in + toys+ a TV screen which allows us to hear the salah and follow along. It is quite an improvement from where we started but there’s still some way to go.
    As a mother, there’s nothing more painful then someone telling of your child, or you on behalf of your child …what makes it worse is when the child is not actually being a “nuisance” but rather just being a child!!!
    I have seen the harassment (and it is harassment – no one ever says these things politely) take place, and I feel that only causes ill feeling and turns people away from masjids. When the Prophet (saw)’s grandsons were climbing onto his back during prayer, why didn’t anyone tell them to go sit silently with their mother? Werent they playing? Moving? Running? When the Prophet (saw) prayed holding his granddaughter, why didn’t anyone tell him to leave her with her mother at home?
    My 3 year old, now having been going to the masjid her whole life, (having been shouted at herself as well) now reads her fardh isha salah plus around 4 rakah taraweeh when we go. This would not have happened had I stopped taking her. She loves going for taraweeh.
    My plea on this is to bring about a shift in attitude…clearly announcing during taraweeh prayers “Parents please control your children!” is NOT working. Rather they should announce “Parents JZK for bringing your children to the masjids. May Allah make them to grow loving the masjid…and everyone else please try to have beautiful PATIENCE with these young muslims and make the masajids warm welcoming places for them”.
    If our children don’t love coming to the masjids…they WONT come. We have to make masjid places where they are welcome and comfortable – not shouted at. We should lobby out masjids shurahs/imams to make PROPER arrangements to cater for mothers with children. Please dont discourage children coming to the masjids.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      September 7, 2009 at 9:32 PM

      Jazakillahu khairan for your positive contribution, Umm Khadija.
      My four year old daughter also loves taraweeh, willingly puts on a headscarf before going, prays/simulates the fard prayer next to me like she watches the adults do, and stands for four units of taraweeh prayer, all without my coercion or pushing. One day her shirt was a bit short, so she asked me to make her wear a longer shirt to taraweeh as she became self-conscious when she went into prostration and it went up. This is the effect of watching others pray on younger trained children.
      I ask Allah to bless you and your daughter; may your efforts bear the best fruition in both the Duniya and Akhirah. Ameen.

    • Avatar

      Ummi2

      September 8, 2009 at 10:09 AM

      A dear friend of mine left the Mosque in tears on the first Taraweeh, as her four angelic, well behaved, well mannered children were not allowed to sit with her during the prayer IN the ladies with children section. I watched as some of the older sisters yelled at her, chastised her. It was absolutely crazy the first day, but Ramadan does preach patience, patience, and patience, and good akhlaq unto others.She vowed not to return to the Mosque, and as of yet, has not…

  22. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    September 7, 2009 at 4:10 PM

    Allaho Akbar! I think it should be mandatory for everyone to read Shaykh AbdulNasir’s article before commenting on whether it is good for the kids to come to the masjid at a young age. Yes, we can quibble about how parents raise children, and about the ability of a very young child to benefit. But in the end, I would rather have my child (when I have one bi’idhnillah) be in the masjid in the first row, staring agape at the imam and his beautiful recitation, then have him be just about anywhere else.

  23. Avatar

    asqfish

    September 7, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    Asalaamoalaikum,

    Women should judge the nature and age of their child. Is he or she able to sit through one hour of prayer? if not Allah Subhanawataala has given us the rukhsa to pray extra (taraweh) prayers at home, Alahamdollilah.

    it is unfair to bring a child who needs her sleep and food and maternal attention to the masjid and then torture her by not attending her while she “prays” extra prayers. what sort of sawaab is she getting by shirking her duty regarding the child. Of course if she is going to spend this time shirking her duty anyway and watching a movie at home while her child cries then it is better that she is at the mosque.

    Our behavior should never be so out of line in a masjed that we or our children be barred from it to restrain the bad behaviour.
    Jazaaik Allah Khair!

    Here is my thoughts on this issue on my blog:
    http://asqfish.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=3667&message=1

    • Avatar

      Ikram Kurdi

      September 7, 2009 at 6:58 PM

      Well actually it is not better since the child will be bothering the rest of those people praying at the mosque. :)

  24. Avatar

    midatlantic

    September 7, 2009 at 8:38 PM

    I pity the poor masjid volunteers who have to deal with the parents who blatantly disregard all pleas (and they are always polite pleas in our masjid) to take their kids to childcare or keep them next to them in salah. Regardless of your POV there is no excuse for defying what the leadership of the masjid decides on this issue.

  25. Avatar

    Siraaj Muhammad

    September 7, 2009 at 9:20 PM

    1. Designate an enclosed area for kids to play and wreak havoc, away from the worshipers.
    2. Pay quality babysitters to look after them from the start of ‘isha to the end of taraweeh, or even get volunteers, just as we do for coordinating masjid parking lot issue.
    3. Rinse and Repeat.

    Siraaj

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      September 7, 2009 at 9:37 PM

      I agree – if malls and the likes of the famous ‘golden-arches’ restaurant chain can invest in play areas (away from the adults’ section) for children, in order to entice them to come and improve business, why can’t mosques invest in a separate room – away from the salaah and Quran recitation – where children can play under supervision of volunteers/paid babysitters?
      Insha’Allah it’ll be a good investment. One of those scrawny, naughty kids could be leading the congregation a couple of decades down the road!

  26. Avatar

    Olivia

    September 7, 2009 at 11:40 PM

    A great topic! Our masjid is very tight about disallowing mothers with children under seven from praying upstairs in the musallah, but they set up carpets in the basement (which is decent) for mothers and fathers with kids. However, because of overflow from the upstairs, older women come downstairs to pray and subhanAllah if the older women are down there, you’d think it was not set up for mothers in the first place!

    I’ve never been more embarrassed for these women (the older ones w/out kids) then I was when i saw them the other night shouting and clapping at the mothers (who were praying!) and the kids (who were not even on the prayer rugs) like they were trying to herd cattle. It was the most absurd behavior I have ever seen from someone who is old enough to be considered an adult (and during Ramadan!).

    Personally, I prefer to pray at home with my kids are asleep, because I find it difficult to have khushoo’ when I have to keep one eye on my small kids, but I understand the plight of mothers who have tried to pray taraweeh at the masjid and have run into condescending, demeaning behavior from elder women (who you’d hope would be sympathetic). It is very unfortunate.

    • Avatar

      Holly Garza

      September 10, 2009 at 6:42 AM

      Salaam Alaikum Yes I agree some of the older women are Very set in their ways and often more rude by the yelling and reprimanding than the children themselves

  27. Avatar

    asqfish

    September 7, 2009 at 11:51 PM

    Asalaam o alaikum, perhaps a happy medium would be to have babysitters at home, if the mother wants to come for taraweh.
    I feel to keep a toddler or an infant awake from 8 pm till midnight is unfair and perhaps even bordering on incompetent parenting.
    Sometimes we as mothers have to sacrifice our desires including going to the masjed to pray extra nafil in jamaat (taraveh). It is not for long for as soon as the child is three she can train the child to be still for salaat.

    In my humble opinion raising a good balanced child is far more important than any taraweh that was prayed with a baby screaming and unattended.
    Allah knows best!

    • Avatar

      Muslimah

      September 8, 2009 at 2:08 AM

      If this was a option am sure the mothers would have looked into this.

    • Avatar

      Holly Garza

      September 10, 2009 at 6:40 AM

      Very Valid point! Stay home until they understand, don’t go, or only go for a few rakas. AllahuAlim

  28. Avatar

    MuslimahCA

    September 8, 2009 at 2:39 AM

    I was doing security in the sisters prayer hall last year only to find out the obvious. yes women are very different then the brothers.

    JazakhiAllahu Kheiran Sr. Sadaf, your tips were helpful. InshaAllah I hope mothers everywhere can benefit from them. It has come to a point in our ummah that we either have no knowledge of anything, or we ignore the simple things like treating each other well or being considerate of others.

    Allah is ghafoorul rahim

  29. Avatar

    bintwadee3

    September 8, 2009 at 3:41 AM

    Jazaakillaahu Khayr Sr. Sadaf. Excellent tips. I truly hope others will benefit, bi idhnillaah.

    I’ve read all the comments, but I can not make myself comprehend how anyone could believe that a masjid is not a place for a child. Okay, if you’re just going to drop your kid off there and leave, and let them do whatever they want, with whomever they want, and however they want – then there might be a problem.

    My siblings and I practically grew up in the masjid. From a young age, my father would take us with him to every salah he was able to attend in the masjid, including and especially Fajr. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if some people balk at this statement, the horror of waking your child up at the crack of dawn and hauling them out of the house! But no. Being in the masjid, constantly surrounded by Muslims and reminders of Allaah has truly shaped the way I think. I remember nights when my older brother and sister and I would be sitting out on the masjid lawn after Salatul Maghrib, just talking, while my father was attending a small talk. Generally we would be inside, but if we ever got tired, we would simply go right outside and talk. You amy be wondering “Why bring your children if they won’t stay inside to learn?” Even if we aren’t inside the whole time, the fact that we were AT the masjid, the House of Allaah, a place where your heart is truly put to rest, was better for us than being at home. To this day I attend that same masjid. To this day, I want to go pray Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Ishaa’ prayers there *because* of the amazing feeling I get when I’m in/around the masjid. At times I feel bad for wanting to go because, as many have mentioned, women get greater reward at home.

    Of course, this is just one story regarding this topic, one side. It does not have the same effect on all children. It depends on varying factors. I simply shared this story to show that there *is* much benefit for children being in and around the masjid.

    I also highly encourage everyone to read Imam AbdulNasir’s article http://muslimmatters.org/2009/08/21/reminder-on-importance-of-taraweeh/ . A 5 minute read AT MOST (unless you have children running around you. Kidding).

    • Avatar

      Holly Garza

      September 10, 2009 at 6:38 AM

      Alhamdulilah! :)

      Very good points and the fact that You STILL to this day are a Religious Practicing Muslim MashaAllah it shows the positive effect of your upbringing.

  30. Avatar

    UmmKhalid

    September 8, 2009 at 6:30 AM

    Assalamu alaykum

    There seems to be some big problems in the way some people view children. I have seen some children misbehave in the masjid, and it used to bother me before I had kids. But I would never tell the mothers not to bring them. Instead, I would play with them. Sometimes the kids just need some attention, and very little attention at that, then they will behave.

    I see people telling the women to stay home to pray tarawih, but what about the men? the men get more reward from praying the sunnah at home as well, so why isn’t anyone telling them to stay home with the kids?! I would never advise men to miss jumah or a fard prayer at the masjid, but this is a sunnah so both men and women have the same right to go.

    I have some tips for the people who don’t want children in the masjid

    1. If you can’t get along with the other Muslims, then stay at home

    2. If you can’t have khushoo in your prayer with any little distraction, then stay at home

    3. Do not allow the shaytan to enter our masjid by allowing your anger to come out. Say ‘a-uthu-billah’ and make wudhu before you make an angry, hurtful comment

    4. Straighten the rows so the small children do not wander off behind their mothers view and get hurt

    5. Do not allow children to run in front of you during the prayer- if they run in front of you, they will run in front of everyone else, but if you stop them enough times, they will learn.

    6. Leave the sides of the rows for sisters with children, so they can easily leave the salat if need be.

    7. If a child is getting rowdy, instead of disciplining them, first distract them and take some time out to play with them. 90% of the time, the child that disturbs the ladies is not even the one causing the problems, often they are whining and crying because some other child hurt them- so don’t be hasty, let the child explain their side, and really listen to them.

    People should also understand that not all children are the same. I could not leave my children with a babysitter. I don’t have any family around, so they are not used to being in the care of anyone but me. People make these ‘facilities’ mandatory, and then it hurts my kids because they do not like to be away from me, and they cry more. There have been events where there was mandatory babysitting for the children. Me and my friends made a circle and kept our babies and children within it, and sat on the floor with them and i’m sure nobody even noticed our kids were there because of how well behaved they all were mashAllah. And the only reason I believe our kids behave better is because we are always there for them when they need us.

    Some more tips I have for the mothers with children, although I know they will not apply to everyone

    1. Ramadan is an excellent month. All our habits change. We sleep less, eat less, pray more. I let my kids get into the ‘bad’ habit of staying up late in ramadan. The whole family stays up to pray, and they are not fussy in the least at the masjid, because they are not tired.

    2. Tarawih is not obligatory. You don’t have to do EVERY rakah. If you see your children fussing during the 4th rakah for example, then when that rakah is over, sit out the next 2 rakahs and spend some time cuddling and playing with your child.

    3. Try to help your children make good friends in the masjid before the salat starts- not necessarily the same age as them either. If you can find a mature 5 yr old to mommy your toddler, then let them. It will keep both your toddler and that child busy- Children love responsibility.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      September 8, 2009 at 8:01 AM

      Jazakillahu khair for your valuable contribution.
      I wish everyone had your positive attitude, problem-solving approach and tolerance/understanding of children’s behavior. I agree with all your points. May Allah instill the love of the masajid and the Quran in your children’s hearts. Ameen.

      • Avatar

        UmmKhalid

        September 8, 2009 at 9:40 AM

        assalamu alaykum

        ameen, and the same for your children ameen. great article btw. :)

    • Avatar

      Ummi2

      September 8, 2009 at 10:03 AM

      Excellent points Sister..

    • Avatar

      Holly Garza

      September 10, 2009 at 6:36 AM

      MashaAllah a logical, easy to implement, parent, and worship post by a parent :) Very good tips InshaAllah may the parent who don’t know how or where to start training their child benefit from this InshaAllah.

  31. Avatar

    Ummi2

    September 8, 2009 at 10:01 AM

    ASAK..

    I simply loved the above article, and can relate very well to it.

    We live in North Texas; the local mosque has such discipline problems during the month of Ramadan, that the BOD has resorted to hiring a private non Muslim security firm help out with OUR Muslim children. Come to the Taraweeh prayer and one will see children screaming, crying, throwing food on the Musalla area , running out into the parking lot, running into the bathrooms turning on the water.. etc etc etc. Young, gorgeous teenage girls, dressed in their latest fads, heavy eye makeup, brightest gloss, latest cell phone, will make the obligatory trip to the drinking fountain during each and every rakaat, and peek outside to see if any young Muslim guys are out there. After the 8 rakaats, prepare for the mad rush as most exit the building and sit outside for a bit of socialising and the latest gossip and the important discussion as to what to wear for Eid; whilst very blatantly discussing how cute that so and so is, and ohh, look at her what does she think SHE is. !!!!! The young teenage boys will be at one of the basketball courts at a nearby center; should you happen to enter one of the off site parking lots and you will see at least 10-15 young Muslim teenagers and students puffing away on their cigarettes!

    The above scenario has remained so for the past few years. Our Masjid is rightly frustrated as to what to do. As of yet the problem has not been dealt with effectively. At the beginning of each prayer, one will hear the standard announcement “please watch your children, children are running amok over the building, please control your teenage boys and girls’.

    Any suggestions??

    Wasalaam

  32. Avatar

    Juli

    September 8, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    Jazakillah khair sadaf. I read the article without reading who the author was and as soon as I read it i figured it was yours, mashaallah! Love it.

    Like Olivia, I also prefer to pray at home while the kids were asleep. But this year I discovered the beauty of praying taraweeh at the masjid (never been able to before bec of my kids’ ages, logistics, my kids start fasting at a young age so i ned them to be able to wake up for suhoor so they had to go to bed early etc)
    Alhamdulillah though this year, the masjid we pray in don’t have many women attending during the weekdays so we don’t have rowdy kids problems. There’s only about 4-5 women during the weekdays. It’s a small town. During the weekends, we probably have about a few rows, but then again, I don’t go during the weekends lately bec my child has been sick and so I take turns with my girls. They stay home with the rest of the kids during the weekdays and I go, weekends, they go for taraweeh and I stay home with my toddler.

    and that is true too that many women probably forget about the reward of praying at home.

    I also do notice also that it’s the older women who tend to get very annoyed with young children being rowdy, and everytime I see that, I think about myself,

    Will I be like that when all my kids are grown up ?

    and it scares me. Logically, it’s the older women who should be more understanding bec they probably have gone through this when their kids were younger, but from some experience (from my mother) I also gather that the older you get, the more quiet you need, and so the less tolerant you are of kid noise. What I can say about this is,

    May Allah fill our hearts with mercy for as long as we live. Ameen.

    Anyway sadaf, I love your tips, especially the very last one. I need to implement that one. Jazakillah khair!

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      September 8, 2009 at 11:46 PM

      Masha’Allah you seem to have a great balance in your worship and parenting routine, Juli – praying at home as well as at the mosque; having the children come to the mosque too, but babysit too. And the fact that you are making them fast young, barak Allahu feeki! May Allah make your children pious and righteous. Ameen.

      I also think to myself, “Will I become less tolerant of little children at the mosque, too, as I get older, forgetting the initial chaotic years of motherhood?” I seek refuge with Allah from adopting any behavior that goes against the sunnah; old age, youth, or whatever, come what may.

  33. Avatar

    Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

    September 8, 2009 at 3:10 PM

    Accompanying parents to the masjid should be a privilege for the children, not a norm. And hence they should be made to earn that privilege by being on their best behaviour.

    If a child is naughty at home or if he/she has been noisy in the masjid, he/she should not be allowed to go to the masjid until behavioural issues are sorted out.

    I think babies are a no, no especially for Taraaweeh prayers.

    • Avatar

      person

      September 8, 2009 at 4:50 PM

      so let me get this straight – your suggestion is for children to receive proper islamic tarbiyyah and character by *not* coming to the masjid?

      seriously?

      please tell me this is a joke

      • Avatar

        Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

        September 10, 2009 at 4:35 AM

        Fine, akhi. Bring them to the masjid. Its not like its a matter of Halaal and Haraam. I personally have never had my concentration disturbed by fighting, brawling, crying children, but I can empathise with those for whom this is a problem.

        Allow them in, allow them in! The sister posted a few pointers about controlling children in the masaajid and parents would do well to pay heed to them.

        Akhi, one question before I go, where did you first learn how to pray?

        Assalaamualaikum

      • Avatar

        Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

        September 10, 2009 at 4:42 AM

        Your adaab are quite exemplary by the way, May Allah give you its jaza’

      • Avatar

        Muslim from Canada

        February 3, 2016 at 10:54 AM

        Why should this be a joke?? Honestly Muslim kids even teens who misbehave often and their Muslim parents who are irresponsible are my “pet peeve” so even if they can’t be shunned doesn’t mean that everyone has to associate with them. Can you understand why some Muslims are at ease with better behaved Muslim youths instead of ill mannered Muslim youths and can you understand why Muslims even Muslim youths who are annoying that even if I’m not confrontational with them I tend to keep my distance from them as much as possible.

  34. Avatar

    Umm Reem

    September 8, 2009 at 4:20 PM

    JazakiAllah khiar sr. sadaf…

    interestingly i’d been finding the masjids very “child-friendly” here in middle east, until today! I’d been praying taraweeh behind Sh. Muhammad Al-Arifi and the masjid is huge…they have a separate section for women without children…but today when i went there, they wouldn’t let me take my 3 yr. old because the admin. had issued a new rule of “NO Children”!!

    I was getting a bit irritated because my daughter doesn’t even make a sound, I begged and nagged the security lady but she kept saying no…I guess she didn’t have any other option…

    But my husband told me that after the taraweeh, Sh. Arifi announced not to stop the kids from coming to the masjid, alhamdullialh :)

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      September 9, 2009 at 3:10 AM

      I hope they let your daughter come from now on, insha’Allah!

    • Avatar

      Holly Garza

      September 10, 2009 at 6:31 AM

      Alhamdulilah. It’s always a few who ruin it for all. InshaAllah you don’t have any more problems.

  35. Avatar

    Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

    September 8, 2009 at 4:27 PM

    I asked Sheikh Khalid Al Anbari about this issue a few hours ago. He said it is better for mums with little children to pray at home.

    Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      person

      September 8, 2009 at 4:49 PM

      depends on how you asked the question.

      can you rephrase the question to him by stating “is it better for mothers to bring their children to the masjid for taraweeh in non-muslim lands where children may not have any exposure to islam (much less the masjid) otherwise?”

      these 1 line fatwas are dangerous, especially if they have no reasoning stated behind them and one sentence is treated as wahy such that anyone opposing it is wrong. not saying you’re doing that :) but a lot of ppl unfortunately do.

      • Avatar

        Danish Hasan

        September 9, 2009 at 3:27 PM

        Maybe you shoudl just ask should Muslims live in Non-Muslim lands? See what answer you get.

        • Avatar

          UmmKhalid

          September 9, 2009 at 6:42 PM

          assalamu alaykum

          Send me some money, a job and a citizenship and i’ll gladly move inshaAllah :) Until then, we need to make the best of what we’ve got.

      • Avatar

        Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

        September 10, 2009 at 4:39 AM

        I asked the Sheikh again and he repeated his answer. He also said that this is not an issue of Haraam and Halaal so there is no need to be rigid about either view. Ultimately parents are the best judge of their kids.

        If your child is well-behaved take him. If he is naughty teach him!

  36. Avatar

    UmmKhalid

    September 9, 2009 at 5:44 AM

    assalamu alaykum

    To the people who don’t want children in the masjid, just wait until the day where the imam is refused entry to the mosque. He will be told, “All elders over 60 are no longer allowed in the mosque during tarawih. We used to let them but we had too many problems. They misbehave in the masjid causing the others to lose their khushoo. They are always shouting about something or the other between prayers. Besides, the ones who are incontinent might get some najasah in our mosque, even if they wear diapers, there’s still that risk. We know that there are the few who are well behaved, whose children look after them properly and know how to control them so they don’t disturb others, but if we let one elder in, then all the elders will want to come and then we will have problems again. Besides, it better they do tarawih in their homes. “

    • Avatar

      UmmKhalid

      September 10, 2009 at 4:58 AM

      assalamu alaykum

      i did not mean anything bad by this comment. in fact, the prophet peace be upon him encouraged us to have mercy towards our children and elders. i was using this as an analogy just to show how silly it is to ban someone from the masjid simply because of their age! at least elders have some say, but we really must protect our children who cannot speak for themselves.

  37. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    September 9, 2009 at 1:29 PM

    SubhanAllah. It’s clear from the comments that this is one of those fault-line issues among the ummah. The more compassion we have for each other, and I do not mean the more compassion we expect others to give us, but the more compassion we show each other, the stronger the whole ummah will be.

    The Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam praised the one who withdraws from arguing with his brother even when the one who withdraws believes he is right. How far is that from the Western notion of having the last word? Let the one who laughs last laugh hardest — indeed the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam taught us that Allah hates the sound of the braying donkey.

    May Allah put barakat in your last nights of Ramadan, whether you worship Him alone or in groups. May Allah bless your children and make them and your spouses the coolness of your eyes. And may Allah be pleased with the ummah this Ramadan, accept it from us, and forgive us by it our sins. Ameen.

  38. Avatar

    bubaker

    September 9, 2009 at 6:32 PM

    As salaamu `aleykum,

    The Prophet (SAW) taught us that believers should have mercy for young children (esp. in this Month of Mercy) and that we should also have respect for our elders.

    Clearly this is one of those hot-button issues, esp. since it often aligns along generational (young parents vs. elder folk) and cultural (western vs. eastern) divides. I’m pretty sure that in practice, each masjid can have a policy which serves its members and does not violate established principles. The same goes for many other issues like moonsighting, partitions, elections, etc… Having different approaches helps give room for each of us to go where it helps us to most easily fulfill our deen, and makes us feel welcome without pandering.

    Most of the articles on the net (including this one) seem to omit the hadith that establishes the principle of restricting young/rowdy children from the masjid:

    Keep the insane and [small] children away from your masjids. [Ibn Maja]

    There’s obviously a lot of fiqh involved in actually implementing any policy, e.g. this SunniPath discussion. I just found it strange that I hadn’t seen a previous reference here to a basic fiqh discussion regarding this issue…

    May Allah(SWT) Give us Mercy and Elevate our Status because of our faith and deeds. Ramadan Kareem…

    • Avatar

      Px

      September 9, 2009 at 8:43 PM

      OMG a hadith which doesn’t agree with me!!!!!! *sarcasm intended*

      Keep the insane and [small] children away from your masjids. [Ibn Maja]

      As long as this hadith is not established as being ‘dhaeef’ it will be ignored, since it cannot be verified. And the only verification that we are looking for is that this hadith must be weak or rejected…oh and fiqh and adaab of salaat and masjid etc… fiqh?!!! Isn’t it like mostly against qur’an and sunnah.

      [/Again sarcasm intended]

  39. Avatar

    Holly Garza

    September 10, 2009 at 6:24 AM

    Salaam Alaikum aaaah the much debated, often argued with, and by me conversation and hadith……..

    I am so split on this. So many people assume I am inpatient and too strict. I think they are too lax.

    The Masjid should not bar women with children because
    one she may VERY Much need Allah’s love and the ummah that day and to be denied it would catastrophic.

    Two-Not all women are neglectful when they raise their children and a few do raise them correctly with manners, respect, and knowledge of what prayer is.

    Three-Not everyone whose child cries is always unruly, crying or misbehaving. Children are nothing but little people and they have their bad days just like us. Allahu Alim. They should not be banned for one day they were ill, moody, or colicky.

    Four-Children need to be in the Mosque to learn to feel Allah’s love and Rahma and see other families such as theirs however this should NOT be their only exposure to Islam, prayer, and or their parents “ignoring” them. This should not be the only time the parent prays in front of them or “looks Muslim” (hijab, Islamic attire) Of course the child will act up. If my parent suddenly acted/looked different I would act up too!

    That said I hate when people tell me about the hadith of the prophet praying just to excuse their rude and negligent behavior. Just because he was patient does not mean his grandson was unruly and interrupting others.

    A child pulling at their parent or on their parent is a lot different than that one running in the Masjid, running in front of other praying people, or crying, screaming and throwing a tantrum. Now by IGNORING that behavior YOU have allowed Many people to be annoyed, angry, or have a hard time concentrating, which all breaks prayer. You single handedly stopped a few prayers and peace of mind. I, as a Parent REFUSE to raise a child who would cause me this! Call me strict, yes I am. I pray AT HOME. My child learns at home. They will only learn this if you teach them at home. Praying at the Mosque is a privilege. It is NOT a vacation for us to assume someone else is or will watch our child. It is NOT a break from parenting.

    Very good subject. Very good article. JazakaAllah Khayer for sharing.

  40. Avatar

    Abu Rumaisa

    September 11, 2009 at 3:06 PM

    My siblings & used go to the mosques in Saudi since we were abt 3-4yrs old since we could comprehend most instructions & were able to comply fully. I was definitely more aware of the situation when my younger cousins were growing up.. children were told that they are going to the House of Allah & have to be respectful and quiet in there. If anyone misbehaved then either their dads or uncles (my father being one of them) would give them the stare and that was more enough to bring them back to good behavior. If parents failed or were unable to control, random uncle in the masjid would give the kid a piece of his mind & that always worked. Unlike parents of today who are overprotective of kids, they were ok when strangers disciplined their kids as it was their own good & for the good of the community. I hardly recall seeing toddlers younger than 3 in masjids (other than the two holy mosques).

    I am not against bringing children to the mosque but those younger than 3 don’t understand what’s going completely & r still getting used to behaving well. And if they see other kids running around, they will follow them. If u want to take them to masjid to pray salaah every now & then it’s ok but to bring them in for taraweeh when u know very well that the kid can’t be behaved for such long periods of time is being selfish.

    I learned my lesson the hard way… I have a daughter who is two yrs old, last year my wife was in Saudi & either my mother or her mother took care of my daughter when she went for taraweeh. So this year was the 1st year we took her to taraweeh, we would keep her by our side when the prayer started but half way through the 1st rakah she was gone..usually to the water cooler to make a mess. No matter what we were not able to get it rite that nite, the next day it was the same thing but the masjid officials decided to remove the cooler due to the mess being made by these kid, my daughter being one of them. With the cooler gone, we thought we were ok now. But that wasn’t the case, by now she was friends with other toddlers and this meant running, screaming around with them. I know that my daughter is too young to understand the importance of the mosque.. to her it’s just large open space to play. I can’t make a two yr old sit in one place for two hrs, I m being impractical if think I can do that. The masjid isn’t large enough to have a room for kids, it’s a section for men & another for women. We had to make the tough choice & my wife decided to stay home… disturbing the prayers of 50 ppl to get the pleasure of taraweeh in masjid was a selfish act according for her & rightly so.

    Prior to ramadan, I did take her to the masjid for maghrib or isha & still do so. But since the prayers are short, she’s well behaved during these prayers. If she can comprehend the importance of masjid & stay behaved for 2 hours by next ramadan then insha’Allah my wife will come with her for taraweeh but till then those who r praying taraweeh will not be disturbed by my child.

    • Avatar

      Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

      September 11, 2009 at 6:15 PM

      MashaAllah, always a pleasure to read what you have to say. A very well thought ot post and I agree entirely.

  41. Avatar

    Tasneem

    April 28, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    This is an issue close to heart, and I do not understand why during nafl prayers people make such a big deal if a child does happen to step in front of them. i sit at teh back so i am not disturbing anyone and I am forced to join the rows in front where inevitably my kids (3 and 5) run to find me. Why can’t we respect another’s decesion and show a little understanding!!!

  42. Pingback: Bringing Kids to Masjid for Tarawikh « Alimkids Islamic Playgroup, Islamic Playschool, Islamic Bookshop for Kids, Malaysia

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The Unexpected Blessings of Being Alone

Juli Herman

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My seven-year old son sat on the ground, digging a hole. Around him, other children ran, cried, and laughed at the playground.

“He’s such a strange kid,” my oldest daughter remarked. “Who goes to the playground and digs holes in the ground?”

In an instant, scenes of my ten-year-old self flashed through my mind. In them I ducked, hiding from invisible enemies in a forest of tapioca plants. Flattening my back against the spindly trunks, I flicked my wrist, sending a paper shuriken flying towards my pursuers. I was in my own world, alone.

It feels as if I have always been alone. I was the only child from one set of parents. I was alone when they divorced. I was alone when one stepmother left and another came in. I was alone with my diary, tears, and books whenever I needed to escape from the negative realities of my childhood.

Today, I am a lone niqab-wearing Malay in the mish-mash of a predominantly Desi and Arab Muslim community. My aloneness has only been compounded by the choices I’ve made that have gone against social norms- like niqab and the decision to marry young and have two babies during my junior and senior years of undergrad.

When I decided to homeschool my children, I was no longer fazed by any naysayers. I had gotten so used to being alone that it became almost second nature to me. My cultural, religious, and parenting choices no longer hung on the approval of social norms.

Believe it Or Not, We Are All Alone

In all of this, I realize that I am not alone in being alone. We all are alone, even in an ocean of people. No matter who you are, or how many people are around you, you are alone in that you are answerable to the choices you make.

The people around you may suggest or pressure you into specific choices, but you alone make the ultimate choice and bear the ultimate consequence of what those choices are. Everything from what you wear, who you trust, and how you plan your wedding is a result of your own choice. We are alone in society, and in the sight of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) as well.

The aloneness is obvious when we do acts of worship that are individual, such as fasting, giving zakah, and praying. But we’re also alone in Hajj, even when surrounded by a million other Muslims. We are alone in that we have to consciously make the choice and intention to worship. We are alone in making sure we do Hajj in its true spirit.

We alone are accountable to Allah, and on the Day of Judgment, no one will carry the burden of sin of another.

مَّنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيْهَا ۚ وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ ۗ وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّىٰ نَبْعَثَ رَسُولًا

“Whoever accepts guidance does so for his own good; whoever strays does so at his own peril. No soul will bear another’s burden, nor do We punish until We have sent a messenger.” Surah Al Israa 17:15

On the day you stand before Allah you won’t have anyone by your side. On that day it will be every man for himself, no matter how close you were in the previous life. It will just be you and Allah.

Even Shaytaan will leave you to the consequences of your decisions.

وَقَالَ الشَّيْطَانُ لَمَّا قُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ الْحَقِّ وَوَعَدتُّكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُكُمْ ۖ وَمَا كَانَ لِيَ عَلَيْكُم مِّن سُلْطَانٍ إِلَّا أَن دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَاسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِي ۖ فَلَا تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُوا أَنفُسَكُم ۖ مَّا أَنَا بِمُصْرِخِكُمْ وَمَا أَنتُم بِمُصْرِخِيَّ ۖ إِنِّي كَفَرْتُ بِمَا أَشْرَكْتُمُونِ مِن قَبْلُ ۗ إِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

“When everything has been decided, Satan will say, ‘God gave you a true promise. I too made promises but they were false ones: I had no power over you except to call you, and you responded to my call, so do not blame me; blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I reject the way you associated me with God before.’ A bitter torment awaits such wrongdoers” Surah Ibrahim 14:22

But, Isn’t Being Alone Bad?

The connotation that comes with the word ‘alone’ relegates it to something negative. You’re a loser if you sit in the cafeteria alone. Parents worry when they have a shy and reserved child. Teachers tend to overlook the quiet ones, and some even complain that they can’t assess the students if they don’t speak up.

It is little wonder that the concept of being alone has a negative connotation. Being alone is not the human default, for Adam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was alone, yet Allah created Hawwa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) as a companion for him. According to some scholars, the word Insaan which is translated as human or mankind or man comes from the root letters that means ‘to want company’. We’re naturally inclined to want company.

You might think, “What about the social aspects of Islam? Being alone is like being a hermit!” That’s true, but in Islam, there is a balance between solitary and communal acts of worship. For example, some prayers are done communally like Friday, Eid, and funeral prayers. However, extra prayers like tahajjud, istikharah, and nawaafil are best done individually.

There is a place and time for being alone, and a time for being with others. Islam teaches us this balance, and with that, it teaches us that being alone is also praiseworthy, and shouldn’t be viewed as something negative. There is virtue in alone-ness just as there is virtue in being with others.

Being Alone Has Its Own Perks

It is through being alone that we can be astute observers and connect the outside world to our inner selves. It is also through allowing aloneness to be part of our daily regimen that we can step back, introspect and develop a strong sense of self-based on a direct relationship with Allah.

Taking the time to reflect on worship and the words of Allah gives us the opportunity to meaningfully think about it. It is essential that a person gets used to being alone with their thoughts in order to experience this enriching intellectual, emotional and spiritual experience. The goal is to use our thoughts as the fuel to gain closeness to Allah through reflection and self-introspection.

Training ourselves to embrace being alone can also train us to be honest with ourselves, discover who we truly are, and work towards improving ourselves for Allah’s sake. Sitting with ourselves and honestly scrutinizing the self in order to see strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement is essential for character development. And character development is essential to reach the level of Ihsaan.

When we look into who we want to be, we are bound to make some decisions that might raise eyebrows and wag tongues. Being okay with being alone makes this somewhat easier. We should not be afraid to stand out and be the only one wearing praying or wearing hijab, knowing that it is something Allah will be pleased with. We should not be afraid to stand up for what we believe in even if it makes us unpopular. Getting used to being alone can give us the confidence to make these decisions.

Being alone can strengthen us internally, but not without pain. Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that people who dissent from group wisdom show heightened activation in the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the sting of social rejection. Berns calls this the “pain of independence.”

All our prophets experienced this ‘pain of independence’ in their mission. Instances of different prophets being rejected by their own people are generously scattered in the Quran for us to read and reflect upon. One lesson we can extract from these is that being alone takes courage, faith, conviction, and confidence.

 

We Come Alone, Leave Alone, Meet Allah Alone

The circumstances that left me alone in the different stages of my life were not random. I always wanted an older brother or someone else to be there to rescue me from the solitude. But the solitude came with a blessing. Being alone gave me the time and space in which to wonder, think, and eventually understand myself and the people around me. I learned reflection as a skill and independent decision-making as s strength. I don’t mind being alone in my niqab, my Islam, or my choices. I’ve had plenty of practice after all.

Open grave

You are born alone and you took your first breath alone. You will die alone, even if you are surrounded by your loved ones. When you are lowered into the grave, you will be alone. Accepting this can help you make use of your moments of solitude rather than fear them. Having the courage to be alone builds confidence, strengthens conviction, and propels us to do what is right and pleasing to Allah regardless of human approval.

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Why Israel Should Be ‘Singled Out’ For Its Human Rights Record

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians.

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israel, occupied Palestine

Why is everyone so obsessed with Israel’s human rights abuses? From Saudi Arabia, to Syria, to North Korea to Iran. All these nations are involved in flagrant violations of human right, so why all the focus on Israel – ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’? Clearly, if you ignore these other violations and only focus on Israel, you must be anti-Semitic. What else could be your motivations for this double standard?

This is one of the most common contentions raised when Israel is criticized for its human rights record. I personally don’t believe in entertaining this question – it shouldn’t matter why an activist is choosing to focus on one conflict and not others. What matters are the facts being raised; putting into question the motives behind criticizing Israel is a common tactic to detract from the topic at hand. The conversation soon turns into some circular argument about anti-Semitism and the plight of the Palestinian people is lost. More importantly, this charge of having double standards is often disingenuous. For example, Representative Ihan Omar has been repeatedly accused of this recently and her motives have been called ‘suspicious’ – despite her vocal criticism of other countries, especially Saudi Arabia.

However, this point is so frequently brought up, I think that perhaps its time activists and critics simply own up to it. Yes – Israel should be singled out, for some very good reasons. These reasons relate to there being a number of unique privileges that the country enjoys; these allow it to get away with much of the abuses it commits. Human right activists thus must be extra vocal when comes to Israel as they have to overcome the unparalleled level of support for the country, particularly in the US and Canada. The following points summarize why Israel should in fact be singled out:

1) Ideological support from ordinary citizens

When Iran and North Korea commit human right abuses, we don’t have to worry about everyone from journalists to clerics to average students on campuses coming out and defending those countries. When most nations commit atrocities, our journalists and politicians call them out, sanctions are imposed, they are taking them to the International Court of Justice, etc. There are instruments in place to take care of other ‘rogue’ nations – without the need for intervention from the common man.

Israel, however, is unique in that it has traditionally enjoyed widespread ideological support, primarily from the Jewish community and Evangelical Christians, in the West. This support is a result of the historical circumstances and pseudo-religious ideology that drove the creation of the state in 1948. The successful spread of this nationalistic dogma for the last century means Israel can count on ordinary citizens from Western countries to comes to its defense. This support can come in the form of foreign enlistment to its military, students conducting campus activism, politicians shielding it from criticisms and journalists voluntarily writing in its support and spreading state propaganda.

This ideological and nationalistic attachment to the country is the prime reason why it is so incredibly difficult to have any kind of sane conversation about Israel in the public sphere – criticism is quickly seen as an attack on Jewish identity and interpreted as an ‘existential threat’ to the nation by its supporters. Any attempts to take Israel to account through standard means are thwarted because of the political backlash feared from the country’s supporters in the West.

2) Unconditional political support of a world superpower

The US is Israel’s most important and closest ally in the Middle-East. No matter what war crimes Israel commits, it can count on America to have its back. This support means the US will use its veto power to support Israel against actions of the UN Security Council, it will use its diplomatic influence to shield any punitive actions from other nations and it will use its military might to intervene if need be. The backing of the US is one of the main reasons why the Israeli occupation and expansion of the colonial settlement enterprise continues to this day without any repercussions.

While US support might be especially staunch for Israel, this factor is certainly not unique to the country. Any country which has this privilege, e.g. Saudi Arabia, should be under far great scrutiny for its human rights violations than others.

3)  Military aid and complicity of tax-payers

US tax-payers are directly paying for Israel to carry out its occupation of the Palestinian people.

Israel is the largest recipient of US-military aid – it receives an astonishing $3 billion dollars every year. This aid, according to a US congressional report, “has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.”

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians. Activists and citizens thus have a greater responsibility to speak out against Israel as their government is paying the country to carry out its atrocities. Not only is this aid morally reprehensible, but it is also illegal under United States Leahy Laws.

4) The Israeli lobby

The Israeli lobby is one of the most powerful groups in Washington and is the primary force for ensuring continued US political support for the nation. It consists of an assortment of formal lobby groups (AIPAC, Christians United for Israel), think-thanks (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), political action committee or PACs, not-for-profit organizations (B’nai B’irth, American Jewish Congress, Stand for Israel) and media watchdogs (CAMERA, Honest Reporting). These organizations together exercise an incredible amount of political influence. They ensure that any criticism of Israel is either stifled or there are serious consequences for those who speak up. In 2018 alone, pro-Israel donors spent $22 million on lobbying for the country – far greater than any other nation. Pro-Israel lobbies similarly influence politics in other places such as the UK, Canada, and Europe.

5) One of the longest-running occupation in human history

This point really should be the first one on this list – and it is the only one that should matter. However, because of the unique privileges that Israel enjoys, it is hard to get to the crux of what it is actually doing. Israel, with U.S. support, has militarily occupied the Palestinian territories (West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem) since 1967. The belligerent occupation, over 50 years old, is one of the longest, bloodiest and brutal in human history.

Israel continues to steal land and build settler colonies the West Bank – in flagrant violation of international law. It has implemented a system of apartheid in these territories which is reminiscent of the racist regime of South Africa. The Gaza strip has been under an insufferable siege which has made the living conditions deplorable; it has been referred to the world’s largest ‘open-air prison’. In addition to this institutional oppression, crimes committed against Palestinians include: routinely killing civilian protesters, including teenagers and medics, torture of Palestinians and severe restrictions on the everyday movement of Palestinians.

The brutality, consistency and the duration for which Israel has oppressed Palestinians is alone enough reason for it being ‘singled out’. No other nation comes close to its record. However, for the reasons mentioned above, Israel’s propaganda machine has effectively painted itself as just another ‘liberal democracy’ in the eyes of the general public. Any attempt to bring to light these atrocities are met with ‘suspicion’ about the ‘real’ motives of the critics. Given the points mentioned here, it should be evident that the level of support for Israeli aggression is uniquely disproportionate – it is thus fitting that criticism of the country is equally vocal and unparalleled as well.

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This Article Could be Zakat-Eligible

Who Accounts For This Pillar of Islam

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Co-written by Shaykh Osman Umarji

As writers on MuslimMatters, it came as a surprise when the website we write on marked itself zakat-eligible on its fundraiser for operations in Ramadan. This website has previously highlighted the misuse and abuse of zakat for vague and dodgy reasons, including instances of outright fraud by nonprofit corporations.  We have lamented the seemingly inexorable march from zakat being for living human beings in need to financial play-doh for nonprofit corporate boards.

Estimated global zakat is somewhere between $200 billion to $1 trillion.  Eliminating global poverty is estimated at $187 billion– not just for Muslims, but everyone.  There continue to be strong interests in favor of more putty-like zakat to benefit the interests of the organizations that are not focused on reducing poverty. Thus, in many ways, a sizeable chunk of zakat benefits the affluent rather than the needy. Zakat, rather than being a credit to the Muslim community, starts to look more like an indictment of it.

No, it’s not ikhtilaf

The recent article on this website, Dr. Usama Al-Azmi seemed somewhat oblivious to the cavalier way the nonprofit corporate sector in the United States treats Zakat.  The article did not do justice to legitimate concerns about zakat distribution by dismissing the issue as one of “ikhtilaf,” or a reasonable difference of opinion, as it ignored the broader concern about forces working hard to make zakat a “wild west” act of worship where just about anything goes.  

It’s essential to identify the crux of the problem. Zakat has eight categories of permissible beneficiaries in the Quran. 1 Two are various levels of poor, distribution overhead; then there are those whose hearts are to be inclined,  free captives, relieve indebtedness, the wayfarer, and the cause of Allah (fisabilillah). The category of fisabilillah, historically,  the majority of scholars have interpreted as the cost of jihad (like actual fighting). However, in recent times, Muslim nonprofit corporations, with support of learned Muslim leaders, have adopted an increasingly aggressive and vague posture that allows nearly any beneficial cause to get zakat.   

The concerns about the abuse of zakat, and the self-serving desire by corporations to turn fisabilillah into a wastebasket Zakat category that could be “incredibly broad” has to do with far more than a difference of opinion (ikhtilaf ) about the eligibility of Dawah organizations. Let’s assume dawah and educational organizations are eligible to administer Zakat funds.  We need to know what that means in practice. What we have is a fundamental question the fisabilillah-can-mean-virtually-anything faction never manages to answer: are there any limits to zakat usage at all?

Show Your Work

We fully understand that in our religious practice, there is a set of rules.  In Islamic Inheritance for example, for example, we cannot cavalierly change the definition of what a “daughter” is to mean any girl you want to treat like a daughter. There is an established set of rules relating to acts of worship. For the third pillar of Islam, zakat, there seem to be no limits to the absurd-sounding questions we can ask that now seem plausible.  

Unfortunately, we have too many folks who invoke “ikhtilaf” to justify adopting almost any opinion and not enough people who are willing to explain their positions. We need a better understanding of zakat and draw the lines on when nonprofit corporations are going too far.

You can be conservative and stand for zakat as an act of worship that contributes to social justice. You can have a more expansive interpretation friendly to the nonprofit corporate sector’s needs to include the revenue source. Wherever you stand, if you don’t provide evidence and develop detailed uniform and accepted principles and rules that protect those people zakat was meant to help, you are inviting abuse and at the very least, opening the door towards inequitable results. 2

Can you feed the needy lentils and rice for $100 a meal, with margins of $99 a meal going to pay salaries to provide these meals and fundraise for them?  Why or why not?

Can a Dawah organization purchase an $80 million jet for its CEO, who can use it to travel the world to do “dawah,” including places like Davos or various ski resorts?  What rules exist that would prevent something like this? As far as we know, nothing at all.

Bubble Charity

In the United States, demographic sorting is a common issue that affects all charitable giving, not just giving by Muslims. The most affluent live in neighborhoods with other people who are generally as prosperous as they are. Certain places seem almost perversely designed to allow wealthy residents to be oblivious to the challenges of the poor.  There are undeniable reasons why what counts as “charity” for the wealthy means giving money to the Opera, the Met Gala, and Stanford University.

The only real way affluent Muslims know they supposed to care about poor people is that maybe they have a Shaikh giving khutbas talking about the need to do so and their obligation of zakat once a year or so. That is now becoming a thing of the past. Now it is just care about fisabilillah- it means whatever your tender heart wants it to mean.   

As zakat becomes less about the poor, appeals will be for other projects with a higher amount of visibility to the affluent.  Nonprofits now collect Zakat for galas with celebrities. Not fundraising at the gala dinner mind you, but merely serving dinner and entertaining rich people. Educational institutions and Masajid that have dawah activities (besides, everything a Masjid does is fisabilillah) can be quite expensive. Getting talent to run and teach in these institutions is also costly. Since many of the people running these institutions are public figures and charismatic speakers with easy access and credibility with the affluent. It is far easier for them to get Zakat funds for their projects.

People who benefit from these projects because they send their children to these institutions or attend lectures themselves will naturally feel an affinity for these institutions that they won’t have with the poor. Zakat will stay in their bubble.  Fisabilillah.

Dawa is the new Jihad

Jihad, as in war carried out by a Khalifah and paid for with zakat funds, is an expensive enterprise. But no society is in a permanent state of warfare, so they can work towards eliminating poverty during peacetime. Muslim communities have done this in the past.  Dawah is qualitatively different from jihad as it is permanent. There was never a period in Islamic history when there was no need to do dawah. Many times in history, nobody was fighting jihad. There was no period of Islamic history when there were there was never a need for money to educate people. Of course, earlier Muslims used zakat in education in limited, defined circumstances. It is not clear why limitations no longer apply.  

Indeed dawah is a broad category.  For example, many people regard the Turkish costume drama “Diriliş: Ertuğrul” as dawah.  Fans of the show can’t stop talking about the positive effects it has had on their lives and their iman. What prevents zakat from funding future expensive television costume dramas? Nothing, as far as we can see.   

No Standards or Accountability

Unfortunately, in the United States, there are no uniform, specific standards governing zakat. Anything goes now when previously in Islamic history, there were appropriate standards. Nonprofit corporations themselves decide if they are zakat-eligible or not. In some instances, they provide objectively comical explanations, which supporters within the corporation’s bubble pretty much always swallow whole. Corporations don’t have to segregate Zakat-eligible funds from general funds. When they do, they can make up their own rules for how and when they spend zakat. No rules make zakat indistinguishable from any other funding source since they can change their standards year after year depending on their funding needs (if they have rules at all) and nobody would be the wiser. It is exceedingly rare for these corporations to issue detailed reports on how they use zakat.  

The Shift to Meaninglessness

Organizations with platforms (like the one that runs this website) are going to be eager to get on the zakat gravy train. There is no cost to slapping a “zakat-eligible” label on yourself, either financial or social. It seems like everyone does it now. Some Zakat collectors are conscientious and care about helping the poor, though they are starting to look a little old-fashioned. For them, it may make sense to certify Zakat administrators like halal butchers.

Zakat used to be about helping discrete categories of human beings that can benefit from it.  It can now mean anything you want it to mean. In the end, though, without real standards, it may mean nothing at all.

Footnotes:

  1. The sunnah also highlights the essence of zakah as tending to the needs of the poor. For example, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded Muadh bin Jabal, when sending him to Yemen, to teach the people that Allah has obligated charity upon them to be taken from their rich and given to their poor (Sahih Muslim).
  2. In Islamic legal theory (usool al-fiqh), sadd al-dhariya is a principle that refers to blocking the means to evil before it can materialize. It is invoked when a seemingly permissible action may lead to unethical behavior. This principle is often employed in financial matters.

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