Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Faith & Anger

Why does being religious make so many people so angry these days?Or is it that they're angry to start with & they turn to religion as a means of expressing that anger?

This is so strange for me. Growing up I always envied religious people their serenity. When I think of my grandfather for example I always remember him as this calm, unruffled person who was always smiling. And he was so religious. We used to joke that he lived on his prayer mat. He had most of the Quran memorized. He and my grandmother would get up & leave the room if you criticized anyone infront of them because they believed that it was 7aram(unlawful) to gossip about people. And they both had such strong work ethics. Once I was home on leave & a friend got me a fake sick leave from a hospital in Casablanca so I could stay a few days longer. My grandfather was so disappointed with me. He gave me a lecture about how if we don't do our work properly then the money we were being paid was 7aram like stolen money and that God doesn't bless people who live on 7aram income. And he made me go back to work. I never forgot that & until today I get this incredible guilt complex if I don't go to work.

And yet my grandfather was never angry. He never raised his voice or used bad language and no one in the family could do that in his presence. Being the nervous wreck that I am I was always so impressed with the way he never seemed to stress or worry very much about anything. And he was so understanding. To us he seemed so much more liberal than our parents. My cousins would ask him to intervene when they couldn't get their parents to listen. They all miss him so much now that he's gone. And they remember him & cry everytime there's a problem or a fight in the family because he was the peacemaker and because people didn't fight so much when he was around.

I was impressed especially because I heard from my father, uncles & aunts that my grandfather was not always like this. That as a young man he had a terrible temper & was very rigid & dominating. They all say that it was becoming more & more religious as he got older that changed him.

This is how we understand religion in my family, that it's something that gives you inner peace, that makes you more joyful & loving. You look at people who are religious & you want to be like them, to know their secret.

Last week my friend S. & I decided that we wanted to start praying at the mosque. This used to be difficult for women in UAE because most mosques were only for men. Women were expected to pray at home. But lately that has been changing so we decided to take advantage of it. We couldn't make all 5 prayers at the mosque but we found that both of us could make 3asr & Maghreb(afternoon & sunset) as well as the Friday prayer so we started last Tuesday.

The first day went fine. We really enjoyed it. The nice thing about praying in the mosque is that there are no distractions so you can really focus & take your time. It's not like praying at home or at the office with phones & doorbells ringing & constant demands for your attention. You always end up feeling rushed.

But on Wednesday, right after the Imam finished the 3asr prayer, this woman who was praying next to us suddenly turns to S., grabs her hand in a really aggressive way & points to her nails & tells her what is this, don't you know this is 7aram and how dare you come to pray like this etc....She just went on & on.

I guess she thought that S. was wearing nail polish which wasn't true. S. doesn't wear nail polish precisely because she prays. She just has one of those kits which come with a nail buffer & a white crayon-type thing that you use to color inside the tips of your nails so it looks like you had a French manicure.

But even if we were wearing nail polish is that a reason for being so angry with us?I can't believe that woman's manner, the way she was looking at us. We were both so shocked. But what could we do?She looked like she was in her 60's & we're raised to be respectful & not talk back to people her age. Besides you don't start a fight in a house of God at the time of prayer do you?So we just said "7adir ya khala. Inshallah. Allah yihdi." (Yes. God willing. God guide us all.) And we left - even though we had planned to stay until Maghreb.

On Thursday we ran into her again. When we walked in we said Assalam 3laikum and everyone replied except her. I was watching her. She was just glaring at the two of us. After the prayer we were sitting trying to read Quran & everytime I would look up she would be glaring. There were other women with her & they were talking & looking at us in this contemptuous way, clearly talking about us. They made us so nervous & uncomfortable that we left the mosque for the second time.

On Friday S. told me maybe we should find another mosque. That made me angry. What right does anyone have to drive us away from a mosque?We have as much right to be there as any of them. But S. said she felt too uncomfortable & didn't want to go back to that place. I felt so frustrated that I told her am just going to pray at home. And that's what she did too.

I don't get it. What did we do?Was all this just about the nail polish?But we explained about that!

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9 Comments:

Blogger Jane said...

Reading about your grandfather made me think of my own dear grandmother. My aunts and uncles say that when they were growing up she was very strict, impatient, and short. But I remember her as open, warm, loving, and extremely patient. I never heard her speak a bad word about another person. She was a devout believer in Jesus and leaned on her faith. She never stood in judgement of anyone. In my mind she was a true Christian, following the teachings as they were meant to be heard.

It is so very wrong that the woman made you both uncomfortable with her snap judgement. I don't think you and S. should have to find another mosque. That woman needs to learn to be more tolerant, patient, and not to throw stones. I hope both you and S. don't let her keep you away. Keep us updated.

1/31/2006 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger aroundtheclock24_7 said...

Loulou,

Going back and praying in that exact same mosque would be considered Insha2allah a way of Jihad. Always remember that God puts us in situations to test our faith and our will to see how far can we go with that and how much are we sincere in doing it. Don't let a woman (one of God's creatures) stand between you and the place you found to be closer to your and her CREATOR. May God bless you and S and i know that you are a strong woman so fight for your rights and faith in God ;) Being a Libra too, assures me that you won't give up easily. So go back to that mosque and try to be sweet to that lady in particular, for you can get her to like you and S. This way she might even someday spare places for you and S if you were ever late especially in Ramadan when the mosques are full even before prayer time ;) If that lady can't realize that both of you are there for the same reason (GOD) then you can make it clear for her in a sweet talk. Besides no rules can really apply to praying for GOD, it is an agreement between you and HIM only which no one can ever know but HIM the almighty and you. Jazakoum Allah Khayran ya rab wa takabbal minkoum w ma tinsina bildou3a2 ;) (Tip: such kind of ladies like to be approached as if you are asking for help or advice from them in a particular matter in prayer. They like to feel that they are helping in making you closer to God so there you go pick up the right timing and ask a question that suites the situation ;) Goodluck! )

1/31/2006 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Twosret said...

Hey LouLou,

When you meet this lady at the mosque again tell her that my virtual Christian friend Twosret asked me to tell you that "El Deen Yosr wa Leysa Osr" I hope I spelled it right.

If she really insisit to bother you again tell her Butt Off!!!

1/31/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Alina said...

I know this attitude...You see it everywhere in churches, mostly in the country side. Instead of focusing on their prayer, they analyze what you wear, do you have make-up, nailpolish or dyed hair? This is so stupid for me. You go to the mosque/church to pray not to judge others!Only God can judge us for our sins and I have this strong doubt He'll care that much about nail polish!

I strongly believe all those womens needed someone like your grandfather to show them the way! Too bad for them...

2/01/2006 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger doshar said...

oh my, how unlucky for you! no, that is not the regular for religous people at all! bel3aks, God had told the prophet PBUH to "gadelhom bellaty heya ahsan".

this is definitely not the right way to approach you, even if you were doing something wrong. wish i can talk to that woman, really.

some people do not really understand the real spirit of religion and faith. real faith brings out the best in you (like it did with your grandfather), and teaches you helm and patience. getting all judgemental and rough does not do anything to help the cause.

but please do not let that woman discourage you, it is so beautiful what you had intended. beware that when starting something good, the devil always tries to discourage you by things like this, so you would quit.this is but a test. do not let something like this stop you.

if you like that mosque, continue to go. and if that woman keeps on glaring at you, either ignore her, or tell her alsalamo 3aleikom. in the context of "edfa3 bellaty heya ahsan".

actually i am quite impressed by your reaction. usually you would give someone like this a lecture, but you were patient. do not let her discourage you.

2/01/2006 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Me ® said...

I've been through some similar situations where people i dont know would speak to me harshly cuz i dont wear hijab. I never wore revealing or tight clothes in public, yet one girl once came up to me in uni and said " iza ma beddek tet7ajjabi 3al 2aleeleh etsattari" and lectured me cuz i was wearing a half sleeve shirt. Her way made me feel that i was a "ra22asa" or something. They want to advise you for your own good but get a little carried away in their race for thawab, they dont really realize that their attitude is wrong and that advise is not like that, if anything it only pushs you in the opposite direction. You shouldnt stop going to that mosque, nobody on earth has the right to prevent you from going to the house of Allah.

P.S i know it's late but 7amdilla 3al salameh and congrats on your wedding :)

2/01/2006 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Safiya said...

I agree with the comments saying you should still go to the mosque. We all want to improve our practice and there are often obstacles in the way of this, but it is a test for us to overcome this.
You should feel sorry for this sister, she's in the house of Allah and yet she is treating her fellow sisters harshly. Be patient, treat her with kindness and she will eventually tire of treating you in such a manner.

2/02/2006 04:09:00 AM  
Blogger LouLou said...

ane,

"Reading about your grandfather made me think of my own dear grandmother."

Yes from what you write it sounds like they might have been kindred souls. God rest them both.

"I don't think you and S. should have to find another mosque."

I agree. Thanks for the support.

ATC,

No I won't give up. And I will do my best to win her over keeping in mind some of the tips in your comment.:)

You're right. We Librans don't like to give up. We also don't like hostile, tense stand-offs. It is our nature to try to resolve, to put everyone at ease. We don't like having enemies right?

Twosret,

I'll try to pass on your message. The first bit anyway.:)

Doshar,

"if you like that mosque, continue to go."

I like the mosque. And it's within walking distance for both of us. Finding another mosque would mean driving & traffic. Unnecessary inconvenience which will make it harder to keep up what we intend.

It's funny that she thinks she's so religious but she doesn't feel any guilt about possibly discouraging people from attending the mosque. Am sure we're not the only people she did this sort of thing with.

"actually i am quite impressed by your reaction. usually you would give someone like this a lecture, but you were patient."

What would you have done?I get the impression you're pretty patient yourself.:)

Actually that was just reflex. If she was someone close to me in age I would have told her sali salatik & mind your own business. But I can't talk like that to someone her age.

"do not let her discourage you."

I won't ISA. I just hope I can keep my friend from being discouraged.

Me ®,

"I never wore revealing or tight clothes in public, yet one girl once came up to me in uni and said " iza ma beddek tet7ajjabi 3al 2aleeleh etsattari" and lectured me cuz i was wearing a half sleeve shirt."

Rude, intolerant, counter-productive & stupid. I hope you told her that.

"P.S i know it's late but 7amdilla 3al salameh and congrats on your wedding :)"

Allah yisalimik. Thank you.:)

Safiya,

It is hard to feel sorry for her because she is pompous & self-righteous. Such people just irritate you. But I will do my best to defuse the situation.

Kayla/Alina,

Good point. If you come to a place of worship to focus on God & your prayers then how come you spend your time playing fashion police & finding fault with others & gossiping & bullying?People like that need to get their priorities straight.

2/04/2006 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Me said...

Sorry to hear that you encountered one of "those" people ya Loul...

I second Doshar on "do not let her discourage you"... and I hope you continue to go there to pray with your friend...

There is this hadith '3an Anas ibn Malik' radeya Allaho 3anho:

"Yasseru wa la to3asseru, wa bash-sheru wa la tonaf-feru"
"Facilitate things to people (concerning religious matters), and do not make it hard for them, and give them good tidings and do not make them run away (from Islam)"

- from Summarized Sahih Al-Bukhari, Arabic-English, Translated by Dr. Mouhammad Muhsin Khan

2/06/2006 04:09:00 PM  

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