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13 Things That Happen at Friday Prayers that Need to Stop.

Picture this. Your lunch break is about to hit lunch and your heading for the Mosque for Friday prayers. Because you've worked extra hard all week and don't have much to do on this particular Friday, you ask the boss for a 15 minute leeway in -case you get held up along the way. He grants it because you're a hard worker and you rarely go to Friday Prayers, deciding instead to pray in your car, out in the parking lot. As your Genie-Boss grants you your wish, you smile and tell him/her "I bet I can be back in 45 minutes if all goes well".

You obviously haven't been to the Mosque in a while because you forgot the 13 cardinal problems with the other people who go to Friday Prayer.

13. The Long Khutbah

This is one of the excruciating parts of Friday Prayers. Not the content of the Khutbah in of itself, or even the fact that there is a Khutbah. It would be un-Islamic to not have one. But sometimes the Imam may lose track of time and speak for painfully long periods of time. This becomes extremely hard to bare if the Imam isn't particularly engaging either. I'm talking about those Khutbah's that start from 1:00pm and end at 2:00pm. Those Khutbah's that rehash the same point again and again. These also tend to be the Khutbah's that occur when the Mosque is filled to the brim. Where you can't even sit cross-legged. You're relegated to knees-perpendicular-to-the-floor position, the position that places them under your chin. That same position that is forced on you because the fat guy to your left and the bratty kid on your right who needs to have room to play with his toy, otherwise he's going to cry and create a kicking fuss that will leave you the one being kicked; while the father looks at him and does nothing more than tap his finger over his lips asking the child to be quiet. And it gets worse. When it finally comes time for namaz, your legs are asleep. So, in the 30 seconds you have to formulate a line, you can barely move. You might still be sitting on the floor rubbing your legs while everyone around you looks on, like you should be ostracized for not getting up right away. Forget the fact that you can't. Or that if you do, your legs might buckle and you'll just fall back down. It becomes quite the dil-diddly-emma. And when you do stand up, you're back to being sandwiched between the fat guy and the kid; which leads me to the next point.

12. Children Crying and the Parents Who Ignore Them

Your sitting there. The Imam is getting to a great point in the khutbah, and then...the alarm sounds. Not that mechanical fire alarm at the back exit. The child alarm. Crying. The sound that many dread hearing, especially during a Khutbah, b/c, like always, this child is about two rows behind you, and the father who decided to bring his child to the Mosque today, decided to pay special attention to this particular part of the Khutbah. Fortunately for him, he can block out the child's crying. You can't do that. You already had enough on your mind with the fat guy and kid, and now this guy decides he doesn't need to escort himself and his child from the prayer hall so everyone else can continue to pay attention. I guess he doesn't realize that everyone else in the hall also has ears. Ears that work. You sit there and wonder when the crying is going to stop, when the khutbah finishes. Geez. You didn't even get to pay attention to the end of the khutbah b/c that child's crying. Another Friday, another khutbah ruined. Which brings me to my next point..

11. Crawling Children During Prayer

You've now set your rows for congregational Zuhr prayer. The kid next to you and his dad moved forward into a gap in the row in front of you. Awesome. Someone less annoying will stand next to you, right? Wrong. Remember the father from #12? He decided to move up, now. Him and his child. Since the child will not participate in prayers, because of his age, the father will stand the child next to him (and you) and continue with his own prayers. That's fine.

Or is it?

Prayer has started by this time, and it's about time to move toward your sajdah when you realize the child who was supposed to be standing next to you is now sitting directly in front of you. The father, staying consistent in his habits, neglects to pull the child out of your way. This leaves you to make a quick decision about whether to side-step the child, or push the child out of the way as you go down for sajdah.

As you move down for sajdah, having decided you'll push the child ever so slightly, so you have room to put your head down, the child moves out of the way on his own. Thankfully, a situation was averted. Children in the sajdah zone is a dangerous circumstance many of us face when we go for Friday prayers. It is something that needs to stop, though. It's also about as common as...

10. Cell Phones Ringing

Oh, I'm sorry, was that Surah al-Kafiroon you just recited? All I remember hearing was "Ameen" followed by "Hello Moto", followed by an urge to do the robot dance. This has happened so many times to you that when you say Ameen during the course of any prayer, that stupid Motorola ringtone plays in the back of your head, quicker than a dog salivates for meat powder. Pavlov would've been proud. You aren't though. You want to do your prayers in peace. Without disturbance? Is that so much to ask? Apparently so. You know what else shouldn't be too much to ask? Not getting...

9. Elbows to the Head.
Now that #11 isn't of concern anymore, someone else decided to hone in on your fun. An elbow to the head, while not as common as #10, is definitely a problem when going for Friday prayers. People just love to spread their arms out during sajdah. Unfortunately, this means you must sacrifice your head for the sake of his elbows. Definitely not a good trade-off. Not the most comfortable position to be in. However, this doesn't seem to bother you that much b/c while you can probably still focus on your prayers with an elbow now leaning on your head, it's those darn...

8. Smelly Socks
that are the greatest distraction in a trip to the Mosque that seems to be a convoluted attempt to stop you from ever coming again. Unfortunately, the conspiracy won't rattle you. Even these socks. Socks that reek. Socks that, when you arise, remind of you of Linus from the Charlie Brown comics (not in a good way). You'd like to wonder just why someone would come to the Mosque with smelly socks, but your attention has been diverted by the infamous

7.Butt-to-Face When Rising from Sajdah.

This one is one of those that just seems to be bad timing. As you rise from sajdah to stand for the third recitation of Surah al-Fatiha, the guy in front of you just happens to get up in a way that causes butt-to-face contact. Not a pleasantry by any means. But one of those occurrences that happens from time to time. We all like to pretend it doesn't happen, but it's a unspoken occurrence that is all too common. Of course, this is tied into the next one; which is a doozy.

6. Moving Back.
#7, while, as mentioned, is common, is also very avoidable. You see, you only got the butt-to-face because of one reason, and one reason only. The person in front of you. The initiator of this contact, has a bad habit of moving back every time he gets up from sajdah. We all know your feet will move slightly back after sajdah. However, those careful enough, will make the necessary adjustments to stand back in line with the other fellow congregates. This means the person must be aware of his doing so. This is not always the case. Many of these proprietors of such annoyances are also the proprietors of the next issue.

5. Weird Bodily Sounds
As you already know, while the Mosque functions as a House of God, doubles as a location for a symphony orchestra of a different nature. The Bodily Orchestra as conducted by the Elderly. This has become so common, you almost forget it's there. But it's there, baby. Oh, it's there. From the time you entered the Mosque, to the time you will leave, there will be those elderly who feel compelled to share their bodies need to release burps, half-burps, snorting, sniffing, coughing, sneezing, and any other sound it is capable of making, with the rest of the congregation. This background noise usually doesn't catch your attention until someone making that hocking sound; like they are about to spit. Your ears are now perked and aware of every bodily sound that is emitted from every person, old and young. It is this way that you spend your final moments in prayer, before it is completed. You can only add this to a growing list of things that need to stop, that happen at Friday Prayers. Unfortunately, this isn't the end. There's also the case of...

4. Your Shoe = Rag Doll
So, now that you are done prayer, you must rush to find your shoes and go back to work. You might still have a chance to be on-time. That is, until you've reached to spot where your shoes were. Yes, past tense. Your shoes were here. Now they are not. Your shoe = rag doll, believe it or not. It is not important to the 100+ people who came for Friday prayers to not step on someones shoes, to not throw someones shoes out the way, to separate the shoes as if it were a mandatory requirement in Islam. No, it is not important to them. Unfortunately, it is for you. And that's why you choose an off-beat location where you must be absolutely sure no one will step on them, or take the liberty to throw one to parts unknown. You must have known placing your shoes near the front entrance, by the doors would be akin to shoe-harakiri. Nevertheless, the very practice of kicking someones shoe around must stop.

3. People Pushing as Your Put on Your Shoes
Now that you've found your shoe, you must put it on. This is a task unto itself, as many people are either in a rush, the same way you are, or just don't care. It's the latter that need to stop, as their oversight into your existence leads to the vulnerability of your safety as you stand in the crowd trying to tie your shoes on your feet. You'd like to just tuck in the laces and walk out the door, with the hope of tying them outside, where the masses haven't reached yet, but you know that one of your laces is bound to fall out; and that is certainly asking to be tripped. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Blocking Entrances.
You know these people. The ones that met each other last week at the Mosque, but are so excited to see each other, they MUST stand in the door-way and block you while you try to rush outside and get to your car before #1 takes affect. And it always seems to be the front-entrance, and it also appears they know you're there, but don't care. Either way, you're trying to get in your car, but as one of these people just has to know if the other one is driving the same car as the last time he saw him, you look at your watch and realize your late. You're time is up. You are officially late. As you look up, they've both disappeared. How wonderful. As you walk to your car, you now don't care. You couldn't care less. You weave through the traffic in the parking lot, walking slowly toward your car. You don't even care about the next one, b/c that was the last straw by your boss. One more late, he said, and you're fired. So we'll mention the last one out of courtesy anyway.

1. The Traffic in the Parking Lot.
It's not the traffic itself, per se. There are other people who go to the Mosque. And, the more, the better. However, what slows down the drivers ability to leave the parking lot in an orderly manner is simple. Like #3, there are always people who will decide to stand in the way of other cars and have a conversation. There are always people who decide they cannot wait for another car to pass, and must get in the line that is exiting the lot for the street, and they have to get in there, even if there is no room.

Combined with #2 through #13, it's just one of the many things that happen at the Mosque that needs to stop.

With that said, the lesson in all of this is not that the Mosque, and the people in it need to fundamentally change their behavior. The rule of thumb should be that if you are going to go to Friday Prayers, you should never do so in a rush, and should always remember that your priority when you are at the Mosque is to worship and to focus on the remembrance of Allah, as well as your own spiritual lackings, and not what your next task, or appointment is.

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Anonymous said... October 26, 2008 at 9:24 PM

Thank you!

I'm really glad you mentioned it and your absolutely right.

The one problem is most Islamic halaqas and lectures are so focused on teaching a variety of subject, but they neglect one thing: Akhlaq(Conduct and Manners).
This should be sought before any knowledge.

You're def. geting on my blogroll.

Anonymous said... October 27, 2008 at 5:10 AM

#1 is not valid anymore in Indonesian urban mosques. The whole rituals (incl. khutbah and pray) takes max. 45 minutes (mostly 30 minutes). We do not have holiday on Fridays, so, the khatibs should consider this.

Sule said... November 9, 2008 at 11:14 PM

I never knew that, about Indonesia. Though I do agree that in most western countries, or any country that doesn't have Friday as a weekend holiday, should have their imams take this into consideration.

Ultimately, besides the work-productivity thing, it would make the khutbah's more focused and poignant, and maintain the attendee's attention.

Anonymous said... July 20, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Lol i like this

Anonymous said... May 29, 2010 at 11:59 PM

Good read man, good read.


Unknown said... March 4, 2014 at 2:42 AM

Very true! Very well said brother!

Unknown said... March 4, 2014 at 2:43 AM

Very true! Very well said brother!

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