We had an interesting incident at work today. It was related to a new prayer facility that we managed to obtain from the company in recent months. The pettiness and irrationality of today’s incident made it clear why the Ummah is in the state that it’s in. This might sound overly dramatic, or it might even sound petty in its own right, but the underlying principles struck me as exceptionally concerning because of the way it plays out in much greater issues than what took place today.
The incident involved the installation of carpets in our new facility. The carpets are specifically designed for mosques, so it has patterns that guide the rows that we stand in to perform salaah. The fact that there is real cause for concern regarding the direction that the carpets face relative to what was previously agreed to be the direction of the qibla is a separate issue. However, in the installation of the carpets, the project manager forgot to set aside a section at the entrance to the room to be tiled so that we could enter the room before removing our shoes. As a result, the practice for the last couple of weeks was to remove our shoes outside the room in the common use area which is a high traffic corridor shared by all employees, and then step into the room with shoes in hand to be placed in the provided shoe racks.
Last week we agreed to place down a strip of tape to demarcate the salaah area from the entrance to the room so that it was easy to determine which area could be stepped on with shoes, and which not. After salaah today the changes were announced. I later received an email advising me that some ‘brothers’ took exception to this common sense approach. They apparently didn’t feel it was right to step on the carpeted area inside the door because it was a single piece with the area that we performed salaah in. Is it just me, or is this seriously ridiculous logic?
So I asked what the basis for such a decision was, since I’m quite certain that it has absolutely no basis in the Sunnah and in fact inconveniences the Muslims that wish to use the facility, and I was told that it would just make it easier for those that were using the facility, so we should just accept it. Makes it easier? Really? According to some nameless/faceless ‘brothers’?
The underlying principles that I complained about at the beginning of this post relates to the willingness to give way to common sense in the enforcement of petty personal preferences. It has a distinct undertone of extremism that has no basis in Islam, and cannot be justified in any reasonable manner. But we’re loathe to object because of our need to pacify those that hold sway, rather than speak out against such pettiness.
This same inclination to give in to personal preferences over what is specifically allowed or forbidden in Islam is exactly the source for so many contaminants of culture that have soiled the simplicity of Islam. I wondered about the precedent already set in almost every other mosque where a single piece of carpet extends between the official boundary of the mosque and what is deemed to be the outside of the mosque for purposes of i’tikaaf, and it simply caused me to struggle even more with the ridiculous logic being subscribed to in this instance.
This must seem really petty, but it’s the pettiness of it that seems to carry the theme of the Ummah these days. We’ll strike out in full fury to defend the honour of Rasulullah (SAW) when some idiot makes a second rate movie that received almost no attention prior to our mob-like behaviour, but remain silent when innocent Muslim men and women are assaulted, harassed, murdered, abused, raped, molested, mutilated and worse. Is it because we’re incapable of behaving honourably, that we find it necessary to seek honour in defending something in a manner that is not even sanctioned in Islam? It’s this same mindset that has created suicide bombers and indiscriminate attacks on unarmed civilians including women and children and the elderly, simply because this same irrational logic that we allow to perpetuate in the Ummah is used to justify our actions where cowardly acts are easier to enforce than having a backbone and taking a principled and bold stand against the injustices that we profess to want to avenge.
Muslims have earned the scorn and contempt of the disbelievers, most definitely not because Islam is prone to attracting such vile criticism, but simply because we’ve become petty and impotent to the point of having inane debates about simple logic and sectarian bull, while pretending to be defenceless when faced with the responsibility of protecting the honour and dignity of those we are responsible for.