I was talking to another staff member at school today (a revert like me) and she said that a lot of people ask her why they don't see her more for 'community events' at the masjid. She lowered her voice and said 'Jamilah, I don't like the community at this masjid'. She went on to say she felt bad about feeling that way but that every time she came to the masjid for anything she left frustrated or disgusted by what she saw. I thought about it for a moment and I said, you know... I totally agree with you.
I don't go to the masjid for much other than school, but if I happen to go there on a Saturday or Sunday for salat, I'm always completely frustrated by what I see. There are a few different groups of sisters that gather at the masjid every weekend. They all sit in the musallah and talk and eat and laugh.... oh and not watch their kids at all. Usually the kids are either running around like crazy in the musallah or they are downstairs destroying the school's property or in the bathroom flushing things down the toilet that don't fit. The sisters eat in the musallah and make a huge mess. Their kids also eat in there and make an even bigger mess.. PLUS they take the food with them downstairs and in the hall and even in the bathrooms and leave bits of it everywhere.
So imagine that you stop into the masjid for salat, and you want to do some sunnah prayers and dhikr before salat start in 10 minutes. So you walk in, take off your shoes, step over all of the shoes on the floor and not in the rack and put your shoes in the rack. As you are doing this at least 3 kids tear by you screaming about something. Next you open the women's entrance to the musallah and almost hit a baby sitting on the floor right inside the door. The baby is unattended and crying. You step in, pick up the baby, look around and notice that a woman has looked up and noticed you have her child. She motions you over. You hand her the baby, she calls to her 6 year old to come take the baby and goes back to chatting with her friends. You make your way past coats, food and toys on the floor to the front of the women's area so you can pray with the divider wall as a sutrah. As you make takbir and begin praying a ball flies in front of you followed by a child. You try to stop them from crossing in front of you but they are too fast. A bit shaken you carry on. Meanwhile there are 20-25 sisters 10 feet behind you having conversations is Arabic and Urdu at the top of their lungs. You try to focus and ignore the noise. While in sajood a child trips and falls over your feet landing on you. Again, you try to carry on. As you finish praying you look around to see if ANYONE noticed that their children just disturbed your salat twice. Of course not. So you spot the kids that ran in front of you and fell on you and you ask them who their mommy's are. They tell you and run off. So you go to introduce yourself and advise them of their children's behavior. As you finish speaking the sister's face is as blank as it was when you introduced yourself. She mutters a quick apology and goes back to her chatting. Sigh..... anyway, now its time for salat. We all line up, and the imam begins the prayer. The same kids that were running around before are still doing it. Some of them are old enough to pray but they don't. They scream, yell, fight, run, fall and laugh. Salat is over and you decide that doing sunnah prayers would be pointless, because you would have no concentration what so ever. You leave.
What emotion are you feeling right now?
So needless to say, my community is really difficult to deal with sometimes. The Imam tries to keep things under control but no one listens. Signs are posted, asking people not to make a mess, leave their children unattended or hold social gatherings in the musullah, but it never sinks in. I actually have met some very good sisters at the masjid (and my husband has met good brothers as well), but we as a group rarely go to the masjid because of what I described above. I used to have a tajweed class every Friday night at the masjid. We used on of the classrooms downstairs. About 15 minutes into class the kids would start coming downstairs and running around. They would yell in the hall, push the chairs over in the cafeteria. Rip things off the walls and cause havoc in the bathrooms. After a while we just decided to move the class to a sisters house and we never went back. Its sad but true. I wonder if its like this everywhere?