June 25, 2011

This isn't my ummah

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I'm not sure how much I've shared about my current masjid on here. I really miss my old one, which I loved even before moving away. However, absence surely does make the heart grow fonder.

My current masjid is fairly segregated. The Indo-Paks stay with the Indo-Paks, the Egyptians with the Egyptians, Somalis with Somalis... yeah you get the picture. Of course I've met a few very sweet sisters of all different nationalities and ethnicities alhamdulillah but they appear to be few and far between.

This masjid does offer weekly Friday night halaqas with dinner afterward. We've went a few times but never very often. During Ramadhan last year, I pretty much swore off going to the masjid because of the crowding and the horrible manners of the people.

Time often makes us forget.

So tonight I decided to take my friend Lisa and her daughter plus myself and my two stepdaughters. (Aaminah fell asleep before we left.) The halaqa was nice but even through the website said it started at 7:45 it didn't start til 8:30 so we waited a long time. It lasted an hour masha'Allah and by the time we prayed maghrib, had the halaqa, and the food was ready it was 10:15. So pretty late right?

Anyway I go downstairs with my friend Lisa. She is pregnant masha'Allah and has several other health conditions that make walking very difficult for her. I am well... me :-) with my myriad of problems so my stepdaughters offered to get a plate for both me and Sr. Lisa. Very sweet masha'Allah.

We get downstairs and the typical territorial behavior is on display; this table is for the Masris, this one is only Moroccans, etc. I find a table with just 2 girls at it. Apparently they try to say we can't sit but there are no plates at the table and only these two girls so I take one of the 8 chairs available. I am not going to stand to eat when there is a free table and I am definitely not going to stand while 2 young girls sit.

Apparently this was a mistake. No sooner did I sit down with Lisa than the girl's mother starting gesticulating and talking in Arabic. Sorry I'm not budging. She is in the back of the food line and it always takes a long time for the sisters to get their food. I have plenty of time to eat, plus do they really need all those chairs?

During the entire 10 minutes I am trying to quickly eat my dinner so I can catch the Isha salaat, we are getting the stink eye big time from these Arab sisters. There a lot of catty looks, outright stares and muttered phrases. OK yeah I get it, you dont' want us at "your" table. Tougha-lucka sister, we're sitting here.

The catch? There were plenty of seats for their family plus some random chairs scattered here and there. Anyway the grouchiest woman tries to come over and take the seat Sr. Lisa's daughter Aliyah had just stood up from. Lisa says, "No I'm sorry, my daughter is sitting there". Apparently that threw the woman into a fit. Uh-huh, ok.

It was ludicrous, to say the least. I head upstairs for prayer but Sr. Lisa stays behind because she has to help Aliyah eat. I get back and the stink-eye is still being given. Great. So much for sisterhood huh?

The next thing I know, hormonal pregnant Sr. Lisa looks at the Arab lady and says, "Are you talking about my friend?" and looks like she is about to open up a can of whoop-ass, Jerry Springer style. LOL

Apparently the woman had started pointing very bluntly at me and saying, "blah blah blah her, her, her!". She answers Sr. Lisa and says, "No, I was talking about something else," and tries to point at a Gatorade bottle. Yes, very scintillating conversation.

LOL yeah ok. So they start to talk about us in Arabic but my stepdaughter Hafsa understands and she said they were saying something like "Can't that old woman get up and get her own food" or something. They said a lot of other stuff but Hafsa said it was in a slang she didn't understand. Nice.

Are you joking me?? What kind of so-called "sisters" are these to a) not want us to sit with them, b) to talk about us in front of us and c) call us names? What???

I felt like I was in middle school, wallah.

Then came the final debacle. Someone set out ice-cream with no one to serve it. All hell broke loose. Misakeen little kids were standing in line and some sisters (also the ones who were so rude to us) started breaking the line and physically pushing the little kids! They were grabbing bowls and taking serving spoons away from others.

Most of the little kids didn't get any ice-cream. It was ridiculous. My friend Sr. Lisa went up to try and restore some order but it was a lost cause. She did help a couple of little kids get theirs but the sisters had big bowls for themselves.

I'm telling you sisters, my heart is so sad right now I could cry. At first I was annoyed by their lack of manners and their obvious rudeness to me and my friend but then, especially after seeing how they acted over some generic $5 a gallon ice-cream, I just felt defeated.

This feeling has stuck with me all night. As we were leaving a group of teenage girls dressed in skin tight pants and see-through hijabs saw me walk past in my khimar and abaya and looked me up and down and gave me ugly looks. I know this cause I was in front of the rest of my group and they all saw these girls and were thinking..."Um why are you staring like that?"

So I drive home just feeling disbelief and unhappiness and yes, a little anger at the state of our ummah. As I neared my home, I had to stop by our local convenience store for some milk. I put it up on the counter and the young clerk asked me if I had seen the date. Apparently the milk was expiring that day.

"Oh no I didn't notice, thank you" and I started to turn to go get another gallon. Masha'Allah he insisted to go get it for me and was nothing but kind and polite the entire time.

As I walked back to my car, I could feel tears pricking my eyelids. I was treated so much kinder by a stranger at the store than I was by someone I should be able to call "sister" and turn to if I ever needed anything.

I miss my old masjid. :-(


Dee said...

It's times like these that i wish we could just be a bit more...civilized, especially towards each other. It's sad that the nonMuslims have better behaviour than us most of the time it seems when we have the Prophet's (pbuh) good manner and form as an example for us to emulate :(

Stacey said...

Salam Umm Aaminah, I hate to tell you this but I think your old Masjid was one in a million, everything you and your friend Lisa experienced in the mosque and in the halaqa I've seen with my own eyes too many times to count. Obe of the worst things I saw at a dinner fundraiser were "sisters" grabbing 2 plates of food (one for themselves and one for their absent non paying husband) before anyone else behind them in line was able to get their food leaving others that had paid at the back with slim pickings. Shame on them.

Bonnie said...

And I thought my Masjid was bad.....there little groups form according to race, and me being the only convert who attends classes has to sit in the corner by myself, it makes me sad because mnay converts just dissapear never to be seen again. However no one would ever, ever be that rude to another and if they were I would certainly be saying something ma'ashalla you really have patience!

Gail said...

Assalaam waliekum.
I dont frequent the masjids like I used too because I have grown too lazy and I hate the ethnic divide. The masijd that we attend now is very nice. I made a good amount of friends. At my old masjid, ethnic divide was pretty strong. Mostly the Arabs were the snobby ones and their children were spoiled. There were a few Arabs who were very sweet and humble.
One Eid, I pulled my child into the bathroom to discipline her and the women were laughing at me. I simply finished my session, got uppity and walked out of the bathroom like a queen. Mind you not, most foreign Muslims let their children run free in the masjid and strongly believe that discipline should be postponed until about... puberty. Personally I feel horrible when my child is running a mock in the masjid.

Anonymous said...

Salaam alaikum. People were acting that way in a masjid?! Wowww. That is really sad :(

Try to not let people get to you, sis. It happens here a lot too. The whispers and catty comments... Yet if you confront them, they deny it and lie to your face. Even if you heard them. It's just one of those things, and it happens all over. One thing I've learned is just to let it go... Don't bother to get yourself angry over people like that. Because if they're going to lower themselves and treat others like that, you're already better than them. Just stick with Allah, and some good friends you already know you can trust and you'll be okay :)

Anonymous said...

Awww honey, big hugs! Subhan Allah, if these people could only see themselves! In the masjid no less!!! Agrahhh, it's so aggravating sometimes. Where's the generosity? Where's the compassion? The sense of
"want for your brother (sister) what you want for yourself"? And I'm sorry, talking in a foreign language is the same, if not worse than as in the hadith about when there are 3 muslims, 2 muslims shouldn't talk amongst themselves to the exclusion of the 3rd. I'm so sorry you had to experience that, and may Allah make these sisters aware of their errors and guide them to the straight path, AMEEN!

Umm Mini said...

Salaam alaykum,

I feel even sad after reading what you've been through.
People acting they get nothing to eat and all jump on the icecream. OMG is all I can think.

Insha'Allah it will get better in the masjid there.

HijabiMommy said...

The state of our ummah is sad and depressing, indeed.

I don't know why people act that way, much less in a MASJID. I know some horrifying stories of horrible behavior in the masjid during Ramadan. Women would bring their own pots and pans and take food BACK HOME before everyone had been served dinner after iftaar. They would scurry off to the kitchen to horde the food while everyone prayed and stick it in their cars.

Astughfirullah. :(

I'm sorry you had to experience that.

May Allah give us all hidayah.

jazain said...

if it werent so disgusting it might be amusing. but its so disgusting that i found myself with tears in my eyes. you know, ive written a million times in my blog about being secluded and alone at my masjid. but this story just makes my own story seem tiny in comparison.

i want to tell you what i cant stand. the segregation. just like you said, the egyptians at one table. all somalis at another. yes its their right but they are not practicing the religion at all. they exclude ppl. i also dont like the way hispanic american muslims are separating themselves, irish american muslims, etc etc etc. at the end of the day we are just MUSLIMS. does Allah care what your ethniticity is?

but on the same token, i almost wish there were mosques for reverts. or straight up americans (you know what i mean) where everyone is speaking the same language and we are not excluding.

oh who am i kidding, we would still find some reason to separate within the mosque.

i have to remind myself that these ppl are HUMAN. they are not islam. they are fallible muslims yes and its totally sad that we cant even be connected and hold on to the ropes of the ummah but its reality.

i am just appalled at the behaviour. and it will continue happening because we have no one in charge of our ummah. we are just a reckless bunch of muslims who run haphazard just like kids do when there is no teacher present.


Umm Aaminah said...

DD you are right; when I hear Muslim talk about the kuffar (especially westerners) I want to tell them they could learn a thing or two from my family.

MC, you know I have read your comments and always felt so bad for what you went through. I had a small taste last year but always tried to chalk it up to me being new and making 70 excuses for my sisters "Oh maybe she's just shy" etc. etc. No, just pretty sure they are mean people. :-(

Sr. Gail, that is a huge pet peeve of mine! Aaminah never runs around crazy, she sits and learns how to behave and respect the house of Allah. I feel you sister!

Bonnie, it was funny when my friend spoke up! You know how crazy those pregnancy hormones can make you. lol I was still trying to make excuses for their behavior but my patience was dwindling fast.

Amal, I have a handful of very sweet sisters I say salaams to and all are from different races. I always try to branch out and salaam others but usually am just met by a look of disbelief. lol

Umm Hamza, you are so right about not excluding others with your language! And when you know it's because they are talking about you... it just chafes my behind, to be honest. lol

Umm Mini, yeah, over some cheap icecream. Subhanallah.

HijabiMommy... that's a new low. :-( Taking food to their homes before iftar??? Ya Allah. And amin to your dua.

Hey Jana, you are right, if there was another masjid people would make another divide. Then it would be rich and poor or abaya-wearers against non-wearers.

Wallah this is enough to do my head in!!!!!!!!!!

TH said...

Wow... unbelievable. And scary...

I'm about to move (for college) and now I know I need to pray that the new masjid near me is welcoming and polite. InshAllah.

Stacey said...

@ Gail, that is a huge problem at our mosque too, kids running wild while the Imam is speaking and the parents just don't care. I've heard people say "oh it's OK the Prophet's grandson's use to climb on him while he was praying". I'm wondering though if this happened just in the home and not in a mosque. Really it's just selfish and lazy parents that let their kids run wild without disipline, and has nothing to do with what the Prophet PBUH allowed. When I was in Syria it was so common to see kids, young kids as in just out of the toddler stage out alone, screaming down the streets, kicking cars, hitting things with sticks, throwing rocks at cats....ack it drove me nuts. There was only one time I was out and I saw a kid misbehave and get punished by the parent (not the maid as far as I could tell).

@Umm Aaminah I don't know if you read my blog anymore, but the things I've dealt with have basically pushed me to a point where I am staying as far away from the "Muslim" community as possible, sad as it is it's much more freeing.

Umm Aaminah said...

Salaam ya'll. MC I do still read your blog but for some reason, it won't allow me to post a comment from my google account. I don't know what is wrong; it happens on yours, HijabiMommy's, and a couple of other sisters. Some others are fine, however. Hmmm weird.

Bonnie said...

I was like that as well about the commenting on other blogs, it was sooooooo annoying. You need to clear your cookies and your cache and the problem should go away.

Anonymous said...

Junior high is an understatement... I will be honest with you, I have been made to feel more welcome in a church (when working with an interfaith program) than I have ever been in a masjid. That my dear ladies is just plain sad... I just don't see this "sisterhood" that so many talk about.


Umm Aaminah said...

Bonnie, thanks for the idea! I'll try it insha'Allah. :-)

Lina, so many times alhamdulillah I've been blessed to find like-minded sisters; far more often than I've felt what I did the other night.

Just the other day I was at the dentist's office when another muhajabat came in. She was so interested in my conversion story and said, "Subhanallah, we can go all around the world and find family."

This is the attitude I know and love; I have found it in so many sisters so many times, I guess it makes it even more shocking when someone is out and out rude like this past week.

May Allah swt guide us all ameen.

Umm Aaminah said...

Bonnie, thanks for the idea! I'll try it insha'Allah. :-)

Lina, so many times alhamdulillah I've been blessed to find like-minded sisters; far more often than I've felt what I did the other night.

Just the other day I was at the dentist's office when another muhajabat came in. She was so interested in my conversion story and said, "Subhanallah, we can go all around the world and find family."

This is the attitude I know and love; I have found it in so many sisters so many times, I guess it makes it even more shocking when someone is out and out rude like this past week.

May Allah swt guide us all ameen.

Banana Anne said...

Oy vey. :( That sounds just awful. Please don't tell me it was at the ISBCC (aka "my" masjid)!

Alhamdulillah, I have never experienced such rude, unIslamic behavior, but I have heard about it enough times to know that, unfortunately, it seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Out of all places, you should NOT have to feel uncomfortable or unwanted in a masjid (and that goes for Muslims and non-Muslims; non-Muslims should be able to visit a masjid without getting the third degree or having people harass them for their clothes, lifestyles, etc.).

Umm Aaminah said...

Anne, no it isn't "your" masjid; do you know I've yet to visit it? Insha'Allah this week or next while my friend Sr. Lisa is here. My husband stopped by a week or so ago when we were in Boston to drop Alex off at the airport. I didn't have time to go.

Unknown said...

Asalaam Alaikum sis!!

SubhanAllah that is so sad.

I never go to the mosque, prefer to pray at home so no idea what ours is like.

If it is anything like what you are describing then I am better off at home

I am so saddened to hear that this goes on. It is so wrong :(

Rene´s Bare Essentials said...

Wow, I read your post twice and Im still in shock! A lot of the muslim women who behave this way in my experience are uneducated (when it comes to islam). Its very rare that you see brothers behave this way, so why the sisters? Islam aside, these type of women can be found everywhere. They lack class and manners. Im really sorry that these women treated you and sister lisa this way.
Although I have never experienced sisters behaving in such a way I have experienced children running around the masjid before and after prayer while the parents chat in the corner. While praying I was once pushed so hard that I fell and never did the mom come over and tell her children to apologize to me. Instead, the mom who was chatting with a friend gave me a strange look.

Anonymous said...

As salamu laikum, Sorry to hear about the story but sometimes people do bad things and take offense to small things. Even during the time of Prophet peace be upon him one person even grabed a hold of his kamiz and accused him of holding Zakat. And he remained calm and w/ good manner as it could influence others. We must keep extending our hands and hearts to each other as we are commanded be soft with the believers and stern (not rude)to non-believers for their lies against our Lord, his messenger and now Muslmims as a whole. Keep shaking hands with a smile. :) I hope that you and your reader will stop by my blog at on women's issues.

Umm Aaminah said...

Salaam ya'll. Sr. Aisha, thank you for the wonderful reminder that, even when confronted with rudeness, we should remain calm and kind.

Insha'allah this is something I can work on. To be honest I ended up just not looking at them to avoid their mean looks.

Anonymous said...

Your welcome I've been there before sis., and then I realized you know what eveyone is different and I greet everyone and ask them how they are doing. Sorry about the typo my blog is
aishablogs2.blogspot, I hope you and your readers will check it out. :)

Hijabi Apprentice said...

:( do not like! I rarely go to the masjid anymore and this is one of the reasons. This makes me so mad. I seems like if it isn't the "haraam police" it's this kind of ethnocentric rubbish. Ya Allah!

Anonymous said...

salaamu alaikum...sister this is a huge problem at a lotta masjids...Ive had my fair share of this myself at my every ramadan iftaar and weekly potluck its seriously like "who let the dogs out, woof, woof!"...because a lot of them have NO adaab at alllllllllllll and are extremely rude, nasty and downright ignorant. Its really a huge shame...ive gotten into my fair share of verbal altercations with Arab ladies with a territorial attitude in my day and I'm quite fierce...I do NOT back down so c'mon. But yeah...why they have to do that at the masjid of all places is beyond me...but unfortunately as my husband even says and which I agree, the masjid draws all kind from the decent, pious people to the phoney hypocrites so you make your own conclusions...

Umm Aaminah said...

Umm Ibrahim, it's just so disheartening to see firsthand, but even worse to hear about all of my sisters who have experienced the same or worse.