Today I attended the Jummah khutbah at MCC, Muslim Chicago Center. Now, I have written about this mosque before, but today was just another experience amongst many that really reinforced the thought, "Wow... the people that come to this mosque are really ignorant."
But let's discuss the khutbah first, keep reading below for a summary of the khutbah.
He began with a reminder from Surah Al Qalam (The Pen). One of first revelations. Allah relates one of the first stories to us. It's also the first story to use the tool of huruf al muqaddat. Disjointed letters. Noon. We don't know what it means, but they are beautiful and only Allah knows what they mean.
He shared with us "a beautiful story."
When the Prophet (S) brought the message the Quraysh criticized him. They called him a mad man. Allah reassures him that he is not a madman. Those who criticize the Prophet, God criticizes them. Allah azzawajal.
Allah has given the Quraysh progeny and blessings but they criticize his Prophet.
Before the advent of Islam, in Yemen there were Jews. There was a person who was righteous in his dealings. God gave him wealth and brought a huge plot and dedicated it to Allah. Everyone in Yemen knew that if they were hungry they could go to the garden and eat the fruit and vegetables from there.
When he died his sons said they should be the inheritors of this wealth. They said before morning they would pluck every fruit, they were so miserly.
Altough they didn't say Insha'Allah. They knew what they were doing was not right. They should have held a portion of it for the poor, but they didn't leave anything for the poor. It was okay if they took some but not all.
While they were sleeping Allah sent a messenger (messenger doesn't necessarily mean prophet or angel), a fire was directed to the garden or a disease was spread and the garden was destroyed. It now became useless.
A part of the miracle of the Qur'an is that we know these stories and can learn from them.
When the sons woke they call to each other, lets get up and leave early morning to our crop to pluck it.
They are whispering to each other that not one poor person will eat from their garden.
When they reached the garden they said we are lost. Check the GPS again, this is not our plot. Allah is saying they are spiritually lost. Then they realized they were at the right garden. "It is us who have deprived ourselves," they remarked. They were the reason for this destruction that came.
These brothers had Iman (faith) and believed in Allah and were deluded by wealth and realized their own mistake. Because of this Allah did not destroy them.
The most intelligent of them said that "didn't I tell you that what we are doing is wrong. Instead of taking from the poor, we should praise Allah and give more to the poor. We have transgressed."
Because of this realization Allah blessed them.
He was a part of the destruction, you can't say something is wrong and then do the wrong thing. This in turn legitimizes God's punishment. The brothers started pointing fingers at one another but the destruction was already done.
You are destined for good from g\God, but because you sin, God takes away that good. [Hadith]
Thalimeen. Crossed the boundary.
We have so many restrictions on ourselves and we feel overwhelmed,"Oh no, I have to wear that on my head, I have to pray five times a day, I have to get up for Fajr."
when you give a child a shot, it hurts, but it is good for them and we want them to get it. It's similar in obeying god.
Obeying him will give you contentment that not even a million dollars can buy.
The brothers say this beautiful statement. "Perhaps, our master will replace our garden with something better, we are turning back to him today."
God did give them something better.
Makes us amongst those that recognize our mistakes and turn back to God. Ameen.
But let me tell you about my experience at the mosque today.
I entered MCC and walked into the prayer hall. In the middle of the prayer hall was a Somali, completely spread out, sleeping. I mean honestly? Is that appropriate? It's ridiculous and only furthers the stereotype about Somalis. If you are unsure about what stereotype I am referring to, just look at their country's current state.
He did eventually get up, before the mosque got too crowded.
Then, as we are standing up and getting in line for prayer, another Somali man is standing next to me on my left. There is about three inches of space between he and I, so a "brother" from behind tries to situate himself in that tiny gap. I look at him and politely tell him that there is not enough room there. The Somali looks at me and tells me I should move a little towards the right, I look at him and tell him, "There is enough space in the mosque, he doesn't need to stand here in this tiny spot." Not to mention that I didn't have any room to give him, and if I did, I may not have given it to him. I find it utterly ridiculous that people like sandwiching themselves together, like sardines in a tin. Why? Is praying the salat uncomfortably a Sunnah or something? Is praying on top of each other a more appropriate manner of praying? In fact, it's my firm belief that if you are uncomfortable during prayer that God is furthest from your thoughts. You're just worried if this guy is going to take up more space once you stand back up after the first rak'ah or if he's going to continue pressing his feet firmly against yours. No, please don't do that, it's not necessary and it does NOT enhance your prayer.
Anyway, the man moved back to his orignal spot with PLENTY of room for himself and those standing next to him. The Somali tried to get him to come back and told me, "This is not right brother." I looked at him, quite sternly now and said, "Calm down, it's not necessary for him to stand here, there is plenty of space." He got aggressive now and looked at me with an angry glare and repeated, "This is not right brother." I said, "Calm down brother." I mean honestly, are you going to argue with me in the seconds leading to the prayer, will that help you concentrate on your prayer and focus on God? He did me a great disservice since i was disturbed by it during my prayer and was unable to focus properly.
The khatib began the prayer and said "Allahu Akbar," everyone began their prayer save for the Somali that felt slighted. He was so disgusted, I imagine he was disgusted, that he left his spot next to me and walked in front of everyone in our row and found another place to pray. He probably forced his way into the row ahead of us since those people were already properly situated.
What an ignorant person. So, what I did was "not right" but what he did was clearly justified. Walking in front of 20 men while they are praying. Good job.
I haven't been going to MCC intentionally, because every time I go there, something dumb like this occurs. Perhaps I should start going there more now just to report on the idiocy that ensues behind the mosque doors. Maybe someone from the community will read this, get upset and yell about it. But at least then I will have their attention and perhaps the more serious and genuine will consider what I am saying and try to make the appropriate change.
Typically, the khutbahs are also pretty ignorant with Wahabi and Salafi ideology spewing out of every orifice, but I was lucky today that the khutbah was quite nice. I hope they maintain at least this level of khutbahs, but I really doubt it. It's a crap-shoot. I think it was mild today because there were a bunch of non-Muslims there observing, I wonder what they thought about the sleeping Somali.
Oh, and someone converted after the prayer, that's nice, I hope he sticks around, new Muslim converts have a 40% retention rate, that means 60% of Muslim converts end up leaving Islam, at least in this day and age and in this country. I wonder why? It might be because of mosques like MCC. If that guy who converted today remains Muslim, it will probably be because he doesn't frequent MCC.
God bless us all. Ameen.