(Guest post from Mullah Akbar).
Having grown up in Saudi Arabia, through the 80s, 90s, and the new millennium, I have seen the virgin desert turn into jungle of concrete, marble, granite and glass.
These are natural progressions which many of have already read about Saudi Arabia –the result of nature’s gift to this land –oil and religious tourism. The majority of these ignorant citizens are blessed, but they don’t know how to count those blessings. That would be attributed to lack of education –while the petro dollars are used for mosques, palaces and Bentleys. But they lack the education to appreciate and value these luxuries.
However, today I want to share my thoughts on the title of this post. The mosque. Yes, the divine place I stopped going to in the country which is home of Islam and the last Prophet. Three exceptions to the above comment. The two holy mosques in Makkah and Medina and Friday prayers. Because I respect my father, hence I have no choice but to join him on these occasions plus I am the sole designated son/driver at home.
There are more mosques in Saudi Arabia than there are pubs in UK. That’s how countless they are every few hundred yards. All praise to Allah. But this post is about mosques and my experience of praying in Saudi Arabia.
But mosques do not serve just one purpose here in Saudi. Prayer that is..
Our Indian brother from Goa – let’s say Anthony who decides to convert to Islam because he sees the light. He also uses one these mosques to announce his ‘shahadah’ (declaration of faith) in front of a Friday gathering. All praise to Allah!
In Ramadan and on Fridays for many fashionably advanced Saudis and non Saudis, your choice of mosque reflects how image conscious you are and of course trend conscious –‘Oh! I prayed at the prince sultan mosque today. No! The Nora mosque is much better –I prayed my Taraweeh (the extra prayers in night in Ramadan) there and the Qari (the one who recites the Quran) has a wonderful voice. Like a virgin choir boy reciting! All praise to Allah for those virgins-yeah baby!!
The 14 Saudis who slammed into twin towers, probably got out of one these mosques after one fine Friday sermon and decided Americans needed to be taught a lesson. Indeed – All praise is due to Allah! And maybe Osama in this case!
On Mondays and Thursdays people gather here at dusk to breakfast following the steps of the Prophet Muhammad who used to fast on these days. Praise the Lord!
So why did I stop going to such a wonderful place of worship and communal gathering?
Let’s say I realized if I wanted to listen to Hollywood, classical, religious hymns, and Bollywood music I could do it in the comfort of my home or my car. Seriously, there is more variety of music you can hear in the five prayers than you do at home or radio in normal day.
Nokia, Samsung, Apple and other phone manufacturers have managed to do what crusaders and ‘hostile to Islam’ empires could not do in thousands of years. They have brought music into Islam and Muslims place of worship without a fight while making a buck at the same time. Yet sadly my Muslims brothers embrace this desecration without giving a second thought to it.
I have heard the soundtrack of American Beauty blaring loudly while I bow to Allah in Sajdah in the second unit of my prayer. I ended up with a picture of Kevin spacey in mind smiling up to the rose petals falling on his face and of course the hot cheer girls in the film. This was in Makkah in front of Kaaba.
As I bow midway with my hand on my knees –half way through the prayer – I hear Vivaldi’s four seasons from a Nokia phone – right in front of the house of prophet –where he is buried with Abu Bakr and Omar.
I am supposed to say as a friend says ‘Lahore Valquat’ –its actually’ La howla wala Quwata Illa billah! ‘I seek refuge from Allah’ whenever something blasphemous or shameless is written or said. But hey this is the fact!
As I end my prayer, in the first mosque of Islam –Qubaa –I hear a famous Bollywood tune ‘kitni bechain hoke tumsey mili’ – translated effectively into ‘How I writhe in horniness as we meet’! Spoken by one lover to another and probably penned in Urdu by Gulzar sb?
People spend more time making feature length videos of themselves walking through the interior of grand mosque and Prophet’s resting place, than actually spending time to contemplate their reasons for paying respect to the Prophet or what their belief and faith is all about.
Muslims, regardless of nationality have blasphemed and desecrated their own faith, religion and places of worship. Educated yet illiterate – they buy $800 phone but they don’t know how to switch it off or make it silent. Such is Jahilia –the state which Muslims are in. Sticking ‘please switch off you your mobile phones’ posters is not going to help. Doing things consciously; will! When you enter the mosque to do your duty as if it’s a burden –then do it consciously at least. Leave your music outside!
We can read, but we don’t comprehend. We hear, but we don’t listen. I would have preferred not to go to God’s house or Prophet’s mosque, were it not for the parental pressure from my father. I was born a Muslim and Islam was my religion. Now I am Muslim by choice but Islam is not my religion. It is my faith in Allah and the Quran from which I read and choose not to go to the mosque. My faith will not be reduced by not going into the dogma and rituals of Islam. Nor my faith will be any better if went to the mosque for some ring tone aerobics.