As a regular volunteer at my masjid, I’ve earned enough trust to be given certain responsibilities that don’t fall to others. Alhamdulillah, I am truly happy and blessed for this, but this also means that I don’t always have the time to make it to the prayer room early enough to get any extra prayers in during Ramadan. One night, I was over the moon excited that, not only did I make it on time to pray my sunnah prayers for Isha, I didn’t have to speed read before the jammat started. So I’m praying, delighting in the fact that I can actually read a few of the longer surahs, and I go to sajdah on my last rakat, and the next thing I know something hits me on the side of my head and I’m knocked over seeing stars. Turns out, a four year old boy confused the prayer rows for a race track and my head got in the way of his 50 yard dash. Oh delightful children…
I love kids. I mean, I can relate to them way more than adults. Speaking as a seven year old trapped in a 24 year old’s body, I’m one of those people that has always preferred babysitting to spending time with people my own age. I get kids. They are simple, straightforward, and when they make a mistake, it makes sense. They’re just kids. However during Ramadan, after a whole day of fasting, after two hours of dealing with aunties and food, after running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, when I go to pray isha and tarawih, I appreciate a little peace and quiet. Instead, I find myself clawing at my hijab doing this:
Now, I get it. The masjid is THE place to bring your kids. I’ve been attending my masjid since I was nine, my brother was seven, and my sister was three. My siblings and I literally grew up at our masjid. As Muslims, we want a safe, good environment to bring our children where they can see Islam in action. What better place and what better time than the masjid during Ramadan? If a child is sitting and listening to the entire Qur’an being recited during tarawih, what better blessing could we ask for?
The problem arises when instead of listening to the recitation, the child is running around, playing, talking, laughing, yelling, crying, wasting water, clogging up the toilets with toilet paper, having water fights in the wudu area, spraying each other with the water spray, climbing on top of people while they pray, getting their arms stuck in the railing of the staircase, opening and closing the doors, playing with things in other people’s purses, getting other kids to join in their adventures, and going up to the front of the masjid and pulling on the imam’s mike while he is in the middle of prayer. To be fair, this one year old only went up there because an older girl playing with him led him up there.
It seems that instead of creating a nurturing environment, these kids do everything in their power to take away from that. I don’t blame the kids though. Like I said before, kids are kids. They only know as much as we, the adults, teach them. Which brings me to my main point, the adults. Call me old fashioned, but I come from a time and age where my mother would just look at me and I would wet my pants. We never had discipline or volume issues because our parents gave us clear boundaries on what to do, where to do it, and how to do it. The masjid was not the place for running around and yelling. We didn’t even have a babysitting room back then. It was all just one room, the people praying in the front, and the kids sitting in the back. Now that we do have a babysitting room, multiple babysitters, and other accommodations for mothers with children, it still amazes me as to how many mothers will bring their crying babies into the main prayer room. Especially since we have signs that clearly say that children are not allowed in the prayer room.
Before I go on, I just want to clarify that I have absolutely no problem with people bringing their kids to the masjid. In fact, I wholeheartedly encourage it. It fills my heart to no end when I see a little five or six year old praying even four rakats of tarawih. Even a child sleeping while listening to the imam’s qiraat is a beautiful sight. I would however ask that the parents and the kids respect the sanctity of the masjid. If you want to pray in peace, then use the accommodations provided for babysitting. If you want your child next to you when you pray, either make sure the child is well behaved while the prayer is going on, or, if it’s available, take your child to another room. If your child is distracting, please have a little respect for the others praying and take your child out of the prayer room. If your child is running around wild and you are catching up with a friend, please try to control your child. If your child is beyond control, stay home with them. (Cue the pitchforks and torches)
There is absolutely no shame in staying home with the kids. There is no oppression of power or denial of rights. A woman in fact gets more reward for staying home, taking care of the kids, and praying at home. I have the utmost respect for these moms. My mother was such a mom and she was pretty awesome at it. I’ve discussed this with many of my friends who have children and we all agree with one thing: none of us could bear the thought that someone else’s focus in prayer could be ruined by our child.
InshAllah, I pray that one day I have children and one day I be able to bring my child to the masjid. I also pray that I have the ability to recognize if my and my child’s presence at the masjid is doing more harm than good. Finally, I pray that one day all of our children will be in line for prayer, and we all will be able to fully concentrate on our prayers.