That’s right, my final topic of discussion for Ramadan is a look at my own kind, volunteers. These are the people who appear to run the place. They have the keys, the access, and the authority. They even know where the toilet paper is kept for the bathrooms. They are the ominous vault of masjid tools, secrets, and knowledge, and generate a buzz wherever they go in the masjid. This could be because they usually smell like pakoras and sweat and people who sit downwind tend to pass out from the fumes.
Next to aunties, volunteers are probably my favorite group of masjid people, especially the Ramadan type. I always find it funny how year round, masjids search high and low to find any type of help in the form of manual labor. This last summer, we had a serious shortage of teachers for the brothers’ side, so the sisters’ side ended up teaching the 7-8 year old boys in addition to the 5-6 year old group we already had. The second Ramadan comes around the corner, the amount of people tripping and yelling to volunteer is endless. I wonder what our turnout would be if we told people they could get food in exchange for their time volunteered. Maybe give them an edible certificate of appreciation?
Classic Ramadan Volunteers
While the world of masjid volunteers is diverse, Ramadan volunteers have some of the most entertaining types. Here are a few of my favorites.
Do you remember that person in high school that would be in EVERY single extracurricular club? And they would somehow manage to turn every single thing into a service activity. You often wonder how this person manages to do all of their activities and still manage a 7.0 GPA. I figured it out. They literally don’t eat or sleep. Think about it. If you’re fasting year round, you save not only eating time, but also bathroom time. Plus you end up losing weight and becoming this pale shade of pale. What desi mother wouldn’t love to have a daughter-in-law that fits that description? Now if only we could turn having a wedding into a community service activity.
This type of volunteer is great. They sign up and commit to be there on time, they agree to do all the work at the first meeting, and they even lure you into a false sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, you won’t have to do as much work. You might even be able to go upstairs to pray early. Hey, you might even be able to do your sunnah AND nafl prayers. In fact, I can even bring my Qur’an to read because I’ll have all this free time. You get all excited on the first day looking forward to all the extra ibadah you’re going to be able to do, and then you look at the time. This person ends up coming ten minutes before iftar, ends up spilling food, not cleaning it up properly, and leaving early because they have some urgent thing to take care of. And then they wonder why they only got ten hours of community service.
I feel like all people think volunteers do is eat. Now, I’ve been on both sides of the food table, so I know that there are some volunteers that abuse their authority and geographic location to the food. But for the most part, at least at our masjid, we have a strict volunteers go hungry until everybody else gets food first policy. Yet, somehow, every year, there’s that one volunteer that you know just volunteers to eat. Literally. They will manage to get every single type of food that comes through the door. They position themselves at the most opportune places in order to get the most food crossed traffic. They manage the art of fitting a dinner into a tiny iftar plate. They not only manage to get dinner for themselves at that moment, but manage to pack away enough food for a week’s worth of suhoor and have some leftover to feed a family of six, AND manage to take this same amount home every single night. The most admirable quality of this person? Throughout all of it, they will somehow manage to convince you that they eat oh so very little, and of course, heartfelt you insists that they take home not only your dinner, but your mother’s dinner as well.
Every year, there’s that one person that just hates volunteering. They don’t like people, they don’t like children, they don’t like noise, they don’t like the food, they don’t like the chai. What they do like is barking orders, feeling the adrenaline rush of giving commands, getting the last word on everything, and wearing a badge that says volunteer. Granted. that person is never in charge, and is given as little responsibility as possible, because we know that this person will never actually do anything themselves. So we just go over their heads and tell the person who’s going to do it anyways to do the job. We usually just give this person spoon duty or, if they’re lucky, naan duty. And man, they do that job with such authority, it’s commendable.
Finally, my type. Now, some may call me the paranoid type, but I prefer prepared. I realize that many times I exaggerate and possibly hyperbolize a few scenarios here and there, but trust me when I say that running out of supplies, not the best thing in the world. True, I’ve never actually been physically attacked when the tea/sweets/naan/spoons/other Ramadan necessity runs out, but it could very possibly happen. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I freak out at any indication of something going wrong, I merely just imagine the worst case possibility in a zombie apocalypse and take the necessary steps to prevent it. Do I look like a crazy person in black abaiya and hijab, blue apron, duct tape bracelet on one wrist, masking tape bracelet on the other, and scissors in hand? Perhaps, but better to be prepared and scare the children than to comfortably walk around, I always say.
Alhamdulillah, another Ramadan has passed and inshAllah another will come. While I joke about my experiences over the past month, I pray that we all have been able to use this blessed time to accomplish one thing or another. Although I lost my temper here and there, I am proud to say that I shouted less than other years and I only made two children cry. (It was for their own good. They were going around hitting other children, so I gave them a time out.) The most important lesson from this month is to be able to apply all that we have learned to the rest of the year when shaitan is whispering in our ears. As I wrap this article up, I realize it’s almost a week after Eid and I also realize that my Eid greeting is just a tad bit late. I hope everyone had a fun, family, friend, and food filled Eid. Now that Ramadan is over, I wonder what I’ll write about next? Before I go, just one more meme.