Friday, August 28, 2009
When Wealth and Spiritual Experience Mix
As intended, I went to Masjid Al Amin and let me tell you about it before I … zzzzzzz go to sleep ;)
Is it wrong, people, to pray in a five star masjid?
I’m in the cab entering downtown from the bridge. We can hear the Qur’an being read on the speakers from the center of downtown where the Masjid is. Imagine that.
I’m out of the cab. I walk towards the masjid to the ladies entrance. At the door, a guard greets you and tells you, “this way, ma’am”.
As we go inside, you see a row of abayahs (as mentioned earlier), good quality, mind you, and a pair of hijab to go with it. There are about 30 or 40 of those lined up along with a drawer full of regular prayer outfits (the white ones) just in case more is needed.
On your right hand side is dark brown oak shelf for shoes. On your left, same thing.
I put on a black abayah – I choose a cute one with beads and rhinestone on the sleeves (so fly), I leave my slippers on the fine brown oak shoe-shelf and I head towards the elevator. Next to the elevator are two bathrooms and a wudhu (ablution) room.
Once upstairs, I step out of the elevator and I’m ushered by a woman who has a tag to show that she’s employed or volunteers there. She tells us, “this way, sisters”. We walk, fine queens that we are, and we enter the praying room. I mean hall. I mean gala. I mean soccer field that pretends to be a praying space. You dig? It. Was. Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge.
If you look up, you see a chandelier that must have belonged to the Queen of England in prior days. Up ahead, at the very front of the praying space, is a flat screen TV, a gigantic one, to project the men’s praying area and the imam.
On your left hand side, over there, yes, is a floor-to-ceiling book shelf that has a gazillion Qur’ans, with their “book-stand”, you know, those wooden ones.
I stand, in my brand new rhinestone abayah, with my hand-picked Qur’an from the big brown book shelf, and I pray two ruk’as in respect for the masjid. I bow for sujood. What is that? That scent? Dalias? Gardenias? Flowers from the heavens? Whatever carpet deodorizer they used, it was so good I didn’t want to get up from sujood! Maybe crawl in a fetal position and take a nap. Better than the gym socks aroma elsewhere, you dig?
In this place, all I needed was a throne, a couple of diamond rings to go with my rhinestone abayah, a few good men to fan me with peacock feathers, and I’m rollin! :-) heheheh lol!!
No, seriously. Where were we? Oh, sujood. Yes, I’m done the two ruk’as. We now pray Isha. The reciter/imam, subhanAllah, has the most beautiful way of reading I’ve ever heard. So serene. So engaging. MashaAllah.
Now in my normal days, when in Canada, I like to pick up the Qur’an and read along with the reciter during taraweeh. It has many benefits, such as it keeps me focused, it improves my memory of the verses, and also, I improve my Arabic. After three ramadans, there was a notable improvement in my Arabic reading as well as comprehension of the classical Arabic language (fus-ha) that is used in the Qur’an.
I do the same at this masjid and the experience was glorious, especially since the reader/imam is so good at what he does.
At one time, after one taraweeh prayer was over, I decide to look behind me. I was standing in the second row. Notice that each row holds about 60 women. I didn’t think there was more than a row behind me. When I look back, the rows went as far as the exit door. In this soccer field praying room! There were hundreds of women in there. SubhanAllah. They must have all liked the abayahs (wink).
No, seriously, the imam prays 20 rak’as (prostrations) each night at the Taj Mahal. I mean masjid. He also prays salat al-witr, the closing prayer. People come and go depending on their own time convenience.
I’m done. I go to the elevator. I get to the bottom floor. I take off my abayah with the rhinestones. I hang it back up on the wall. I go to the brown oak shoe shelf. I take my slippers. I exit the door and the guard says, “assalamu alaikum sister, have a good night”.
I’m out into the real world. Sigh.
You bet I’m praying there again. And again. And again. Like?
In contrast to the masjid next to my house. It’s an ordinary masjid, no rhinestone abayahs, but see, the reader, astaghfirullah, he reads real quick. And he’s not reading the Qur’an from beginning to end so he can finish it at the end of Ramadan. He just picks random surahs, in no particular order. Like? I want to finish the Qur’an by the end of Ramadan. Just because it’s not a “five star” masjid, it doesn’t mean that it offers a more spiritual experience.
I think I can truthfully say that in this case, class/wealth/style/posh and spirituality do mix. And I’m witness to it. So is my rhinestone abayah :-)