Friday Prayers

An occasion for reflection on the week gone by. A step back from the week’s rigorous routine to analyze and understand one’s surroundings. A chance to practice some of religion’s best values, such as tolerance and patience. Yeah right.

Standing on the top floor of an Islamabad mosque, I waited for my turn to perform wazu (ablution). There was no line, but the men were standing around faucets in a corner, dedicated for this purpose. I watched with disdain, as several people bypassed those who had been waiting before them and rushed forward to wash themselves. They displayed utter disregard for their fellow worshipers, they showed that they had only one thing on their mind: themselves. The muezzin’s call to prayer grew in volume, and this caused those still waiting for their turn to start fidgeting.

I too watched the show on display, and decided to wait for my turn. I was almost begging for it, and in no time a young man in his mid-20’s decided to cut across me and begin washing. I wasn’t surprised, and certainly not pleased. So I tapped him on the shoulder and said ” Excuse me, but there were other people waiting before you.” With a look of indignation, he got up from his position and said ” Aap farz pura kar lein (You go ahead and fulfill your duty).” I raised my eyebrows and looked at him, surprised by the rascal’s nerve. I spared him though, from the shower of expletives that he deserved.

Everyone was able to finish their ablutions in time to join the prayer. This means that there was no need to be impatient in the first place. If they had all waited for their turn, they could have enjoyed prayers without trampling over the rights of others. In our eagerness to perform our own duties, we are often ignorant about the needs of others. If one cannot even learn the importance of being patient, especially in such a situation, then is there any real point of going to the mosque in the first place?

Poor behaviour is so often displayed in the public space here, and it always has ricocheting effects. Wherever possible, those responsible for it should be reprimanded and reminded of their true place in society.

It’s late. Time to return home.

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