Notice at a Mosque in Turkey: “Dear Muslims, if there are no sounds of children laughing in the back as you are praying, fear for the next generation”
What a contrast from some mosques I’ve seen – mainly from within the Indo-Pak community – where children are discouraged from coming to the mosque at prayer times or are outrightly banned because “they make too much noise” and “distract the worshippers” when they’re undoubtedly in the midst of their deep contemplative meditation [khushu’].
What irony! I’m certain these people are unaware of the fact that the blessed Prophet would often bring his young grandsons – al-Hasan and al-Hussain – to the mosque.
The beloved Prophet said that had it not been for the distress caused to a mother from the crying of her baby during prayers – when they chose to attend – he would have lengthened them. This tells us that not only did women and children regularly attend prayers in the mosque but that the Prophet cared for and accommodated the youngest within the nascent Muslim community and adjusted his practices accordingly. Can you imagine our imams doing this today?
One companion relates: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was delivering a Khutbah [sermon] to us when Al-Hasan and Al-Husain came, wearing red shirts, walking and falling down. So the Messenger of Allah descended from the Minbar and carried them, and placed them in front of him. Then he said: ‘Allah spoke the Truth: Indeed, your wealth and your children are a trial. I looked at these two children walking and falling down, and I could not bear patiently anymore until I interrupted my talk and picked them up.”
On another occasion, one of his companions said the Prophet was in sajdah [prostration] during the prayer so long, as he led the prayer, that he feared that something might have happened to him so, unusually, he raised his head to look. He saw that al-Hasan and al-Hussain were playing on the Prophet’s back and he, peace and blessing be upon him, did not want to make them fall off his back by getting up.
Today, if kids are even allowed in some of these mosques they are usually relegated by stern old men -who know as much about Islam as they do nuclear physics – to the back rows, out of sight, out of mind.
They don’t want their precious concentration broken by the sounds of innocence at play. You can only imagine how such devout worshippers would react in places where concentration isn’t broken by childish laughter but by sonic booms, crackling gunfire, whistling mortars and unannounced artillery and bomb shells.
It is noted in Islamic history that several companions were struck with arrows, spears and swords in the midst of prayer and they did not flinch or lose concentration until they finished or died. Much of this was because they understood, contemplated and reflected upon and practiced what they recited.
I doubt very much that those who complain about the presence or children in the mosque even understand Arabic. Hence, you rarely find this attitude in the handful of Arabic-speaking mosques in Britain.
The Irish republican revolutionary, Bobby Sands, who died in prison for his beliefs, famously said once, “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.”
There is no better place for our children to smile and laugh than in our sanctified places of worship.
About the Writer:
Moazzam Begg is a British Pakistani who was held in extrajudicial detention by the US government in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility and the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, in Cuba, for nearly three years. Seized by Pakistani intelligence at his home in Pakistan in February 2002, he was transferred to the custody of US Army officers, who held him in the detention centre at Bagram, Afghanistan, before transferring him to Guantanamo Bay, where he was held until January 2005