Stuff Muslim People Like to Gripe About: Children at the Masjid

Year round The Muslims in America whine about the problem of unruly children in the masjid, but with Ramadan iftars in abundance and tarawee prayers upon us the complaintfest reaches a new frenzy. Personally, I don’t take my kids to the masjid during jummah or for tarawee because I’m sure that their presence (and all that entails) does disturb others and that inturn disturbs me too. However, I have frequently said that if you can’t pray with some kids making some noise, let’s hope you never have to pray on a battlefield or in a war zone.

Just imagine:

Bukhari – Volume 2, Book 14, Number 64:
Narrated Shu’aib:
I asked Az-Zuhri, “Did the Prophet ever offer the Fear Prayer?” Az-Zuhri said, “I was told by Salim that ‘Abdullah bin Umar I had said, ‘I took part in a holy battle with Allah’s Apostle I in Najd. We faced the enemy and arranged ourselves in rows. Then Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) stood up to lead the prayer and one party stood to pray with him while the other faced the enemy. Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) and the former party bowed and performed two prostrations. Then that party left and took the place of those who had not
prayed. Allah’s Apostle prayed one Raka (with the latter) and performed two prostrations and finished his prayer with Taslim. Then everyone of them bowed once and performed two prostrations individually.’ ”

The main thing about these complaints that I find completely baseless is that the blame is so heavily laden on The Women.  A few years ago a friend of mine was being absolutely bashed by her community for bringing her small (and very active) child to tarawee every night. The situation was becoming miserable for her, yet she kept showing up. Sisters were backbiting her throughout Ramadan. Yet she kept showing up. Turns out because the husband insisted. Did any brothers take him aside and ask him to get a grip on the kid? I dunno, but I hear that did not happen.

This morning I found this articlein my email. I was surprised (annoyed!) that it was posted on a group I belong to which is usually very good about offering information only with proper daleel/evidences, but with this topic they (he) were eager to jump on the women and children bashing bandwagon. This is a strictly op ed piece that again puts the blame squarely on women, who can not be restricted from going to the masjid, but surely the hubby could insist she not take the kids–if they really present reason not to take them. Nobody likes punkbutt kids (and they are the ones making a hard time for the rest of ’em), but I have never heard any proof that children should be universally banned from the masjid, all that I have read has been completely to the contrary:

The Prophet said, “(It happens that) I start the prayer intending to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I shorten the prayer because I know that the cries of the child will incite its mother’s passions.” (Al-Bukhari)**

Narrated Abu Qatadah: “The Messenger of Allah came towards us while carrying Umamah the daughter of Abi Al-`As (Prophet’s granddaughter) over his shoulder. He prayed, and when he wanted to bow, he put her down, and when he stood up he lifted her up.” (Al-Bukhari)**

**from an excellent article written by Amatullah Abdullah about “The Prophet’s [SAW] Compassion for Children” for Islamonline.

So when you see my kids running around after iftar and you hear them (though really you should try to have better concentration than that!) snickering during tarawee know two things: First of all, my husband took them, not me. And secondly my kids look forward to Ramadan, iftars and tarawee the way some kids look forward to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. It is their Ramadan as much as it is yours. If you have proof that they shouldn’t be there, bring it. Otherwise, find solutions or whine into the wind.

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15 thoughts on “Stuff Muslim People Like to Gripe About: Children at the Masjid

  1. I agree, I don’t take my kids to tarawih yet because I know it would be disastrous and I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. But it drives me crazy that people can tolerate no noise at all.

    I was once kicked out of a masjid because I had my baby with me (Hamza), he wasn’t making ANY noise but they said ‘just in case sister’.

    It’s especially important in Western countries if we are trying to foster some sense of Muslim identity in our kids to take them to the masjid from time to time.

  2. also, been meaning to comment on your conversion story but haven’t had opportunity, thank you for writing it!

  3. Salaams:

    Have you ever been kicked in the head during salat by a kid running past you?

    Or having kids (a bunch playing together) scream so loud that you cannot hear the imam while he is leading the prayer?

    Come on, Brooke.

    Yeah, you’re right – its their masjid, too. That’s why I stay home.

    My mother would have never let my behave in public like some of the kids do.

  4. Walaikum Asalam Safiyyah,

    Alhumdiallah I have never had any problems with kids at the masjid, but again this could be because I don’t go very much at all. Kicking in the head will go on my horror story list, along with the little girl !!! in shoes !!! crunching a sister’s fingers while she was making her eid salat on a hard gymnasium floor and the little boy who stuck his foot in the toilet (on purpose!) and then ran through the masjid yelling about it while people were praying tarawee.

    We have to recognize that masjids in America (and prolly other western countries) are not the same as back-home masjids where folks go strictly to pray and then scurry home to their families. Masjids here are the center of Islamic communities, (many of us don’t have much or any Muslim family to hang with during the holidays) and therefore masjids are vital to nurturing the Islamic identity of children and fostering siblinghood. Universal bannings seem completely unIslamic, just as ill-behaved children are unIslamic in their manners. So what are the solutions? And I know some parents (sisters really) are not going to self-police and stay home because they are desperate for the socialization, rewards or both.

    There are masjids which are creating family-friendly environments and more need to follow their lead. It’s so embarrassing to me to attend non-Muslim community functions at churches with their multiple playroom and daycare facilities, gardens and playgrounds, volunteer babysitters, paid babysitters, and on and on and we are still griping about inadequate sisters’ spaces and often don’t even address the needs of families and children.

    So while you and I hide at home, are we part of the problem or the solution?

    BTW, I finally sent your package!! I have another one to put together too, inshAllah.

    Love and Peace

  5. Great post.

    Honestly the kids don’t bother me either. We have prayer rooms in the malls here in the Gulf and they are often over run by kids. But I tell you I get damn pissed off when the grown women start chatting or talking on the phone, especially with catchy music ring tones blaring, in those public musallahs. I think I can deal with the kids because they can’t help it…but the grown woman sure can. Women aren’t welcome in mosques so much here so there isn’t much standard for mosque etiquette. Although the mosques are open to women and heavily attended for taraweeh…in some places they even pray inside the men’s musallah! And here there are only 2 or 3 mosques that permit women for salaatul juma’a in the whole city!

    I so envy you guys out there in the daar al haraam!

    I always felt that a free baby sitting service could be set up during taraweeh by women who are on the monthly prayer-vacation and there should be a big rec room. This would be for slightly older kids, but sorry, the toddlers are just gonna have to be rolling around in the woman’s (AND MEN’S!!!) prayer areas.

    My daughter climbs all over me and my husband when we pray at home. She stands besides me and pretends to pray, she lays down on the sajaadah, she tries to stand where I need to put my head in sujood, and so forth. This is “You are not paying attention to me” toddler mode. I still manage to pray and so does my husband. That’s just life. She’ll grow out of it.

    People should also follow the example in the ahadith you presented and just get over it.

  6. Salaams Everyone:

    I’m with you Fatima about the grown women. I also dont go to lectures in the womens section for the same reason.

    And it’s some of the same grown women who do not teach their kids manners, nor do they watch them at the masjid. In my masjid, we have had crawling babies crawl up the stairs while the mom chats downstairs. God forbid you step on the little darling’s fingers by mistake while you are walking down the stairs! The mom will want to fight you. But it’s okay for their kids to kick and step on you in salaat! We have had small children walk out of the masjid to the busy street! Yes, we have tried babysitting and playrooms. Guess what? The moms dont want that! They want their darlings with them, or terrorizing other people. Some of the kids refuse to stay in the playroom, so mommy comes and gets them. Then all the rest of the kids see that kid leaving and they want to leave too. The next thing you know, the playroom is empty. Sorry, but you may think your kids are cute and charming, but others may not think so. I have seen small children almost knock down elderly people by running in front of them to get to the iftaar table. How a child acts at home, and how he acts in public SHOULD be the same, but unfortunately, its not. Children should be taught adaab.

    Of course, toddlers are a different story, but most of the kids are old enough to know respect and manners.

    I went to one masjid where the people did teach kids to respect the salaat and the masjid. And it was a predominately Arab masjid! During salat you could practically hear a pin drop. The kids were taught to sit quietly or near quietly as they could during salaat. So, it CAN be done. And this same Arab imam had a little portable sweeper that he used to MAKE kids use who dropped stuff on the floor, lol. Lots of moms at that masjid had their toddlers in strollers. One mom had a few wee ones brought a playpen to put her kids in.

    But if we just smile at the darlings and let them run amok, well …

    And you all know that most men chase the kids back to the women’s areas, lol!

    And why dont the moms clean up after their children in the masjid? A lot of the kids destroy and break things, grind food and drinks into the carpet. WTH?

    I may not be in the popular opinion to say this, but the masjid is not required for women. Could there be a reason for that?

    I do not want to “get over” being abused by people’s children.

    The churches and synagogues do not allow unruly kids; why do we?

    JAK for letting me gripe 🙂 See, Brooke! You got me going, looooooool!

  7. We just have to make the child care mandatory for the under 5 set – by women unable to pray! I miss going to the Mosque anything because my two (26mo and 10mo) are terrors due to their age. Last time I went, more than half the women weren’t praying and walking around – they can’t look after my kids for 10 minutes? I would do it for them. And the older ones need to be taught to behave, period. I remember in my old Mosque – 6 and 7 yr olds running and screaming so no one could here – we (a couple of Western converts) tried to set up a nursery and the women freaked – their kids should get free reign.

  8. Assalamu alaikum, Brooke, I guess I’m one of the “complainers” lol. However, the fact that I can’t see, and if the kids are screaming can’t hear either, the “distraction” is something I just can’t ignore! It’s one thing to not be able to hear the Imam, if you can see him, etc., and/or see others, you’d at least know when to bow, prostrate, etc., however, in my case, I have had situations where there was so much noise in the women’s area, I had absoltuely no idea what was going on, at one point during hte prayer, a sister had to reach over and tug on my sleeve to let me know when to go into ruku, and I have to say I felt like an idiot. So while I think one should be able to at least be able to pray through minimal distractions, for me, if I can’t hear, I’m virtually “blind” in every sense, and I don’t have the luxury of looking around to see what is going on. Not to mention losing my sense of direction when kids are running around, pushing me, lifting up my abaya to see what’s underneath it (from a boy of about 6 or so), etc.

    So while I can handle the sound of kids playing (in a controlled manner), I just can’t handle kids running around, and not just running around but completely disrupting the prayer itself for the women, and even more so chatty sisters.

    I guess if I ever had to pray in a war, then perhaps things owuld be different and I’d just have to get used to it, just like I do have to get used to the distractions I sometimes face in the masjid, however, it doesn’t mean that I necessarily have to be happy or OK with it either. I understand where you’re coming from and I guess my thing is, I think kids and women should come to the masjid, especially here in the US, however, there just has to be some way that kids and women too, can behave themselves, and as far as the men, unfortunately, for the most part, most of the men are going to shove the responsibility of handling any unruly kids off onto the women. And I can’t say I agree with that either.

    The thing is, I don’t like sharing my frustration regarding this issue with many people, or if I do, I’m really hesitant about it, because I know I could seem child unfriendly, or impatient, or like a complainer, etc., but I don’t really feel that way at all, I think a lot of it just goes back to how I was brough tup, that when you went out in public, and even more so, when in a place of worship, you just acted a certain way, and I knew that if I didn’t, I’d hear about it once we got outside or to the car or at home.

    At my local masjid we have a mixed bag, sometimes it’s really noisy, and sometimes it’s relatively quiet, and I do my best not to let the noisiness bother me and to try to look at it as a test from Allah, and to keep in mind why I’m at the masjid and to just try to ignore it. But sometimes it’s hard. Especially when I can’t hear what’s going on, which is my *only* outlet for determining what’s going on in the prayer.

  9. as salamu alaykum

    I never read this entry and I’m glad I did. I understand that there are parents who do not watch their children and let them get away with many things, but there are also very impatient and rude Muslims who need to gain some respect for children and parents, and who need to learn their deen better. Parenting is a hard job and raising children is hard. Children are going to be children at the young ages and we can’t expect them to be completely quiet, especially at 1-3 years of age. As you said, it is also their masjid and their Ramadan, and we live in America where, again as you said, Masaajid are a place where we go for reasons more than just praying. Our children watch us chit chat after salah and before salah. The children watch the other Muslims, even the ones who love to hate on the parents and children, chit chat before and after salah. They see us do more than just pray, does that mean anything?

    It really angers me that I can’t even go to the masjid to pray because I fear that people can’t ignore my youngest (2.5) running a bit or trying to ‘talk’ to me as I ignore him. I hate that stress and so I prefer not to go to the Masjid as often, unless I know it is a time when people aren’t really around. Poor children. These kids have to put up with impatient adults who are not aware that our Beloved Messenger (sallAllahu alayhi wa sallam) did this himself and was merciful and compassionate to the youth and parents!

    The truth is that Muslims are hard on kids… when things go right they take the credit but when things go “wrong” the children are rude, misbehaving, and the parents are to blame. What happened to “community”? We live in a time where parents are the only ones responsible for the upbringing of a child but it takes the entire community to raise righteous, healthy, and strong children.

  10. How beautifully Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) summed it all up in one sentence: “He is not from us who does not show mercy to our young ones and does not respect our elderly.” (Abu Dawood, no.1984, Al-Tirmidhi, no. 2091)

  11. Person Who is Stalking This Post and Comment Thread: Stop. Stop. Think about why you are so obsessed with children and their behavior and controlling it and trying to control other people’s feelings about these issues. Google “controlling children” and as an outsider–a non-parent–maybe you will have a wee tad of empathy and realize that children are not “controllable” to the degree which you may prefer.

    Don’t comment anymore. Read the comment policy. Educate yourself. Stop talking. Listen more

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