Bahar is a recruiter by profession, an aspiring writer by night, and a mom of toddler twins. She has an unending thirst for learning, as she completed her BComm in Canada, an MA in Dubai, and continues to develop herself with reading and research.
With her column, she shares her journey as she grows and learns more about this crazy beautiful world we live in.
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Mosques are a place of peace and respect, but why is it that some people abandon these attributes when outside the mosque?
Have you ever driven around any neighborhood mosque at the time of the Friday sermon? What you have probably seen is a pile-up of cars parked not only on sidewalks but also on actual roads causing blockages and havoc for other drivers. This is a very common scene as attending Friday afternoon sermons in a mosque is a very important ritual for many Muslims whose goals are not to miss these prayers. The problem arises when the same people leave their cars in places they aren’t supposed to and only consider that they must get to the mosque on time, irrespective of how they get there.
Praying is one of the five pillars of Islam, and while it is important that one attends the Friday prayer, it is equally important to ensure that you are not being negligent in the process. Being considerate to others is also one of the main tenets of the religion, and this includes respecting one another. Choosing to leave one’s car in an inappropriate place and being the cause of traffic and nuisance to others contradicts the essence of Islam. The respect and peace shown during Friday prayers should not only be displayed within the walls of the mosque but also reflected in one’s behavior everywhere else.
It is important for everyone attending Friday prayers to only use designated parking areas and wait to find a spot, rather than just rushing and parking anywhere at all. Where possible and especially when weather permits, people should try to walk to the mosque as every neighborhood has one nearby. Carpooling is another option if walking isn’t possible. If an individual is going to the mosque out of respect towards their religion and beliefs, it is important that the same respect is shown outside the mosque as well since every act that one takes is being seen and judged by Allah.
This is the same as when people drive irresponsibly on the roads and then slow down or drive within their lanes when they see a police car nearby. One must not only emulate good driving when the police are around but rather serve as model citizens throughout.
However, if it takes the presence of a police car for people to behave responsibly, then perhaps policemen are also needed to patrol the surroundings of mosques during Friday prayers. The police can support and direct drivers towards better parking areas or prohibit them from parking where they are not permitted. They can provide guidance and support in an approach that is positive and respectful towards everyone.
It is also important that the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments looks into these problems in line with the municipality requirements. Every year, we find new mosques being built to meet the growing numbers of Muslims in the country and it is crucial to take into account issues such as accessibility and space for parking. Accommodating these needs should be an integral factor to ensure that the Friday sermon remains a peaceful time where people come together in worship.
Additionally, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) could consider providing free public transportation in selected areas, for example, a shuttle bus that could take people from designated pick up points to the mosque and back. Taxi services, including Careem or Uber, could also consider having special rates for Friday prayers to ease any financial burden and encourage the use of public transportation. Moreover, these taxi services could also offer rides on a shared basis or a ‘carpooling’ approach when picking up passengers from the same vicinity that are visiting the same mosque.
There are many ways to ensure that Friday afternoon prayers take place in a more respectable and peaceful approach. This is a special time for many Muslims who attend these sermons or take their children along to teach them the importance of praying, but we must also ensure that these values that are being instilled reflect the respect and consideration that needs to be given to one another at all times.