A Father’s Reflection
I opened my palms in prayer at the end of the Friday khutbah. Along with a couple thousand other Jum’a-goers, I dutifully replied ameen after the Imam’s heartfelt and well spoken supplications. Like everyone else, I certainly aim for God’s generous reply to my prayers. God All-Knowing and full of Love for His creations knows best how to answer our prayers.
This Friday however, the reply to my ameen was a generous slap on both my palms by none other than the gentle fingers of my four-year-old son, Talha. Pile on an even more generous grin expressing both his sudden desire to play patty-cake and also his sense of accomplishment for enduring the entire khutbah. Along with everyone else, I verbalized the next ameen but in my mind’s playground I secretly sang …bake me a cake as fast as you can… I feared my own betrayal of duty towards the rites of Jum’a. I also feared that dreaded stare from a seemingly endless supply of uncles deployed throughout the prayer rows like sky marshals.
My mind hopelessly airborne, I was taken for yet another dive as my son’s palms swooshed gently over mine …in step with the very next ameen. Now a virtual mushy lump of sap, this distracted father’s eyes locked with his son’s … and once again ameen …round it and pat it and mark it with a T…
Sifting through years mashallah of Islamic readings, study circles, and lectures — I’m still trying to figure out if my four-year-old’s presence at Jum’a was a blasphemous derailment of my full Friday spiritual experience. Did his innocent interference cost me a lost prayer or was his gentle soul next to mine, the answer to my prayers?
Could I fully rationalize the training and bonding benefits of bringing my four-year-old to Jum’a prayers against swapping ameen for patty-cake? My knees started shaking as I visualized my testimony before a jury of twelve uncles.
Children are a fitna and a test! the uncles would holler. “But uncles, the test has cute, soft little fingers and a boundless and pure imagination…and besides, this is the little finta’s masjid too…” I would hopelessly cry out.
I certainly don’t know all the answers, and I would certainly crumble before a jury of masjid marshals. My greater concern however, is with The Source of all legislation, all love, and ultimate justice. I certainly do know beyond the benefit of a doubt, that my All-Knowing Lord’s mercy is greater than His wrath… and that He fully knows my struggles, my tests, my fitna’s, my capabilities and my ambition to seek His pleasure.
With open palms, I will continue to pray to the Almighty: keep me and my children under Your protection and guidance. Guide us to whatever pleases You, from prayer to patty-cake and everything in between …and put it in the oven for Talha and me…ameen!
Yaman Kahf migrated with his parents to the United States in 1971. Growing up through through public schools at a time before the introduction of Islamic schools, he credits (after Allah) his parents and the local masjid weekend schools for keeping him in line. He is currently the chapter president for MAS-Orange County.