Today, I crashed. I was exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. You are familiar with the crash…it happens right around the week before Christmas? Yeah, that’s what happened today. I woke this morning, grabbed the girls and went to Halaka and the topic today was really something so very pertinent, something I needed to know but didn’t really know that I needed to know. In the midst of these women who I don’t talk to on a regular basis, some of whom I had just met today, the weight of Ramadan came crashing down on me. I tried to join in on the conversation, but when I tried to talk about something meaningful, I broke down in tears.
So I came home and I took to my room, put in my earplugs and unplugged from the world. Just for a few hours, I read in total silence and napped. Now that I am awake, I still feel wiped out, but more able to cope. Tomorrow I will be more gentle with myself and not push so hard. God willing it will get better.
If you have not been reading the series being published in The Huffington Post by Imam Khalid Latif, I highly recommend them. If you read nothing but today’s post, please make the time to do so. He talks about feeling welcome at the mosque. Feeling welcome to be imperfect.
Out of the many things that makes it so difficult to be Muslim in The United States, not being welcomed into your own religious place of worship is one of the most challenging. This is one of the things that I would like Mosques to learn from Churches. At every Church I have ever attended in my life, there have been greeters at the door. They wear name tags, they smile, they welcome Every Single Person into the Church. Why would that be so hard to do at Mosques? I have been attending prayers at the three main Mosques in my city for more than 12 years now, and many places throughout the country and not once has someone looked at me when I walked into the building and said, “Hello, My name is ****. Welcome to Jummah Prayers.”
The most I ever get is the elder woman, the ‘Naena’ who comes up to me after curiosity has gotten the better of her and asks if I am here with someone. I always greet the ‘Naena’ the same way. I salaam her, offer her my hand, and then greet her with three air kisses, starting on the right. It’s the secret handshake. Once I do that, she knows I’m not a casual observer and I’m not someone sneaking in to write an article. Then I tell her I am with my family (or my daughters – if we are in the women’s only zone) and I point them out to her. The other women watch the ‘Naena’ and once they see that she has approved me, then they smile and greet me.
What would it be like if the Masjids were more welcoming places to be?