Open House At The Mosque

Written by: Hamzah Moin

I think some mosques are heading in the right direction in terms of the things and activities they hold. My mosque for example holds an annual Open House for non-Muslims and we invite church groups to come to the mosque and learn a little bit about Islam. It’s all about dialogue and whatnot.

Unfortunately sometimes there is some miscommunication and misunderstanding between the two faiths. Here are some tragic events that could occur at the mosque on Open House day.

Carpet Woes

You busted yourself vacuuming and shampooing the mosque’s carpet only to realize the non-Muslims forgot to take their shoes off. Flip man. There are several paths to take now. You can try the subtle route:

“You like shoes? I don’t. They SUCK.”
“Hey you know what feels great? The feeling of carpet brushing up against your socks or bare feet.”

Or just be blunt and say how you’re really feeling.
“Get your damn shoes off the carpet. Can’t you read the damn sign?”
Or just not say anything and simply tackle the person to the ground and take their shoes off without asking them. They should get the picture that way.

Crazy Uncle Who Didn’t Know It Was Open House Day

Imagine just some random mosque goer who happened to forget it was the mosque’s open house day? He’d be in shock to see non-Muslims all over the place. He’d think they were invading or something.

Like you can imagine this crazy uncle stepping fresh off the wudu area, drenched in water and still comprehending the fact that the parking lot was full outside when normally there is two cars for Zuhr. Well seeing the prayer area filled with Non-Muslim women won’t really whet his appetite. That is, non-Muslim women who might be wearing a hijab out of respect for the Muslims there but still be wearing tanktops and miniskirts. Hey it’s the thought that counts but the crazy uncle sees otherwise.

“THIS IS THE HOUSE OF ALLAH” shouts the crazy uncle.
“It sure is. Hi… I’m Susan” replies one of the female patrons as she sticks out her hand.

Then the crazy uncle will run off to the basement to see if he actually is inside the right building. Lo and behold a wonderful community-like speech is occurring.

Non-Muslim Keynote Speaker

Your mosque would probably invite a local politician or mayor in town to share a few words regarding the city’s stance on multiculturalism or religious diversity or something. Unfortunately most talks I know all start the same way: with the obligatory non-Muslim speaker somehow butchering the Muslim greeting.

“Sorry if I don’t get this right… Ass…Assalam.. Assa-”
“MUSLIMS DON’T SAY ASS” shouts the crazy uncle from the crowd.
“I’m terribly sorry. Uhhh… Ass-lam-akay-kum.”
*Muslims in crowd burst out in laughter*
“Okay screw this … Hi.”

To make matters worse, they might start making “Muslim” jokes to lighten up the atmosphere. Bad idea with a culturally sensitive crowd. Here are some possible botched jokes:

“My name is Mike Kafsteenberger but you can call me Kafir for short.”
“I don’t want to steal too much of your time… you might slice my hands off or something.”
“I feel sorry for a lot of you … you can’t use your Air Miles because half of you are probably on the No-Fly list anyway. What a bummer.”
“Ham seriously tastes great. If only it was Hal-al for you folks.”

“Do you mind if I pray with you fellows?”

What a recipe for disaster. It’s nice that non-Muslims want to “experience” the prayer but things like this could get extremely awkward.

Like I always imagine having this oblivious non-Muslim guy “pray” beside me while in full congregation with everyone. He’d be constantly looking over at me in middle of prayer. Time to time he’ll ask me questions.

“So have I got it right? It’s right hand over left hand right? Are they placed on the belly button or below?”
“Oh dear me I must say you aren’t the talkative type.”

He’d also make strange comments throughout the prayer.
During Raku [the part where we bow down]: “I can touch my toes… can you?”
During Sujood #1 [the part when our head is on the ground]: “Man this carpet smells.”
During Sujood #2 [same as above, only second time]: “Did I mention this carpet smells?”
During Tashahud Position [part where we are sitting]: “What on earth are you doing with your finger?”
During Salam [part where we end prayer and turn our heads]: “Hi there… miss me?”

After prayer I told him he made a few mistakes like stepping on my toes because he took the “close the gaps” advice too literally and not doing his wudu before prayer. Even if he had wudu, by the smell of things it sounded like he would have lost it several times throughout the prayer anyway.

Oh and talking. That’s a no-no.

Aggressive Tour Guide

When it was time to organize small groups of tours, chaos broke loose. It’s natural for the non-Muslim visitors to be inquisitive and ask questions. It’s NOT natural for the tour guides to treat it like some fanatical debate.

“Hi there…my name is Susan. I was just curious as to why women pray in the back?”
“No it’s just that-”
“Actually I’m Jewish and-”
“I’m actually against the occupa-”