Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Row Formation

Just got back from was really nice and made me excited about Ramadan.

Since moving to the DC-area, for the first time in my life, I actually have a choice about which masjid to go to. This may not seem like a big deal to y'all big city folks, but having grown up in a place where going to the only masjid meant a 35+ minute drive, this is huge.

Last year, we lived about 10 minutes from a masjid, but we were kind of bad and didn't really go as often as we should have. The ladies at that masjid had this shoulder-to-shoulder, foot-to-foot theory of row formation and would pluck at your clothes or pinch your elbow until they felt that you were sufficiently close. I found this to be insanely annoying. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but considering the female anatomy, being shoulder-to-shoulder, foot-to-foot also means being plastered together shoulder-to-foot--not exactly fun because:
(a) your neighbor is a complete stranger who is a good eight inches taller and likes to stick her elbows in your ribs;
(b) you concentrate more on keeping your balance than on praying; and
(c) it's really hot.

Anyway, we totally had this perfect strategy for ending up at the end of the row or on the back row where one has more of a right to define one's personal space. But it's not really the best feeling in the world to leave taraweeh and realize that you spent more time thinking about avoidance techniques than prayer. The last straw was when some lady tried to put her foot on top of mine. Umm, no...I will put up with being jammed up so close to someone that I can smell what she had for iftaar for the last three days, but I draw the line at having her foot on top of mine.

Alhamdulillah, we've moved since then and we thought that this Ramadan we would have not problems because now we live close to our favorite masjid. It's really cute and has a great mix of people. It's traditional without being uber-conservative (unlike aforementioned masjid), they do 20 rakat for taraweeh, and we actually go there regularly for Zaytuna classes anyway.

So we go tonight and the place is packed. But as people start leaving, we discover that the women have adopted an ignore-the-gaps-and-resist-your-neighbor's-sleeve-twitching-and-maintain-your-position-at-any-cost theory of row formation. These weren't just a loosely spaced lines, these were lines with three foot holes every half-dozen people. It's awfully ironic, but having these huge gulfs was almost as distracting as standing next to the footsie ladies. What's up with that?

I miss Knoxville.

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