A South African Muslimah's Blog

Constructing Identity: Loud Whispers, Lasting Echoes

Toes in Line, Hearts far apart… August 23, 2008

Filed under: Islam,rituals of prayer,salat,unity in islam — Safiyyah @ 3:25 pm


Recently, a group of us were discussing the differences in masjid etiquette in the Gulf, compared to back home in the South Africa. Everyone made a point of noting how here, toes have to be in line, as opposed to heels in Africa.

What does it matter if my toes are aligned with yours, or not, when our hearts are so far apart?

Does Allah really want to know if our heels co-ordinate? Most certainly, the outer synchronisation of the prayer ritual is a symbol of and means to inner unity between Muslims, but is not the focus meant to be on the inner purification of the soul, and the the nurturing of bonds between the faithful, of love for each other, for the sake of Al Wadud (The Most Loving)?

So we stand to shoulder to shoulder, heel to heel (or toe to toe depending on our geographic location), but does this infiltrate into our daily lives, or do we have the fragmented approach to Islam that Imam al Asi diagnoses us with in his latest tafsir, The Ascendant Quran , are we his “Friday Muslims”, comfortable in an approach to Islam that is confined to the masjid, and complacent with the injustices outside it?

So, a discussion that began with toes, spurred my thoughts to matters of politics, economics, human rights and the Muslim Brotherhood/Sisterhood, and to what degree the prayer spills over into life and impacts on these issues. I believe, that if we can pray together, that ultimate symbol of acceptance, then this behaviour needs to transcend beyond the prayer mat, and into our practices, dealings and interaction with others, for, as my refrain says, what does it matter if my toes are aligned with yours, or not, when our hearts are so far apart?

“And verily this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore fear Me (and no other).
But people have cut off their affair (of unity), between them, into sects: each party rejoices in that which is with itself.”
( سورة المؤمنون , Al-Mumenoon, Chapter #23, Verse #53 and 54)


2 Responses to “Toes in Line, Hearts far apart…”

  1. Noorjehaan Says:

    at the revival of the islamic spirit conference in the cape this august the underlying message from majority of the speakers had the same theme- our akhlaaq and interactions with each other is an oft neglected form of ibaadah that is usually the golden ticket to paradise and more importantly, Allah SWT’s pleasure. to holding fast and supporting each other on this ride…

  2. Khadija Says:

    I read Lynne Truss’s Talk to The Hand, The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life, over the weekend and had a hmmmm moment at this:’The interesting thing is that, cut free from any sense of community, we are miserable and lonely as well as rude. This is an age of social autism, in which people just can’t see the value of imagining their impact on others, and in which responsibility is always conveniently laid at other people’s doors. People are trapped in a kind of blind, brute state of materialism.’The masjid is a place where a sense of community is to be fostered. I remember an interesting conversation wih a relative who told me he had taken to telling friends who came to him for financial assistance to join him in performing all their salaah at the masjid first. He told me that amazingly, in a matter of a week, someone looking for study finance was offered a bursary by another musalli, so too, someone out of work was offered a job.But more and more, we are a Friday generation, losing touch with each other, the touch between each other in salaah superficial.

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