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)