Its the final Jumuah of Ramadan 2011, I find my way through the streets of Durban on route to the Grey Street masjid.
‘Oh Allah grant me blessing for every step i take towards the masjid’ i say as i weave through crowds of people on the busy streets. The athaan resounds: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Ashadu Allah ilaha illallah”
I cross the street and instinctively look up at the minarets thinking: ‘I bear witness that there is no God BUT Allah’, my heart overflows with love for Allah SWT.
I pass the main gates to the masjid, there is a handful of poor people seeking charity seated outside, and some old muslim women too. My mum greets them with the universal greeting of peace, ‘Assalaamu Alaykom’, and quickly she adds ‘Jumuah Mubarak sisters, come to the masjid for salah!’. I straggle behind everyone, trying to be wholly present in that moment. Mentally taking in the textures of the stained glass with empty panels of missing glass, the lanterns on the wall partitioning off the ladies entrance, i lower my gaze.
Making my way up the stairs there is an old lady, i greet her. I softly recite the dua for entering the masjid and mum recites after me as it has become a habit for us to do it this way. The stairwell leads to a dim section for the ladies, there is a girl seated on a bench in the wudhu area, we greet her. To which she replies that she isn’t muslim. It is surprising to find her sitting there and watching the rituals of ablution, women walking in and so on, without being muslim. Someone takes the opportunity to invite her to deen, but given the limited time we all say ameen to a sisters dua of ‘May Allah grant you the hidayah to be muslim’ - Alhumdulillah. Dawah is prevalent.
Every Friday I fulfil my Jumuah prayers at the Grey Street mosque in Durban. During Ramadan it has been astounding to find as many women present for congregational prayers. The ladies section is full to the point that one needs to look for a space of carpet when one enters. Subhanallah! I’ve never seen the mosque as full!
Moulana Ismail Patel presents the Jumuah lecture which covers the auspiciousness of Laylatul Qadr which occurs during any odd night within the last 10 days of Ramadan. It is said that ibadah on this night is equivalent to ibadah for 1000months (83 years and 4months) .
This gives rise to a story where Nabi Musa AS encountered a woman who was weeping over the demise of her son. She expresses that she did not have adequate time with him. Nabi Musa AS enquires ‘How old was your son?’ to which the lady replies ‘200 years old’.
Subhanallah! Such an incredibly long lifespan. Allah SWT has given the different Ummahs different life spans. We being the ummah of Nabi SAWS are to assume that 63 is the average lifespan of a Muslim, because Nabi SAWS passed on at the age of 63. This age factor is taken into consideration on this auspicious night as it allows us to maximise our ibadah. Alhumdulillah. The lecture steers to a brief discussion over Surah Al-Qadr
Salah follows, the safs (rows) are full. There is a multitude of colors in the saf - Ladies from different nationalities and different dressings all standing facing qibla in unity of the congregation. Alhumdulillah, islam is beautiful. There are little children dressed in their Islamic garb, scarves, abayas & kurtas. On my way out I meet a little boy called Mu’aath. Immediately my brain is alight with many ahadith narrations by Mu’aath ibn Jabal. I smile. This little boy is no older than 3 years old. His mom puts on his shoes, and strikes up a conversation with me. ‘My son doesn’t want to come to the ladies section, he says he is a man. Doesn’t want to pray with the girls’ - i burst out smiling at this little boy’s awareness. He smirks at me: ‘i’m a man not a girl’.
I love encountering sisters from other countries. They always share snippets of their lives or bits about their native countries. Today i encounter a lady from Tanzania in the wudhu section and we get to talking about the origin of Swahili. Having studied linguistics its easy for me to articulate the origin of their language. I share this titbit of knowledge with the other ladies “As Islam spread through the world, madressas were set up and the quraan was taught in the Arabic language. Swahili is a mixture of African languages and Arabic, and was formulated when arabs settled in the interior parts of Africa. Their infiltration into society forced linguistic adaptation by mixing of languages to create Swahili" interesting huh?
And so marks the last Jumuah this Ramadan, I reluctantly leave the mosque with a heavy heart, holding back the tears and swallowing at the lump in my throat. Ramadan is indeed blessed. Next Jumuah will be lovely but it won’t be Ramadan any longer. May Allah SWT allow us to be present for another Ramadan to come.