The other day I was looking for a mosque where I could pray the Friday Prayer. Since I was in an unfamiliar part of London I asked Sheikh Google.
Sheikh Google directed me to a housing estate but I had to take directions from a very kind old lady to make it to my destination.
My destination was a small, nondescript building. As I approached it, something inside me told me that it would not have facilities for women. And hey presto, I was right.
So as I entered the mosque, my poor niece had to stand outside in the heat because the genius who designed this mosque forgot to take into account half of the human race.
Anyway, I entered the mosque and came upon the area where worshippers remove their shoes.
Being hit in the face with the stench was worse than being hit by the Metropolitan Police officers who punched me dozens of times then testified that my injuries were self-inflicted.
The smell from that area was unbearable. It was as if a dead dog had died, then been resurrected, then died again, under the carpet a week ago but no-one except me had noticed.
And that was when I saw it for the first time. A poster, on which was written in big words:
“I love Muhammad (pbuh). I hate Terrorism.” [sic]
Gee thanks, I thought. Thanks for reminding me that most Muslims in the world hate terrorism.
I never found any support for killing innocent women and children when I read the Quran dozens of times, when I read almost every single hadith (saying of the Prophet (pbuh)) about military Jihad, and when I read accounts of Muslim commanders and battles throughout the last 14 centuries.
But thanks for reminding me that Muslims hate terrorism, I had forgotten that.
As for the capital “T” in “Terrorism”, well I do hate terrorism but even more than that I hate those who terrorise the English language through incorrect usage of capital letters.
I stared at the poster while trying to maintain my composure in spite of the pungent odour coming from the shoe area.
Then I wondered whether the “Terrorism” referred to in the poster was the terror brought upon my olfactory nerves from the dead dog stench?
Or perhaps it was referring to the psychological terror brought upon millions of Muslim women who are barred from entering mosques in contravention of the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh)?
I love Muhammad (pbuh) but I hate going to a mosque which does not smell nice.
I walked to the bathroom/toilet/wudu ablution area and outside it was a sign: “I love Muhammad (pbuh). I hate Terrorism.” [sic] OK, now that I understand, I thought to myself.
I have certainly been the victim of terrorism inside mosque ablution areas, having seen such sights and heard such sounds there that they still haunt me in my nightmares. 😦
On this occasion, I was fortunate enough to survive unscathed.
I went upstairs and on the stairs was another sign: “I love Muhammad (pbuh). I hate Terrorism.” [sic]
OK, I know that I lost my hair in prison but I didn’t lose my memory, well at least not my short-term memory. But thanks for reminding me three times in the space of about six steps.
Eventually I entered a large room upstairs, the main prayer area. The Imam was speaking. Next to his pulpit was a sign, the only sign on the walls in the whole prayer area: “I love Muhammad (pbuh). I hate Terrorism.” [sic]
I thought, is this mosque up to something? When you feel the need to repeat something so many times, it usually means you are trying to hide something.
I sat down in the air-conditioned room, thinking about my poor niece being terrorised in the heat outside.
Next to me were two young South Asian boys with their dad. They were probably about 5 and 7 years old. We exchanged smiles.
The Imam finished his sermon and as we stood up to make the lines for prayer , a young Turkish man came forward in the space between me and one of the two boys. “Is there space for me?” he politely asked. There was of course plenty of room.
“NO! There’s no room for you,” the father of the boys rudely replied to the Turkish man. The poor Turkish man put his dejected head down and tried to squeeze in somewhere else.
I love Muhammad (pbuh) and I hate terrorism but more than that I hate bullies. I hate cowards who prey on and terrorise vulnerable or defenceless people.
I called out to the Turkish man and asked him to come forward next to me. Meanwhile, the father had asked one of his sons to do the Musalli Horse Stance to fill the gap between his son and me. (“Musalli” is the Arabic word for “one who is praying”).
For those unenlightened souls among you, the horse stance is an important posture in kung fu and other far eastern martial arts. It takes its name from the position assumed when riding a horse: the thighs are parallel to the floor and the feet are placed very wide apart, on average two shoulder widths apart.
For a horse stance to be correct, one must be able to balance a pole on the thighs without allowing it to fall off, as shown in the image above.
There are variations for the horse stance in different kung fu styles, e.g. the monkey horse stance, in which you make the same stance but on your tiptoes. If you can sit still in a horse stance for two minutes, you have strong legs.
Now the Musalli Horse Stance is a posture some people adopt when standing in congregational prayer where one foot is in East Ham and the other foot is in Hounslow West. [People not familiar with London geography, please substitute the location names for the two furthest points in your city, or country, e.g. Rhode Island to San Diego.]
I named it the Musalli Horse Stance because some bright spark came up with the innovation that the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions used to adopt the horse stance during congregational prayer in order to make sure that there were no gaps between them and the other person.
I have spent nearly 30 years trying to find references to the horse stance in Islamic texts but I haven’t yet found any so that is why I named it the Musalli Horse Stance and not the Salah Horse Stance.
The Prophet (pbuh) said that when Muslims stand for prayer, we must not leave any gaps between us otherwise Satan runs in those gaps during the prayer. But this must be put in context as the following anecdote illustrates.
A Saudi friend told me that one young man in his country adopted the Musalli Horse Stance in prayer. When an elderly man asked him why he was standing in prayer like that, the young man replied, “Because Shaytan (Satan) runs through the gaps.”
The elderly man replied to him, “My son, your feet are so wide apart that Shaytan will run under your legs if you are not careful.”
Good point. I have prayed next to people whose foot is pushing so hard on my foot that instead of thinking about my Lord the only thing I am thinking about during my prayer is which Accident and Emergency Department will have the shortest waiting times if this geezer fractures my foot.
Don’t get me wrong, the Musalli Horse Stance does have its benefits and I myself have used it with less-than-holy intentions. [Evil laugh]
For example, you are trying to preserve a place for a friend who has gone to the bathroom and will be back in a few minutes. With the Musalli Horse Stance you get two prayer places for the price of one, you can squeeze up a bit when your friend returns.
But the Musalli Horse Stance should not be used to cause people discomfort or worse, bully them like the father of the boys was doing to the Turkish man.
I love Muhammad (pbuh) but I hate those who use the Musalli Horse Stance to terrorise their fellow worshippers.
I grabbed the Turkish man by the hand and pulled him right next to me, ignoring the bully.
The prayer ended and as I left the mosque I was handed this leaflet from the Metropolitan Police. It read: “Don’t rely on others. If you suspect it, report it.”
I seriously considered phoning the police and telling them how I was terrorised at that mosque. But then I decided against it because if a police officer turned up at that mosque and died after smelling the dead dog stench, his blood would be on my hands.
So I went home and on to the next adventure.
I sincerely apologise if I offended anyone in this article as it was not my intention to do so. I just think that sometimes we Muslims are too serious and we need to chill out a bit and laugh at ourselves.
The ability to laugh at oneself is a sign of extreme self-confidence and high self-esteem in one’s beliefs. I love being Muslim, I love other Muslims and I love the mosque. We need to be able to face our challenges with humour instead of preaching gloom and despair all the time.
Terrorism is a serious matter that affects the lives of real people; it is certainly nothing to joke about. But I do not believe that it is the biggest threat facing the world. People are statistically more likely to die from cancer, poor eating habits or a car accident, than they are from terrorism.
The term Musalli Horse Stance is a copyright invented by me. You are free to use it anywhere as long as you attribute the invention to me. But if anyone takes offence about that term, you don’t know me and I don’t know you. Deal?
Have you ever been the victim of the Musalli Horse Stance? If so, share your stories below.
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