Arriving almost simultaneously was my new friend, Naglaa and her husband, Ashraf. I only recently came to know Naglaa and masha'Allah, liked her instantly! Clutching one another's hand we proceeded around the corner to find the women's entrance. There were two doors; one leading to a prayer hall up a set of stairs and one on the ground level. We went up the stairs believing we would find the section for women without children and imagining what a joy it would be to pray in such a space! Being among the first to arrive, we secured our position in the front row in the far corner. From the glass partition in front of us Naglaa spotted her husband below, also in the front row of men in the same position we were in. This made Naglaa smile.
One-by-one other women began to fill the room; as did the chatter. Naglaa and I looked at one another with that, "Oh, no..." look in our eyes. Four rows of chatty women later and the Imam began the Isha prayer.
And the chatter continued.
I could not believe my ears.
A few minutes in and I could not take it anymore. I turned to my right and clapped my hands together twice, so sharply that, masha'Allah, everyone's head turned and the room fell silent. Wallahi, I felt the sting of the clap in the palms of my hands throughout the remainder of that prayer, but it was well worth it.
Naglaa and I exchanged irritated glances again.
Finally the taraweeh prayer began. And once again...the chatter continued. Astifurgallah Al-Azeem. I was more than annoyed. And this was supposed to be the prayer room for women without children? We were surrounded by children in grown-up bodies! Oh, my gosh! And you would not believe the sound when the women collectively prostrated; wallahi it sounded like a heard of cattle hitting the floor! I mean, the masjid might have even shook! It was unbelievable! I could not help but wonder just how much of the chatter and thunder was heard down below where the men were praying...
Subhan'Allah. There was one row of women and behind the women, their children. Yes, the children were playing, but I'll tell you something. It was a whole lot easier to swallow the noise of the children, knowing it was coming from children, than it was being amongst a group of women acting like children.
From our position at the end of the row beside the door we were bothered a few times by children coming and going, but the speaker on the wall just behind our heads delivering the beautiful voice of the Imam's recitation pretty much blocked out anything else that could annoy us, and we enjoyed the remainder of the taraweeh prayer.
I just don't know what to say. It's uncanny how different one's experience can be between masjids. My experience at Masjid Al-Kawther was a disaster. Visiting Masjid El-Mina was equally troublesome. But at masjid Uthman ibn Affan, where there is typically only one row of women (with children), and the imam's voice is not as beautiful, the feeling of praying there is completely different. When I pray there I feel comfortable; at home. Even if a child is disruptive, it doesn't bother me. It's just a feeling of serenity. I have no explanation for the difference between masjids, I'm just grateful to have found one where I feel I can enjoy the taraweeh prayer as it was intended. Al-hamdulillah.
Stay tuned, insha'Allah, for more of Aishah's masjid adventures!