It's been a really long time since I've actually been to a masjid. The few times I did go to pray were at times I knew it wouldn't be crowded as a treat for my children.
Recently I've been wondering why masjids here in Egypt are not child friendly, or even people friendly. I was watching a TV show, that I rarely watch because it is always showing how backward we as Arabs are and it does get too tiring to see negative images of yourself, and today's episode he was showing masjids in Singapore as opposed to our Arab masjids.
The masjid in Singapore had a PLAY AREA!!!!!!!!!! It had sign up sheets for lessons that teenagers and children can attend, like classroom style. It had a full staff with a head and HR manager and the works. It was clean and fresh, sort of like our typical nady here but from the masjid. It even had a family prayer room.
I never thought of praying to be a family activity.
The bathrooms had toilets that are for adults and smaller ones for the children. Beautiful! The children themselves looked happy to be at the masjid. It makes you feel like you want to head to your neighborhood masjid and do something about it.
The most common complaint I hear about the women's section during tarawee7 or the Friday prayers is the children make too much noise. "Women should stay at home and its too much for the kids," is what most people repeat every year. "It's better for women to pray at home."
Really, we go everywhere all the time. Women are always going out and now we are the ones who take our children everywhere. Why are we still denied a basic right to enter a masjid whenever we please for fear of our children disturbing everyone?
I remember my childhood always being around the masjid in the US. Even my school was there and I remember we had so much fun at night. Sometimes we'd pray the tarawee7 and sometimes we had our sleeping bags and there was a room where my friends and I would sleep while our parents were praying. We looked forward to our trips there.
My kids enjoy it now. But my husband and I are always worried they may bother other people around them. And how long will this enjoyment last if we are always telling them to be quiet and stay close to us.
The government is always worried that masjids are breeding grounds for terrorists. If masjids all had to have an infrastructure like the one in Singapore, then people would gather there instead of closed houses and alleys. It would be a nady but more wholesome! Then everyone can enjoy a nice spiritual trip to the nearest place of worship. Even those poor souls with infants and newborn babies :)