by Imam Numaan Cheema (Boston, Massachusetts)
Once upon a monotonous khutbah, while pondering bored and sleepy, sat a man nodding, nearly napping, listening to the speaker yapping. Struggling to stay awake he was, looking for ways to keep himself occupied he was. He turned to play with the carpet designs imagining a complex labyrinth video game designed by his mind. The imaginary carpet labyrinth became debunked as the uncle next to him shushed audible sounds inadvertently with a stare that could overcome a Kryptonian’s heat vision. Yet again, he found himself sleep nodding within seconds after his imaginary game was over. In a desperate attempt to keep his ablution valid, our protagonist turns to the method of staying awake practiced by millions worldwide during khutbahs, speeches, classes, talks, and tests: to enter the land of Day Dreaming. He looks up to the not so excited khateeb focusing his eyes and exerting the least amount of energy possible attempting to break through the atmosphere we call reality. “Focus,” he told himself. “You dazed through hundreds of classes, meetings, speeches. You can do this! You have the power!” His hard-built focus is abruptly shattered as the khateeb snaps and starts screaming at the crowd, trying to get his point across the field of napping locals.
He finds himself staring at the khateeb’s face, imagining his well-tied black turban1 flying off any moment as he transitions into Imam Super Saiyan; his long under-the-ear2 hair spiking up golden, the neatly ironed thobe ripping, and developing the facial expressions needed. However, to his disappointment, the most ‘saiyan-ness’ he gets to witness is the nerve in the forehead of the imam throbbing with anger. A light chuckle leaves his throat as he gets up for prayer.
After finishing the prayer, he tries to scurry to get out of the prayer hall to beat the rush, but he feels a heavy boulder-like weight on his shoulder holding him down. Ignoring the cries of pain, he turns to see the monster responsible, and to his surprise, he sees the same Professor X-Superman fused uncle peering into his soul. Overtaken by awe and fear, he opens his mouth to query the uncle to let go of his shoulder, but no words exit. The uncle awkwardly smiles and asks him his name. Taking advantage of the moment, he replies, “The name’s Muslim…Joe Muslim.”
The uncle completely ignoring him tells Joe Muslim that our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us to remain quiet and focused during the khutbah to the point of not even telling another to stay quiet.3 Having said and explained this, super-powered uncle pulled Joe Muslim in for a Barney-like hug and slid away in his wheelchair leaving Joe shocked at the kindness shown and how the man giving advice was truly commando-good. Joe Muslim with a smile prayed his remaining sunnahs and walked out a better man than he was an hour ago.
_____ 1 Wearing a black turban (amamah) is from the Sunnah of our Prophet (Allah bless and give him peace): Amr bin Huraith (May Allah be pleased with him) says, “I had seen the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) wear a black turban” (Tirmizi)
2 The length of the hair of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) reached up to the middle of the ear. According to another narration, the hair reached up to the ear and yet, in another narration, it is mentioned that it reached up to the ear‐lobes. There are also narrations that mention that the hair was close to the ear‐lobes. (Shamail al-Tirmidhi)
3 The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When the Imam is giving the khutba, and you ask your companion to keep quiet and listen, then no doubt you have done a vain act.” (Bukhari)