Guest post by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous
It’s a tired cliché that we miss the beauty around us every day. Just as we might watch our Mum hang out the washing a thousand times and never once see the love that underlies her movements, we often miss the beauty inspired by our religion. We miss the beauty that it inspires in our brothers and sisters.
Jumu’ah (Friday prayers) is one time and place in which that beauty shines, but where we might miss it if we’re not looking.
Jumu’ah is the great equaliser. When else might a millionaire sit cross-legged on the floor, side-by-side with a waiter who gets paid minimum wage? During the half hour or so that we sit together listening to the imam, nobody is interested in where you come from; the language you speak, the colour of your skin. Nobody cares what you do for a living. Nobody is interested in your degree classification, or how much you can bench.
Piety becomes the only distinguishing feature, and it is piety and knowledge that determine who amongst the community will lead the prayer.
It is worth dwelling on that point alone. In what other context could we imagine hundreds of wealthy, powerful professionals sitting on the floor, not speaking a word to one another nor checking their phones, whilst a cleaner preaches (in fact teachers) to them! And, perhaps most importantly, where it wouldn’t even occur to the rich men sitting on the floor to ask what the man at the pulpit did for a living?
Let us, then, be grateful to our Lord for granting us this day and making it an obligation upon us to attend it. Every week we are able to watch men, who are told at every turn that because their wealth makes them superior, humble themselves amongst their brothers. We are able to witness, too, the beauty that a man who is told at every turn that he is worthless because he is poor is able to realise the dignity that resides in him as a servant of the Most High.