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Dear Nit-Picking Auntie at the Masjid…

Dear Nit-Picking Auntie at the Masjid…

Dear Nit-Picking Auntie at the Masjid,
You look so polished and put together in your simple, neutral-colored abaya, huge beige hijab, and thick socks, with your makeup-free fresh face. You are a perfect Muslim woman, I get it. What I don’t get is how you nit-pick and shame Muslim girls, your sisters.
I saw you telling Joanna how her prayer wasn’t accepted because she was wearing skinny jeans. Mind you, she just reverted last month, and your comment made her cry, and wonder if this was the religion for her.
I overheard you telling Halimah how God will not accept her supplications because she had nail polish on. Did you ever think that maybe today was the day Halimah decided she would start praying again, and that comment would discourage her from her prayers again?
I saw you eyeing Kareema’s turban hijab, and giving her a nasty look. Did you perhaps know that Kareema has been struggling to keep the hijab on and decided she will not de-veil, but rather wear a turban style instead?
I saw you giggling with your other perfect auntie best friend about how Kawthar always wears second-hand clothing, often with holes in her socks and stains on her pants. Did you know Kawthar is a single mother struggling to make ends meet and care for her three kids?
I overheard you telling Suha how it’s absolutely haraam (forbidden) to show her feet, and how she should wear socks not only while praying, but also when going out. You probably didn’t know that for Suha, keeping her prayers is a daily struggle, and she has been skipping prayers often.

That type of negativity doesn’t help her–or anyone else–become a better Muslim.

I heard you scolding at Tanya about how she must pray her sunnah, and how it’s incorrect to place her elbows on the ground while making sujood. Tanya grew up in a non-practicing Muslim household, and all she needs is a kind, gentle Muslim mentor to help her rediscover her religion.

The Quran even says, “God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship.”  (2:185)  In the Quran, the Prophet himself (pbuh) was advised by God to make things easy for people:  “It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them If you were severe or hardhearted, they would have broken away from you.” (3: 159)  Many times, the Prophet has commented on the fact religion should be easy, saying “Facilitate [religious matters to people] and do not make [things] difficult. Obey each other and do not differ [amongst yourselves],” and “Religion is easy.”

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Dear Auntie, maybe your intentions are good sometimes. Maybe you feel obliged to correct something you see that’s wrong, or maybe you think that since you have studied Islam for for a while that you are above some people, or have more knowledge than them.  And maybe you do! But what you don’t know are the struggles these ladies face on a daily basis. You don’t know what’s going on in their lives, spiritually or personally. Maybe that one negative comment will make that sweet girl not want to come to the masjid again. Maybe it will make her think “Wow this religion has way too many rules, and I can’t keep up.”
I’m all for giving well-intentioned advice, but it helps if:
1) You know the person, and you have actually talked with her before.
2) Nobody else is around you two when you give the advice, so that you don’t embarrass her.
3) That it’s actually correct advice, and not just a cultural interpretation of religion.
4) That you have given that sister 70 excuses.  As one of the great early Muslims, Hamdun al-Qassar said, “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.” [Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522] 5) You are being kind and gentle; not condescending with your tone.
6) You understand that the masjid should be an inclusive place for all people, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, spiritual level, culture, and race.
Dear Auntie, instead of all the nit-picking, why not focus on your own relationship with God, and make duaa for yourself and for others around you?
Thank you for understanding, Auntie.
Love and peace,
a Muslim Girl

View Comments (14)
  • I think this is interesting and very accurate. I definitely agree that some people at the mosque are just way to judgemental. One woman told me I needed to take off the bow on my hijab because its not meant to be attractive or impress men (who said i was trying to impress men anyway, they are supposed to look down). That is so annoying, all people do is focus on your looks. another time someone told me I should cover my feet, but in many sects of islam cover the feet is not an obligation, same with keeping your elbows off the ground when making sajood. It would have been nice if the article focused on that aspect of islam and less on how people are making mistakes because of some personal shortcoming or struggle that they are having. There isn’t just one islam, there are sooo many different interpretations and sects and ways of practicing islam that its is impossible to say 1 way is the right way. We should be focusing on diversity in that way and less on if we have an ethnically, or racially diverse religion, we already know that. Its the intolerance with other sects practice of islam that is the biggest problem we have. But otherwise good article.

    • Thanks for the feedback! That is true there are different sects and many different interpretations & rulings on different issues. Thank you.

  • What’s with this new theme of everyone picking on Muslim girls for how faithful (or unfaithful) they are? Is this something big?

  • Please whatever you wanna write but please don’t misquote Quran!!!!
    Quran 2:185 doesn’t support your view. Read the full text.

  • I just happened to read this one now. Thank you for sharing. It is exactly what I have been experiencing so often. What happened to intentions during the prayer? What happened to God sees our hearts and not whether feet are covered or nails are not polished. To the extent we have become ritualistic and obsessed with rules, we are loosing the spiritual. I hope more people read this and next time they see someone they would like to criticise better think the person just needs to pray. Thank you again sister!

  • SubhanAllah! As a convert just a year old in Islam I felt this nearly instantly–and often still do! Instead of being part of my masjid, I have sadly kept more away. I listen to classes via Spreaker and TuneIn and such, but all this jusdemental women drama drives me nuts and makes me not want to actually be around most of them. And sadly, I know of many converts or possible converts who have been chased right back out of Islam because of exactly this. I am a big advocate of not just having more convert classes, but also classes for our Ummah on how to gently guide converts, which of course naturally speaks towards gently guiding one another. InshaAllah. JazakAllahu Khairn for this article. May Allah use it to open the eyes and hearts of others and may He bring you blessings for it. Amin.

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