Adli Jacobs - evicted from a mosque in Fleurhof Johannesburg
Subject: ADLI JACOBS on being kicked out of Fleurhof Masjid, Jumu'ah, 10th September 2010
I was looking forward to a short Friday jumuah. I mean its Eid. There is food to eat, people to greet. But it was not to be.
For some reason I decide to go to a neighbouring areas' mosque: Fleurhof (Joburg). Cute mosque, homely atmosphere (it literally was a home before, complete with rooms and a stoep). It's close by so we can go at 12h20 and be out of there by 13h15 (sermon and prayer included). I take my young son, Jauzi Hashim and 2 nephews (Reza and Zahir) who has become young adults. We had a great Eid morning at the Rasooli centre in Pretoria, things can only get better.
When the khatib (sermoniser) begins I had already start to raise my eyebrows. Fairly young and articulate, he chastised the congregation for being joyous on this day of Eid. "If you feel joyous you should be ashamed. You should be sad that this great month is over." This is the tip of the iceberg.
The rest of his sermon basically covers these points: · Jihad (military force) is actuallly 6th tenet of Islam (after faith, prayer, alms, fasting 7 pilgrimage) · The clergy is preaching peace and peaceful engagement and hiding the instructions on jihad, on war · The prophetic tradition that self-improvement is the greater jihad is suspect. Besides he is tired of all this self-improvement. · All peaceful responses to the Quran burning is lack of iman (faith) · Islam must be spread by war · There is just us and them (they want to burn our book and we must meet them his version of jihad)
This he repeated in various ways for the next hour. At some point he threatened to close but thought better of it and just carried on. Now while the khatib was speaking, I noticed the actual imam of the mosque stage-whispering from two places away from me in the congregation to give him support. I realised that this is a rehearsed serrmon that had been brain-stormed by teacher and student. More than that: the mosque's imam was letting the congregation know that he agreed with this. I looked round at the congregation to just see mute faces (not agreeing or disagreeing).
At first I pray for patience: "Let this just be over so that I can get to the butter chicken at home." I start to play with my prayer beads to distract myself. But as this guy continues I begin to develop counter arguments in my head. I want to tell him: · You are spreading hatred. This is a narrow view and against the essence of Islam. · How dare you condemn the faith of other Muslims (even those who I might disagree with) · You misread and misinterpret the Quran and prophetic traditions · You sound exactly like the pastor who wants to burn the Quran · You lied about stopping early with your sermon (who is the hypocrite now?)
Before I realise it, I see myself mouthing these things out loud as I slowly rise to confront him. "No, you can't go on like this." I said pointing at him with my prayer beads. "Everyone is going to hell except you?" I ask. "You condemn (innocent) groups like the Tablighis. You attack the clergy, other Muslims. No. Someone must speak against you. You hold us in mosque on Eid beyond a decent time. I won't stand for this..." or something like that because then I feel myself in a swoon. I see the khatib is stunned into the silence. He sits there on the pulpit just looking at me. From the corner of my eye I see my 2 nephews rise to support me. One of them with my sleeping son in his arms.
"If the shoe fits then wear it," says the imam of mosque as he came to confront me, "you can leave. No one is holding you here." He is now moving his chest against me, pushing me back and towards the exit. I can feel him shaking with rage. No one moves. I look round at the faces. The congregants are sitting stunned and shocked. I am certain that they have never seen anything like this before. No one questions the khatib in mid-sermon. Then behind me a friend, Faizel, stands up to support me. He says, "Sit down Adli. you are not going anywhere." "No, I will leave. I refuse to sit and listen to this." I say, "Look, he is not going to stop."
I move to the exit with my nephews in tow. I take my shoes and go outside. I turn to Reza and Zahir, "I am sorry. I did not mean to ruin your jumuah." "It's alright, Uncle," says Reza, "we are with you." In the parking lot, in earshot of the mosque I see that my car is parked in. I go to the boot of car and remove some cardboard. I place it on the tar and say to Reza and Zahir, "We will make our thuhr (midday) prayer now on this cardboard instead of jumuah. I cannot stand in prayer behind that imam or the khatib."
By the time we complete our prayer, we hear the jumuah comes to an end. My brother-in-law, Nadeem (on crutches because of a bad hip) comes out of the mosque and says to me, "You are absolutely right. I agree with you. Somebody had to say it." He sees me hankering to go back into the mosque. "Please, Adli, you must get in your car now and leave. It is better." I know he has my best interest at heart and I take his advice.
I return home to awaiting family and friends who cheer and raise in support. Sadia, my partner, comes to my side. Nadeem has already arrived and had spread a glowing account of Adli confronting the imam. I explain to my family that I had done something that has left a bitter taste in my mouth... Nadeem says, "Now those congregants will always remember that when the khatib made that sermon, someone got up to oppose him." Sadia adds, "I am proud of you. Thank you for a colourful Eid."
This story is not over yet but will have to do for now.XX