Those of us who have reached a certain age and seen how Islam is made out to be by those who have introduced numerous innovations into its practice especially here in still to be defined nation called Malaysia, would at times sigh with regret looking at the way the Friday prayers have come to be observed or in our nation's case left astray.
I remember back in the days when I was a young kid growing up in East Jelutong, Penang Island when the call of the muazzin @ bilal used to reverberate far reaching us villagers with his melodious 'Assolatu tu assolam mu alaik....alaika ya...alaika ya....and so on.
This was usually called out by the bilal before the clock ticked to the time of the midday zohor prayers on every Friday. Yaum al Jumaat.
I would hurry back to my kampong house and rush to take my shower at the communal bath. We had no piped water to our home back then. We were all poor villagers renting our kampong homes from Olagoo, the Indian wealthy landlord who owned almost half of our kampong land, and collected rent from about 10 to 15 houses.
Most of us were Malays and Indian Muslim families who lived together in complete harmony back then in the late 50s right up to the 80s when our homes were torn down to make way for development. We couldn't do nothing because we were all just tenants. Half of my kampong still remains but the rest is now all gone, vanished into the folds of history.
Back to my recollection of how life was for me as a young kid who lived in the last Malay kampong bordering the Chinese village of Jalan Tokong Batu and reached all the way up to the Weld Quay area in Penang Island.
My kampong friends and I would then dress up in our Baju Melayu and sarong pelikat, adorn our songkok and head off to the Masjid Jamek Jelutong, which was a few miles away at the main road of Jelutong.
We would traverse several other kampongs like Kampong Jalan Tengku, Jalan Md Taib till we reached Jalan Masjid. We would walk hurriedly till we reached the mosque and then queue up to take our ablutions. After having taken our ablutions, we would seek out vacant places to sit. We would first pray our Tahiyyatul Masjid sunat prayers and then wait for the muazzin to call out the azan.
When the azan is called out, everyone would keep quiet and observe each verse of the azan as it is being proclaimed loudly and amplified through the cone shaped speakers of the masjid. Only ignorant small kids and a few equally clueless adults would still be chattering and talking amongst themselves.
When the azan is completed, we would all then rise up, say our intentions to perform the Solat Sunat Jumaat and pray in total submission to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala.
After that, we would recite a short do'a and ask Allah for His Forgiveness and Mercy. We would then be still and wait for the Bilal to take the long 'tongkat' complete with its crescent and star symbol at its top, turn around to face the Jamaah @ Congregation and address us loudly reminding us to be quiet and listen to the Khutbah Jumaat as it is being preached to us by the Khatib.
Back then, the Khatib was still free to preach to us on any relevant subject or topic that he chose. Nowadays, the Khatib is forced to read whatever prepared texts that the State Religious Department has prepared for him.
Failure to observe and read in total whatever khutbah texts has been prepared by the state's Islamic Department will see the poor man receive a 'show cause' letter and probably be punished by removing him from his salaried post or demoted.
Back to my recollection.
After the khutbah is over, the Bilal will call out the Iqamat and we would all rise up and stand in rows to perform the Solat Jumaat @ Friday prayers. I still remember how the Imam used to recite the Al Fatihah and then any other befitting Surah's.
When I get to be the Imam on any occasions, I recite the Quranic verses exactly as I remember how the late Imam used to recite them. That brings back memories of my childhood.
Now, I am an old man with a greying whitish beard and have been blessed to go on my Haj in 1432 Hijrah ~ 2011. Alhamdulillah. All praises be to Allahu Ta'ala for having made it possible for me to fulfill my religious obligations as a Muslim and Mukmin. Thanks also to Tabung Haji and their dedicated officers for making my Haj a memorable and pleasant trip. May Allah bless all those who helped us to perform and complete our Haj in perfection. Amin. Ya Rabbal Alamin.
Today, the Friday prayers have sort of been left astray by a rising number of ignorant's who do not bother to observe all the decorum of attending it.
Many simply hang out of the masjid and have their lunch nonchalantly even as the khutbah is being read out by the khatib. They do not bother to pay attention to what is being preached. They chat amongst themselves, joke and laugh out loud regardless of the ongoing khutbah.
Many of these jahils smoke away as they ignore the khutbah and are simply there just to show that they have attended the Jumaat prayers.
The large number of traders who do not fail to set up their stalls all along the borders of the masjid are equally not bothered at all to pay attention to the khutbah. They carry on their trade disregarding the very reason as to why as Muslims, they need to attend the Friday prayers.
The significance of the Yaum al Jumaat is lost to them. To them its a day not to be missed. Not for religious reasons but a day when they can make a killing doing business.
Even government bodies or corporations have joined in the act. Telecommunication companies set up booths and have their marketing teams distribute pamphlets and brochures advertising their services. Car salesmen drive up their latest automobiles and try to clinch their deals as the khutbah is being preached. All kinds of tradesmen and women are all out to make a fast buck disregarding the very reasons why Muslims are obliged to attend the Jumaat prayers.
Who bothers to correct this wrong?
No one. Not an authorative soul gives a damn as to how the Friday prayers are being left to go astray nowadays in Mamluk al Malaisie.
The VVIP's will arrive fashionably late at the masjids which they have chosen to attend that week. Prior notices in advance would have been given out to the mosque committees to make special arrangements for the high and mighty.
Special yellow or red carpets would have been laid out to receive their royal pompous feet and squads of uniformed personnel would be there to ensure a smooth ride and trip of the decorated and titled ones amongst us.
All would rise and kiss the hands of the ones coming to soil their royal selfs amongst the simpletons and many would simply kiss ass to have a word with the effluent ones.
Same goes to the executive ones running or ruining this nation and the equally pompous religious titled ones heading this and that political party. People are forced to make way for the holier than thou's as they shamelessly stride towards occupying the very front saff's @ rows.
I am sad to see all these but am powerless to do much to stop the rot for I am just an old commoner with no legal power or authority over these masses of mankind who claim to be Believers in Allah the Almighty when in reality most are just worshipers of the ringgit.
Yaum al Jumaat!
You are not what you used to be.
May Allah guide those who are supposed to take charge over our earthly affairs to correct and reverse the situation before calamity befalls us all!
P.S. Problem is that these chaps are the very ones screwing it all up with their endless protocols and demands to be feted and celebrated!!!