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Let us observe the spirit of Ramadan

Unfortunately, there have been constant complaints by worshippers at the Grand Mosque about the unruly behavior by fellow worshippers

Khaled Almaeena

Published: Updated:

The director of the Grand Mosque and the Holy Prophet’s Mosque, Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, in a recent meeting asked his department heads to provide the best services to Umrah pilgrims and other worshippers in the coming season. He outlined the procedures and plans to be implemented and stressed that it is an honor to serve the guests of Allah.

This directive comes at a time when both the Grand Mosque and the Holy Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah gear up to receive an influx of visitors from within and outside the Kingdom. Necessary plans and procedures should be put in place to allow pilgrims to pray in peace and tranquility.

Unfortunately, there have been constant complaints by worshippers at the Grand Mosque about the unruly behavior by fellow worshippers and the rude behavior of those working within the sanctity of the mosque. Many of us have witnessed the rough conduct of some of the staff appointed to serve the guests of Allah. They show no respect at times and are lacking in sensitivity to the feelings of pilgrims who have traveled far and need to be given due attention and care so that they can perform their rituals in peace and experience the spirituality of the house of God.

Proper training

Employees in the Holy Mosque should be given proper training in behavioral skills, speak a foreign language and be acquainted with different cultures in order to deal in a more appropriate manner with the thousands of pilgrims who come from different countries around the world. No one can accept bad treatment. The staff at the Holy Haram must learn how to address pilgrims in an appropriate manner. Loud and aggressive behavior can no longer be tolerated. It is very offensive to point with fingers or use a stick to order pilgrims around and to disturb their meditation and prayers especially within the sanctuary of the holy place.

Unfortunately, there have been constant complaints by worshippers at the Grand Mosque about the unruly behavior by fellow worshippers

Khaled Almaeena

For their part, pilgrims should follow the guidelines and abide by the rules while performing Umrah. Pushing and shoving in crowded areas and trying to force oneself into a space that does not exist is annoying and dangerous behavior that jeopardizes the safety of others. Visitors who bring their children and let them run loose disturbing the prayers of the faithful must be reminded that the Grand Mosque is a place for worship and not a playground to entertain their young. This unruly behavior contributes to the discomfort of those who have come to pray.

Sanctity

The sanctity of the House of Worship can also be observed when each individual performs Umrah only once in Ramadan to give others a chance to enjoy a more peaceful and less crowded Grand Mosque. Allah will accept our prayers whether we perform them in the neighborhood mosque or if we pray at home. He will forgive our sins and answer our prayers if we are sincere and faithful.

Another negative phenomenon that Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais should also address in his Friday sermon is the volume of the speakers of all the mosques across the country. The loud and shrieking volume of the loudspeakers in Ramadan during "taraweeh" (special Ramadan night prayers) and "tahajjud" (late night prayers) can be very disturbing in residential areas where there are babies, children, the elderly and the sick who are on medication or who need to sleep. Moreover, these loudspeakers do not serve any purpose as the words of the Qur’an that are recited are not very clear and those outside the mosque are not listening. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has on many occasions cautioned against blaring loudspeakers. Imams should follow the directive and refrain from raising the volume of the loudspeakers in their mosques during the late hours of the night in Ramadan.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman is a gentle person and a sensitive soul. I had the honor of joining him on an official visit to the United States many years ago. He represents the spirit of a true Muslim. Let us hope that everyone heeds his call and shows more respect and provides better service to the guests of Allah during this season of Ramadan.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.

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Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at kalmaeena@saudigazette.com.sa and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena

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