Worshipping God online

The mosque I called home for many years is beautiful — modern, red brick with angular planes on the outside, … Continued

The mosque I called home for many years is beautiful — modern, red brick with angular planes on the outside, glorious beveled windows and a light-filled, almost austere, soaring serenity on the inside. It also isn’t terribly accessible if you are handicapped. While there is an elevator, there are also steps no matter which way you try to get to the prayer hall (there are actually three different ways to get to the prayer hall, and each one of them has stairs!). For those with allergies, asthma or chemical sensitivities, many people wear perfumes or essential oils when coming to services and special events.

Most mosques I’ve been to present similar challenges. Muslims are still catching up when it comes to accessibility and awareness of the issues confronting people with disabilities. Even where the prayer hall is easy to get to, other parts of the building such as the multipurpose hall or bathroom facilities are often completely out of reach or inadequate to the needs of those with disabilities.

There is also little recognition of the fact that people who are cut off from congregational prayers — whether due to disability, long-term illness, living in an area with no mosque, or even working far enough from the local mosque that work schedules and commute time make it infeasible to attend services — are often cut off from the community in deeper, more significant ways. They miss out on the camaraderie and fellowship of shared prayers, but also the connections, the friendships, the conversations about politics or religion or the trivial matters of life with fellow Muslims.

Fortunately, technology has brought us some innovative ways to deal with these issues. Last week, I attended juma prayers (the weekly congregational prayers that are held Friday afternoons) via the internet. I connected to Skype and received a live audio and video feed of the proceedings of a small congregation in Toronto. With the webcam and mic on my computer, I could participate, giving my greetings to the people who had gathered in person and sharing in the discussion afterward. It wasn’t quite the same as being there in person (no hugs, and the sound quality wasn’t crystal clear), but it sure beat sitting alone at home. For those with disabilities, this may represent the way of the future… a happy medium between total isolation and complete immersion. While it may not be perfect, it offers a way to participate in a congregation, hear the sermon and join in the congregational prayers.

I’m sure the El-Tawhid juma circle is not the only one to offer their services online (although they are the first I am aware of to have an interactive juma over the internet). I imagine and hope more mosques will begin offering such services to their congregants who can’t get out of the house, can’t manage the congregation, or who are unable to attend prayers for other reasons. It certainly would go along way to promoting the communal good, and fulfilling the duties Muslims have to the sick, the wounded, and the disabled.

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  • abrahamhab1

    The main advantage to attend an electronic Muslim service is it saves women the many humiliating practices of segregation and discrimination inside mosques. If Ms Taylor learns Arabic she can watch a Friday sermon every week straight out of Mecca, as well as from a number of Arab capitals.

  • Jihadist

    Following and participating in Friday congregational prayers via the Internet live audio and video feed? I’ve never thought of that. Got to connect my BB and iP to the TV feed on it then for anyplace to join in.

  • asizk

    Abraham,Your following statement is false:”The main advantage to attend an electronic Muslim service is it saves women the many humiliating practices of segregation and discrimination inside mosques.”What discrimination and humailation? Give us an example. Like men ,Muslim women go to Mosques all over the Muslim world and its perfectly normal.Besides,the idea of praying in a mosque daily and on Fridays is to congregate and be part of the Muslim Community-the same as the Hajj thou on a universal scale.Those who are disabled are excused.Islam is a faith of the possible:remember what the Prophet said to his two delegates to Yemen:” Be flexible and don’t make it difficult for the people.” يسرا ولا تعسرا

  • abrahamhab1

    “The main advantage to attend an electronic Muslim service is it saves women the many humiliating practices of segregation and discrimination inside mosques”Asik asks “What discrimination and humiliation?Both discrimination and segregation are humiliating. Segregation is the separate distant rooms that women are more often than not crammed into with their children. Discrimination is in the denial of women to preach or lead in prayers. Remember that I am addressing this note to Ms Taylor who is fighting for Muslim women’s right to be imams.

  • yasseryousufi

    Abrahamhab,You are just a stupid blathering idiot! How many mosques have you been to?

  • yasseryousufi

    Pamela Taylor is a former Christian who converted to Islam, only God knows why. She has the false notion that an Imam is to Islam what Arch-Bishops and Pope’s are to Christianity. Being an Imam is not a privileged position in Islam. If it were, the Imam of Holy Kaaba Mosque would have been an authority on matters pertaining to Islam. Yet 99.99% muslims of the world wouldn’t even know his name nor would recognize him if they saw him. Pamela’s main job is to be on the lookout for creating more ‘fitna’ in Islam by speaking for legitimizing Homosexuality, standing by the Israelis and re-writing the Quran.

  • abrahamhab1

    Yasseryousufi asks: “You are just a stupid blathering idiot! How many mosques have you been to?”

  • TommyTstars

    Ms Taylor was never a Christian and DID NOT “convert” to Islam. She was raised without a religion, studied (academicly and in the field) the religions of the world and adopted Islam as her adult choice.Her Arabic is pretty good although her accent has been criticized by some who disapprove of her “sermons” in mosques. In connection with her master degree at Harvard, she did a scholarly translation of the personal diary of one of the prophet’s wives.

  • sidneyselt

    @YasserYousufi…Character assassination is the favorite approach of Islamists to discredit those who are not in lock-step with the we-know-Allah’s-will-and-all orthodox gang. Ms. Taylor’s rights as a Muslim to understand Quran through her own study and “tadabber” cannot be violated. Why are you backbiting and so foul of temperament? Your personal attacks attempting to “discipline” her through straight out lying–she is causing “fitna”–reveals more about your “weak” understanding of Islam and the shallowness of your personality. Your dependence upon “stupid-stitions” about women and antiquarianism on homosexuality breeds intolerance for anyone who does not agree with you or your gang. Your views are not similar to my Sunni opinions or of other Muslims of multiple diversities. Current orthodoxy is not the only opinion on Islam in the world–and you’re afraid the majority of the masses are listening to alternative voices–frightening when you see your power slipping away old boy. Needless to say, Ms. Taylor has not come to your masjid, demanded you prayer behind her or attend while she performs prayer for women and men. We know you and your gang don’t have all the answers. You should mind your own business, you should stay in your own little enclave, and you should leave other Muslims alone.

  • yasseryousufi

    @sidneyselt…. I am all for moderates and progressives coming to the fore. I absolutely support the efforts of Muslim scholars like Tarek Ramadan, Imam Feisal etc preaching the true message of peaceful co-existence that is the essence of Islam. However the thing to keep in mind is that its not Islam that needs to be reformed, its the muslims who have strayed away from the teachings of Islam who need to be reformed. Islam is/was/will be a complete religion for all times. This is a fundamental belief of all muslims. Now we have this cabal of so-called “Reformers” like Pamela Taylor, Asra Nomani, Irshad Manji, Amina Wudood, Omid Safi etc. all of them of dubious character preaching their version of “Islam-Lite” and being provided platforms to dilute the impressionable minds of muslims in the west who are away from the center of Islam. So when someone says she’s is for rewriting the word of Allah and introducing her own version of Quran that IS creating a “Fitna” by all accounts. There have been many such attempts like this in the past. We already have Ahmedi’s whose leader Ghulam Ahmed Qadyani was propped up by the Colonialists, who extolled the virtues living under the rule of her Majesty and gave Fatwa’s against resisting colonials. That eventually led to him claiming to be a Prophet of Allah and the subsequent expulsion of him and his followers from Islam. So if you, like Pamela Taylor and Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani want to go against the word of Allah you can always create your own Ahmedi like fancy new religion, just dont call your muslims. Because Allah (SWT) himself has taken the responsibility of safeguarding the Quran. Pamela and her ilk are not the first bunch of Munafiqeen who have attempted to pollute beliefs fundamental to Islam. These people come and go at various intervals of History. But we Muslims posses the original word of Allah so its really easy to differentiate a Munafiq from a reformer.

  • abrahamhab1

    Yasseryousufi pontificates thus:No one should know more about Islam and practice it better than the prophet of Islam. A group of former Muslims from Bangladesh in the UK have commented thus on “the messenger of Allah”: the supposedly perfect being according to the teachings of Islam.. “One who claims himself to be a messenger of God is expected to live a saintly life. He must not be given to lust, he must not be a sexual pervert, and he must not be a rapist, a highway robber, a war criminal, a mass murderer or an assassin. One who claims to be a messenger of God must have a superior character. He must stand above the vices of the people of his time. Yet Muhammad’s life is that of a gangster godfather. He raided merchant caravans, looted innocent people, massacred entire male populations and enslaved the women and children. He raped the women captured in war after killing their husbands and told his followers that it is okay to have sex with their captives (Quran 33:50).He assassinated those who criticized him and executed them when he came to power and became de facto despot of Arabia. Muhammad was bereft of human compassion. He was an obsessed man with his dreams of grandiosity and could not forgive those who stood in his way”