There is a mosque some 300 meters from my place. Thanks to this mosque, the traffic is unbelievable every Friday. The entire stretch of the road around the mosque on both sides is chockfull with cars double-parked.
Usually I try to avoid driving out during the Friday prayer time, but sometimes I am forced to join the massive traffic. At these times, the crawl out of my neighbourhood takes 20 minutes instead of the normal five.
As inconvenient as it is for me, I can’t help but wonder how tough it must be for residents whose houses are located less than 50 metres away from the mosque. Imagine the sound of “azan” five times a day. The crowds. The prayers recited at the wee hours of the morning.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Islam for I am a Muslim myself. I do visit the mosque when I need to. And this is the same mosque my son goes to perform his prayers every Friday.
Yet, I still find the location of this mosque inconvenient.
You see, when I first moved to this neighbourhood, there was no mosque. There was instead a wide expanse of land covered with luscious grass. However, without anyone’s knowledge, work to build the mosque commenced out of the blue.
Surprised, a group of residents made a complaint at our Residents’ Association. Oh yes, people in my area are very intelligent. They are sensible people who know how to deal with things. Hence, they did not conduct protests in the middle of the street during prayer time.
Their point of argument was simple – why build a mosque in a mostly non-Muslim populated area? Sounds familiar? Well, unlike the recent case, the religious department had already given the developer a permit to build the mosque.
While the Muslims were happy, the non-Muslims weren’t. The value of their houses dropped drastically especially those located just across the road to the mosque. But who could they complain to? No religious authority was going to listen to groups of non-Muslims complaining about a mosque.
So they gave up. They tolerated it. That was all they could do.
It is such a pity, with a mosque literally at their doorstep, no one wanted to buy their houses – not even the Muslims. I know I wouldn’t – be it a mosque or a temple, I wouldn’t want to wake up to the loud speaker of a mosque bursting into my room as much as I wouldn’t fancy the smell of incense from a temple invading my personal space.
Today, almost a decade later, the Muslim population in my area has increased. The mosque gets crowded with people every time during prayers.
Sadly, no one in my neighbourhood understands how tolerating the non-Muslims have been to allow the Muslims to practice their faith freely.
If the non-Muslims wanted to, they could have created havoc. But they chose not to. It is as simple as that.
Sensitivity is not a one way street. Sadly, some people think it is.