30 MORE | VIDEO – JUMAH – Phase 1 – Limited Opening – 30% Capacity – Friday Congregational Prayer – Sayeda Khadija Centre – 7150 Edwards Blvd – Mississauga

“Jumu’ah Khutba – June 12, 2020

As we reopen our places of worship partially and start going back hopefully gradually to normal or close to that, we start appreciating everything we lost or were deprived from including coming to the masjid.”

Friday June 12 2020

2:15 p.m. – 2:35 p.m EDT

Sayeda Khadija Centre in Mississauga, Ontario

Re-opened to the public for Salat al Jumah, The Friday Congregational Prayer, at 30% capacity.

They achieved this by scheduling four sequential Friday Sermons plus Prayers:

Friday 1:30 p.m – 1:50 p.m EDT

Friday 2:15 p.m. – 2:35 p.m EDT

Friday 3:00 p.m. – 3:20 p.m. EDT

Friday 3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. EDT

You had to reserve an online ticket via Sayeda Khadija Centre‘s Eventbrite page.

My brother and I reserved two spot for the  2:15 p.m.  time slot.

The last public Jumah, before the Pandemic Lockdown, was three months ago on Friday March 12 2020.

 

We decided against even attempting the primary parking lot and chose to park in the overflow parking lot accessible from Hurontario Street.

Two parking lot assistants in visible vests used hand signals to guide us.

We parked where they pointed.

It was unclear at first if we were to stay inside the car or go outside towards the Masjid.

 

We did exit our car and approached the main parking lot, it was full.

We returned to our car and waited until we saw people walking back to their cars having completed their prayer.

That would confirm the first of four scheduled Jumah Prayers were done.

 

The main parking lot was rapidly emptying, and it was now our turn.

It wasn’t immediately clear how everything was operating or where we were to go at first.

As we got closer, it became obvious.

People were lined up, two metres apart, around the Masjid building’s side leading to the entrance.

 

So that’s what we did too.

 

The yellow painted parking spot markings became de facto physical distancing markers and we all used them like that without a word being said.

Common sense.

The line advanced pretty fast. Hardly a few minutes.

Once around the corner and within visual sight of the entrance, a volunteer in full personal protective equipment advised everyone in a loud voice what to expect once inside.

The volunteer brother requested everyone to have their QR Code from their Eventbrite Online Booking Registration ready on their mobile devices.

I don’t have a mobile device, beyond my Nikon Coolpix camera, but I did pre-register.

My name is listed on the double booking e-mail confirmation on my brother’s device.

Closer to the entrance, orange pylons and orange/red duct tape are spaced two metres apart informing us where to stand in line using physical distancing.

Once inside, a minor delay for my brother and I.

My brother’s email confirmation only has one QR Code though it listed both our names.

Eventbrite sends an e-mail confirmation with an attached PDF for every ticket.

For whatever reason, we had only a single QR Code in the PDF.

To keep the line from backing up, the volunteer brother who first spoke to me, asked us to stand aside until they figured it out.

The senior decision maker at the entrance area said they had already checked in 300 worshippers and this was the first time this had happened.

Well, Alhumdulillah, if this was to happen, at least it happened to me, the masjid blogger, and I could document it, for people reading this blog post afterwards.

Perhaps my writing about it here can help prevent any future check-in delays.

The first volunteer opted to manually look up my name and for some reason, it showed I had already checked-in four hours ago.

?

Well, whatever.

As I was standing in front of him now, he manually re-checked me in on his mobile device and my brother and I proceeded.

What I think happened was the complexity of the Eventbrite booking messed things up.

First, you could request one or two tickets per registration,

Having filled first name, last name, and email address for the first ticket,

The next step asks you if you wanted to copy all the previous information from the first ticket for the second ticket.

I remember doing this, but nothing obvious happened.

It immediately made no sense to me.

This  copy  option is useful on Eventbrite if two or more tickets have multiple fields which are repetitive like two people at the same home address and city and postal code.

Yet, all three fields for today’s Jumah tickets were unique, First Name, Last Name, E-Mail Address.

And then you had to choose from one of four time slots for Jumah,

One more variable in the complexity of the process.

Did that add to my ticket mix-up ?

So, my experience suggests that you request ONE ticket, NOT two tickets, at a time, when using Eventbrite.

Ensure you get one QR Code via PDF in your email for EACH ticket.

That way the line will advance smoothly without surprise nor delay.

Our delay was two minutes, at most, and it was likely one minute, but it did STOP the line.

A temperature check on the forehead with this device, took a second to confirm.

Another brother then placed a round green sticker on my shirt to signal I had passed this point.

You can see one of those green stickers on the volunteer’s photo above.

 

All the volunteers at this point and beyond were donning full Personal Protective Equipment, the PPE we hear mentioned all the time.

We were instructed, or requested, to use hand sanitizer at the tables.

We were given small plastic bags, to carry our pair of shoes into the main prayer hall.

This has an Eid like feeling, carrying the shoes with us.

Another volunteer sat at the entrance to the front half of the building.

I think he was there to confirm our shoes were in our plastic bags and to visually spot the green dots we should be wearing to gain entry at this point.

Inside the main prayer hall, a zig zag placing of mixed markers on the carpet, and green masking tape on the benches identified the prayer spots on a first come first served basis.

Some of the markers on the carpet were numbered, other markers were small orange pylons, yet other markers were unfolded Qur’an wooden book rests.

Somehow, the volunteer brother in the main prayer hall directed my brother and I to pick two prayer spots in about the same area where we both normally pray.

SubhanAllah.

My view looking down at my feet, with my shoes inside the plastic bag.

For this first Friday Prayer in Congregation in three months, I chose to bring a personally important prayer mat.

This simple thin red prayer mat has been with me for about twenty years.

I took it with me to Madinah and Makkah in 2011 and prayed on it there.

It came with me as I did my 30 Masjids in 30 Days of Ramadan Canada  in 2016.

The zig zag placing of physical distanced pre-marked prayer spots reminded me of Islamic Geometry.

Spots ahead and behind and left and right beside me remained empty.

Yet spots diagonally distant from me found worshippers sitting in place.

Normally the Imam instructs worshippers to stand shoulder to shoulder during prayer, and often times he requests worshippers to make space for late comers to the Sermon mid-way through delivering it.

Not today.

 

Before the Pandemic, we might be sitting thirty or even fifty worshippers per line.

Today’s physical distancing meant only eight  worshippers per line with two metres between each of them.

I counted about 100 worshippers in total were present inside the main prayer hall.

Pre-Pandemic, the Friday Lecture would be 30 to 40 minutes in length.

The Qhutbah, The Sermon, Dr. Imam Slimi delivered today was under ten minutes.

After three months, it was good to be able to donate cash in person towards upkeep of the masjid.

Volunteers walked through the aisle with the collection bag for contactless donations.

Imam Dr. Slimi delivered the Qhutbah, The Friday Sermon, as well as Adhan al Jumah, Call to The Friday Prayer.

One of the younger members of the Sayeda Khadija Centre community was the Imam today and he lead us in the Jumah Prayer.

That was it.

The Optional Sunnah Prayers were not to be done here, but at home instead.

Time to exit.

There were still two more Jumah Prayers scheduled after us.

The exit line was backing up into the main prayer hall, so my brother and I did not rush to leave.

 

Everyone observed Physical Distancing as best they could.

Sayeda Khadija Centre has announced they would now remain open to the public for ALL Five Daily Prayers, keeping all these safety protocols in place.

A look at the empty  prayer hall with prayer spots identified and ready for the next scheduled Jumah Prayer.

After all the Sisters had left,

The volunteer sister who was minding the secondary exit from the main prayer, invited my brother and I and the other brothers remaining to leave through that doorway instead.

That saved us a lot of time, as other brothers had to wait due to physical distancing in the main exit line.

The large multi-use hall on the west side of the building might normally be bustling with voices and sounds of socializing amid smells of samosa and tea.

This afternoon found a rushed silence to exit the mostly empty building.

We exit Sayeda Khadija Centre and walk through the parking lot to the overflow area.

 

A look back to see people lining up to attend the Third of today’s Four  Friday Prayers and Sermon.

Turn around time for all that was about 40 minutes.

Half the total time a pre-Pandemic  Jumah might take.

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