Today after Eid prayer, I made my way through a sea of hundreds down a narrow hallway towards the courtyard and heard the sound of a child crying. I turned to my left to see a young blonde boy of about three, his blue eyes filled with tears shivering in the corner amongst shoes, crying for his mother.
I made my way towards him, leaned down, and asked if he was lost. He nodded, his breathing growing more ragged. I looked around to see if we could find his mother from where we stood but we were engulfed by the crowd pushing into us on either side. I asked him to hold my hand and walk with me outside into the courtyard where we could stand on a bench and look for his mother. He gripped my hand and we walked down the hall. Finally, I saw the exit but as I took a step I felt my hand jerk roughly. I turned around and saw a woman in dark abaya and a red flower on her lapel yank the young boy and hold him tightly to her chest. Her eyes were swollen red from crying. She looked at me with fear and confusion and she gripped her son tighter. I tried to explain to her, as the sea of women trickled outside, but she seemed to not understand me. I wanted to tell her that I was just trying to help, that her son was panicked and I wanted him to feel safe and that my intentions were not evil. She stared at me for a moment and then walked away.
As I saw her leave I wondered: Did she think I snatched him away from her? Did she think I was making off with him? Will she now be frightened of her son at the Masjid or standing near desis? Or was the look of fear that I saw not about me at all, but her own private thoughts as she searched for her briefly missing son? I wish I could tell her that I meant no harm. That I just wanted to treat this child as I would want to have been treated in his shoes frightened and scared as he was. I hope she knows I did not mean him harm.