As part of my Practice of Mission class I’ll be writing a paper next week over a formal religious experience that is different than my own. This afternoon I went to a local mosque for a Jummah service because aside from my assignment, I really wanted to meet people of the Islamic faith. So many stereotypes exist regarding Islam and I want a more than a one dimensional picture.
Being completely ignorant I attempted to walk in the main door, and was fortunately corrected (in a very friendly, non-judgmental way) and shown the way to a side entrance into the women’s area. The front door leads into the large, main area which is where the men pray and listen to the service. I took off my shoes, entered the women’s room and sat down in the back. The service and just started so the other ladies were already seated and quiet, and I noticed immediately that they all had their heads covered. I got a little nervous, hoping I wasn’t being disrespectful by not following suit, but several turned around and greeted me with nods and smiles that were genuine and friendly.
As I sat and listened to the message given by the Imam I was struck by several things.
The first thing was that this message was something that could just as easily have been given at my church. The Imam spoke of serving the community, being a good neighbor and presenting a good witness of your faith. All of these ring familiar.
The next thing that stuck out to me was the call to fellowship. He spoke of blood drives, a team being put together for the MS150 this Spring and an upcoming family event taking place. No matter our faith or our ethnicity, these are the things that make up our lives!
I think what stood out to me the most, the thing that caused me to have to push back some tears, was the burden that the Muslim community here in Cypress, Texas is feeling for the terrorist images being portrayed of Islam in the media. As the Imam encouraged his people to come out from behind their walls and join in their community, he was urging them to fight the stereotypes being given to America by cable news. As he called to them to join in their homeowners associations and become registered voters, he was inviting them to act wisely and peacefully to counteract the single story we are presented with.
I can’t deny what’s going on in the world, and I can’t say that it isn’t heartbreaking, enraging and beyond comprehension. But I can say that there are individuals behind the stereotypes, that don’t fall under the label of “terrorist” or “extremist” or “murderer.”
As a Christian, I maintained a state of prayer to my God while I was in the mosque. Prayer for his people there and prayer for my understanding. I had a good experience. An enlightening one. And I’m grateful to the people there for allowing me to visit.
**This is one of the many awesome reasons I’m in seminary working on an Intercultural Studies degree… I want to learn more about other people and cultures! If you read my last post you know that I’m going to Kenya!!!! If you’d like to support me, please visit my fundraising page: