Friday I had the very interesting experience of visiting a mosque. I didn't know really what to expect when I jumped on the bandwagon. The wheels in my head were turning more in the direction of this will be a cool thing to put on my cultural adventure list, which it totally was, but it was a very eye-opening day.
I went with a group, and we showed up for an afternoon service. The mosque has a dress code, so the women have to cover their arms, legs, and heads, and the men are required to wear pants and sleeves. The women are not allowed to enter through the main doors, so we entered through a door in the side that took us up to a tiny room upstairs. There's a little area to take your shoes off in, and then everyone sits in a little carpeted balcony area. There was a screen so they could watch the Imam preach downstairs and there was a glass on one side that overlooked the men sitting downstairs.The women's area was about an eighth of the main area downstairs for the men. The floor in the service areas is like a normal carpet but it has lines that form a little carpet square for each person to sit and pray at, that all together sort of make a giant grid. Muslims must pray in the direction of Mecca, so the carpet squares were all at an angle. Upstairs where we sat, the women sat in the front, closest to the screen that was streaming the sermon downstairs, in an area that was roped off. Behind the roped area sat young boys from a Muslim school that came for the service. Behind the little boys sat the little girls.
I really thought everyone would be really standoffish to our group. I also thought that the inside of the mosque would be really weird and have like giant statues or something crazy. But everyone was very kind to us and super welcoming. One lady showed us where to sit and explained the prayers that were spoken in Arab to us. Everyone invited us to ask any questions we had. And assumption number two, about the inside being decorated super freakishly, was also wrong. The inside was actually very plain. The walls were a tan color and besides the windows and chandeliers, the only things that was really inside was some bookcases, chairs, and a prayer clock.
The service was actually very similar to a Christian service, but obviously there was a lot missing because the Holy Spirit wasn't working through the sermon. It was about the "attitude of gratitude".
After the service the Imam was very nice and gave us a tour. He answered all of our questions and encouraged us to ask more. It was interesting to hear his story and hear how he got where he is today.
If anything, I think it really opened my eyes and burdened my heart for these people. When you walk in you can feel the heaviness and the spiritual warfare happening. It's hard to see women not being appreciated and valued the way God made them to be, and men who don't understand their immense value. It's hard to see children who will grow up and learn about a god who isn't graceful and merciful and doesn't give them unconditional love. It's hard to see people that have been taught they can work their way to God. But, really, there is no better way to minister to them than to understand what they believe.
Note my amazing blurry phone pictures.
KYLE LOVES TORI PHOTOGRAPHY