For most of us it’s easy to stay in our circles and to keep to the people we know, who are familiar, who look and believe like we do. But there’s power in widening our perspective, in seeking out those who are different from us.
It is only when we try to understand others, when we experience part of their daily existence, it creates empathy and connection. Barriers come down. That person who was “the other” is now someone we understand, we know.
Islam is one of the largest religions in the world, and yet is one of the most misunderstood and is often feared due to lack of knowledge. So, what if you took a step and visited a mosque. What new relationships, connections, and understanding could be borne out of your visit?
Like a Catholic Church, Mosques are a place of worship for Muslims, but also contain teaching and community spaces. They’re a central gathering place for Muslims, both for worship and faith and for community and learning.
I, like many, have always wondered what it is like inside a Mosque, what happens and what it is really like. I have also questioned whether a Mosque is even open to me or if it would be intrusive and disrespectful to go into a place of worship where I believe differently. However, like most churches and other places of worship, most mosques welcome visitors of other faiths.
Yesterday was the start of EID-al-Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice and is the second and the largest of the two main holidays celebrated in Islam. Following on from the service, families get together and eat and celebrate. This can go on for up to four days.
I decided to attend the Mosque on this day with Judy to learn about EID and to see a service on one of their biggest days. We also were able to see the service differently as male to females are in different rooms. We attended the Salam Mosque Logan City at 262 Third Ave, Kingston, along with Cr Teresa Lane, Cr Jon Raven, and Cr Mindy Russell.
It is respectful to dress modestly, in looser-fitting clothing that covers the arms and legs—no shorts or sleeveless shirts for either gender. Women should also bring a scarf. While not all mosques will ask female visitors to cover their heads, and the wonderful people of Salam Mosque didn’t, it’s a sign of respect to have one ready. Makeup is okay and kids can wear whatever they want.
You’ll also want to be sure to wear clean socks or stockings, because you’ll be asked to remove your shoes before you enter the prayer area. I wore bright coloured ones but thankfully I didn’t have any holes in them. If you are worried about not getting your shoes back amongst the hundreds there, you have nothing to fear.
While it may be a little overwhelming when you first enter, forget that, and expect to be welcomed. The Muslim faith places a high value on hospitality and the people are incredibly friendly, especially if they know you’re coming and are ready to welcome you.
The leaders of the Mosque were very welcoming to us and showed us where to go. They said to ask any questions if we had any and to enjoy the morning. Other members of the Mosque were also very welcoming and encouraged us to take part.
After the introductions and some chatting, we were shown where to remove and store our shoes and where to go once inside. The men and women were separated and would pray in different rooms.
The prayer hall does not have pews or seats; people sit on carpets or rugs. There might be a few chairs available for people with disabilities or the elderly.
During the service, people will stand, bow, prostrate and sit in unison at different points during the prayer. You don’t have to join in as I didn’t; you can just observe quietly. When a Muslim is praying, they will not talk or respond to you until they have completed the prayer. You can ask questions before or after.
As it’s considered disrespectful to walk in front of someone who is praying, you might be asked to sit in the back, so you can observe the service from there. This is exactly what I did, and it was an eye-opening experience to see what they do.
Some of the service was in Arabic and so there were many sections I did not understand. This did not take anything away from the experience as it was great to see the true service.
Following on, I met back up with Judy and we were given a tour of the Mosque. This is the time that men and women can be in the same halls. We were introduced to many people who were all to happy to answer our questions and tell us things we never thought to ask.
The most important thing to remember during your Mosque visit is to be fully present. Don’t be so worried about doing the “right” or “wrong” thing that you miss the chance to connect with someone different from you.
This is how peace is waged—by taking one small step into the unknown. By getting to know someone who looks different, prays differently, or sees the world differently than you do. This is how we push back against fear, polarization, and mistrust. This is how we make Logan City and the World more beautiful together.