I had been raised a Catholic my entire life and had known about other faiths, but never explored how different they practice. So when I was I assigned in one of my classes to attend an event where I would feel out of place, I opted to visit a local Muslim Mosque in Sacramento and witness one of the daily prayers hosted there.
I arrived, not knowing how to carry myself and went downstairs into a lower level with open double doors and came across a body being wheeled away. A man approached me and told me the body was just prepared. Surprised, I pardoned myself and asked what he just said and he replied if I was there for the funeral. I told him I was there to observe the prayer but asked him the procedure of the burial process. He told me the body is anointed with oils and cleansed, then wrapped in a cloth created for burials. I thank him for the explanation and he directs me to the men’s entrance for the prayer room.
I enter the room after removing my shoes and watched the men in the room individually meditating or listening to the Imam, or leader of the mosque, talk about the man who had passed away.
“Each and every soul will receive the test of death,” he said.
He finishes his speech and begins the prayer. The men shuffle into rows toward the front of the room. Moments of silence are spaced with the Imam making declarations to Allah. Movements involved standing, bowing, bringing hands to the ears, kneeling, bringing the forehead to the floor then looking left and right. This is done a few times over a period of thirty minutes.
I had never felt so calm and at ease, the tone of the room was focused and the men in the room looked at me and greeted me, seeing I was an outsider. I was keeping mental notes of the situation, seeing the women were divided from the men with a partition in the room.
My interactions with the members of the mosque were pleasant: they welcomed me with handshakes and hugs. They were open with sharing their faith with me. Overall the amount of help they offered to me and their welcoming nature opened my eyes on the objectives of being a Muslim in today’s society.
I learned in thirty minutes a lot about the Muslim faith, through the openness of the members of the mosque and the way I was able to immerse myself in the experience motivates me to explore the way other faiths practice. I encourage anyone curious to learn about those who are different to explore and educate themselves to attain a better understanding of other cultures.
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