Our guide was raised Catholic and converted to Islam during her studies as a Cultural Anthropologist. She is fascinating and I would love to spend more time with her learning about her journey. Interestingly enough, she explained that in Islam culture and religion and very closely tied. We may have mis-perception about Islam based on what is the cultural norm for a particular region.
My mom and I attended together on Friday for the 12:45 worship. We entered through the door for women and participated in the cleaning ritual where we washed our arms, feet, faces, mouths, noses and the back of our necks. I have no idea how this ritual began but I suspect it may have been related to sand and the dusty environment of the middle east.
We proceeded to the Masjid – which is the proper name for a Mosque. The women entered through their own door and sat in the back separated by a low curtain from the men in the front. The Imam was giving a talk about a Moral pilgrimage, and obedience for Allah. He asked followers of Islam show humility in their words, actions and photos posted on Facebook. When we invite people to Islam we must show modesty and he was dismayed at the photographic postings found on Facebook that were not consistent with the modesty and humility that Islam expects. He discussed the Physical pilgrimage and the Religious pilgrimage to Mecca. The Religious pilgrimage being our first priority – more important that our hometown or family for example. We must put our full trust in Allah and plan our lives accordingly within our Human understanding.
We then lined up tightly shoulder to shoulder standing on a line in the carpet before sitting on our knees to pray. I was next to our guide and a woman dressed in a Burka. I could only see her eyes. There was a lot of variety in dress but the standard is the body covered from the wrists to the ankles and the head is completely covered. We wore our scarves but both my mom and I did have our bangs hanging out. We tried! Some women were fully covered but wore a lot of make-up. Some wore all black pants or robes and others dressed very colorfully. Many nationalities seemed to be represented at this service. It was fascinating.
We prayed, facing Mecca with our noses and foreheads touching the carpet. It was all over very quickly – maybe 40 minutes as people rushed to get back to class or work. The place was packed – I took my photos afterward.
A book was recommended to us – The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English by Yahiya Emerick. He also wrote The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Islam.
Here is the link to the Tempe Masjid – http://www.tempemosque.com/index.php
Here is the link to the American Islamic Forum for Democracy – http://aifdemocracy.org/ I picked them because of the moderate voice of Dr. Zudhi Jasser for freedom and democracy. He lives in our city and you often see him as a spokesperson on television.