Living in a Muslim country, I am able to witness the local people practising their religion on a daily basis. People of this faith are very devoted and this is shown five times a day during the call to prayer. Just like church bells ringing out on a Sunday morning, the call to prayer echoes throughout the country during the day on loudspeakers that have been posted on street corners, mosques, restaurants, shopping malls, and schools. A loud, deep voice echoes over the country, chanting verses from the Holy Qur’an. For a Muslim, you are being summoned to stop whatever you are doing and worship your God, no matter where you are. For a non-Muslim, it can be disturbing and peaceful at the same time. For me, it’s a reminder of the world I find myself living in and I actually love sitting out in the garden listening to the melodic sounds of the mosques on a Friday lunchtime (this is the special day for prayer) - there is something very lovely about the sound.
The prayer intervals change each day depending on the sun. It begins at dawn (currently about 4.40am!) and then repeats three times during the day, with the last one two hours after the sun has set. Most Muslims go to a mosque or prayer room during these times. However, if a Muslim is travelling and unable to reach a designated place of worship, he will first determine the location of Mecca and then roll out his prayer carpet and begin praying to Allah, something we often see when out and about in the various parks. Also, if you are driving during the call to prayer, you will be able to hear it through the various radio stations.
After 18 months living here I am somewhat embarrassed and disappointed that I have not found out more about the religion, which surrounds us - yes, I hear the Call to Prayer and I know a little about the month of Ramadan, but I have never really taken the time or effort to find out any more details. I was therefore really pleased last week when Matthew went on a trip with his Beaver unit to visit Fanar, the Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre, that works on motivating society to become more informed about Islam. There he was able to visit the mosque (pictured above) and learn a little about Islam and what the religion means to its followers. Each child was then given a couple of books with basic information about Islam (excerpts shown below) and had their name written out in Arabic. He had a great time and was at last able to make sense of the noises he hears from the mosques as unfortunately we had never thought to talk about it with any of our children!
NOTE TO SELF - be more aware of what is going on around us and don't forget to share information with the kids. There are some great learning opportunities here for them and we mustn't waste them!!