Understanding the Muslim faith today for outsiders is more important now than any point in recent history. An increasing number of the world's headlines today come from countries with predominately Muslim influence. In an age of such political correctness in use of terminology, it is important not to stereotype or make generalizations about cultures we have not experienced firsthand. If we are to speak correctly and attempt to relate to people of varying backgrounds, we should try and recognize where their thinking originated.
I grew up through Catholic schools and had little knowledge about any religious traditions apart from my own. It seems to me that even the word Islam has much more importance to the average American than it did when I was born. I had to seek out information about other traditions, and visiting a mosque was another step in the growth of my understanding of Islamic traditions. This visit was something I was looking forward to since its announcement in class. Professor Shreibman's Western Religions Class really brought out my interest in the three great monotheistic religions, and a better understanding of how to study them comparatively.
[...] Nana responded that indeed there was a specific purpose. The idea is to humble yourself before Allah, the creator of the entire universe. He said they were trying to visualize it was only them in front of Allah. Some shielded their ears as to signify that the rest of the world is behind them, only Allah lies in front of them. Mr. Nana explained that a main idea of keeping women in a separate room was to remove distractions from the men. [...]
[...] A wireless microphone was attached to the reader, which had a closed circuit speaker wired to the room we were sitting in. It was a fairly simple set-up. To my understanding this was because there should be no distraction for the worshipper. Each person should have a sole focus, connecting themselves to their creator. I had wondered previously if there would be something resembling an altar or pulpit for a prayer room. I wasn't sure what a Muslim prayer center would look like. [...]
[...] At first about ten people walked into the room. I remember the ritual quite clearly in my head. In silence each person stood facing the wall. Then each person bent over for a few seconds with hands on knees or back of legs and faced the ground. Then each person returned standing up briefly. From there each person went to the floor, legs under them. After what I counted was about fifteen seconds, a full prostration followed. After rebounding back leaning on their legs, another prostration followed. [...]
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