Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Al-Noor Mosque @ Sharjah

Even though I've lived in Muslim-majority countries for several years now, there is still a lot I don't know about Islam. You can pick up quite a bit through that phenomenon of cultural osmosis I talked about before, and of course I've also read some books on the subject, but my picture of that religion remained incomplete.

My knowledge is still incomplete, but not nearly as much as before, thanks to a visit to Al-Noor Mosque in Sharjah. Unlike some other countries in the Middle East, the UAE does not allow non-Muslims to visit their mosques. There are three exceptions: Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi (one of the largest mosques in the world), a mosque in Jumeirah (Dubai), and just recently, Al-Noor Mosque in Sharjah. Every Monday at 10am, they run an information session inside the mosque meant especially for non-Muslim visitors and residents in the UAE.
Now, being a Mormon, I know a thing or two about presenting one's religion to unbelievers. And the workers at Al-Noor did a fantastic job. A nice lady gave a one-hour presentation about Islam and included information about the five pillars, a demonstration of how they pray, and a run-down of the national dress. Then she took questions. She wasn't pushy, or self-righteous, or haughty, or disdainful of us foreigners. It was all carried out in the spirit of mutual respect and learning. At the end of the session, they gave us water, dates, and a picture of us at the mosque that they took with their own camera and then printed out for us. Basically, they were the nicest people ever.

While Al-Noor didn't have a Putting On Special Clothes Room, they did deck us out in abayas before we could enter the mosque. I believe that I am obligated to post a picture of myself in the abaya.

Anyway, the mosque visit was great and I would recommend it to anyone. Every Monday, 10am, Al-Noor Mosque in Sharjah. Ready, set, go!


Amira said...

Non-Muslims don't really visit mosques here (people don't exactly come to Kyrgyzstan to learn about Islam), and I've missed visiting mosques. That was one of my favorite things to do in the Middle East. So I loved reading this.

Katie said...

How cool!

Kathy Haynie said...

Wonderful. Did your mom get to visit the mosque, too?

Suzanne Bubnash said...

What a positive experience. I've been to mosques before in the Middle East but never had a formal educational experience in one. So informative. A few years ago I attended an informational meeting at the Bilal Mosque in Beaverton Oregon, which was also good.

Al Noor is a stunningly beautiful mosque. And invitations like this can only be beneficial to all religions.

Liz Johnson said...

That is awesome, and you look like a natural in the abaya. I really wish I knew more about Islam. This is now on my "to-do" list when I come visit.

(side note - a few days ago, I was ready to ship my children off to a foreign land, and then I decided it would be cheaper to ship myself. so I checked on flights to Dubai, and it was only $730... and I sat there seriously considering it. hopefully soon!)

Bridget said...

Liz, please come! Kathy, I hope you can see that my mom was indeed there.

Amira, I have missed it too. It was such a nice surprise to find out about this opportunity.

I just noticed I lost a follower after this post. I wonder if I offended someone by being open-minded about religion. Oops.

Azian Elias said...

Hi Bridget,

u look so great in Abaya.. I wish i cud visit this mosque. Have u visited Malaysia. All mosques here allow Non Muslim in.. So dont worry..

Anonymous said...

You look blessed with your abaya :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails