Reflection on my Visitation to the Islamic Center
On Friday 30th of November, I joined a friend going to worship at the Islamic Center - Mosque here in Vienna. I had never been inside a Mosque and only once experienced Muslim prayer in person. I went wondering if experiencing a service and prayer would give me new insights and understanding. With the increasing religious tensions and terrible racial vilification happening, especially after the London bombings, I felt I needed to increase my knowledge in order not to fall into the pit of prejudice. On the day of my visit to the Mosque, I chose to wear a headscarf which was the appropriate custom for women. This was partly out of politeness and partly to enable me to experience a sense of what life was like for those who wear this garment every day. At the Mosque, we went in through women's door to where we removed our shoes. I had been told this Mosque was fairly multicultural, and sure enough there were women from many different countries and backgrounds (India, Pakistan, Indonesia) wearing a wide variety of Islamic dress, from jeans and hijab to full head to toe covering. When we got to the women praying- hall, there were only few women present that day in compared to the numbers of men flooding the main hall. Despite this gender imbalance I felt quite comfortable. However, there were females of all ages: babies, girls from the local Islamic school with their teacher, young and old women. I was greeted with smiles of welcome and I enjoyed seeing the diversity held by one room. I learned that it is optional for women to attend Friday Prayers at the Mosque and males are required to attend the service. From our position, we were curtained from the men section. The Imam could be easily seen, although at times it felt like we were peeking out from behind the curtains. His message was clear, and even with translation, short and to the point. He...
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