My Understanding Islam online class joined the traditional on-campus class last week for supper at a Middle Eastern restaurant and a tour of the Islamic Association of North Texas building, including the prayer area where Muslims conduct their ritual daily prayers.
Mosques are generally decorated simply especially in the US. Everyone took their shoes off at the entrance, and then we looked at the area where the Muslims perform their cleansing before they enter the prayer rooms.
The prayer room itself is simply a large, open room with lines on the floor. Following the call to prayer, the men all gather in the main room, lining up next to each other. A section of the Qur’an is read as the followers prepare their hearts for prayer. They go through a series of movements including kneeling down with their forehead to the floor as the Scripture is repeated.
I had been inside a mosque before but I had never seen the actual prayer time. It was interesting and really helped deepen my understanding of this part of Islam. I couldn’t help wondering what the people were thinking as they went through the prayer sets. Were they just going through the motions, since they do them everyday? What were they thinking about, or what requests were they lifting up to God? We have learned in our class that Muslims and Christians do worship the same God, yet Muslims do not have the full understanding of who God really is. Because they don’t accept Jesus as the Savior and Son of God, they don’t see the whole picture. But I couldn’t help wondering as I was watching if God heard their prayers just like I believe he hears mine.
I read this quote in a newsletter about the Turkish world, and it really fits with the heart of my class and what is becoming my understanding of Muslims.
Here it is:
It is gratifying that more people are waking up to the reality of Islam in our midst. Unfortunately, too often they are waking up with a bad attitude! Muslims are not the enemy. Jesus died for them, just like he died for you and me. Our response to them should be Christ-likeness, with a well-informed understanding of who Muslims are, the needs of their hearts, and strategic vision for reaching them with the Gospel.
I think my time at the mosque was helpful in gaining understanding and I hope that I can continue to look for how to reach the Muslims around me and around the world.