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Islamic Center

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

We had a trip today for my course called Migration, Ethnic Minorities, and Multiculturalism to the Islamic Center of Freiburg today.

It was actually really cool. Our guide is finishing up his studies at Universit├Ąt Freiburg and is half German, half Yemen, I think. He took us downstairs into the room used for children's Arabic classes and a sometimes-prayer-room, and we all sat down in a circle, and he basically explained the Islamic faith and practices to us. It was a massive question-and-answer session.

What I really liked was that we got more of an inside look at it. Like in America there are societal issues about Muslims more than Islam because we live in a post 9/11 world. In Europe it's worse, because the Muslim minorities are so much more populous, and a lot of socio-economic tension ensues anyway (about things like living conditions, wages, jobs, etc.) so it's much more intense anyway. Even though I, and many of the people I know in the program, have always been very wary of general statements about anything, we don't understand. It wasn't until I went into the mosque that I could really begin to understand it as a faith as well. Not that I didn't think it wasn't, or that it should be classified differently, it's just that I'd had minimal exposure to it. As had a lot of the students in the class. So it was really really good for me to be able to go in there and see not only what a mosque looks like (though it's really just a converted office building, not the stereotypical grand mosques with minarets and everything) but how people move in it, and speak, and treat each other. Overall I did get the impression, though, that our guide was sugar-coating things a bit. We asked about the presence (or lack of) of women in the mosque, and he kind of avoided an overall gender-relations-look at that relationship. He said that women were, because of their traditional roles in the house, not expected to come to the mosque 5 times a day for prayer. They learned to pray at home.

Then, at the very end, we got to sit in the back of the prayer-room and observe the 5th daily prayer at sunset. That was awesome. I have no idea what anyone was saying, because it was in old, poetic Arabic, but to actually see the ritual and hear these verses read and sung as they have been for years and years was really cool.

permalink written by  lost_red_balloon on December 3, 2008 from Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
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