Friday, September 14, 2012

Dubai, a State of Business--Part 1

We made our first trip into the city of Dubai and do the usual tourist things, stare at the highest building in the world and the most luxurious hotels. But before all the modern architecture we visited a mosque that morning.  Dubai, a State of Business--Part 1 discuss the mosque and what we learned about Islam and in Dubai, a State of Business--Part 2, is all the more modern architecture and other sights of Dubai.

Jumeira Mosque was very pretty inside and very open.  I've included some pictures below.

When going into the mosque clothing was a concern for some.  Girls needed to wear a headscarf and conservative clothing.  Above you can see some of us in our headscarfs with long pants or kapris.  The clothing just need to go past our knee caps, but many of us ended up wearing ankle length skirts of jeans.  We were unfortunately very uncomfortable by the time we returned to the University with heat and humidity bearing on us most of the day.

The guys also needed to wear conservative clothing, cover shoulders and knee caps like the girls, but they didn't need to cover their heads although some of group wanted to be goofy and try.

Along with conservative clothing we also needed to take our shoes off.  Be warned, those stone steps are much hotter than they appear even at 1000 in the morning.  It was very nice inside though.  The AC and soft carpet underneath made it very comfortable to listen to our presenter.

Our presenter was a volunteer with the program Open Hearts, Open Minds.  This program's mission is that be discussing and sharing beliefs we can live more peacefully.  She explained the 5 Pillars of Islam; Kalima, Salat, Zakat, Sawm, and the Hajj.  

Kalima being the confession of believing in God and Muhammed as his prophet.  Also everytime Muhammed's or any other prophet is mentioned, the phrase "Peace be upon him" follows the name. 

Salat is prayer.  Muslims pray five times a day, facing Mecca when they do.  She also preformed and explained so of the movements of prayer.  Muslims believe the highest points of the body are the forehead and nose, so when they are bowed with nose and forehead touched to the ground, they are bowed completely before God.  When Muslims come to pray, they fill up the whole mosque in rows, facing towards Mecca.  When Muslims are praying they are praying shoulder to shoulder, except when a guy is next to a girl, then there's a bit of a gap.  The reason for this is to deny entry for the devil.  Not so much the devil, with horns and tail, but the human devils of wealth and power.  It puts a the house maid rubbing shoulders with a business woman or a construction worker next to a government official.  This is to show that all are equal before God.  The only reason for a bit of gap between the guys and the girls is that it might be distracting for guys if Angelina Jolie was rubbing against their shoulders or for the girls if Johnny Depp or George Clooney, perhaps, was rubbing shoulders with them.

Zakat is the alms-giving to the less fortunate.  It is given from the Muslim directly to someone who needs it and if that person cannot find someone, they can give it to a charity, but must notify them it must be used to directly aid someone who needs it.   Zakat is 2.5% of a person's savings/income.

Sawm is fasting during the month of Ramadan.  That's no food or drink, including water, from sunup to sundown.  Our presenter gave a few different outcome of this action including, purification, learning patience(by waiting for sundown before eating), and experience thirst or hunger that others less fortunate may face every day.

Hajj is the last pillar.  This is the hajj  to the holy city of Mecca.  I think the number she gave was approximately 1.3 million Muslims visit Mecca a year for Hajj

The last few minutes, she left open to questions.  One of which was about women's dress and how much was Gulf culture and how much was Islamic ruling.  Women are told to dress conservatively in the Koran.  So covering between wrists to shoulders to ankles and clothing that doesn't cling too closely.  The Koran allows a woman to show her face and hands.  In UAE culture, the abaya is worn.  Our presenter explained that some women chose to cover their face because they it makes them feel more modest and is a personal choice, not one required by Islam.

The burka is one mask that covers the forehead, nose and lips.  There was a practical-ness to the burka, if you were walking where is is very sanding, the burka covers your nose/mouth from getting sand.  Burkas are originally a goldish color, but turn black over time.  In the UAE the burka references this mask, in other countries, though the burka in other countries such as Afghanistan can mean the full head to toe covering.

There was another face covering, which I can't remember the name for.  Below is a picture of our presenter wearing it.

I thought this part of our Dubai trip was very interesting, as I knew only a little about Islam before I came here


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