Before I moved to Indonesia, I really had very little knowledge of Islam or being Muslim. My only real stand on any topic related to Islam was to compare those who opposed a mosque construction near Ground Zero to anyone who would oppose American Airline personnel from going near the same site. Both of these institutions were used on that fateful day to carry out the plans of a small group of people unassociated with the core mission of either.
Some people balked at this analogy. My point being, although I knew (and continue to know) little about Islam, I carry a respect for this religion despite being a devout Christian.
Daily, my life is currently punctuated by the call to prayer. For those who have not heard this collection of almost forlorn notes that convey a sort of longing and urgency, here’s a clip of a colleague performing his version at our teacher initiation almost 2 years ago. Tragically, the sound quality is compromised, because his voice is amazing.
When my aunt and uncle were visiting, my aunt really wanted to see people praying. We come from a small town in Michigan where we don’t see many people on prayer mats. Holland, Michiganians may not know where Mecca is, but they definitely give directions using the points of the compass–so from the standpoint of a GPS preciseness of the location of Mecca, this may be the smallest possible sliver of overlap between these two cultures.
However, while at our small mountain village resort, at 4 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., etc. we’d hear the call to prayer across a loudspeaker we couldn’t quite pinpoint near our bungalow. At 3 p.m. and again at 6 p.m., my aunt jumped up and wondered if we could see people praying if we went out to the street or found a mosque to stroll past.
Sadly, few people were out and about. The guards could not understand our inquiry to point us in the direction of the nearest mosque. As a final effort, we asked our room service attendant if he would be praying shortly and he simply nodded eagerly and smiled, uncomprehending.
My aunt was visiting for too short a time to be a part of my daily routine. If she had been able to stay longer, she might have been able to observe someone kneeling to pray.
I live with a Muslim. Atik, my helper, prays daily. I appreciate the whispered prayers that come through the screen door from her section of the house.
She is faithful in her prayers. For my part, I may come bursting into the room, unaware of her prayer and then quieten down as soon as I realize my presence may be a disturbance.
I also have a quiet time in the morning with my prayer journal. At a small group gathering at our church, we studied The Cross and the Crescent. The two major religions started as a family feud. This fascinating, passionate story continues. In my case: Two faiths. One house.