Understanding My Religion

I chose to visit the Islamic Jaafaria Mosque which is a Shia Mosque for a certain reason which is as my title says understanding my own religion. I grew up in a family that is supposed to be Muslim, but both my parents weren’t religious when i was growing up. Thus they never taught me anything about my religion, and in fact my father told me to go read about different religions and choose the one that i prefer or just be neutral like him. This was the reason for me to choose to go to a muslim shia mosque as understanding whats behind my supposed to be religion. I went to the mosque without calling or asking i just got there on noon of Saturday, i was pretty nervous about it because i have never been to mosque before, and i was worried about how to get to ask people their who is in control and who could answer my questions. When i got there, i saw nobody outside, all i saw is shoes on the side of the entrance. I took of my shoes and stepped in and i found that all the guys inside where praying, so i stepped back outside and waited for 20 minutes more or less. After they finished praying most of the men went outside, and i got the chance to speak to the first person that was out when he was wearing his shoes, and i asked him what can i do to talk to the sheikh and ask him some questions. He was so nice to me, he smiled at me and told me just step inside say Al Salamo Alaykom and sit on the ground like the people; the sheikh will be giving a small lecture not more than 15 minutes and then you will get the chance to talk to him, he also told me that the sheikh is a very decent person and down to earth and he will give you the answers of all what you want to know after he is done. I went inside and it was place full of carpets on the ground and i sat on the floor and listened to the sheikh speaking.I didn’t understand much of the stories that he was telling, but it was something about al imam Hussein and and al imam Ali, and stated a couple quotes from al imam Ali which is supposed to be a very wise person full of knowledge. I wrote two of them down which i found were so thoughtful. The first quote was:” It is wise to obey those who are above you, respect those who are in your rank, and be fair to those who are below you.” and the other quote was:” God entrusted women to you, thus do not hurt women and do not make life difficult for them.” After the second quote he elaborated about it and talked about how men these days do not respect there women, and they treat them in a bad way. Moreover, he talked about how men should be nice their daughters and wives and how to protect them and this will come back as a positive feedback to men, and will make their lives beautiful. The lecture ended and everyone stood up and walked outside while i walked toward the sheikh and said:”al slamo alaykom sheikh, would you mind if you give me a little bit of your time to answer some questions and make me understand my religion that i never had the chance to learn anything about it.” He tapped on my shoulder and asked me about my name and where i came from, and then he asked me to cross my feet and sit down. He told me to call him Sheikh Ali or Mawlena, and then he asked me what would i like to know. My first question was what is the first thing i have to know about Islam, and he answered by saying the first two rules in this religion are Satisfy God and Satisfy your parents and he also stated that this is present in the Quran. Then he continued by saying this religion is all about faith love and equality, the more you be good with people and away from sins the more God will be happy from you and you will go to heaven. He asked me if i pray and my answer was no, he wasn’t surprised much he just smiled to me and said:” Son, the main axis of Islam is praying to God so god will protect you and when you pray you are asking god for forgiveness, help and support in every situation you pass through.” We talked a little bit about praying and after that i asked him about the Hijab which is the veil that women wear in Islam, because i always get asked the same question and i never know the answer. He told me wearing the veil is a way so you can know the person from inside before looking about the outside beauty, he said that the beauty of the outside fades with time but the beauty of the inside lives forever. He added by saying many men follow women that are beautiful and forget about the hearts or the soul inside which is more important. Then i asked him about praying and he said that muslims should pray five times a day on sunrise, noon, afternoon, sunset, and night. And then he said the difference between the shia muslim and the sunni muslims in that the shia muslims combine the noon and the afternoon prayers, and combine the sunset and the night prayers, So Shia Muslims actually pray 3 times a day. After that i was silent, but he looked at me and said:” Son, all i want from you is respect your parents, respect the people around you and be good to your neighbors and help people as much as you can.” I said thank you and thanks for giving me some time for explanations. He smiled again and said go out and think about the questions you asked me, and he added that he would love me to come sometime else so he could teach me how to pray. It was a great experience i was so happy to know a few things that i never knew the answers for, i felt like he was so hospitable and he was so welcoming when at the beginning i was so nervous about how he would look at me coming from a non-religious family, and he would be looking at me as a nonbeliever and maybe acting rude to me. It was a very nice experience and i don’t think i will stop here i guess i would go visit again whenever i have more questions to ask.


One response to “Understanding My Religion

  1. Interesting experience Jamal. Ideally you would visit a site that is completely alien to you, but since you have never been to a mosque is acceptable.
    Great interview and quotes, perhaps you can continue this relationship to learn more. Also, it is interesting to note the focus on the treatment of women. Do you think this “call” to give women a better treatment is also a response to current social movements bringing awareness on equality?

    Make sure to pay attention to grammar.


    Liked by 1 person

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