The Mosque, also known as Masjid, is the Muslims’ holy place for worship. Among Islam’s five pillars, Salat is the most practiced one; it is the daily prayer that Muslims recite five times a day. The prayers are recited at specific times of the day: at dawn, noon, in the afternoon, evening, and at night. In their prayers Muslims face Mecca, Islam’s holiest city and home to Ka’ba. Mecca is found in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, together with Islam’s other holy cities. It is in Saudi Arabia that Islam began before spreading to other parts of the world.
Last Thursday during azer, the time for afternoon prayers, I toured a Mosque near the SU Campus. Before performing prayers, Muslims must observe certain rituals. The first one is known as Azan, the daily call to prayer. The second ritual involves preparing one’s body for the holy prayers. During this stage worshipers clean their bodies, a ritual known as ablution. The third stage is the final call to prayer, and it comes twenty minutes from the time of the first call. Finally, prayers follow immediately after the last call. During this time, worshippers assume prostrate postures while reading verses (suras) from the Holy Quran. The prayers are led by an Imam, a recognized religious leader. Muslims believe that prayers create a spiritual connection between the supplicant (worshipper) and Allah.
Playing the role of an observer rather than a participant was a very interesting experience. First, I was able to witness how the worshippers’ state of mind change in preparation for the holy prayers. The most fascinating experience, however, was the way worshippers lined up during prayer, forgetting their racial and ethnic differences to praise Allah. Muslims consider prayers the closest way of communing with Allah. It was such a fascinating experience to witness the customs of the mosque and relate them with similar practices in the Grand mosques of Mecca.