The Friendly Face of Islam

I led a trip of Year 11s to two mosques yesterday.

It reaffirmed my contention that whilst there may be a small, though significant, nasty element in Islam, Christians often have more in common with Muslims than with secularist society.

Some of the kids weren’t particularly happy that the imam in one mosque was rather forthright about his views concerning attacks on the family as the backbone of society which he attributed to certain special interest groups promoting alternative models of sexuality.

One of the mosques times visits so that students (and teachers) can observe the Salah prayers. I found this quite interesting and helpful. It is one thing to read about them in a book and to even watch snippets on a video, but for me it is much easier to teach having actually seen it up close and personal.

I also reminded me that it is a shame that so many Christians no longer observe the hours of prayer. After all, Muslims got this idea second-hand – unless you believe that Muhammad rode on the woman-donkey-peacock overnight to Jerusalem and ascended to heaven where he was told about the 5-times-a-day prayer. For non-Muslims, it appears likely that he got the idea either from Jews (of whom there were a significant number in Medina) or Christians (including his first wife’s cousin).

As the guide at the second mosque discussed, the prayers are not bunched up together at one or two times in the day (as later became common amongst Christians in the West – my comment, not his) because it is important for Muslims to pause throughout the day and remember God. As a result, I think that they live in a better awareness that “in Him we live and move and have our being”. They are just missing some key information about Who He is.

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6 Responses to The Friendly Face of Islam

  1. c*devotchka says:

    “they are just missing some key information about who He is” – how could any human being possess this information? the information of what someone else might know of God or how close someone feels/is to God? isn’t spirituality a deeply personal journey, not a matter to be judged by any other human?

  2. inpursuitofjustice says:

    There’s another explanation to the similarity in the hours of prayer: the commands to Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad (peace be upon all of them) came from the same Legislator, the One and Only Al mighty God. By the way, Muslims performed prayers even before Prophet Mohammad’s night journey; but it was not 5 times a day.

    Despite my disagreement with many of your opinions, I thank you for writing this post. And as a Muslim, I definately agree that Christians and Muslims have a lot in common.

  3. Dave says:

    c*devotchka, the information to which I refer is the knowledge of the Trinity and of God the Son incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and made man, His death on the Cross and His resurrection. As an Orthodox Christian it should be no surprise that I would find this essential information.

    I do not believe the knowledge of God is subjective and dependent upon any person’s feelings. I believe that we have very, very incomplete information about God, as His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thought, and as He is transcendant above His creation. However, I do believe that He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, not as a prophet, though his office as Prophet was part of his Messianic Role. I believe that Jesus is the fulness of the Godhead bodily, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father and that through him all things were made.

    Spirituality may be a personal journey, but one’s spiritual journey in learning about God should not be confused with the objective truth of Who God is.

    inpursuitofjustice, from a Christian perspective, I would suggest that the Jewish hours of prayer, which were initially adopted by the Church, were not of Mosaic origin, but seem to have developed in the era after the Babylonian exile. Jesus did not address the matter directly (at least as recorded in the Gospels). However the tradition of the Church developed it to be prayer every seven times a day (if I’ve counted them up correctly in my head).

  4. c*devotchka says:

    aah, i get what you mean now. for myself, spirituality is far more important than structured religion – this is frowned upon by some Muslims (i am a Muslim). thanks for the perspective.

  5. Michael says:

    One interesting thing I’ve learned in my Jewish Studies program is that 1,000 years ago the Jews were overall better off and more influential in the Muslim world than the Christian world, and the intellectual center of Jewry was in the flourishing Jewish community in the vicinity of Baghdad.

  6. Steve says:

    Eastern Christians are also guilty of running the prayer hours together. consider the practice of “aggregation”, in which, for example, in some parishes, the Ninth Hour, Vespers, Matins and First Hour are all done in one service called the Vigil.

    A few years ago I went with a group of Orthodox seminarians on a visit to the local djammi, where the hoxha explained the differences between Islam and Christianity as he saw them. There was a very interesting theological debate, polite but vigorous. Muslim-Christian relations in Albania were generally good. Would that they were as good over the border in Kosovo!

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