Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Grand Mosque

 The most interesting--as well as most culture gratifying--part of orientation was the trip to the Kuwait Grand Mosque. It was huge, and could apparently fit 10,000 people. The tour guide said that during Ramadan there were several more people, the excess just having to pray outside the building. I believe he said in the hundreds of thousands during the last Ramadan, but I may have been mistaken. I remember comparing the number to World Youth Day in Toronto though, and the hundreds of thousands number certainly fits.

 Not surprisingly there was a strict dress code to follow to enter the mosque. I wore what I would call my 'Sunday Best,' but being Male I didn't have it nearly as bad as some of my female counterparts. On top of being nicely and moderately dressed, they had to cover themselves with the head scarf and abaya. The abaya is a robe dress that covers basically the whole body.

 If we were there to pray the women would also have a separate smaller prayer room. We were told that women could not pray with men, not for oppressive reasons, but because when a women bends over to pray 2 in 5 men will look at her with lust. I am not sure how accurate that stat is, it wouldn't surprise me if it was higher!

It was interesting nonetheless to get the reason for why they wore the head scarves or hijab. Most women wear them in public, those that do not are not Muslim and are foreigners. My understanding is the hijab is a religious thing, probably along the same lines as the lust thing. If the hijab covers the whole face it is a cultural thing, not religious. It just basically means the female wishes to be left alone.

 I find it awkward when I encounter someone wearing the whole face cover. But I do tend to avoid them which I guess would be the desired effect.

The ceiling inside the mosque was really high. The dome was designed to help the acoustics. The guide explained how the eccoing worked, but I didn't really understand.
 The prayer carpet has rows upon rows of straight lines. When you pray, you stay on those lines. This is to prevent people from moving up and closer to the front to seem more important. Everyone is on the same line in god's eyes.
 This is the big dome which helps the acoustics of the place. The picture doesn't do it justice because it is a long way up.

 These also are acoustically designed. The preacher sits inside one of those booth like things. When they talk the sound travels straight so that only the people sitting in the group can hear them, that way several preaching conversations can go on at once.

 A different angle of the giant dome.

Just a glimpse at how big the prayer room is. Just a note on every mosque, they are always facing towards Mecca, no matter where they are in the world.

And a picture of a couple of Qur'ans, as a trip to any Mosque wouldn't be complete without seeing one of these.

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