Friday, January 29, 2016

Learning about Islam

Bahrain accumlulates a lot of litter. It's so sad. There are no public rubbish bins anywhere, which is half the problem. I am taking up the challenge of trying to gather the rubbish on the beach outside my house and other nearby places. There is a gorgeous route around the Amwaj Islands that I have been jogging. It goes over 4 different bridges and all the buildings you pass are so gorgeous. Amwaj is so small that it's only about 5km to do a loop around it.

I was talking to the teacher support I work alongside in my class, and we were talking about sports. I mentioned how I played football, and she explained that she always wanted to play but over here it's considered a boys sport traditionally and it would have been frowned upon for her to do so. I found that really sad, and it had never even crossed my mind that some cultures attach a gender to certain sports. I also witnessed a woman praying silently in the staffroom, which was new to me but pretty cool I thought. I had assumed that they would pray solely in prayer rooms, mosques, or the privacy of their own homes, but apparently Muslims pray anywhere and everywhere! Five times a day, a prayer call can be heard all over the country and that signals a new portion in the day in which to take 5-7 minutes out of the day to pray a set prayer for Allah. The first few times I heard it (in supermarkets, out walking, in my bedroom etc) I was a little confused and amazed that it was broadcast everywhere, but now I'm used to it.

Typing my Arabic name
I downloaded an Arabic keyboard on my phone and it is super cool dawg. The thing is, just as I'm learning their alphabet in order, the keyboard is NOT in order (similar to the QWERTY keyboard) so that's tricky.

Nestled between the prestigious private school and a number of fancy restaurants, there is a slum, where some of the poorest here live. It is so tragic, and I must say that the placement of the slum is bizarre. It's on an empty little lot beside the back entrance of the school.

At the end of the week, our class teacher had to sort things with her passport, so me and the other teaching assistant were left in charge of 26 five and six year olds for two days. Neither of us have teacher training, but it was lots of fun, and we managed. I ran an art activity and read the kids a book - things the class teacher would normally do. 

I visited the great mosque after school on Thursday, a great way to end the week. They give free tours to the public every day except Friday (their holy day). It was so fascinating to see inside such a prestigious mosque. I got to witness the afternoon prayer taking place, and the tour guide gave us some wonderful insight into her Islamic culture and tradition. I learnt that the name "Allah", which nowadays only really refers to the Muslim God, originally meant the one true God in Hebrew - and the original biblical text referred to God as Allah. I also learnt about how and why Muslims pray at five distinctive times during the day and that they believe Jesus was one of many prophets sent from God, but they do not believe in the trinity. The inside of the mosque is not decorated with any pictures or paintings of prophets or interpretations of God, because they believe no one has ever seen God, he is beyond our perception and imagination - which is a powerful idea. I see many similarities between Islam and Christianity (though there are obvious differences too) and I learnt that Muslims believe that all religions believe in the same God - and the differences between them are just human error. I also found out that 85% of Muslims are not Arabs - which definitely surprised me. I am so glad to have had this opportunity to learn more about Islam - and the tour guide invited us back for the celebratory Eid in July, after the fasting month of Ramadan. 
Traditional abiya and headscarf
A very excited Abby, with Annabelle and Marlene at the Great Mosque

Thanks for the read, and I hope all is well back home! Also, stay tuned for my vlog about the mosque.

No comments :

Post a Comment