Skip to main content

Today I visited a Mosque: A faith community observed

This afternoon I volunteered as a parent on my son's trip to the local Mosque. My work flexes enough to make this possible and I was interested to encounter a different faith community in our city.

Six reflections.

1. 42 six year olds.
Respect to the teachers, teaching assistants for all they ever do. And also to the Imam and his assistant for handling that many kids and patiently fielding their questions.

2. Community.
There's a strong sense of community at the Mosque. They consider it better to pray together than alone. While the physicality of praying together seems strange to those who've never seen it before there's something beautiful in the unity.

3. Faith and cultural differences.
Kids are curious about the rituals, beliefs and languages people have. They have questions. My son found talk of God without Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be strange which was encouraging, and an opportunity to help him understand more of our faith and that which was being presented to us in word and actions. One of the teachers seemed nervous around these questions but the men from the Mosque were more than happy to engage questions about Allah in a world of other gods and religions...

4. Washing.
Much was made in our visit of the ritual washings before prayer.

Knowing we've read The Jesus Storybook Bible with our son for years, not least the story of Namaan, the difference between an Islamic approach to Allah with it's outward cleaning, and the Christian belief in being counted righteous and being 'clean on the inside' was vivid. For me but also for my son.

That in Christ I come mucky and messed up to pray "in Jesus' name" when at my worst rather than having cleaned myself up is freshly beautiful to me this evening.

5. Simplicity.
To quote - we speak to Allah by praying, we hear him by reading the Quran. Oh, for Christians to get the simplicity of Prayer and The Book...

6. Faith observed.
We observed something of Islam in a Mosque visit - we talked a lot about their washing, their toothbrushes and habits of individual and corporate prayer. Is this a true picture or a school trip caricature? What would a visit to a church reveal? What would I choose to talk about and to display? If I believe in 'everyday church' that isn't really about ritual or piety, what does that look like? And in any case what kind of picture do the observations people get to make reveal. 

Curiously little was said of what Islam is in terms of belief. That may not have been the brief. We heard a little about Mohammed and him being an example - even to his toothbrushing habits, but not much more. I don't think a church visit is scheduled, Jesus gets Christmas... which might be helpful, though again only gives an incomplete picture.

I look forward to ongoing conversation with my kids about our faith and the faith of those around us.

Image - Creative Commons - Hector de Pareda


Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use ( tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue

2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin

3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong

4. Cornerstone - Hillsong

Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…