I have been culturally enlightened, yet again! Only this time I've experienced the religion and culture of Islam. Today we went on a field trip to a Turkish community center and mosque in eastern London for my Islam class. Before we went, they sent us a list of rules, specifically regarding dress code, which went as follows:
"Dress CodeAs the mosque is a sacred place of worship you are asked to observe decorum and dress appropriately. I request that people cover their arms and legs for the duration of the time in the mosque and wear clothing deemed ‘modest’. It is requested that female students bring along a scarf or a cloth to cover their hair. This is as a mark of respect for the sanctity of the mosque and the people offering prayer in the building."
So when we first got there we had to take off our shoes. The whole center was softly carpeted so it was really fun to walk around everywhere in socks. I will admit, at times there was a bit of a foot-ish odor but the whole idea was pretty cool. Before we went into the mosque to watch some of the Muslims pray, the girls had to wrap scarves around their heads, as mentioned in the email, in order to show respect for the customs of Islamic culture. Once we were inside we watched men, standing shoulder to shoulder, listen to an Imam (Muslim leader) speak prayers in Arabic. The men started by standing, then bending over, then kneeling, and in a sort of "child's pose" yoga position with their face at the ground. This repeated for a few times. One of the coolest things about the mosque, as with all mosques, is that the inside is on a specific slant so that Muslims are facing the Muslim holy land, Mecca in Saudi Arabia while praying.
After the mosque we went to the Aziziye Halal Restaurant for a traditional Turkish meal. At the restaurant we sat on cushions on the floor with our legs folded, which is something I've always wanted to do. It was cool but kinda hurt after 45 minutes or so. I ordered the Tavuk shish which tasted just like a Greek souvlaki, only in separate pieces. After dinner, we all got Turkish tea which came with 2 sugar cubes, yum!
|Chillin on the floor|
|Both chillin on the floor|
Overall, today was very interesting and a lot of fun. Right now I need to finish packing my things for Scotland since I leave at 4:00 tomorrow morning. I'm so excited! Since it's just three of us going, Emily, Erica, and I booked a boat tour on Loch Ness and we plan to do some sort of an "historic walk" through Inverness (Inbhir Nis). Of course, I'll be celebrating my small percentage of Scottish heritage as well and definitely hope to hear some bag pipes. Wish me luck! Tioraidh!