Friday, July 29, 2011
King Hussein Mosque
Just the other day, when I lamented the fact that I was fresh out of ideas for blogging, my lovely husband expressed astonishment. He promptly gave me a list of approximately a zillion things about which I haven't yet blogged, then shook his head in dismay. "I should just start my own blog," he said sadly.
Top on his list of things-I-would-have-blogged-about-if-only-I-had-a-blog was a retelling of our trip to the King Hussein Mosque awhile back. How it slipped my mind, I've not a clue. Somehow I thought I already posted something. But here it is - for you and for him (hi, sweetie!).
The King Hussein Mosque sits atop a hill on the west side of town, visible to all, accessible to few. But once a year, the Embassy arranges, though a flurry of diplomatic notes, to get a group of employees in on a tour. We have to go when they aren't holding services, and of course it needs to be at a time when the King and Queen aren't there working (they each have offices in the complex). So they found a day, and we joined a caravan from the Embassy. I was driving, and our car was at the end of the caravan, but not to worry, I boasted, because I totally know my way there.
Not to worry, I said again, when everyone else made it through the stop light before it turned red. I totally know my way there.
I do know my way there. It's right next to the Children's Museum and the Car Museum. What I don't know, apparently, is where the parking lot is.
Whatever. Parking lots are highly overrated, and we found ourselves a curb on the far side of the complex, then explained to the guards that we were joining a group somewhere inside. And, wonder of wonders, they let us in with an ahlan wa sahlan! I told you not to worry.
Now what I didn't photograph (why, oh why?), was the beginning of the tour. We started in the bathroom, and have you ever in your life been on a tour that included the bathrooms? But the bathrooms are important, because Muslims have to do a ritual wash before praying: hands, feet, head, face.... So they have these huge fancy bathrooms with rows of showers and foot baths and all sorts of fancy stuff. Next year. Next year I'll remember to take a picture.
Shay and his friend, below, enjoying the tour. (Yes, Leigh, the caption is above the picture. Got it?)
That's the entrance to the King's office. For some reason, they didn't let us go in.
Here's our group, inside the men's section of the mosque. As you can see, the women had to don abayas and cover our heads. The mosque had some abayas to lend us. Mine reeked of cigarettes and was at least 6 inches too long, but it did the trick. There aren't any seats - do you already know this? - they stand or kneel throughout. The whole thing is covered in heavy carpet - you take your shoes off before entering, so it's spotless.
Later in the tour, we women went upstairs to the women's section, but the men weren't allowed, and Bart had the camera, so again: no pictures. The women's section is much smaller, and plainer, and warmer. Apparently this is because most women choose to stay home and watch the services on television rather than drag their kids to mosque - I am so writing to the Pope with the suggestion that we do the same, just as soon as I finish this post.
Also, in case you're wondering why women and men don't pray together: there is a lot of bending and kneeling going on at these services, and if the women are in front, the men will apparently be checking out their butts instead of focusing on their prayers. So the women go in a separate room, and everyone can pray in peace.
Vladi told me I looked like "an old crow." Which, while not the nicest thing I've ever been told, was technically probably true. Here I am (look down, Leigh, look down!), along with another friend, who kindly permitted me to post her picture as long as I did not post her name. She's rocking the hijab, but for some reason didn't want to be google-searchable for the rest of her days. Go figure.
And speaking of rocking the hijab...
Are my girls cute or what? Oh, and their dad isn't bad, either.
Ainsley, contemplating some new evil...
Aidan "Can We Go Now?" Gorman, taking a rest....
And that's it! I've spared my husband from having to start his own blog... at least for another week or so.