Two Muslims in a Mormon Church

I was curious about the sign on Crowchild Trail close to the University that stated "FREE PARKING. 96 spots left. Inquire Inside". Then I heard a friend talking about how the Church of Latter Day Saints actually allows students to park for free on site, in exchange for their attendance at an hour and a half weekly class.

So I decided to see exactly what the class entailed, since there were non-Mormom (i.e. yes Muslim!) attendees taking advantage of the free parking. So I accompanied my Muslim friend one day recently to their class and wondered if I could be stimulated in a class about a religion I didn't belong to.

Upon entering the building (I was nervous despite being with a fellow Muslim!), I was greeted warmly both by the students there and the pastors (i.e. known as Brother "name"). Upon entering the class, we took a seat where other students were following along in their hymn book.

Brother Young then started his powerpoint with a slide that stated "My name is blank and I was surprised when...". A pretty neutral icebreaker, as we all went around and completed the statement. The lecture then continued with an in-depth study of a verse from Matthew about the end of the world. My Muslim buddy and I read the text vigorously and compared it to what we as Muslims believe. While there were similarities, there were also differences. And we shared those similarities in class, drawing from the Quran and Hadiths. Brother Young listened and took the information in and related it back to Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible (which Mormons follow). Between the verse by verse investigation of this chapter, Brother Young threw in announcements related to the class, funny quotes and thought provoking questions, and related the very serious topic of the end of the world and false prophets to the students' lives in the year 2011. The result? Students were left engaged, had breaks from intense thought and analysis, and felt that their teacher was connecting at their level. At the end of the day, I had learned a lot about the sense of community that drew the class together.

My buddy and I launched into a spirited discussion after the class...wouldn't it be awesome if there was something similar for Muslims? To actually walk into a class and feel connected with the speaker, to be able to study a few verses in depth yet be able to understand it in an applicable-to-life-kind of way, and also leave learning more about your own religion rather than leaving a khutbah scratching your hijab about what was just said.

We toured the rest of the centre and saw a few other interesting rooms. One was a large kitchen with microwaves, a games/common area with sofas and tables for studying, numerous bathrooms and classrooms, and the pastors roamed the hallway and openly spoke with students. Sure, males and females were interacting together, but there was a sense of calmness and mutual respect. It goes to show that it works better to have faith in youth rather than to question them, as Islam is not the only faith who places strict boundaries on pre-marital anything. Yet here the youth were, studying, eating, and engaging in religious dialogue together.

Fascinating.

The closest sense to Muslim community I have come across was a couple of weekends ago at the "Balance and Purpose: Living Islam in the Modern Times" course organized through the Deen Intensive Foundation by the Western Muslim Initiative. For once, I didn't feel intimidated by the instructors, nor I did feel that my lack of grasp of the Arabic language hindered me learning as much as I could. Not to mention that balance in ALL aspects of life, and not solely religious, was discussed and left attendees with the ability to critically analyze their own lives rather than be left wondering how close to hellfire they were.

And I think that Osama Canon and Omar Mahmood were the first speakers to verify that Emaan (belief) will vary, it will ebb and flow, and that's OK! SubhanAllah, how many times have we heard that from the courses we've attended?

Too often, our religious leaders don't take the time to connect with the masses. We have heard over and over again that the youth are leading a new wave within the Muslim community...yet I don't really see the powers that be publicly supporting this. Is it just me who has noticed the number of NEW initiatives that are being led by Muslim youth? How can these go ignored?

I believe that something drastic needs to happen in order to bring our community together. It may sound wild to suggest inter-faith dialogues or to learn from those who are successful in engaging their youth with religious figures, but why not? The two of us who entered the Mormon establishment were embraced with open arms and respected for our deep and unwavering belief in Islam. There were no attempts to convert us, no question as to why we were there, and no disapproving looks for the fact that I wear a hijab but not an abaya (there, I said it).

Now I think it's our turn to open our doors. Any takers?

Comments

  1. Me!! I think english-speaking Muslims should have study sessions of their own Scripture (Quran), reading verses in ENGLISH, just like the Mormon class..and relating them to life. I think we muslims can learn a lot from Brother Young.

    Btw, just curious, what were the differences that was read between the two Muslim buddies?

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Marriage...Interrupted, Part I: The Separation

FGM, Islam and Sexuality: One of these doesn't belong

On Muslims, Relationships and Abstinence