Dear Parents, Friends, and THA Family, the MSLP Warriors recently finished a unit on Islam during their Civilization time. They explored the history of Islam, origins, key beliefs, and relevance to today. As a culminating experience, our Warriors had the awesome opportunity of visiting a local mosque, set up by one of our THA Parents. Here’s an account of that experience by one of our newest Middle School Warriors…
Last week, the THA Middle School Warriors visited the Valley Ranch Islamic Center where we got to observe the Muslim faith and their way of worship, and we had a private Q/A with the Imam (An Imam is kind of like the priest).
The first thing we did when we went in was go our separate ways: boys one way, girls another. We were led down a hallway where we ended up in a small room full of shelves. We took off our shoes and were then taken to the prayer room.
Those who were praying were very focused and in flow. Even though there were tons of distractions and noises because of the little kids that were running around, everyone praying, paid no attention. It’s amazing how focused you can be when you concentrate hard.
There was a women’s section for praying in the back of the room, and the men’s in the front. I noticed that there were a couple different poses that you do when you pray. It looked like a big workout!
What I learned through the Q/A-
I asked the Imam what he thought about all these misconceptions about Islam. So many people think Muslims are terrorists, or that they all have bad intentions. But that’s not true. One very powerful terrorist group just happens to be Muslim, and everyone thinks all Muslims are bad. I wanted to know his views on this. He said, “Misconceptions are common in every culture, not exclusive to Islam.” He told us that less than 1% of Muslims are terrorists.
Another question I asked the Imam was, “In school we learned that there are many different denominations and sects in Islam. Is this center for a specific denomination?” He told us that this was a Sunni place of worship but it is for anyone. We even had a Warrior who is non-Muslim join in the prayer!
One of my fellow Warriors asked what the Imam’s take on Sharia law was. As soon as he asked the question, the Imam started laughing a little. He told us that Sharia actually means law in Arabic. So when other people say, “Sharia law”, they are actually just saying, “law law”. That was pretty funny.
A lot of people think of jihad as terrorism, but I learned that the word, “jihad” actually means, “struggle”. “Struggle to reach any kind of goal.”
I asked the Imam, “We saw on your website that this is a school, medical center, and more. So, is the school like a Islamic school where you study Islam?” He told us that the school was an Islamic school and that from 8:00am to 3:00pm, kids come and memorize the Quran. That’s 7 hours of just memorizing! The Imam told us that the kids get homeschooled in the evenings. On Fridays, all the homeschooled kids have a little get together and share what they have learned in the past week.
Also, I learned that women can choose to wear a hijab/burka if they want to or not. It is a sign of modesty. One of the women at the Center told us that she feels more free wearing a hijab. I thought it would make women feel the opposite of free. But this woman says it gives her the respect she wants. I never thought of it that way, but it actually makes sense. It might make some women feel more equal to everyone else. So when some women wear a hijab (head scarf), it shows their level of modesty. When some women wear a burka, (a one-piece veil that covers the face and body), it is just showing their level of modesty. I guess different people have their own way of viewing modesty.
One of my fellow Warriors asked why Muslim men grow their hair so long. The Imam said it was because it is a sign of respect towards Allah (God). He said, “If God gave us this gift, why cut it off? Was it meant to be cut off every now and then?”
My highlight was seeing the bookcase that the Imam showed us. It was a whole bookcase full of the Quran. Just the one and only Quran! The Quran in Arabic, Urdu, English, different translations. There were even a couple in Braille! All different versions of the same one book. They had gotten different versions of one book so everyone, including people like me, could enjoy this religion. They wanted everyone to be able to be apart of Islam if they want to.
A THA Middle School Warrior