National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll still be in the church pew next to you belting out “I Stand Amazed” on Sunday. I’ll still get shivers when we sing “Greatest Commands” in a four part harmony as I awkwardly rotate between the alto and soprano part, singing neither one well. You’ll see me in Sunday school and vacation bible school and all the other gatherings involving food between. I’m from the Bible Belt ya’ll and we believe in Jesus, college football, and pearls for any occasion. Mostly in that order.
But, I had the chance to visit the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur a few weeks ago and I thought to myself, “When am I ever going to get a chance to go to a mosque in a Muslim country again?” It’s going to be a while, I’m thinking. So off we went before the visiting hours ended at 4:00, in time for the next session of prayers.
Much like the designated hitter rule in major league baseball, if you are playing in a park where the DH rule is used, you have to play by their rules. For all you non-baseball fans out there, that means that in order to go into the mosque to take off our shoes, cover up and wear the hijab or headscarf that women Muslims where to enter the mosque. Admittedly, not my best look and in case you were wondering, it is a level of hot under there that is not easily duplicated.
Oh. My. Hotness.
The mosque overall was big, open, white with lots of reflecting pools. It was built in the mid-60’s, only about ten years after Malaysia gained its independence. It didn’t seem all that big, but then I read somewhere that it could hold 15,000 people at a time, which seems pretty huge. The contemporary design is based upon the Grand Mosque in Mecca with 48 small domes and the main dome which has a multi fold “semi-opened blue umbrella” that is the roof. This symbolizes the 5 pillars of Islam and the 13 states of Malaysia. There was a big area that non-muslims weren’t allowed to go into and that was where people were praying.
They had a bunch of literature outside the main hall that was really intriguing, outlining how to clean yourself before praying and even a “family tree” of sorts from Adam and Eve all the way down to the Prophet Mohammad, including several prominent players that are in the Bible. It was very interesting to see the connection between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
As we wandered around it was peaceful and interesting, but I wished aloud that we had taken a guided tour of the place in order to understand what we were looking at. But, then another girl we were with said that her friend had been on it and had to bite her tongue several times for comments made about women by the guide. Maybe its better I didn’t go on it. 🙂
All in all, I thought it was an interesting visit and one that found me out of my comfort zone for sure, which was one of the objectives when we moved overseas. I feel privileged to be in a position that I can try something that I would never really even think about doing at home. Today it was visiting the National Mosque. Other days it’s scuba diving, riding an elephant, eating durian, teaching Cambodian children about polar bears and dancing in a multicultural flash mob. Not all in the same day, of course, but still part of the same awesome adventure.