Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Peace of Islam

I take comfort listening to my radio every night and morning. My solar charger keeps the batteries ready to go to bring me my world news.  One of the stories that I have been hearing is about is the drama surrounding an American made video about the Prophet Mohammad.  I hear about riots or protests in mostly North African countries against America.  All this strife is very upsetting. I live in a Muslim village, my housemate is a Muslim young man and I am an independent American woman.  There is no conflict in my community. Sometimes I wear shorts or shirts with no sleeves and no one throws rocks at me. Male training teachers whom I befriended would question me about my beliefs. Ghanaians love asking about your life; they are extremely courteous especially about America. My friends told me that since I am a “free thinker” it would be easy to become a Muslim. I told them how I have gone to mosque once in Northern Region and I found the prayer to be quite relaxing. Standing, bowing, prostrating it is all like a moving meditation that last about 5 minutes then you continue your daily routine.  In the dry heat of Africa it is refreshing washing your face, feet and general body each time before prayer.  The time for prayer is beautiful and peaceful and I enjoy being amongst the women.

I recall the Catholic Church I attended in America as a time to observe others. During the hour service I would be watching other families; how they were dressed, how they prayed, if there were any cute boys. Also I would fight with my brother if the kneeler should be up or down. For myself the Catholic way of praying did not inspire me to speak to God or reflect on my life. However, here in the mosque I felt the peace that I have only felt on lone hikes through the wilderness or meditation at the Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Ithaca, NY.

Should I become a Muslim? My village would be so proud of me. The schoolteachers say I already have a Muslim name. I have a nice voice to recite the Koran. The selfless lifestyle I have chosen through Peace Corps indicates that I am a good person. Lastly they believe I would look even more gentle wearing a head scarf.  My response, “While it does seem that I am quite qualified to become a Muslim woman, there is a problem. I like to eat pork and drink alcohol and I refuse to give that up.”

I find Islam to be a wonderful religion. I wish more American’s could experience the beauty that I experience in Ghana. You don’t have to be apart of a religion to appreciate it.  You don’t have to be a member to attend a service.  When I go back to America I hope to reach out to the Muslim community. Previously I never knew where mosques were or how Muslim Americans felt. Are they experiencing prejudices? I encourage all readers to become educated about Islam and if it is possible visit a mosque.  American’s have so much access to information via the Internet and well run library systems, you would think we are the most enlightened country in the world.  Always read and have new experiences to broaden your mind and heart. 

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