the House of God'
and story:: Sarah Ali
LOGAN -- If
not for the small wooden sign placed on
the front windowsill, illuminated by Christmas
lights, the Logan Islamic Center would be
just like any other home on 600 East Street.
On the inside, however,
it's the house of God, home to all believers.
I arrived in the early
afternoon and walked toward the center,
just before the Friday prayers were to begin.
Unsure of the proper manner to enter, I
rang the door bell and waited for a response.
I attempted to peer through the white lace
curtains to see if anyone was inside, but
was blinded by the bright white glare of
the sunshine on the window pane.
After waiting a few
minutes, I opened the screen door and knocked
on the wooden door, decorated with a sticker
of a Quranic verse. It read, "La illaha
il Allah, Muhammad rashol Allah." ("There
is no God greater than God, and Muhammad
is his prophet.")
Moments later the
door was opened by an elderly gentleman.
He opened the door only enough to poke his
head through and ask me to go around the
I turned around and
walked toward the driveway leading to the
back of the center. Once inside I was promptly
instructed to remove my shoes by an inscription
on the floor. The floor of the shoe area,
which would normally be a kitchen, with
shelves full not of dishes but books and
tapes on Islam, was covered with three other
pairs of shoes. Ready in hand was my blue
head scarf, which matched my Aggie hoodie
and loose blue jeans.
I approached the mirror
hung in front of the hall leading to the
prayer area. Throwing the scarf around my
head, I tucked the edges around my ears
to conceal any of my brown curls from the
view of my Muslim brothers. In a mosque,
both men and women are instructed to dress
in a manner that is not distracting to those
who are praying.
Inside the prayer
area, which is actually the living room,
the owners of the three pairs of shoes were
sitting on the floor, waiting for the prayer
to begin. Two of them, Ibrahim Suliyman
and Davut Tuncer, I recognized from previous
introductions on campus. When you have a
last name like Ali, as I do, it's hard to
avoid being recognized as a Muslim.
I greeted them and
introduced myself to the man who had opened
the door earlier, who identified himself
only as Ahmed.
"I've lived here
for 20 years and have forgotten much of
my Arabic," said Ahmed, who was originally
from Syria, "but my English is not
that good either." I smiled at him
as I tried to spit out the right Arabic
words that express my understanding. With
a toothless smile back at me, Ahmed and
I had broken the ice.
Walking into the room
I situated myself behind the men so as not
to attract attention to myself as I began
to prepare myself for prayer. Real mosques
have a separate area closed off for women's
exclusive use. In the center there isn't
anything like this, so women are directed
to the back when there are only a few. When
there are many women, the men go to the
basement and the women remain upstairs.
We faced northeast,
the direction of the Qaaba, (the site all
Muslims pray toward because it is believed
that it was built by Abraham, the father
of monotheism). The direction was indicated
by a photo of Mecca on the wall and a green
prayer rug on the floor.
I began to pray the
traditional two raqaa prayers for the mosque.
A raqaa is a series of movements and corresponding
scripture that a Muslim recites during prayer.
When entering, a Muslim prays two raqaa
prayers for the mosque to bring blessings
on it and on those who built it.
Davut said the Logan
Center was established by a group of Cache
Valley Muslims 25 years ago and has been
maintained by a committee made up of local
members, consisting mostly of college students.
When I finished my
prayer I sat down and quietly waited for
the Friday prayers to begin.
As the time approached,
more and more men began to file into the
room, following the same ritual as I did
Most sat in silence
waiting the khudba, or sermon. Some chatted
among themselves, while others read from
the Qurans that had been stacked on the
mantel above the fireplace.
The prayer area was
extremely plain in comparison to mosques
in any of the homelands of the Muslims who
had gathered today in Logan.
The white walls were
decorated with posters that had the many
names of Allah, and mosques in the holy
cities of Medina and Mecca.
On a bulletin above
the fireplace were five paper clocks that
reminded me of how my second-grade teacher
taught me how to read time. Each clock displayed
a different time of the day, indicating
the times of the five prayers: 6 a.m. fagr
(the morning), 12:30 p.m. dohr (the afternoon),
4:15 p.m. asr (the midday), 8:10 p.m. maghrib
(the evening), and 9:25 p.m. isha (the night).
At exactly 1:30 a
man walked toward the front and placed one
hand over his ear. He began to say the athan,
the musical call to prayer. Because the
Quran is basically a long poem, all the
scriptures are to be read in the same way
poetry is to be read, as a song.
. . . Allahu Akbar . . . Allahu Akbar. .
. . Allahu Akbar. . . . Ashadu anna la illaha
il Allah. . . . Ashadu anna la illaha il
Allah. . . .Ashadu anna Muhammad ar rasul
Allah. . . . Ashadu anna Muhammad ar rasul
Allah. . . .Hayya alal salah. . . . Hayya
alal salah. . . . Hayya alal fallah. . .
. Hayya alal fallah. . . . Allahu Akbar.
. . . Allahu Akbar. . . . La ellaha il Allah.
. . . La illaha il Allah." That translates
as, "Allah is the Greatest" (recited
four times); "I bear witness that there
is none worthy of worship except Allah"
(recited twice); "I bear witness that
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah"
(recited twice); "Come to Prayer"
(recited twice); "Come to success"
(recited twice); "Allah is the Greatest"
(recited twice); "There is none worthy
of worship except Allah."
Standing on the green
prayer rug, Suliyman said "Welcome
brothers," as he began giving the khudba.
In real mosques the
man giving the khudba sits on a chair atop
a small wooden staircase, so he can be seen
But because there
were only 11 Muslims for Friday prayers,
Suliyman simply stood before us.
This week's khudba
was printed out on a sheet of white paper
covered with Ibrahim's notes. In his khudba,
Suliyman explained that only the jealousy
that makes a man want to be like someone
else, not the kind that wishes to taken
away what someone else has, is permissible.
for five minutes explaining the types of
behaviors that were permissible according
to the scripture he found in Surat el Bakara,
a chapter of the Quran.
Once he finished his
khudba he began to recite a duaa', a scripture
Looking as though
we were begging for God to fill our hands
with blessings, we placed them together
in front of our faces and as one said "amin"
after each sentence.
When he finished we
took our hands and cupped our faces, as
if we were pouring the blessings onto our
eyes, nose and lips.
All of the men stood
and without a word formed two straight lines
behind Suliyman. Of course, as the only
woman, I was in the third line alone.
Once again, as though
we were one, everyone followed the guide
of Suliyman and we prayed together.
In Islam the purpose
of the Friday prayer is to show the equality
of all beings. All Muslims must perform
the same movements at the same time, wherever
they may be in the world, and Logan is no
exception. A Friday prayer cannot be performed
alone, which is why all able Muslim men
(and women if they want to do so) go to
the mosque and pray together.
The men filed out
much the same way they came in, and the
center was once again empty.
I prayed one more
time, to again bless the center and its
founders for the facility. Then I shook
the hands of Davut, and thanked him for
informing of the prayer time and asked if
I can come again.
With the biggest smile
I've ever seen him give, he said, "Of
course, this is the House of God. Everyone
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