Transcendence of Faith

by

Today was the day we saw the Imam. I had no idea what to expect. We walked up a couple flights of stairs in a dimly lit stairwell and when we reached the room we were going to meet in we were instructed to take off our shoes. The room we walked into was divided in two equal sections, each with seating lining the walls to form two slightly incomplete squares. The only spot without seating was the middle of the two sections for crossing from one to another. The room was filled with light from large windows with a view of the busy street below. The floor was made of white tile but was covered with two huge tan rugs, one in each section.

Some of the men who were doing discipleship or worked with the Imam were in there sitting with us while periodically  serving us dates, cake, and milk. They were all extremely generous.  When the imam arrived about twenty minutes later he in the opposite section with his back facing towards us. I learned later that this was done out of respect because there was so many women. He was wearing a long grey robe with a hood that came to a point at the top of his head. I could not see his face though. Iman, one of our guides served as our translator. He started out by saying that God was great and big and that God was mercy. Then he opened himself up to questions. The first question was about the call to prayer and wouldn’t you know it, one of the men in the room happened to be a caller. So we had the great honor of hearing the entire call to prayer right in front of us and it made me want to cry. It sounded so amazingly beautiful and the man sounded like he had so much respect and passion for what he did. His voice was so steady and strong and it seemed as if he could hold a phrase for what seemed like a lifetime before taking a breath. In one phrase he would have an abundance of melisma that added to the complexity and beauty of the prayer. That experience was absolutely incredible.

We were able to ask questions for about a half an hour but here is what stood out the most to me. I was overwhelmed with how welcoming and excepting everyone was. The Imam talked about how there were no quarrels between Islam and Christianity and Judaism and that he had respect for all people who had faith. He also said that he thought that the world was too intricate and perfect for there to be more than one God and so he thought that Muslims, Jews, and Christians all prayed to the same God and just called him by a different name. That was mind blowing because I had never thought of it like that. Overall the whole experience was very emotional because I felt so completely love. It made me want to become a better Christian and learn to really love other cultures; not that I hate other cultures or anything but I just don’t feel like I really LOVE them and as Christians we are called to love everyone. The Imam showed me that this is possible and that faith knows no boundaries. And that, that gives me hope.

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