Several members and friends of UUFE have reached out to our local Muslim community by accepting the invitation to attend Friday prayer. We asked John Turner about his experience attending Muslim prayer service at the Easton Islamic Center. John is a UUFE friend and favorite guest speaker, a hospital chaplain at the Behavioral Health unit in Cambridge, and a member of the Talbot Association of Clergy and Laity (TACL).
UU liFE: How and why did your visits to Friday prayer come about?
John: The first time was with the folk at the Thurs peace vigil who wanted to involve the Muslim community. The second was after the recent Islamophobia – I just wanted to show support.
This was my second visit to the mosque. Both times Dr Kamsheh spoke. This second time, he talked about Islam being a religion of peace. Both visits, we were warmly welcomed and I felt comfortable. (Except for the shoe thing, which is a challenge to get back on when everyone is standing at the door.)
UU liFE: Is support flowing in both directions? Are your new Muslim acquaintances also attending the Thurs peace vigil?
UU liFE: Will you continue attending? What outcomes do you hope to see from this?
I probably will go every once in a while. Mostly, I would want this group to feel included in our community.
UU liFE: The Easton Islamic Center has a link to the video The Beauty of Islam. What beauty did you experience at Friday prayers you attended?
The rugs are pretty. I have to say that almost every picture on the wall was crooked. Perhaps this was on purpose? The main beauty was that of being welcomed by others. Several people, including the speaker, came over to thank us for coming.
UU liFE: Did you straighten any of the pictures when no one was looking?
No way. It could be like in Persian rugs where you intentionally make a mistake, because only Allah is perfect.
UU liFE: Some TACL members I’ve spoken with are reluctant to share interviews about their experiences with our Easton Muslim community on Facebook or the Internet. Do you share their concerns?
Easy answer: Would you have a bumper sticker that said “Allah bless America”? And feel safe?
UU liFE: If I were a Muslim, I would not feel safe. But I heard this reluctance from my Christian friends. Should we protect our Muslim friends by keeping mum?
Don’t need to hide them, but it’s really up to them how much of a presence they want.
At the Wilmington courthouse the other day, I saw a woman in a sort of burka. Wasn’t sure how to react. But we’ve been in Dubai and Qatar, where hijabs are very common. I think we are still sorting this out as a country.
UU liFE: What tips can you give us for getting our shoes back on while standing at the door?
Go in the summer and wear flip flops.