Going around Egypt in the less touristy areas, I noticed a lot of the shops were closed. My local friend, Nada, told me it was Eid. Eid is like thanksgiving for Muslims. It marks the end of ramadan, a month where muslims wouldn’t drink nor eat until sunset for a month.
Name of one the mosques I went to taken by Hugo Morel
All this was new to me because I never really knew about Islam growing up. I used to be afraid of Muslims and Arabs as a kid because all of the negativity coming from the news stations. I remembered 9/11 and San Francisco closing off the Golden Gate Bridge. Through a strange twist of events, I found out my grandma is Lebanese.
Outside shot of one of the mosques we went to taken by Hugo Morel
Since my local friend was Muslim, we had to go to a few mosques for her to pray. I wasn’t complaining because she was showing me around for free. Also, I wanted to see how Islam was in person and not what the media tells me.
A Mosque center taken by Hugo Morel
When stepping into a mosque, you must take off your shoes. Usually, in the more touristy mosques, they have a person who will watch over your shoes for a fee. In other mosques, you just leave your shoes in a cubby.
Where people get clean water from taken by Hugo Morel
Once inside, you see a community of people. Some are just hanging out or relaxing, while others are praying. It was different than a church. There was a lot of open space. As seen in the picture above. Some mosques have clean drinking water for visitors. I didn’t drink any of the water, just to be on the safe side. Although, I did get caught slipping. However, that’s a story for another post.
Muslims praying taken by Hugo Morel
As my friend was praying, I started to walk around the mosque. Accidentally, walked into the women’s section. A lady came out with a warm motherly smile and pointed out that there are two sections divided by genders for praying. By following her directions, I found the men’s section. It was unique seeing the men praying. As they were facing Mecca, I was completely invisible.
A minaret taken by Hugo Morel
When you are in a Muslim majority country, you will hear someone reading the Qur’an from time to time. In the picture above, you will see the minaret. The minaret is a tower where a person will read the Qur’an. At first, I was completely in fear when I heard the chanting. It was in the middle of the night. Of course, my first thoughts were extremely negative. After asking my friend, they told me it was normal. It’s just a part of their culture. Same thing with the division of genders. I just had to learn to accept and embrace the differences in our cultures.
minarets taken by Hugo Morel
After this experience, I learned that Muslims want the same thing. They want to live a happy and peaceful life without being in terror of extremist groups. Ironically, extremist groups kill thier own fellow Muslim more than they do Christians. Unfortunately, Muslims are in the frontlines against the extremist groups. My cousin, who’s in the U.S. army, has been stationed in the Middle East for years. The stories he came back with and my experiences in Egypt, has changed my views on the average Muslim. They just want to live in peace like the rest of us.
Thank you for reading! Much love and safe travels!
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