Friday, September 14, 2012

The Grand Mosque and Me

Head scarf pic; but don't freak out (Mom)!  Hijab required when inside a mosque.
 
 
High on a hill overlooking Doha's West Bay is Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque, the State Mosque of Qatar.  It's a grand building with bubbling half-moons and a minaret:
 
 
Bob and I drive past the mosque every day on our way to and from Bob's job site.
 
I'd been told I couldn't go in, as I am a woman AND a non-Muslim.  So I didn't try.  Because I want to be respectful - and I just don't want to get into that kind of trouble here.
 
While I was napping, the rules changed.  Lucky for me:
 
It says "madkhool al nissaa'" (entrance the ladies).  Reading Arabic is so much easier when the English translation is included.
 
Up the steps…it's a bit unnerving to do this by yourself…
 
To the great, grand entrance just for ladies.
My guide said the mosque is "always open" and crowded on special days, but for regular five-times-a-day prayer most faithful attend neighborhood mosques.
 
Door to the Ladies' Section from the inside.  Doors and gates are important to Middle Eastern/Khaleeji culture and architecture.
 
Three ladies stood behind a counter to one side of the entrance. One (re)draped and (re)tucked my scarf, one checked to see if anyone was using the praying space and the third offered a tour.  My guide was Egyptian, from a tiny Up-Country village.  She wore a modern looking suit and hijab - and was newly pregnant with TRIPLETS thanks to the mysteries of invitro fertilization.  (Nothing to do with the mosque tour, but interesting…that she and her husband made use of this very modern process, and well, that she told me about it at all.)
 
Women's praying space. "You may take pictures," said my guide.  "Because there are no women here now."
 
Ladies pray in a wide carpeted balcony space overlooking the Men's Area.  "Do you ever look down there?" I asked my guide.  She was appalled.  "Of course not."  This is as close as I got since no one answered the phone downstairs (to clear a visit from me).
 
Another peek at the Men's Area.  :) Yes, I'm just that immature.
 
Ladies' ablution (wudhu) space.  Prayer preparation involves a very specific wash, rinse, repeat process: http://www.muslimconverts.com/prayer/how-to-perform-wudhu.htm
 
A place outside the praying area to sit, chat, think.  Muslim ladies are very, very social with one another and generally solicitous to curious hawagas, ie, (female) tourists and strangers.  If you have the nerve to ask, she'll (probably, maybe) answer your questions.  But pictures?  No.
 
Courtyard for gathering, talking, hangin' with the fam before services.
 
I like the "ladies crossing" graphic.
 
Wider angle
 
Empty parking lot, workers at the minaret
 
Interesting, weird, diverse, unique buildings of Doha's West Bay
 
"Come back anytime," said my guide.  "Bring your friends!"  Good thing I have plenty of scarves.
 
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