While in Dubai, a visit to Jumeriah Mosque is a MUST.
As a non-muslim, there are probably very very very (did I say very?) few places in the world where can you can enter a mosque. The enticing domes, the calls for prayer, the water tank outside where pigeons and humans wash their feet, the carvings have been very enticing to me. After living in Hyderabad I have seen a couple of mosques from outside.
I have seen beautiful pictures of people praying together during Ramzan inside the mosque.
When I found out that Jumeriah mosque welcomes everyone to their place of worship so that they can educate people about Islamic culture and Emirati way of life and traditions; I was all up for a visit. The mosque in itself is very beautiful and the educational tour was an added cherry on top. Everyday (except Fridays) at 10:00 am, a tour is offered at the mosque. Arrive by 9:45 am to buy the nominally charged ticket and don a head scarf or a hijab is you are not dressed modestly (head, shoulder and knees must be covered inside the mosque).
The tour starts promptly at 10:00 am. The guide talks about how to prepare to enter a mosque ( washing and ablutions) , the importance of Mecca, five pillars of Islam ( There is only one God, Pray 5 X day, Fasting and Self Control during Ramadan, Donate saved money that you are not using for anything else to charity, Visit Haj if financially/physically possible without taking credit), how is the prayer done, what does it mean for an Emirati to dress modestly etc.
Oh, kids are welcome on the tour. Varun sat in the women’s prayer room which is off to one side playing quietly with toys while Vipul and I listened to the talk. He also liked seeing the books kept on the low stands and pretended to read them. Most older kids sat patiently listening to the talk with their parents as well.
I think all cultures are riddled with myths and stereotypes (some more negative than others) and having a program such as this in a landmark setting in the most modern Islamic city is a great start.
Probably if every big city in the world had such a program for all religions it will dispels so much negativity and let us civilians live ( and let others live ) in peace.
If you do have a free morning in Dubai, do visit this program. It can be combined with a cultural lunch or breakfast where you can learn and sample Emirati cultural foods. We couldn’t go on that tour but the photos on SMCC site are very tempting!