Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Eid and Christmas: Khutbas and Turkey

Eid-al-Adha was an interesting day this year. For one, the car park at Glasgow Central Mosque was not as jam packed with cars as it usually is. However, the mosque was pretty full with a nice atmosphere. The Imam gave a pretty down the middle sermon (khutba) in which good and bad, right and wrong were clearly defined. He said that we must accept when ‘brothers want to dress and look in the way that our beloved prophet did’ or when ‘sisters want to dress in the correct manner’ and his rational was based on the idea that when we have people wanting to follow one, two or no God then why must our dress code be such shock horror. Hmm, somehow I feel the theology is weak for surely there is a difference between what we wear and what we believe? Even the prostitute during the time of the prophet was guaranteed paradise for just feeding a thirsty cat with some water. I found the prayer very spiritual and the Imam did a great job in showing the love and compassion to all in these prayers.

Christmas was sunny! I started the festivities with Midnight Mass at Saint Andrews Catholic Cathedral in Clyde Street, Glasgow. I went with my tennis coach and some other friends. I was amazed so see so many non-white faces, it was one of the most multicultural congregations I had seen in a Church. The sermon was full of many formalities and let’s not forget the incense!

On Christmas morning I went to Saint Augustines Episcopal Church in Dumbarton where Father Kenny gave a wonderful sermon. He recalled a primary school nativity play where a Down syndrome boy had just one line to say, “There is no room at the Inn” for Mary and Joseph. The teachers gave out a sigh of relief that he had managed the lines when they turned to see that he had ran behind Mary and Joseph and gasped out, “But it’s ok my mammy has a spare room that you can stay in!”. A beautiful example of innocent love, a love that at times is non-existent in the adult as it filters through the complexities of our ugly world and loses its place in our hearts. I had Christmas Lunch at a Methodist Ministers house. We sat and watched Her Majesty the Queen give her Christmas speech. She made an interesting point of remembering those servicemen who are out in the battle field as we sit to feast ourselves on a Halal turkey!

I want to keep this short so here are a few of my conclusions to these two important events in the Muslim and Christian calendar. Sermons need to relate to the lives of the congregation. A good step has been taken in Glasgow Central Mosque to recruit English-speaking Imams but we need Scottish born Imams! We need sermons to be in English that talk about Scottish life. Ethics and morality become an ideal without any examples from our lives in Scotland. There are times when I feel there are some examples but it always turns out to be examples which highlight something ugly in Scottish society. For example to highlight the effects of alcohol, Imams will illustrates its negative effect by talking about the binge culture of a few Scots and all the antics of some hedonists on a Friday night! This is not what makes me feel proud as a Scot. If we as Muslims want others to seek the beautiful in our faith then we must seek the beautiful in all that surrounds us too and accept it as ours, correcting what is bad for our society. In the Catholic Cathedral there was a presence of women at the altar, notably when they read scripture. Women must have a presence in Mosques that is visible to everyone. The prophet’s wives did not sit on a balcony and teach the faith! They took an active part in the promotion of good and this is what we need at the very heart and soul of the Muslim life. I pray that everyone had a wonderful Eid and a special Christmas!

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