This evening, instead of a Fellowship meeting, some of us went to a local Mosque, the Hyderi Islamic Centre, who were staging a play about Wahab, a Christian who had been killed while fighting on behalf of Husayn ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala. I had never been to a Mosque before while it was "in use", and never to one in this country.
It was interesting. We went with another couple from Church, and I remembered to wear a hijab (I do have several scarves that can be worn that way) - it was a bit brightly-coloured, as most people wore black, but nobody minded that. My friend had also brought a scarf, but we noticed they had a tactful supply of spares out in the lobby in case anybody hadn't one. We were made very welcome, and given doughnuts and tea, and there was also a bright pink lassi type of drink being served. Then the menfolk went off in one direction, and we went in another, to a large cloakroom where one could leave one's coat and shoes, and then into the "women's hall".
As we were there to watch a play, we were led into the main "men's hall", where 1/3 had been coned off for the women by a divider made of low benches, and everybody crowded together. It wasn't as stuffy as you might think, because there were fans and some were switched on. Chairs were provided for us visitors, so we had a good view. It took forever for everybody to get settled and ready to start, but eventually it did.
The play itself was put on by a youth group from Leicester, and it was presented as a very radical way of presenting the story. It wasn't desperately well done, as you would expect from an amateur group, and the play itself was interspersed with scenes of a film from the same story. However, it was very interesting, as the story was new to us.
When it was over, there was a "rubbing-in" sermon, basically saying that Husayn-ibn-Ali stood for justice and equality for all, and this standard was something that people of all faiths and none should aspire to.
I suppose we Christians have always had our tradition of Mystery plays and so on - probably because we were a LOT less literate than the Muslims ever were! So we slightly take for granted that our stories can be presented in this sort of way, whereas it's new to them. In the film, it was noticeable that the face of Husayne ibn Ali was blanked out as Muslims don't "do" representations of their holy saints.
After it was over, we were led back to the women's hall and fed chicken and rice, and then we decided we had to go, and went out to the lobby where our menfolk - who had NOT eaten - were waiting for us!
Apparently the Mosque also does inter-faith meetings during Ramadan, when Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders all get together and talk about their faith and its practices. This sounds as though it would be very interesting indeed, and I hope we get asked.