Today I had a very interesting conversation with M2 when we went to pick up Baby Shark. I will start with we are practicing Episcopalian and I am on the Vestry or the governing body for our church. So having this foundation the story will continue LOL.
We went downstairs to pick up the Shark and I see a woman on her prayer mat, facing East. I recognize the rug, the motions and the style of dress. I avert my gaze because when someone is worshiping I find it in poor taste to stare as much as I might be fascinated. Well M2 was not so suave as it were and I actually caught her staring intently at the woman (we have to wait outside in line to pick up kids). I reminded her staring is rude and asked why she was staring to begin with. She looked at me with a mixture of wonder and confusion and said “Mommy what is that lady doing?”
Now I AM NOT an expert on religion. My knowledge is limited on what being a devote Muslim entails but I do have a working knowledge. So if you are more educated on this topic please message me so I can learn more than what I explained to my youngest. TIA
I told M2 that the woman was practicing a religion called Muslim. I explained that we practiced a religion called Episcopalian and that while there were some similarities there were a bunch of differences. I told her the mat was a prayer mat and that individuals who practiced this religion prayed 5 times a day facing toward a place called Mecca. M2 looked transfixed. I said much like we pray at each meal, Muslims pray at different times of the day. I told her I did not know the prayers because I had not been told that but I could look it up if she was interested. She told me she was so I would look it up later.
After I answered her questions she asked me why the “..lady was dressed like that….” I told her my understanding was that one of the things which was observed by someone who was Muslim was something called modesty of dress. M2 was genuinely interested in this information so I explained it further. I told her that the shorts she was wearing were not considered modest because she was showing her bare legs. I said I was not sure if my leggings would be all right but it might not be because of how they were formed to my leg. I said that being modest meant your body was covered, including your head and for some people their faces. M2 was truly intrigued but this concept and went through many of her articles of clothing to find out many were not in fact modest.
I loved her interest and fascination but then came the hard part. M2 asked how did I know this stuff. I told her that when I was going to go to Iraq with the Army since I was going to be working with the people of Iraq I had to have an understanding of their culture and religions. M2 looked me dead in the eye and said to me “But Mom didn’t they try to kill you and your friends?” Ugg sometimes life it ugly. I assured her that there were a great number of Iraqis who did not in fact try to kill us. I explained that only some of the people wanted us dead but most did not. I also reminded her that a good number of people who said they love God have done some horrible things. She nodded but I was not sure she understood.
After a few minutes she looked at me again and said “So you don’t hate people like that Mom?” I assured her I did not. She pressed me further “But if they tried to kill you and they were that religion why wouldn’t you hate them or get angry when you see them?” You know some explanations are harder than others. I reminded her that some people are just awful regardless of what religion they say they are. I reminded her it was wrong to hate or be angry with a whole group of people just because some of the people were “jerks” She smiled when I said that so I knew she understood that much. Can I be honest, this one made me sweat.
We put Shark in the car and I looked up the prayers and why it was 5 times a day. I read what I could to her and hoped it was enough to satisfy her curiosity. Now mind you I still have some of my own questions so I am going to look them up and find out. I felt awful inside, truthfully, because all I could think was how small minded people must be that she associated with at times. I hoped and still hope, that the broader acceptance of people I had would transfer on to her and she not be poisoned by some louder, less accepting folks.
Oh and no I am not saying all this because of this blog. I met so many wonderful people in Iraq. The folks starting their own newspapers, radio stations and television stations were amazing. Our translators were awesome and many times funny as they tried to explain nuances to us. Now would I go back to Iraq, nope too hot, and the fact that I witnessed multiple attacks on innocent civilians left me to afraid to want to be there any longer than I had to be. I do miss helping the people re-establish a media infrastructure but not so much so that I want to put my life in danger again.
So now I am off to look up some more information about questions I have from what I have read on my own. I almost hope we see that woman again and I sort of hope she works at the daycare as I would love to ask her a few questions just to educate myself but we shall see. In the meantime, M2 has gone off to bed and Baby Shark is asleep on the couch. I hate how religion and culture has divided us but I am grateful at least my kids will talk to me about it.