Today, Fellside had two visitors from the Muslim community in Newcastle who came to speak to us all about Islam, Brother Mark and Sister Christine.
They began in Year 3, who are learning about the worship practices of different religions, and spoke to the children about Shahada (the declaration of faith) and Salat (prayer).
The Shahada is an important message to Muslims declaring that there is none greater than God. This message is the first thing whispered in a baby’s ear when the are born! If a person wishes to become a Muslim, they must also declare this in arabic and their first language.
Salat was slightly more complex! Muslims pray 5 times a day, and this can vary depending on the length of a day (with summer having long light hours than winter). The times are before sunset, just after noon, early afternoon, after sundown and late evening. Brother Mark told us that this could mean praying as late as 11:30pm and as early as 2:30am in the summer! As well as this, they must be clean to pray, washing their fingers to elbows, toes to ankles, behind their ears, their face, their nose and their mouth. We were intrigued by the special ‘toothbrush’ shown to us, made from a twig with special antiseptic properties. Not many of us liked the horseradish-like smell but it would allow Muslims to clean their teeth before their prayers. We also found that Muslims were called to prayer by hearing the Adhan. Brother Mark performed this for us. The words are spoken in a singing voice and are either sent to a person’s phone or in Muslim countries, it is heard all across the cities. Afterwards, a member of our class was shown some of the prayer positions, and others were able to see what some Muslims (usually adults) choose to wear.
Brother Mark and Sister Christine also spoke to Reception to Year 6 in an assembly and told us about Muslim celebrations. We were shocked to hear that they didn’t celebrate Christmas, Easter or even birthdays! However, Muslims do have a holy time of year called Ramadan, where they fast in daylight hours to remember the difficulties some people in the world face without food. After this period of 30 days, they have a celebration called Eid al-Fitr where they pray, eat food, visit family and friends. Another celebration of Eid al-Adha is celebrated to remember the sacrifice of Abraham (Year 1 know this story well!).
We also learned that Muslims hold the same respect for the Quran, Bible and Torah and were shown a Quran written in Arabic (we would say it is read ‘backwards’!) But even more surprisingly, we found that Muslims are in almost every country in the word (except North Korea) and that the percentage is approximately 20%. The Quran is translated into many languages because of this (though always with Arabic as well) and in Newcastle Central Mosque there are 40 translations!
Wow! What an informative visit. We’re so happy to have visitors tell us more about their experiences and have opportunities to ask question to broaden our knowledge.
Thank you to Newcastle Central Mosque and particularly to Brother Mark and Sister Christine for giving us your time and knowledge.