Prayers at Masjid Jame’ Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

From Across the Canal it looks majestic

Back from my very brief vacation in Kuala Lumpur I must admit, I miss it already.  Flying out Friday morning and back on Sunday evening, it was indeed a very short trip but one that I’m glad I finally made.  I had been meaning to go for several years now upon the invitation of a wonderful friend there, but for one reason or another, I just never made it.  Now that I have, I wish I had done it sooner.  Being able to reunite with a long time friend was wonderful and I’d like to “Thank You” her and her family for giving me such a wonderful time there.  They were a wonderful host.

There is much to see and do in Kuala Lumpur than first meets the eye. 

Only a two-hour flight from Bangkok and accessible on the low-cost AirAsia it is a wonderful little getaway place to go if you are in need of an escape from everyday life whilst at the same time discovering a new culture and way of living.

Unlike Thailand which is predominantly Buddhist (90percent), approximately 60 percent of Malaysia’ population practice Islam, 20 percent Buddhism, 10 percent Christianianty and the rest is a mix of Hinduism, Taoism, and other chinese religions. It’s no wonder that most of the major buildings and sites reflect the Islamic architexture and influence that have prevailed since times past.

During my short time in Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it is most commonly called, I was fortunate enough to have been able to observe muslims at prayer.  It was an unforgetable experience and one that I shall always remember. 

It started on the way to visit the ancient mosque called “Masjid Jame’ Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur” built in 1908 at the turn of the century.  It’s beautiful islamic design reminds me of the moorish architecture found in the south of Spain.  It’s breathtaking, especially from across the river.   Suddenly, late afternoon we heard the Islamic call to prayer called the “Adnan.”  The sound echoed throughout the streets of Kuala Lumpur and the strange yet emotional stirring sound told all muslims that this was the time to pray to “Allah.”

My good friend, who is a muslim, wanted to pray and so she kindly took me in to observe the Islamic prayer.  Of course I had to dress properly and cover up myself with a headscarf, but it didn’t bother me at all.  I was in the Islamic world and you had to respect it.  Afterall, I’d want someone to respect my Buddhist temples when they come visit.

 Before prayers could begin, I wastold that all muslims must undergo “Ablution.”  It’s a cleansing of the body before the ritual prayer.  Hands, arms, mouths, and feet must be cleansed in the provided cleansing area.  It reminds me of the ritual cleansing pools in front of Angkor Wat or the basin of Holy water at the entrance of each church.  Different religions yet they have similiarities.

 Once cleansed, you are then ready to begin your prayers.  The males and females pray in different areas.  There is usually a smaller and screened off area for the females to perform their prayers.   Once inside, I felt safe.  There were women and young girls all around me, some praying and some waiting.  Those who have their “time-of-month” are not to pray and so must wait for their friend. 

Those praying wore gowns of white that covered up their bodies and scarves that covered their head.  If you didn’t have one, they were provided for you.   Everyone stood side by side no matter where you come from.  During prayer, it does not matter who you are or how your family is, you are a muslim.    Prayers are done in synchronization and everyone bows in unision.  I imagine this same prayer eing performed throughout the country at the same time,  in all the mosques.  Amazing.

Unity.  Religion has brought everyone together.  

I don’t understand Arabic, but it sounds mysterious to me and like all prayers, they sound calming and peaceful.  Prayers are like a form of meditation.  I am told that if you unecessarily move your hands to push away hair or give the itch a scratch for four times, then your prayers are considered void.   I suppose it is like meditation.  You have to keep focused on your prayers.  It makes sense.

Relaxing after prayers

Growing up in a Buddhist family, living in Christian countries, I pretty much understand those religions.  Islam, however, has always been elusive to me.  My brief encounter with it, however, has taught me more than I imagined.  I understand it a little more, but there is still much to learn.  All religions I understand, teach its followers to “do” good and “be” good.  There are similiarities and there are differences, but it doesn’t mean that one is better than the other.

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