Thursday, February 7, 2008

Islamic Center of Greensboro

I will be speaking at the Islamic Center of Greensboro on Friday, Feb. 7th at 6PM. I will be inviting Muslims in Greensboro to participate in this project. I will share how the meeting goes here.

2-11-08: The members of the Center welcomed this odd visitor with a strange idea into the warmth of their house of worship. I was warmly introduced to members by my contact and host for the evening. I spent most of the night listening to the presentations of those who made the great pilgrimage to Mecca. While most of the terms used where foreign to me I got the pilgrimage’s connection to Abraham. I also understood the monumental effort the journey required and learned of the great monetary cost ($10,000/family) and patience required to make the trip (think 2 million people standing in line.) I also had opportunities to talk to members between formal prayers and the presentations.

Everyone, from the Imam to the children seemed sincerely interested in this project. Most were from Africa, with 25 countries of origin represented in the membership. I was particularly surprised to meet several Caucasian converts. One told me briefly about his struggles after converting, including the breakup of his marriage. Also, one gentlemen, very respected by his peers, seemed eager to share his story of struggle while living in Rwanda. Another older member took time to speak lovingly to the children there, joking, and encouraging them to do well in school. I hope to work with all three.

Near the end of the evening the children surrounded me and asked questions. When I told them about my website they immediately whipped out their Game Boys and jumped on the Net to check it out. In fact, the mosque was very high tech, with a flat screen TV on one wall, and lap tops and digital projector showing images from the trip to Mecca. On several occasions a screen saver projected the word "DELL" in giant letters across the front wall.

As I left and stepped outside to put my shoes on, I could hear the presentation going on inside, projected on a loud speaker used to call the faithful to prayer. Around the mosque stood only empty parking lots, a run down shopping center, and cars rushing past on the highway, a stark contrast to community gathered inside.

New Portrait

We have another portrait in process. The participant posts her ideas for altering this photograph below:

"For the top section of the picture, meant for religion, I know that I want just a couple of small lines of quote, either from quran or sayings of the prophet probably, that I would hope explain that everything I do, I try to do it for God. One saying from the prophet I'm especially looking at right now is

'I am Yours and Yours, alone.My prayer, my sacrifice are only for You.My life and death are Yours to take.A promise I make.To lay my life for You.An oath that I worship.No-one but You.' -Prophet Mohamed (PBUH)

I'd like for the religious section of the picture to look the most minimalistic. For the other two sectors, pakistan on the right and american on the left, I'd like for more of the cramped collage look. Both I think should have a mix of words and drawings that just describe those aspects of my life. For the pakistani section I think that most of the "drawings" will be the paisley design, which is a common theme in pakistani clothing, decorations, and weddings. For the american side, most of the drawings will be explanatory of my hobbies, such as a camera for photography, maybe a scuba diver :), and maybe a stick figure that's running for my cross country and track career. "