Thursday, January 11, 2007
Minarets and other things
This gives you a taste of the variety of minarets on mosques around the city. The first one is at the Islamic Cultural Center, which has a mosque at the center. It's in the ziggurat style, and is enormous. The one in the center is on the mosque called the Green Mosque, where the Emir goes. Sorry for the odd angle of the shots, but they were taken from the car.
As you drive around, you see minarets everywhere, of every color, shape and size. When the call to prayer is broadcast through all the loudspeakers (you can see the speakers on the last minaret quite well), I am told that what we hear is not a recording, but a real muezzin chanting.
That's a lot of muezzins.
I drove all by myself across town to Father Ian's house (three roundabouts, one fly-over, the TV roundabout by Al Jazeera, five traffic lights). I didn't get lost, I didn't hit anything, I didn't get hit, I even got there early. We spent several hours going through my questions, then went out on errands to the Industrial Zone. We even stopped at the fish market and the fruit and vegetable market. On the way home, I stopped at a few shops on Al Mirqab Street. I considered being really adventurous and going down Grand Hamad to the old souq, but I didn't think I'd get there before the mid-day hiatus, so I'll save that for next week. PH forgot our jars of gift honey, and needs another for his administrative assistant, so I need to go there for that, plus I want to look for a couple more odds and ends of gifts for people. The good news is that most shopkeepers speak better English than I do Arabic, so we can negotiate. I've figured out the Arabic numbering system (which is a good deal easier than the Hebrew numbering system) by looking at the license plates, which carry both Arabic and English numbers.
The weekend will be very busy indeed, with a group of nine visitors from the US and England to talk about Christian-Muslim relations under the auspices of a new organization called the Center for Reconciliation and Mission. Visits to Qatar University's Department of Shari'a Law, Al Jazeera, meeting the deputy at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, meetings with the US and British Ambassadors, seeing the new Islamic Museum which isn't open to the general public yet, receptions and such. I will get to meet people and do things that I wouldn't otherwise get to do while here. A wonderful opportunity. Next week I'll go out to the guest-worker work camps in Al Wakra to deliver food and blankets. I'll also be interviewing parishioners and will continue to shadow Father Ian (still wondering if I'll get to the morgue).
Meanwhile, I've written a first draft of my sermon for next week, and now I've got to compose the Prayers of the People for tomorrow morning's service - we don't use a standard form but make new ones each week. I'm missing PH and StrongOpinions, but they had a good trip home, with a brief stopover and sightseeing for a couple of hours in Munich.
I'll check in later.