Located in the concrete filled coastal residential area of Jumeriah, the mosque’s elegant ornamentation and greenery makes it stick out.
Dubai is filled with mosques. Nevertheless, all but one of Dubai’s many mosques are closed to non-Muslims. The beautiful Jumeirah Mosque isn’t just open to non-Muslims, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding gives free tours of it. After a nice visit to the Centre the previous day (highly recommended), I had to do it.
Muslims wash before praying so in Dubai you see wash stations outside mosques. You also see bidets in bathrooms (and even hoses next to toilets) to make washing feet easier. It makes sense to clean before entering a mosque as Muslims touch their heads and hands to the ground while praying.
Shoe’s aren’t allowed inside mosques. I left my shoes at the door. Although the cat in the background kept trying to sneak into the air-conditioning, cats aren’t allowed inside mosques either.
Even though it was 48 degrees Celsius (118.8 fahrenheit), I covered up as required. I had the lady tie up my headscarf for me and swear it instantly made me feel another five degrees hotter. You don’t realize how cooling a breeze on your neck is until its covered. I have to admit, I wasn’t disappointed when it loosened. As I didn’t know how to do it properly myself, this is how it ended up.
The mosque was pretty. After seeing so many churches in the same style on our European travels, the different style and layout was refreshing to the eye.
I visited Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding the previous day, learned a bit and enjoyed the dialogue. The “tour” was a little different. It was more like a session aimed at educating people about the basics of the religion and dispelling common myths (all in 45 minutes). Although the ladies who conducted the session did a good job and injected a good amount of humor into it, I didn’t enjoy it as much as lunch at the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
I did learn a bit (which I’m assuming is the official line) about the Emirate’s approach to Islam. Officially, it supports a moderate interpretation of Islam. I imagine it would be difficult to remain a global center for business if it appeared did otherwise. Examples they mentioned in support include:
- not rejecting the validity of other faiths when they are “of the book”
- not forcing women to wear coverings outside of church, both women cited the practicality of wearing such garments in Dubai but said they don’t wear them in other places (one lady said the robe would soak up all of London’s rain)
- most Emiratis don’t have more than one wife (divorce is permitted)
- the government distributes guidelines for religious sermons, and
- texts of sermons are submitted for approval