Eid Mubarak to all the Muslims out there!
I'm proud to say that Greek sista and I finally made it into the big, blue-domed mosque in Downtown after two previous failed attempts. One involved us being chased away before setting foot on the first outdoor step leading up to the mosque, with hand gestures indicating that our clothing was too revealing and that we should come back the following day. Because I'd entered the mosque before (where I was provided with an abaya to cover up), I'd assumed we'd follow the same protocol this time, and figured our chase-off was due to it being a Friday during Ramadan.
So we returned the next day; me in a skirt covering the knees, Greek sista wrapped in a sarong to hide her short shorts, and we made it to the top of the staircase and right up to the entrance. There we were greeted by a different man to the previous day's hand gestures, who was just about to explain something to us when the previous day's man arrived.
'Were you two not here yesterday?' he asked indignantly. Yes. 'And did I not tell you to come back last night?' No, he'd indicated for us to come back the following day. 'No, my hand gesture was showing that you should return in the evening after prayers.' Oops. Round two failed.
Our third attempt involved a little more clever, pre-emptive thinking. We forgot about the heat and squeezed into jeans, covered up with long-sleeve jerseys and tops and wrapped our heads in scarves. We were mosque-ready and marched up the steps with the greatest we're-so-Muslim confidence.
Even that fashion statement didn't gain us entry through the front door! Seems the women's entrance is through the back. Much less fancy but far more welcoming. The ladies welcomed us with great smiles and open arms - arms outstretched to offer us black abayas (the white ones are for those coming to pray). Covered up and barefoot, we made our way up the lift to the ladies' section of the mosque - where children play while their mothers pray - and caught the last of the evening prayers, following the women's movements as they stood and kneeled and bowed on the beautifully carpeted floor overlooking the men doing the same below, under elaborately sparkling chandeliers.
Greek sista and I walked out with an incredible feeling of peace and unity. Eid definitely is mubarak.
After the failure of round one, Greek sista performed a quick sarong transformation to cover up.
While trying to figure out how best to cover up for round three, Greek sista tried the total cover-up, but then she passed out from lack of oxygen and we went back to the drawing board.
The final product. Round three saw us completely transformed into mosque-ready women, complete with long-sleeved jerseys and jeans underneath our abayas.
The moral of this story is that you have to sweat in the clothes of someone else if you really wish to know how they find their peace.