With Senegal’s population being 95% Muslim, I have had a lot of “firsts” on this trip. Hearing the call the prayer 5 times throughout the day has been very interesting; it sounds different in every city or village because of the imam, the religious leader who makes/chants the call. Each imam has a different rhythm and amount of experience so the call can vary greatly from place to place. During prayer time, men will often go to the mosques, large ones or smaller neighborhood ones, to pray or simply pray in their homes with a prayer rug. In some areas, the call to prayer means that time stands still for a short period of time: shops will close and the business of life slows momentarily. Men and women do not pray together so often times the women stay home to do so. Based on my observations from this trip, many (or some?) Muslims do not pray at all 5 calls. It’s also important for people to wash themselves before praying so plastic tea kettles can be seen nearly everywhere for this purpose.
I feel compelled to express how safe and welcomed I have felt in a predominantly Muslim country. Around the world, but especially in Europe and the U.S., Islam has such negative associations because of the terroristic activity of a few extremists who are Muslim. This is a shame to the millions of others who are peaceful followers of this religion. The community leaders that we met during our stay expressed this point more than once and showed it in their welcoming spirit. This is one of the most important messages I will be bringing back to my students, friends, and family in the U.S.
This blog is not an official U.S. Department of State blog. The views and information presented are the grantee’s own and do not represent the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, IREX, or the U.S. Department of State.