Huh?  What does [pbuh] mean?

Peace be upon him.

I can’t count the number of times I heard pbuh today.  I spent the entire day at a Muslim Community Center and Mosque.  Every time the name of a prophet is mentioned, pbuh is said afterwards.  There are many prophets in the Quran.  Even the familiar ones from Christianity are mentioned.  Jesus pbuh, Moses pbuh, Abraham pbuh and most common – Mohammed, pbuh.

We learned the Five Pillars of Islam – Declaration of faith, Prayers, Zakat (giving to charity), Fasting and the Pilgrimage to Mecca.  As a teacher there are a few of these that affect my students.

Prayers are done five times per day.  They start at dawn and the last is at sunset.  There is a window of prayer time for each of the five.  We were given a website to find the prayer times.  Enter your zip code for times in your area.  In my district, there is a person that sends us information about when the prayers should be done.  When the prayer time is long enough outside of the school day, we are told that we do not need to make accommodations for students during that time.  Otherwise, there is are two rooms set aside for Muslim students (1 girls and 1 boys room) to pray and there is a staff member that keeps track of their comings and goings and makes sure the locations are available.

Fasting and Ramadan.  In 2010, Ramadan will begin around August 11th.  During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.  Fasting shows that they are in control of their appetite and desires.  No food, drink or marital relations take place during the daylight hours.  It is a time of generosity and giving and a time to renew their relationship with Allah.  There is a big celebration at the end.  For those of you wondering…  Exemptions are made for those with dietary needs and sickness.  Children are not expected to fast.

My experience with Ramadan last year was unique.  I was on the island of Zanzibar (primarily Muslim) when Ramadan started.  We witnessed the celebration in the night before it started.  Our form of witnessing happened to be the loud music keeping us awake at 2 or 3am.  But after Ramadan started, we could sleep in peace. La la salaama.

As we walked from the guest house to the beach we were approached by locals that would ask us if we were fasting.  I don’t normally talk about my faith, but I was happy to be able to say, “No, I’m a Christian.”

I was in school when Ramadan ended.  I asked one of my Muslim girls what they did to celebrate.  “We just go to OCB” (Old Country Buffet).  OCB?  For some reason that surprised me.

As I listened and learned about Islam I was trying to just take in information that would be helpful in my teaching and to better understand my students.  I had expected it to be similar to the Hindu presentation yesterday where I felt comfortable in how our belief systems can peacefully coexist.  I won’t say that it’s not possible with Islam, because it is most definitely possible.  It’s just quite a bit more difficult reconciling my beliefs as a Christian, an American and especially as a woman.

This is the third installment about the class I’m taking.  The speakers were on Wednesday, July, 28th.


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