It was about time I realized that it was a bit too ambitious to blog about every single day that happened in those 9 days at IMPAQT. I therefore think that it is a better idea if i just give the highlights of the rest of the days, and hopefully make it more reflective than narrative. Fatima is going to post an Article on All Around about the trip as well, so watch out for that in the next issue.
We had heard about this part of the trip back in Doha, and i was very apprehensive about whether it would be comfortable and relevant to us. I’ve been to churches before, and all I remember is a choir singing and then everyone leaving. But at the same time, our trip was a cultural exchange, so I realized the utility of such a trip in introducing us to other religions, especially because a lot of us hadn’t been to a church before.
I was soon to learn the distinction between a conventional church sermon and an African-American style sermon, which is far more lively to say the least. The first thing that struck us was that everyone was so warm and was welcoming us, even though we were the odd ones out. They referred to us as “brothers” and “sisters” something very similar to how we refer to each other in mosques. Except, that people seem very cheerful, something that we can learn from them.
The procession started off with a choir, which was a very different experience. It was hard for us to follow the lyrics but due to the screen we were able to mumble stuff now and then. As soon as the sermon finished, the Pastor approached the podium and i can say that all of us, no matter how devout we were as Muslims, were awe struck by the message of the sermon. It touched fundamental aspects of everyone who has any sort of faith. The best part was when the pastor was discussing about how the modern world perceives people who are religious as people who don’t think much and are irrational. The pastor argued that people who are religious are actually more rational, as they think deeply into their existence, the meaning of their lives and the order in the world. The other point that really struck me was about our nature to always blindly wanting the ideal opportunity, and being disappointed when we do not get it. The Pastor argued that God has that opportunity ready for us, but that he is waiting for us realize that he does. We need to change ourselves in order to change our surroundings.
The passion with which he spoke was mind boggling – we were all surprised that he had so much energy, especially because he does three such sermons every Sunday.
He also introduced us to the entire church mass and told us to stand up. The whole crowd roared and cheer and applaud, and i think it was an overwhelming moment for all of us. It gave me hope that all religions can coexist peacefully. Ok i know i am taking this a bit too far but I was actually thinking that.
I can safely say that the sermon inspired me to become a better Muslim and realize the similarities between the fundamentals of of most religions.