From Church Bells to Adhan – 2
This is the seventh day since the first Adhan in Cedar-Riverside. The posts on Facebook of that historic evening have slowed, but they are still being shared and commented on. Muslims, especially from Somalia and East Africa around the world have seen videos of the evening.
There is an image from that evening that I can’t get out of my head. It is the gentleman who was standing in the same area of the parking lot I was standing in. He was there when I arrived and stayed in the exact same place the whole time. He didn’t move. I may have known him, but his mask left me uncertain.
It was cold that evening. He was wearing the long robe men wear for special occasions with a warm jacket over it. He had on the cap that is common among men. I think he had henna on his beard, but maybe I just assumed it. He was facing the mosque, towards the men’s and women’s doors, and the general direction of where the speakers were placed on the roof. Almost towards Mecca, but not quite. And he didn’t move.
At one point I said hello and commented that this was a wonderful day and he replied yes, it is. Somehow though, I knew that would be the extent of our conversation that evening. Not because he may have had limited English and not because he was rude or shy. It is quite possible he hadn’t heard Adhan outside, for decades, since whenever it was that he left Somalia. If he had heard it during a visit in Somalia or one of the two times it was broadcast in Cedar-Riverside for small gatherings over the past two years, this would be the first time he would be able to hear Adhan five times a day for the holy month of Ramadan in his home, in the neighborhood where he lives.
I wish I could have heard his story. I would have loved to ask what this evening was like for him. He was so focused, almost in another time and space, it seemed to me. It was not my place to interrupt that.
So, we stood there, more than six feet apart, masked and gloved, and listened.
I can’t presume to know what he was thinking or feeling in that parking lot that evening. I assume he understood the words that were chanted and spoken. I could not. Either way, it was a powerful moment. Certainly, for him. For me, too. And for all those gathered.
Sometimes there are moments that are bigger than words. This was one of them.
©Jane Buckley-Farlee, 2020. All rights reserved