I am pining to share my entire experience and tell you about this city built on hills, with trees as many as its people
I took a trip to Kigali, Rwanda – the city of a thousand hills! A work trip in August, and it happened to be my second trip to East Africa. Unlike the first, I had a whole week to work and explore the city. I am pining to share my entire experience and tell you about this city built on hills, with trees as many as its people – trees that stood tall demarcating roads and intertwined with buildings, towering over them as though they were guardian angels watching over entire neighborhoods. But no, today isn’t about the city of Kigali, this will come I promise, and with many pictures in fact. Instead, I will tell you about an interesting conversation I had with a Muslim woman on some doctrines of Islam.
She is nothing like the ‘civil servant’ you know
As a little bit of background on this woman, she happened to be participating in the training my firm was organizing at Kigali, but more so she is a senior technical staff of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, Nigeria. She is nothing like the ‘civil servant’ you know – she is highly knowledgeable, widely travelled, respectable and speaks with a tone that commands the ears of everyone in a room. Also, she is one of those women who look so beautiful draped in colorful scarfs around their head and shoulders, with long flowing gowns to match.
On a visit to a local market in Kigali, she insisted I sit by her in the long bus conveying us. I love to ride in quietness, no radio, music, or gist, just some peace and quiet, and so I had mixed feelings about this. There would be that need to start a conversation or actively pay attention to anything she wished to talk about.
I tried to inject as much politeness as possible into my queries, as I knew this was a sensitive thing to discuss with a strong believer of Islam.
We passed by a mosque and she pointed at the minaret, stating that it was the first mosque she was seeing since our arrival. A question popped in my head, and I asked – Shouldn’t there be four minarets? Four minarets representing the four pillars of Islam. She took her time to answer; “There mustn’t be four minarets as they are simply a means to make prayer calls and one minaret can achieve that. Also, there are five pillars and not four. Even as she corrected my ignorance, she seemed rather amused about my interest. She went on to explain the five pillars and we exchanged questions and answers for the next couple of minutes. While speaking about one of the pillars, she touched on how it was wrong to think or say that Islam relegates its women. This point sparked fresh interest in me, and I asked her – how can you say that ma, when even in the mosque – your house of prayer, women are positioned at the back, far behind, they do not sit with men, but behind them. Doesn’t this validate the perspectives that Islam propagates inequality against its women? I tried to inject as much politeness as possible into my queries, as I knew this was a sensitive thing to discuss with a strong believer of Islam.
“What picture comes to your mind when you think of a Muslim man praying, with a woman in his front also praying – this woman being a very ‘endowed’ woman?”
Gracefully she answered me – “Now Folake, would you agree with me that men are very easily affected by what they see – sexually?” I nodded, that was sort of a fact. She went on “Are you aware of how the Muslim prays?” Again, I nodded, as a smile crept up my cheek, I was starting to see where she was going with that.” “What picture comes to your mind when you think of a Muslim man praying, with a woman in his front also praying – this woman being a very ‘endowed’ woman?” We stared at each other for brief seconds and then laughed. “That’s it Folake, certain doctrines are put in place for our own preservation and help, not to reduce us, or make us less than we are created to be, and the design of who sits where in the mosque is just one of such.”
Oh but wait a minute, what about Polygamy?!
I thought of how I had never seen this point of view as the clip she had created played back over and over in my mind – it really could be a problem. It dawned on me that many of us are hasty to criticize things we do not understand, and we hastily judge unfamiliar systems without asking questions for clarity. Oh but wait a minute, what about Polygamy?! Ok fine, I get this part of preventing women’s butts from having a field day in front of men at a time when everyone should be focused on prayers, but what about polygamy? Isn’t this a spite to womanhood? Guess what, we raised it at the same time! It was as though she read my mind. Oh yes she went on and gave me an amazing explanation of the need for this (rolls eyes), but on this one I did not understand the perspective.
Nice piece FK. Keep it up
Thanks Samuel! We’ll keep it going.
Please finish this story o, I need a convincing explanation to why polygamy is good.
Hehehehehe! I will, I will.
Wow!!! Changed my entire vies of Islam.
Great. Read all the articles. Captivating…it kept my eyes glue to my screen till I’m done. Keep sharing. We love it. Thanks FK.
I am glad Mary! We’ll keep it going.
Wow, I am going to stay glued!lovely Fk