Growing Up Muslim in Region 8, Part 1

November 9, 2005 -- Posted at 6:30 pm CST

JONESBORO-Religion has a most prominent place in the fabric of lives in Region 8. In Jonesboro alone, there are well over 80 churches.

There are all the traditional Christian demoninations; against this backdrop of Christianity there's just one mosque.

It is the home to many devout followers of Islam, a religion and a way of life for one-fifth of the world's population, but, here in Jonesboro they are in the minority.  What is it like to grow up Muslim in Region 8? We begin with a visit to our local mosque...

Underneath the crescent moon, the symbol of Islam, we find a 'proclaimer', or muadhin issuing a call to evening prayer at sundown.  The mosque is regarded as a holy place, requiring the removal of shoes before going inside.

Emad Mryyan brings his son, Tariq, and daughter, Badria to prayers.  The men and women worship separately: the men downstairs and the women in an upstairs balconey.  This is done mostly for respect and to maintain their modesty amidst the kneeling and bowing during worship. But despite the division of sexes, there is unity here.

In every mosque, no matter where in the world, followers pray and kneel in the direction of Mecca. The Director of the Islamic Center, Emaan AbduRahman, notes that this is fundamental in Islam to unite the hearts and make the pople feel united in brotherhood with the believers wherever they are in the world.

The biggest challenge for the 'children' of modern Islam in Region 8 is not so much to understand their faith, but for their faith to be understood in a westernized society such as ours. Incorporating Islam into everyday life has its challenges, especially in light of what happened on 9|11.

The terrorists who plotted the attack where Muslims. Since then, any woman wearing a covering, or hijab, has felt the eyes of Westerners upon them. The hijabs are not for concealing one's identity but rather to cover one's beauty from every man but her husband. "If a women is beautiful, she is beautiful only for her husband".

We will continue our series with how the Muslim children are taught to read the Qu'ran in Arabic at incredibly early ages.