Welcome to my tales of cookery school, food and travel

The first 30+ posts of this blog describe my experiences as I complete a nine month cooking course - the City and Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Art. I did this after I moved out of full time employment and it was purely selfish - I love food, cooking, eating and drinking. Subsequent posts are about, food, travel and adventures.

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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Learning about Islam

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat
 At the Jumeirah Mosque and the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding there is a tour every day at 10:00am except Friday.  We have already been to marvel at the Sultan Qabood Grand Mosque in Muscat, but here in Dubai we hope to learn and understand something of Islam. 
The Centre’s motto writ large
The h-g enjoying pancakes
We arrive early and enjoy some hospitality including pancakes with date syrup and soft cheese, dates and coffee. The room is full of tourists, all but the most clueless wearing clothes that cover arms, chests and legs, and the women have scarves or shawls ready to cover our heads when we enter the Mosque.  The Mosque provides an abaya (for women) and dishdash (for men) who fail to meet the dress code. 
My name’s Tracey/Latifah, and no, those aren’t today’s exchange rates behind, they’re prayer times
Our guide “my name’s Tracey, also known as Latifah” introduces herself with an east end accent.  She married an Emirati and moved here 27 years ago. Tracey talks us through the ritual of washing before prayers then takes us into the Mosque and describes the five pillars of Islam and the reasons behind them. The second pillar is prayer, and to demonstrate Mohammed unselfconsciously goes through his prayer cycle. It takes only a few minutes. At the end of her talk Tracey invited questions - as she says “It’s like being in school init?” These are probably questions she’s answered 100 times before, but she’s patient and open with her responses. Why do women cover their heads? Why do women have a separate prayer hall? Why can men marry 4 times? Why can’t women have more than one husband? I’m sure you can google the answers, and while Tracey is clear in her mind, we struggle with some of the justifications. The Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai is small and quite plainly decorated compared to the stunningly adorned and massive Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, but Tracey tells us anywhere clean with four walls will do.  We leave knowing a bit more about the religion which is remarkably similar to Christianity.   Photos below all of Muscat    
The main minaret - 90 m tall
Shoes removed before entry
The chandelier hanging in the dome is 14m tall and the largest in the world    
Apparently the carpet contains 1,700,000,000 knots and weighs 21 tonnes.
The designs include Persian Tabriz, Kashan and Isfahan design traditions,     
The main (read men’s) prayer hall (musalla) takes 6,500 worshippers.
The women’s musalla holds 750, but women get just as many brownie points for praying at home as men do for praying together at the Mosque. Besides, when you’re cooking dinner you can’t just drop everything, bundle the kids into the car and rush off to the Mosque at prayer o’clock.
The tiling and other details are perfectly executed  
The power bill must be astronomical
300,000 tonnes of Indian sandstone to build the Mosque

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