After studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan, I returned home with a surprising result - a love for Islam and its teachings. Living among devout Muslims undeniably strengthened my Christian faith. Here are 4 observations that helped me solidify my convictions and increase my spirituality.
1. Scripture everywhere
Arabic calligraphy is BEAUTIFUL. I loved seeing it adorn buildings, windows, and buses. Even better was being able to understand the words, most of which come from the Quran, Islam's holy book. Walking down the street I would see signs that said "Remember God" and "Praise be to God" or window paintings proclaiming "There is no god but God." I loved this continual reminder to think of God and his goodness.
I could definitely use more reminders of God in my day-to-day life. I can't put signs on public roads quoting the Bible, but I can decorate my home to remind me of God. I can set my screensaver with a picture of Jesus, and I can post a passage on my fridge. Simple things can keep our minds focused on the things that matter most.
2. Public Prayer
One day in Jordan, I walked into a fruit stand near my apartment, quickly found the food I wanted and approached the cashier stand to pay for the items. I looked around for someone to help only to notice three men at the very back of the tent kneeling in prayer. A profound feeling of reverence swept over me as I watched these men worship.
Muslims pray five times a day, and many take the time to pray even while at work or at school. This touched me. We may pray differently, but I learned from these men to prioritize prayer and outwardly live my faith. I shouldn't be ashamed of my religious practices, and I should worship how I believe, whether or not someone is watching.
3. Holy music
Several times I asked my friends who their favorite singers/bands were and was shocked when all of their responses included their favorite reciter of the Quran.
What?! They listened to the Quran when they rode the bus or did homework?! Wow. My shock continued when taxi ride after taxi ride, many of the drivers listened to the Quran while on the job. I was impressed.
These questions quickly came to mind: do I treasure the word? Do I know what it says? Do I spend time each day gaining peace and perspective from its pages? I can definitely improve the way I value and apply God's word to my life, and I appreciate the lesson learned from those devoted friends of mine.
Living in a dominantly Muslim country was a unique experience. Minarets line the horizon, and the call to prayer echoes throughout the day. Many of the women wear the hijab (head covering) and pork is difficult to find.
Sometimes you don't solidify what you really believe until you are forced to. Living as a minority in any location tests your faith and challenges your commitment. It's important to decide what you believe and what you stand for, and living in a Muslim country definitely did that for me. I now feel more confident in my beliefs because I was forced to question them.
All cultures and religions can learn so much from one another. As we see the good in all people it will deepen your devotion to whatever religion or tradition you choose to follow.
Alyssa graduated with a degree in Middle East Studies & Arabic and continually adds to her list of random life experiences as she faces one adventure after another. With too many hobbies to count she especially loves hip-hop, soccer, and photography.