By: Jennifer Miner
Friday, February 10 from 5 – 7pm ~ Jami Masjid Opened its doors to the community.
It was a chilly, snowy Friday evening on the east side of Buffalo. As we approached the doors, my family was greeted by a young boy. He opened the door, kindly asked us to remove our shoes and showed us where to leave them. While we were taking our shoes off, another gentleman appeared, greeted us, “You’re just in time. We’re just getting ready to begin.” The gesture was both warm and welcoming, it felt like they were expecting us.
Upon entering the mosque, our eyes wandered the large space. . There were a few rows of chairs. There was a large curtain, as if to cut a section of the room off. A leader was praying in Arabic, we sat quietly and enjoyed the harmony of the prayer. After the prayer, Brother Tamir came to the center, he introduced himself as a teacher. He briefly shared, that he grew up in Clarence, went to Buffalo State College and played hockey. Brother Tamir jokingly added that when he got married and became a father, he could no longer play hockey. Brother Tamir also explained how much he’s traveled and learned from traveling. He spent about 30 minutes simply teaching the basics of Islam. As a Christian, I was amazed at the similarities between Islam and Christianity. Brother Tamir shared the story of the building and explained that it used to be a Catholic church and how the windows were beautiful stained glass artworks. He explained that in Islam, they do not believe that God’s image should be in that space. So the mosque donated all of the windows to a local artist.
Circling the room were Arabic symbols centered in sunbursts. Brother Tamir explained that Allah is written in each of them and that Allah has 99 different names. As the teaching came to an end, he described the prayer ritual and shared that we would eat after the prayer.
The leader again, went to the microphone to pray. As he did this, several other men created a line in front of him. The sound of the prayers were like music and the men were so in sync, except for the sweet little boy that ran in to join the men. When praying ended, women were invited to join the women and to ask questions. Brother Tamir explained that men and women do not pray together, during prayer their focus is to be on Allah, alone.
I went to explore the woman’s side. The room was quite a bit smaller and felt much cozier. There were women and children clumped around the room. The women were all smiling and were easily approachable. I returned to join my family. They’d gotten DELICIOUS falafel wraps, cookies and brownies.
Overall, the experience was delightful, educational and warm. My family and I, all agreed that we were very happy to attend. My 15 and 12 year-old sons felt that the experience was really “cool’. I left feeling grateful to have them as part of our community.