Umayyad Mosque (الجامع الاموي)
The faith & devotion that one feels within the Umayyad mosque is striking. This is one of the most holy sites for muslims outside of Saudi Arabia.
Walking barefoot across the courtyard, the limestone floor reflects men in suits, women in chador, and children running & sliding across it. Just after I entered, an Iranian man came up to me indicating his camera. I initially thought that he wanted me to take a photo of him & his friend, but when I nodded, he stood at my side, placed his arm around me, and his friend was taking our photograph.
The prayer hall on the other side of this huge courtyard contains the shrine of Hussein, grandson of the prophet. Inside, there was a mass of Iranian Shi’ites who were stood around a man with a loudspeaker. As he sung some sort of prayer into his microphone, they were all beating their chests and chanting in unison. They all wanted a glimpse of the shrine, and the emotion that filled this room was astounding as women were crying amongst the men jostling to film their visit here.
In the main prayer hall, men were sat studying the Qur’an whilst other groups assembled around charismatic people reciting stories, occasionally putting the words into song. The men were sat in a semi-circle around the mullahs, some with tears in their eyes as they listened to the story, whilst the women were sat behind a little barrier which divides the two sexes within the hall. The traditional dress of women in black chador was contrasted as they raised their hands in the air not to salute the shrine, but to take a photo with their mobile phone.
I know nothing of exactly what these stories contained, but the passion that these people felt whilst here, and the devotion to their faith, was extremely moving, even to a Godless soul like me.