The center of the city's history,
this mosque - now just called the Old Mosque - adjoined what is now the
bazaar. Susan and Alea walked into it expecting a usual tourist look-see.
However, a Christmas service was just
starting and they got caught in the women's section partaking in the events.
Juices and sweets were passed out to all the women and rose water was poured
into their hands for a ritual washing. While they did not know what
all was going on, Alea was fascinated with the rituals and told us her
version when we were done: We held out our hands to take in all that is
good in God and then we put it all over ourselves so we could take all
that goodness in.
We were busy exploring on Christmas
Day, knowing that Islam considers Jesus to be a prophet like Moses and
Abraham, but not quite expecting there to be a special commemoration for
his birth. But in each of the mosques we saw, there were readings, chantings,
sweets being handed out, even though we were not there on Friday (their
holy day) or during designated prayer times.
By the end of the day we had quite a stockpile
of juices and sweets, having been given them at every stop. We hardly needed
to even get any food, at least until the kids discovered something called