Kuwait in recall - The Mosque

One of the reasons I came to Kuwait was to learn about Islam and to try and figure out what it was that the West hated so much about the Arabs/Islam/The Middle East, and to find out what these people were really like. Most places I've been to in the past I've found that the locals are a helluva lot friendlier than in the UK and I figured that if I went out to Kuwait I would see that too and I would come back all liberal and say that we were giving the Arabs far too hard a time. Well we all know what happened next don't we...

Without much research at all I had come to my conclusion based purely on geography, Kuwait being placed precariously on the arse end of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, two countries that I figured by proximity would have a great influence on it. With only a tiny bit of reading, I would have known that the influence that they had was all pretty negative, the Saudis pretty much owning the country and hating the Kuwaitis because of their US sympathies and Iraq hating the Kuwaitis cos they are a loathesome race (well both of them are actually). In fact, in my travels around the middle East I found out that in fact EVERYBODY hates the Kuwaitis, from Israel to Dubai and everywhere in between for some reason or other and that my choice of going to Kuwait to find out about Islam was about as well informed as walking in to a bank and asking for a copy of the Bible.

But I figured it was a country with lots of people in long white dresses so it had to be at least slightly Islamic, and with all the mosques about I may as well get out and about and do what i came here for.

So one day I told the ex-pat teachers that I was not going to be at their illegal home-brew drinking party (pathetic) and that I was going to go to a mosque. The looks of utter bewilderment on their faces is something that to this day I will never understand. Fancy that - someone in Kuwait and he wants to not drink and go to a mosque?! Whatever is he thinking!?! Kuwait being a dry country and Islamic. I can't imagine...

So there I was walking around the outside of the mosque, shortly after the prayer call went out at around 5PM, wondering whether or not I should go inside. I didn't want to step on any toes, so I waited to be invited in. When the Imam came out and saw me, I removed my shoes and left them outside and he showed me around. I explained as best I could to this man of limited English that I had come to learn about Islam and what it meant to be a Muslim but I had no intention of converting.

I think that some of this information may have got through as the translator relayed my message. The imam seemed suddenly delighted and jabbered something back in Arabic which came slowly through his translator.

"He says that if you come back on Thursday for prayer he will be only too happy to give you your own copy of the Koran, some robes, your own prayer mat and a baptism."

"I'm sorry," I replied, quite sure that something had been added in translation, "could you repeat that?"

"Well he says that if you come back on on Thursday we can give you the Koran to study, some robes and a prayer mat and we can change your name to something more appropriate like Mohammed"


Suffice to say I am still the same man you knew before this incident. Any passing resemblence to dead prophets, beards, skullcaps and rucksacks full of explosives are purely coincidental.
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