Most of the past thirty or forty years of my learning about Islam has been from the perspective of people from the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran. There were a few differences, but mostly similarities.
Coming to Malaysia I began to see how the cultural of a country is also influential in the understanding and practice of Islam. I've seen this cultural difference with the understanding and practice of Christianity in various countries but it surprised me in regards to Islam. Don't really know why.
This is a neighborhood boy's school where learning the Koran in Arabic is much the same as learning the Mass in Latin at a Catholic girl's school. Though we're different, we're much the same in every culture.
I enjoyed living in an Islamic society, besides the cultural differences, there were subtle 'religious' differences, such as the muted 'call to prayer' five times a day, not having a glass of wine with dinner, not shaking hands with the men I was introduced to, or not having pork in a meal, but nothing oppressive as often is represented in movies or the news.
I enjoyed conversations with men and women, exploring the philosophical and practical diffrences between Christian life and Islamic life.
It seemed that as long as I approached a subject respectfully, I could have any question answered. These questions and the answers created some of the most interesting discussions.
Neighborhood Mosques are not usually as ornate as the big Mosques built for Sultan, King or President, but they seem to be less accessible to non-Muslims than the larger Mosques.
The drive from the airport to the city at night means a great chance to see all the fairy lights set up along the roads. Roundabouts have them hanging from long poles, they are draped over fences and intricately woven into palm trees
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