The merciful, the compassionate
I am standing next to Tarik. On my other side is a man standing so close to me, that our hands touch. In front of me is a row of men, behind me too. We are all lined up, as if we are reporting for army duty. It is Friday evening, the last Friday of Ramadan, and I am in a Mosque, and I am praying.
Lejla and Tarik are my oldest friends in Sarajevo, and I have been moaning to them for the last two years that I want to attend a service in a Mosque. Tarik complained that he harldy ever goes, and that he has sort of forgotten how it all goes. He says that Lejla and I have forced him to go to the service.
Once we are in the Mosque, I have the feeling as if everybody is watching me. However, there are more green-eyed blond guys like me in the Mosque. Lejla later tells me that Bosnian Muslims sometimes have difficulties getting in a Mosque in Arabic countries, since people there do not believe they are Muslims.
Tarik thankgod (thankallah) does know what to do, and he instructs me to do the same as he is doing. He calls it gymnastics. Thirtythree times we do a rikaat, which is a prayer that is part of terawih, which again is (part of) the evening prayer. It means thirty-three times bowing of the knees, sixty-six times touching the ground with your forehead and 45 minutes of sitting on your knees. It is hard work, the Islam.
In order not to look odd I murmer some prayers I know, and move my mouth when Tarik moves his mouth. He finds this hilarious.
Before the service a man is giving a sermon. He talks about how a good Muslim does not drink, how Allah is merciful and compassionate and that a devout Muslim takes an active part in public life. His words boil down to the same as clergymen on Saturday in Jerusalem say, or on Sunday in Rome.
After the service we have drinks. We are going out, so I call them 'Muslims light', and talk about the 'Sarajevo Islam'.
when I am walking home, at 02.00 and a bit drunk, I rethink the conversations we had about Islam that evening and the evenings before, and I start realising that calling them 'Muslims lights' is a bit unfair. They do live according to Islamic rules, but they interpret them so that those rules are no dogma's but guidelines in how to lead the life of a good person. The same as liberal Jews do with Jewish law, and most christians with christian rules.
I do not call my friends in Holland who go to church but do not live according to all Christian rules 'Christians light'. Islam in Sarajevo is just like Christianity in Holland: people here are predominantly Muslims, but it is not a constant issue. Unlike what sometimes in Western media is perceived, are not all Muslims constantly busy being a Muslim. At least not here. People are just lawyers, partymakers, drunks or feminists, and happen to be Muslims, too. In Holland this kind of attitude by Muslims towrads Islam is seen as the exception. Here it is the rule, and in my opinion a very healthy one. It is the same kind of rule by which people in Holland live.
All political correctness aside, I like the term Muslim light. Whenever Lejla lights a cigarette, ar Tarik has a drink, I will call them that. Just because I can, and just because they understand what it implies.