Good news, Deborah Pauly! The OCeeker survived a Muslim prayer service with his head still attached to his shoulders!
That's right: The inimitable infidel himself got his assalamu 'alaikum on during a recent sun-soaked Friday afternoon when he took in a li'l khutbah [sermon], and some jum'ah [special group prayer thingy] with many of Orange County's most devout Muslims at the county's longest-running mosque, Masjid Al-Rahman in Garden Grove (otherwise known as the Islamic Society of Orange County to kafirs).
Just a hop, skip and a jihad behind Vien Dong [snicker] off Brookhurst Street south of Westminster Avenue, the masjid (mosque) is a tan stucco edifice trimmed in brown that rests on the Islamic Society of Orange County's sprawling 5.2 acre campus, which also includes the K-8 Orange Crescent School.. Yeppers, it has a dome. And yeppers-squared, there is a crescent moon and star atop that bad boy.
Before entering the mosque, the OCeeker stepped into the restroom to take a wiz khalifa. Whoaaaaa nelly, he thought he saw a row of Muslims dropping the kids off at the pool, when he realized he had accidentally walked into the ablution area, where they were washing their hands and feet in preparation for prayer. Whew! The ritual is called
. And wudhu cleansing ain't nuthin' to fuck with.
Feb. 17, 1 p.m. Sign Near Entry: "Sisters Are Advised to Wear Hijab" Allah bless Masjid Al-Rahman. They got one thing right: Women are separated from the men during Jum'ah. As hundreds of men walked into the musallah (prayer hall), the hijab-cladded women scurried upstairs for salah [prayer...and gossip]. The only drawback is that Jum'ah is mandatory for men and optional for women. So men: if you must go, at least they don't force you to listen to Fussy Fareeha prattling on about your weekend to-do list.
And speaking of the battle of the sexes, Masjid Al-Rahman is not the place to look for a hookup unless you have a thing for bearded, middle-aged men. Although, through one woman's niqab (face covering), the OCeeker caught a glimpse of dark brown eyes that betrayed their lust for him.
The OCeeker (peace be upon him), respectfully took off his size 10½ Clarks Touareg black oxfords and placed them in a foyer cubby, above which a TV screen announced the mosque's "Hot Hula Fitness Classes".
As he moseyed into the musallah, his concern about Fritos feet a'funkin' up the air was immediately assuaged by the air conditioning and a fresh scent that permeated the room. Only old-school Muslims walked in bare-footed, while the young brothers sported their socks. And be it as Muslim men are manly men, there wasn't a single pair of footie socks in sight. The young men dressed casually, some looking like they were on their way to Sutra in Costa Mesa. Many of their elders wore loose robes over their street clothes. Several sported kufi caps, the kind that legendary Cleveland Brown running back Jim Brown wears. A handful of white men stuck out like saltines in the sea of Middle Easten men, and a couple of black men were spotted too, one looking somewhat like Mos Def.
The musallah was bright and spacious, with no furniture. Upon the white walls there hung several pieces of Islamic calligraphy giving props to Allah and the religion's prophets, including Jesus Christ, who the Muslims demoted six centuries after a handful of scandalous first-century Jews promoted him from carpenter's son to Messiah. [Can't way to see His exit interview.]
At the front of the musallah there was the qiblah wall. Muslims pray toward the qiblah wall, and thus toward Mecca. [BTW, Mecca and the Soul Brother by Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth is one of the greatest rap albums of all time.] A cutout in the wall, called the mihrab, showed the direction toward Mecca. ["They Reminisce Over You" is the best song off Mecca and the Soul Brother and the greatest rap track of all time) Inside the mihrab was a minbar [pulpit].
The OCeeker sat on the red prayer carpet near a column, almost directly underneath the dome, which symbolizes heaven. Its blue-hued belly was striking. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling.
Leapin' and Hoppin' on a Crescent Moon Shadow
The service began with an Islamic holy song led by a Muslim elder standing in the mihrab, with many men hitting the deck in a prayer position that resembles a modified downward-facing dog. Hands, knees and feet touched the floor as the Muslim faithful supplicated Allah. The OCeeker observed several men bowing five times in a row. Not wanting to be outdone, the OCeeker prostrated himself on the prayer carpet. Not wanting to offend his Higher Power, the OCeeker took a prayer out of the ol' back yard football playbook and prayed thusly with each bow to the floor: "One Al-Andalus...two Al-Andalus...three Al-Andalus...four Al-Andalus...five Al-Andalus."
It was at this point that the OCeeker wondered if Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, would ever visit Masjid Al-Rahman and perform "Moon Shadow".
Then it was time for announcements. A man who appeared to be Supervisor John Moorlach's Middle Eastern cousin talked about the recent table tennis tournament in which Masjid Al-Rahman brought it hard against other mosques. More than 20 mosques participated. Kareem Abdul-Moorlach then went all Dane Cook and said (what the OCeeker believes was an Masjid Al-Rahman team) made a strong showing and did everything they could to win, and, "I even tried to buy the trophies, but unfortunately, it was not meant to be."
WTFatwa Moment: Worshippers Slide a Plastic Red Toolbox Up and Down Each Row; It is Locked and Has Two Slits Cut Out on Top; Oh, They're Putting Their Donations in It
Abdul-Moorlach also mentioned that students from Biola University were in attendance to learn about the true message of Islam. Go Eagles!
After another song and (the OCeeker thinks, because a lot of the stuff sounded like Arabic) prayers, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, the mosque's religious director, who earned a doctorate in comparative religion from Harvard University, opened up a can of khutbah on our ass.
Bumper Sticker: "26.2" (Muslims Be Gittin' They Run On); Bumper Magnet: Darwin Fish
Siddiqi read from Surah Al-Baqareh 2:143 in the Quran, translating it: "Thus we have made you a community of the middle way, so that you be the witnesses toward the people and the messenger be a witness towards you."
Dressed in what appeared to be a brown robe over pure white clothing, the white-bearded and bespectacled native of India gave a roughly 25-minute message on the need for the balanced life.
He talked about the body and soul, the individual and society, and this life and the hereafter. He said Muslims are to obey Allah, take care of themselves and be good to others, with a view toward the Day of Judgment.
Check Siddiqi gettin' freaky: "What Islam says is, there are huquq--there are duties and responsibilities."
Siddiqi was humorous in some spots--referring to those without faith as "losers"--in delivering a message that implored listeners to not got go to extremes in any facet of life.
The OCeeker gave the khutbah an A+ because he doesn't want to get his ass kicked.
He then pondered one Erick Francis Schrody, aka Everlast. The rapper, who gained fame "jumping around" in the House of Pain before singing about "What it's Like", at one point converted to Islam. He may need to listen to Siddiqi, because the OCeeker doesn't think the self-professed "true peckerwood caucasoid messiah" has found balance. Peep Whitey Ford spittin' on Ill Bill's "Soldiers of Fortune":
"Play me out, call me devil and I'll send you to God/You pretend to be hard, yo I bring the jihad/I make war on the man that makes war on the Din/Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim, Capo regime, captain of the team/I know I'm uncivilized, I know I'm unclean/I know I get high, I know I'm sick, I'm obscene/Subliminal hymnin', original sinnin'/purple drinks swimmin', chasing young, loose women/There's flames for the coward, praise for the martyr/I'm older, I'm wiser, I'm James fuckin' Carter/In the meanwhile, you're going out like Reagan/If your girl goes wild, sacrifice that pagan"
On the other hand, Siddiqi prayed for the victims of Syria's bloody attacks on its people.
Then it was time for more downward-facing dog, this time with a twist. The OCeeker joined the boys in standing up, bending over to touch the knees (like a gassed KobeBryant at the free throw line) and hitting the floor for more prayer, or, uh, tense moments of "I really hope this doesn't fuck up my pompadour."
To the cue of "Allahu akbar!" or "God is great!" we all did this Macarena move where we touched our ears. Not knowing what the hell he was doing, the OCeeker added flare by touching his ears with jazz hands.
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During a final prayer, the OCeeker noticed a young Muslim taking a peek at his iPhone. He was checking out Facebook; part of a post had the word "rightass" in it. Right on.
Nobody greeted the OCeeker. But Siddiqi did offer a handshake.
Masjid Al-Rahman at the Islamic Society of Orange County, 1 Al Rahman Plaza, Garden Grove, (714) 531-1722; isocmasjid.com. Friday services at 1 p.m.