Not too far from the ship is the largest Mosque in Freetown. According to locals it was built from Gadhafi's money - making it all the more appealing to me to visit. Ryan, one of my team members, happened to know the imam, due to the fact that they were shopping at the same hardware store. :) He asked the imam if it was OK for us to come by one day. He wanted to know why Mercy Ships is interested. We quickly explained that it has nothing to do with our company, we simply are interested, as tourists if you wish. To my utmost surprise he said "no problem then".
The only thing he told me was that I need to enter the mosque through a separate gate and ladies need to wear proper clothing (long skirt, shirt, no showing any skin plus head cover). Well, fine with me... :) So one sunny Wednesday we drove to the gates with Ryan, Penny and Sam, our local translator. We wanted to park outside, but they opened the gates for us. I made a video of this historic moment: :)
At one point Ryan asked the imam to translate some writings on the wall. This is how the conversation went:
- It says, Allah is great, while people are silly. They put extra burdens on themselves than blame Allah.
- Can you give an example? (Ryan asked)
- Yes. For example you have a wife already (and he looked at Penny), but you have a small house. So if you take on a second wife (and he points at me!) you will have a problem. Allah didn't give you this problem, you asked for it yourself."
At this point both Penny and I hid behind our head covers to save face. Ryan had a much harder time hiding his smile! :)
We had a very pleasant time. He even allowed us to go up to the minaret. What can I say: it's a great exercise! If I had to climb up 5 times every day to do the Call for Prayer... I could eat whatever I want! :)
On our way down from the tower we passed some coffins, that was a bit strange... At the end of the grand tour we said our good byes, the imam tried one more time, but we sticked with our Christian faith. To finish off this great visit Penny drove out of the gates wearing her head cover. :)