Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Common threads: similarities and differences between places of worship in London

September 21, 2010 · No Comments

One commonality connecting our visits to diverse religious institutions was a certain level of decorum expected of visitors, which was of course implicitly observed by worshippers. In each of these places, visitors could not take any pictures, but there were many other customs which we were asked to observe in respect to each of these places of worship.

For example, in both the Mandir and the Mosque, visitors were expected to take off their shoes before passing beyond the entrance of each of the respective buildings. I feel like I should have asked about this custom while at the Mandir; I understand the justification for this observance of this custom at the Mosque exists because Islamic culture values emphasizing cleanliness. Is it the same justification at the Mandir? And of course, we were expected to not eat pork or smoke before going to the Mosque or Synagogue, due to the respective dietary laws of Islam and Judaism.

It was very interesting to hear about the application of Sharia law in the UK. Most of the Sharia, although observed by faithful Muslims, is not legally codified in the UK. The parts which are legally binding mostly involve marital contracts and business contracts between consenting parties. So, like Christians and Jews (whose religious marriages are recognised by the state), Muslims are allowed to enter these contracts at their behest. It is always interesting to hear the argument that Sharia law should not be allowed in the Western world, despite the fact that these obligations don’t impact anyone except the Muslims who are parties to them. Maybe, if they don’t like Islamic culture being practiced in the West, they should give up other customs which were imported from the Islamic world after the Crusades. Like bathing.

Back what was supposed to be the topic of this blogpost. One major difference between St. Paul’s cathedral and Westminster Abbey on one hand, and the Mandir, Mosque, and Synagogue on the other hand, was that there were burial tombs and cryps in each of the Anglican sites of worship, but none in the Hindu, Muslim, or Jewish sites. But, after thinking about it more, this has to do more with the age of the buildings; the Anglican sites were hundreds of years older than the Muslim, Jewish or Hindu sites.

Categories: 2010 Tyler · Churches and Cathedrals · Uncategorized

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