I just watched the spectacle called "Mohammed - the astonishing story of the prophet".
What a great presentation!
I read the Qur'an last year, so it wasn't as fresh in my memory as it would have been a year ago. But the spectacle did remind me of some of the things I read: the prophet fleeing from the disbelievers, then fighting back.
I found it interesting that they didn't mention that he had 4 wives, despite that being in the Qur'an (if my memory doesn't fail me). They also emphasized the egalitarian teachings of Mohammed regarding women and race. I was very happy to learn about this division of Islam because it seems very modern and liberal.
Most moving moments:
When they very first started, they said "in the name of Allah, most gracious, ever merciful". I had read this sentence in the Qur'an so many times! But this was the first time I actually heard someone say it. I felt a small sense of belonging :)
Then they had some children singing verses from the Qur'an. I realised at that moment how lucky I am to be in a country where I have the opportunity to hear such a thing. Canada is such a wonderfully diverse country! This kind of presentation is exactly what I expected to find here. I'm so happy :)
I loved that they sang and spoke in Arabic (accompanied by the translations). I did recognize a few words (the very few ones that I know). It was nice to hear the (what I believe is) proper pronunciation of some words. It was also interesting to notice the different accents.
About the organization:
The minute I walked in the door, I was greeted with smiles. I could feel the kindness emanating from those people. Everyone was extremely helpful. I was surprised when they told me that I could simply get some books from them for free.
It was also a bit surprising that so many men talked to me. I was expecting a much more sexist environment, where only women would address me. I was already aware of the existence of more liberal branches of Islam, but I think deep inside I still held a preconceived idea that they were all very conservative. It was great to replace that stereotype with a more accurate personal experience.
One thing that bothered me were the people coming in and out of the theatre at the start and throughout the presentation. In my opinion, it was distracting and broke the momentum of sacredness. Maybe it would have been better if they had kept people at the door and waited for a transitional moment at the presentation to let them in. But overall, I got a very good impression of the organization.
The kindness continued after the spectacle. They offered food, more books, and even a subscription to an interfaith magazine. All for free. What a wonderful way to reach out and promote understanding!
My message to the good people of the AMJ: keep doing what you are doing! I firmly believe that peace comes with understanding of the other and focusing on what we have in common.
My message to potential spectators: if you haven't seen this, keep an eye on their schedule on their website. I'm sure they will have other presentations here in Toronto soon. I also remember seeing on their website that they are going to other cities in Canada.
Thank you God, for this opportunity to broaden my view of Islam and better understand that religion.