Sunday, August 14, 2011

Night 13- Misk

You know you've gone too far away from Chicago once you take a highway exit and the surroundings look like any exit off of I-94 in Michigan on the way to visit family in Detroit. I didn't know what I'd expect going here since I hadn't hear much about this mosque. My GPS finally led me to arrive at my destination, the Fox Valley Muslim Community Center in Aurora, IL. I was driving around the mosque and didn't even realize I was here. The outside looked like a very large home in an old neighborhood with brightly lit landscaping and accent lights all around. I got closer and finally noticed the architecture shaped as an 8-sided star.

This is probably one of the most peaceful, soothingly simple mosques I have been to yet. It has a considerably good sized prayer hall that can most likely fit 300 worshipers. Well lit from the outside, I was expecting the same inside but this was not the case. There were only 2 bulbs in the mehrab dimly illuminating the prayer hall. You could barely see anything towards the back of it. As I entered the hall I heard quiet chattering of women towards the back, but didn't see any even though there was no physical partition. That is how dark it was. I sat in the front where there was little light and tried to assess and size up the place. From what I could make out of it I would imagine this place is very peaceful in the daytime with sunlight pouring through the rather large arched windows all around.
Dim setting
 A few plush pink colored Persian rugs lay on top of the regular peach color berber carpet, creating a cooling effect on the eye. Being very dim, I couldn't really make out from which part of the world this community  is composed of, but from the mix of kurta paijama clad Urdu speakers and Arabic emitting from those in thobes I assumed they were half South Asian and half Arab. I was hoping during prayer they would turn on few more lights so I could put this puzzle together better and eventually they did- only 2 more additional bulbs.
2 more lights
Tarawih was led by a young hafiz, maybe 19 or 20 in age. We started Isha at 9:45 and ended 20 rakats of tarawih by 10:30, pretty quick by most standards.

After prayers were over I was heading out to my car and noticed an Egyptian family huddled in a circle. A man from the group saw me walking and approached me,

Man- "Open your hand."

Dumbstruck, I opened my hand no questions asked and he applied something on it with the consistency of dried up lotion on the tip of a pump on a lotion bottle (you all know what I'm talking about, I hope).

Me: "What is this?"

Man- "Misk. Ramadan Kareem."

And that was that. I smeared the substance on my hands and within it I felt granular smaller round solids. Both of my hands amazingly never felt this soft, softer than a baby's skin, or smelled this good. I got in my car and quickly googled what misk was. The only results coming up were of musk, so maybe this was a different pronunciation of it. I always thought musk was an oil but apparently it isn't. If not from plants, most musk is secreted from a gland in deer. I was weirded out for a bit, but then realized, "hey, this stuff works!"


  1. It's great that you came out to Fox Valley. I got a really positive vibe when I came out here for Jumma once. Very peaceful.

  2. I got that feeling as well, this place definitely gives out a calming positive vibe