HANOI’S MASJID AL NOOR
Dr. Nelson’s Comparative Religions class recently took their learning outside of the classroom. In the new elective course, students studied seven major world religions and compared them to discover similarities and differences. “The chance to visit a mosque and meet an imam in Hanoi was just too good of a comparative practice to pass up,” Dr. Nelson said. On any given Friday, 200-300 Muslims gather for prayer at Masjid Al Noor, the only mosque in Hanoi and northern Vietnam. On the Friday of their visit, students arrived just as the weekly prayer gathering dismissed. In their meeting with the imam and his wife, students learned that the Muslim presence
in Vietnam extends back about one thousand years. Indian traders brought the religion, and it found acceptance among the Cham tribal group in central Vietnam. There are over forty mosques in central Vietnam. The Al Noor mosque itself is one hundred years old. The imam spoke to the youth about Islam’s five pillars. He also answered their many questions about practicing Islam in Vietnam. On the drive back to the Concordia campus, students shared observations, such as: “The imam and his wife are Vietnamese, well educated, and soft spoken.” Dr. Nelson believes that the best way to break down divisive stereotypes is to meet and befriend people of different religions and cultures. “There is nothing like a friendship for helping us overcome misperceptions,” he said. His students experienced this truth first hand in their visit to Hanoi’s only mosque.