I enjoy people watching. It's part of my sociology training. Especially interesting is watching culturally different people in the San Marcos Outlet Mall. During this time of year I've seen many Mexican Nationals shopping and interacting with their families. Today, I waited in the car while my husband ran in a shop to exchange a purchase he made before Christmas. I looked around the parking lot and saw two cars drive up close to where we parked. One man jumped out of a car and directed the driver of the other to back up several feet so the two cars had about eight feet between the hoods of their cars. They were facing each other. This small amount space provided an isolated location protected from traffic. It's where I observed their interaction.
The four men were similar in age, dress, and bearded dark faces. Their stocking caps fit closely on their heads. Three of them wore rubber like shoes without socks and one wore socks with his shoes. They were laughing and seemed to have an objective, parking where they did. First, they pulled out 4 rugs, around 2'x4' in size. The style was not your typical type or the Mexican colorful design I have in my house. I decided the rugs were more of an Asian influence. With my guessing, I began to suspect they were definitely not people I was used to seeing at the Mall interacting in this manner.
One of the men picked up a bottle of water and poured it on his hands and arms. He repeated this action several times. Then he picked up his stocking feet and poured water on them and rubbed them. The other men who were without stockings poured the bottled water on their bare feet. They repeated this several times, as well. My husband returned to the car and I told him to drive around the cars so I could watch what they were doing. Of course he was not going to have anything to do with my being so nosy. But as we began to drive away, I looked over to the four men who were kneeling between the two cars on their individual rugs. In unison, they kneeled over and touched their heads to the ground at exactly the same time. At this point I realized I was probably observing Muslim men praying together.
This was a different experience for me to observe, since I live in a small south central Texas town and never have seen a ritual, such as this. But this is central Texas which has the fastest growing population in the country, according to Demographers and Census people. The site I saw demonstrates how different cultures are emerging and becoming more visible in our state.
I researched some of the actions I observed of the Muslim interactions. First of all I found that today, January 3rd, 2015 is the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. And although there are different ways to demonstrate the followers' veneration of their Prophet, prayer is important. Moreover, the washing of parts of the body before prayers is a form of cleansing and making followers more worthy. This explained the washing of the men's bodies. .http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/articles/92744/obligatory-and-optional-aspects-of-ablution
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to see those of another culture perform a most important ritual on the Prophet's birthday. Now I understand better what the Muslims were doing. And it was so remarkable that they would exhibit their devotion in a public parking lot for anyone to see.