Today I visited a mosque for the first time. I was very interested to feel the atmosphere, meet the people, and of personal importance to me, smell the unique surroundings.
I really had no idea what to expect as far as scent goes, but I had heard from others that anyone was welcome to enter a mosque so I was not concerned in any way.
My young son came with me, and we went up to the entrance, knocked, and waited. A man came out and said could we wait ten minutes as prayer was taking place. I said of course, and we sat and waited outside. Ten minutes later a friendly man came over and said he could show us around.
We entered the building, and were asked to take off our shoes, in order to keep the carpets clean. We did so, and entered a large room. There was indeed a beautifully ornate carpet across the floor, which was extremely clean.
The air smelled faintly of incense, it was not strong at all, but rather pleasant. It was certainly a background aroma, not as if incense was actually burned there. It was the main male prayer room.
We were then shown to another room which was where women pray, it looked exactly the same, but had an attractive fragrant scent, certainly a mild feminine smell. I noticed bottles of perfume on the windowsill, and of course these caught my attention. The gentleman who was guiding us explained that cleanliness is a very important aspect of Islam, and as a part of that perfume oils are often used.
So in the women’s prayer room they would use perfume oils, and in the men’s prayer room they would have their own fragrant oils. The ones on the windowsill that I observed appeared to be the style one would purchase from Al Rehab, for example.
Various small bottles, some full, some half empty adorned the sill. The gentleman gestured that I may smell them. I didn’t want to appear impolite, so my son and I used only one on our hands to sample a drop. It was a vanilla, musk, and lemon perfume. High quality, very aromatic and warm, with a recognizable Arabian style.
Traces of these perfume were in the air, and it made sense completely with what I had learned briefly of the practices of the mosque attendees. There was a strong spiritual atmosphere, extremely relaxing, and friendly. My son and I bid farewell, and felt we had both learned and experienced something fascinating.