A Visit to A Mosque In America
Driving along the highway, all eyes are drawn as a magnet to the unique building with its golden dome and unusual architecture. The Islamic Center is located at the base of a residential street in a small neighborhood. The center houses an Islamic school, a community center, an international school and the Mosque, which is the place of worship for Muslims.
There are many misconceptions regarding Islam and Muslims. In reality most Muslims are non-Arabs and most live outside the Middle East. There are five million Muslims in the United States. There are an estimated 10,000-15,000 Muslims in the area.
Passing through the wrought iron gate, my eyes rivet to the cluster of flags to the right, one to reflect each of the 49-predominately Muslim countries. The United States flag is not among these as America is predominately Christian with Muslim being the third largest religion. Because America is our country and we are American Muslims, the American flag flows freely in the wind in a spot all its own.
Next my gaze is drawn upward to the golden dome and crescent moon covering the Mosque. Many non-Muslims are of the belief that Muslims pray or worship a "moon god". We do not. We believe in the same God as Christians and Jews. We believe in the oneness of God', the Creator of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The crescent moon reflects our practice of adhering to the lunar calendar, or God's calendar, rather than the Georgian calendar, or man's calendar. This is why many Mosques will have a crescent moon topping the domes.
Each of the buildings is individual yet connected by covered walkways known by all who enter here as bridges'. The Islamic Center community building holds classes for Muslims and non-Muslims alike who wish to learn more about the religion. It also offers activities such as sports activities, picnics, weddings, Arabic language classes, lectures, seminars and such. The International School offers grades K-8 and has a teacher/student ratio of 1:15 along with a Montessori pre-school and is available to Muslims and non-Muslims.
The most beautiful building among these is the Mosque. The Mosque was built in early 1990's and is American built, almost entirely by local architects and local artists. There is a fountain in front of the Mosque and a second fountain inside the vestibule. These fountains have come from as far away as Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia and are merely for decoration though in older times fountains were used for washing before prayer.
Upon entering the Mosque, I enter into a vestibule with a decorative fountain in the middle and a hallway to each side lined with a shelf for shoes. Shoes are not worn in a Mosque because it is a place of worship to Allah, the Arabic word for God, where cleanliness is all-important. Shoes will have dirt on them. One cannot go before God in such a state.
After my shoes are removed I proceed through
the vestibule. ...