# WHAT does a Mosque look like ?

culture# Get it right :

A mosque may look like every thing and any thing, its a chameleon that adapts to human cultures while affirming the faith in the One.

Just like Muslims may look like anybody and everybody, they are Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Indonesians, French, Australians, Malian, Japanese, Turkish, Inuit while affirming the faith in the One.

# A main symbolic place:

A mosque is symbolically very important to Muslims, and is a humble way for man to recreate pure divine presence on earth. Mosques are not built according to divine patterns – they are divinely guided. Nor are there very clear rules to what a mosque should look like, except on some few points : it clearly indicates the direction of Mecca (this direction is called Qibla), the indication is in most mosques a mihrab; there can be no doors in the wall where the mihrab is placed.

# Evolution in the designs and introduction of the minaret:

The design of the mosques developed in short time from being very simple to becoming complex structures. In the first mosques in Hijaz there was minimal attention paid to the form of the mosques. The first minaret (the tower from which the prayer callings are made) came probably in 703, in Kairouan, Tunisia, almost 100 years after the Madina mosque. The minaret was absent in the early mosques, and its implementation was both for embellishment of the mosques, and for the functionality. But even for some time after the introduction of the minaret, the adhan was still performed with the muezzin walking through the streets while inviting for prayer (can you imagine how amazing it was? I could not refuse such an invitation !) The addition of adornments to the mosques was strongly discussed, and many Muslims opposed this process, and thought of it as a way of jeopardizing the purity of Islam, and they disliked letting Christian elements in, as well as using converted churches. Today, most mosques have elaborate domes, minarets,  and prayer halls.

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# The true architecture of the true mosque for true Islam ?

The original architecture used in the Malay world is more of this triangle rooftop. There was a discrepancy between Javaneese muslims on whether they should use Dome or triangle rooftops. The advocates of the first one claimed that this was the “true” mosque in the “true” Islam as Islam conquered the region throught the honest and friendly behaviour of Arab traders. Their opponents would rather recall that their cultural architecture is the triangle one and that it should be the one used for Mosques as well. Of course, there is no such a thing as an Islamic architecture in the sens of one advocated by the Sources. And the Mosque of the Prophet SAWS has been built very simply, without neither a dome nor a geometrical rooftop but rather the simplest straight rooftop. Therefore, the expression of the different cultures through the architecture of the most symbolic place is to me a proof of God’s Greatness and a blessing for mankind:

30:22And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.

Ar-Rum 30:22

So I felt it is a pity when I saw those retailer of aluminium domes in the countryside of Java and Sumatra. Many retailers along the street sell ready-to-use dome that you only have to carry and put on the top of your building, as a cherry on the top of a cake or a seal on an enveloppe. It is as if the building needed this dome as a certificate of its Islamic identity.

AMOSQUEAFRIDAY #2: University of Houston, Texas, United States

#HISTORY:

The University of Houston, founded in 1927, is deep in the heart of the 4th largest city in the United States: Houston. Along with the economic growth of the city, and as the energy capital of the world, Houston has seen a large number of foreigners settle down and contribute to its prosperity. Houston, with its very diverse population, welcomes each year thousands of international students coming from all around the world.

For about 30 years, passionate and good willing Muslim students have been building a strong organization within the University: The Muslim Student Association (UH MSA). Their mission is to facilitate and provide for the needs of Muslims on campus as well as educating the University of Houston community at large. Thus, all sorts of events, meetings, and activities are organized during the academic year. Also, daily prayers and Jumuah prayer are held on campus. Hence, Muslim students could easily purify, reinforce their faith and worship God.

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Two different locations are offered to the Muslim community:
– A peaceful area within the library: MD Anderson Memorial Library. One would be studying for his exams, perform his prayers on time, and ask God for His knowledge.
– A wider place where each religion represented on campus is provided with infrastructures and amenities: the AD Bruce Religion Center.

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Jumuah prayers are held in the religion center, which isn’t by the way a mosque even though one may consider the following hadith from our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

“The (whole) earth has been made a mosque (or a place of prayer) and a means of purification for me, so wherever a man of my ummah may be when the time for prayer comes, let him pray”

Sahih Bukhari 335

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# WHY UOH’s “Mosque” ?

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Although it isn’t exactly a mosque, I still considered sharing my experience of Jumuah with you on AMOSQUEAFRIDAY. It isn’t its architecture but its people that encouraged me to tell you about my Jumuah at UofH. It is always great to meet fellow Muslims with different backgrounds, from different countries. It’s even better when brothers our age do khutbahs. As a matter of fact, one cannot imagine such a possibility in a French University, where performing the daily prayers all together and on time is still a dream. No one would even think of the University offering those infrastructures and amenities to its students.

And here are an overview of the amazing organisation that leads me to write this article:

And if you want to know more about UHMSA 🙂

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# MY JUMUA AT UOFH:

The MSA leading team is doing a great job in preparing Jumuah prayer. I feel like Khutbahs in the English language are awesome. I don’t know why but I guess it’s because of the American way of giving speeches.

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Todays’ Khutbah was about dealing with adversity. What should be our mindset when facing difficulties and hardships? To cut a long story short, going through difficulties doesn’t mean God is punishing us, but instead, reality is otherwise. God is trialing us so that we become better. The speech was illustrated with various verses of the Quran as well as Hadiths.

# WHERE IS THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON’S RELIGIOUS CENTER?

Ilyes S.

About me:

I am a French Biomedical engineering student pursuing my last year of masters. I just started and I am already learning lots of things. 
I hope getting involved in the majority of the MSA’s activities and make long life friends during my journey in the US. GO COOGS ! 

I hope you really appreciated reading this small article.  And, InshaAllah, if so, I ll find time to share with you my wonderful experience in different mosques.

 
Peace be upon you,

AMOSQUEAfriDAY #0: One concept, Your articles, Our Mosques

# THE CONCEPT:

Dear readers, friends, brothers and sisters… and soon colleagues 😉

Thank you for your feedback (which were quite positive) and suggestions of great Ideas. Here is one for our common future :

Thank’s to God’s Blessings (El HamdouliLah) and to your support and interest, this AMOSQUEADAY-Ramadhan2013 project has been pretty successful -given the number of visits and views, your feedback by e-mail, comments or in live and the interest of the media on it.

So why stop short of our Mosques visit and culture discovery ?

We can continue our Islamic world tour through the center of the muslim communities, which are the mosques. Let us think BIG, let us think Oumma ! So, you yourself submit an article about your jumua (friday prayer) experience in the Mosque you grew up in, the one you celebrated your union in, the one you passed by on a trip or any mosque of your choice that made an impression on you for some reason. We would keep a common skeletton with a short historical part and paragraphs on prayer, architecture or whatever? Any idea ?

This will enable us to travel all over the world, through the cultural and personal prism. To give you an idea, these are the countries from where you, readers-contributors, visited the website:

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So we will have a very rich and colorful overview of the muslim communities and initiatives all over the world !

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# YOUR CONCEPT:

You got the broad picture ? Now, you design the future of AMOSQUEADAY:

Thank you dears 🙂 Looking forward to our collaboration !