‘Beyond the mosque’: Seeing Islam’s diversity reflected in worship spaces

ens_102519_FridayPrayer_main-768x576(RNS) — For more than a decade, Rizwan Mawani has been living, working and praying with Muslims in 50 different communities across 17 countries. As you’d expect, he has visited plenty of masjids, as mosques are called in Arabic, meaning “a place of prostration.”

But Mawani, a 45-year-old Canadian scholar and research consultant, whose new book is called “Beyond the Mosque: Diverse Spaces of Muslim Worship,” also spent time in Sufi khanaqas, Shia husayniyyas, Druze khalwas, Ismaili jamatkhanas as well as religious schools known as madrasas and other spaces of Islamic devotion from Canada to China.

Mawani uses these varied sacred spaces as lenses through which to offer readers a primer on the expansive histories, varied architectures and evolving ritual practices of Muslims around the world.

“While the mosque has come to predominate over our architectural assumptions and is often considered as the place of worship for Muslims, a survey of where ritual takes place … demonstrates that there are alternative venues in which Muslims pray,” Mawani wrote in the new book.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICES

A church, a synagogue and a mosque to share interfaith complex in Abu Dhabi

HigherCommittee1The United Arab Emirates unveiled plans this weekend for an interfaith complex in Abu Dhabi that will unite a church, a synagogue and a mosque.

The announcement of the three houses of worship, collectively known as the “Abrahamic Family House,” follows Pope Francis’ February visit to the UAE, the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula. During the visit, Pope Francis and the grand imam of al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, signed a declaration to form an interfaith council called The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.

The Abrahamic Family House, set to be completed on 2022, is the first initiative by the new committee, according to media reports.

The Abrahamic Family House to be built in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The Abrahamic Family House to be built in Abu Dhabi, UAE. (PRNewsfoto/The Higher Committee for Human Fraternity)

“The formation of the Committee has come at an important time and has required all peace lovers to unite and join the efforts to spread coexistence, brotherhood, and tolerance throughout the world,” Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, committee member and former advisor to el-Tayeb, said in a statement.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOX NEWS 

Why I’m taking my evangelical church to a mosque

136507_w_400I’ve been asking myself lately what it means to be a good neighbor.

I was raised in a Christian home, went to a Christian church and a Christian school, then eventually enrolled in a Christian university. I learned very well how to love and edify my Christian community. What I didn’t understand was how I was supposed to interact with those who didn’t share my theology and belief system; those who dressed, looked, and spoke differently.

What did it look like for me to love that person and edify and build them up?

I was fortunate to find that Jesus, the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), had much to say on the topic. When a lawyer asked Jesus how to get to heaven, Jesus responded to love God with everything and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Seeing some gray area in his response, the lawyer asked Jesus to define some terms. “Who is my neighbor?” the cunning lawyer asked. Jesus responded with a story about a man left for dead, who was passed along the road several times before he was saved by…a Samaritan?

Many Jews looked down on Samaritans (John 4:9). They were thought to be in a “perpetual state of uncleanness” (ESV Study Bible). I imagine the shock and horror on the crowd’s face as Jesus asked, “Who do you think the good neighbor was?”

The lawyer could barely muster the words. “The one who showed mercy,” he muttered. “Go and do likewise,” Jesus replied. In other words…go and emulate that guy.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

Christians, Muslims pray at ruins of Philippine town’s church, mosques

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St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi, Philippines, is seen May 11, 2019.  (CNS photo/Eloisa Lopez, Reuters) 

By Catholic News Service

MARAWI, Philippines (CNS) — Christians and Muslims prayed in the ruins of a church and a mosque in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, which was devastated by a five-month siege in 2017.

The prayers July 27 were led by Father Teresito Soganub, parish priest of the Marawi Catholic cathedral, who was held hostage by gunmen during the shooting war, ucanews.com reported.

“I hope that whatever happens, we can continue to journey together for peace in Mindanao,” Father Soganub said, referring to the rebuilding of places of worship in the city.

He said the Catholic cathedral, which was torched and desecrated by extremist gunmen, is a Christian symbol of “interreligious dialogue” with Muslims.

“It hurts me to see the church, where I served for years, in ruins,” a teary-eyed Father Soganub said.

The priest, together with Muslim religious leaders, also visited mosques that were damaged during the conflict. The five-month siege left a trail of death and destruction and displaced thousands of people.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LONG ISLAND CATHOLIC 

American Mosques; Third, Fourth and Fifth Spaces

meric-dagli-733474-unsplash-200x300State sponsored mosques are designed to serve a singular purpose; to provide a space for congregational religious services and prayers. In Muslim majority countries, mosques do not operate independently of political authority. The utility of the mosque is then limited, if not profoundly curtailed, within this context.

But in the United States, the mosque is not just a place to pray but also doubles as a community center. American mosques are the nerve center of the Muslim community with year round activities including cultural enrichment, social services, and Islamic education.

In secular societies, where religion is an active choice and not a passive reality, a community center style mosque with a program-driven agenda is not just an ambition but an absolute necessity.

Yet, according to the 2014 report by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), “There’s a growing narrative within the American Muslim community that paints a picture of alarming exclusion, especially for women, youth, and converts. Some mosque-goers feel increasingly disconnected from the mosque community and some have stopped going to the mosque altogether, because of it.”  In 2019, not much has changed.

Ideally, the spirit with which we approach our spaces of worship should be one that encapsulates the heart of Islam and offers its congregation the kind of inspirational energy that will help them to sustain a metaphysical rather than material view of reality.

But unfortunately, a significant number of young Muslims surveyed will tell you that their mosques are so lacking in spiritual ambiance that to keep the faith, they sometimes feel like they have to keep their distance. They are routinely disheartened and disenchanted and therefore disengaged.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS.COM

Waco mosque gets hate mail with ironic stamp in response to interfaith dinner

19225281_566454596858491_8243670641069761336_nThe Islamic Center of Waco on Tuesday said it received hate mail accusing Muslims of preying on and killing people after the organization hosted an interfaith dinner to celebrate the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.

The mosque posted a photo of the letter, complete with a “love” stamp on the front, on Facebook and countered its accusations.

“We pray for this individual to cleanse the hatred in their heart for a people whom they refuse to even meet with,” the Islamic center said in the post. “What an eternal suffering it must be to live your life in fear and hate of a group of people you don’t even know.”

The sender tore a brief article from the Waco Tribune-Herald about an upcoming interfaith dinner at the mosque, where anyone from the community could join Muslims as they broke their fast during Ramadan, the sacred month of self-improvement.
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At Muslim Sunday school, learning about Islam — and correcting misconceptions

muslim_sunday_school-2-mansoorOff a highway in central Connecticut is the mosque with a 400-student Muslim Sunday school.

More guards are on patrol these days. And for the older students in the transition class, talking about Islamophobia is not only welcomed, but encouraged. The teenagers are in their final years of high school and will be heading off to college soon.

So before they head out into the “real world,” they aren’t just learning the tenets of Islam, said Dr. Reza Mansoor, their teacher on a recent Sunday. He’s coaching them on how to defend their faith from misconceptions.

“By the way, As-Salaam-Alaikum,” Mansoor greeted them. “If you use an Arabic term and you don’t translate, dinged one point, OK? So As-Salaam-Alaikum means God’s peace be with you all.”

Mansoor is president of the mosque, called Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, and he is big on translating Islamic phrases and words. Take jihad, for instance. It means a struggle — usually a personal, spiritual one — but if you hear jihad in the media, he said, it’s almost always associated with extremists who commit violence in the name of Islam, like the 9/11 terrorists.

“If you use jihadist for terrorist, you unfortunately give the terrorists… a position much higher than what they are,” Mansoor told his students.

People tend to fear what they don’t know. And when Islam is viewed as a threat, that makes Muslims a target.

“Just imagine someone calling you a terrorist and telling you to go home,” Aissa Bensalem, 17, said during the class. “I had one of my friends say that they were scared to come to the masjid because they were afraid that they were going to be shot on.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CTMIRROR.ORG