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Islam in New York City - Essay Example

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In order to gain an immersion experience in a mosque, I decided to visit the mosque at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. Although the Center is a mosque, it is indeed much more than a religious building. It comprises a school, a library, a lecture hall, a museum, and a residence for its Imams…
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Islam in New York City
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Download file to see previous pages Knowing these objectives in advance, I recognized the willingness of the Center to provide a comprehensive and immersive experience for the pursuit of truth for its own sake. Since the Center is devoted to enlightening the public, I knew they would be open to providing instruction and first-hand experience. In addition, I gained much from not only visiting the mosque itself, but also touring the other parts of the Center, which are an asset to Muslims living in Manhattan. These experiences represented an opportunity to apply what I have learned about the history, doctrine, and practices of Islam in the classroom. Before visiting the Center, I phoned the front desk to inform them that I would like to visit the Center, its mosque and other parts. They quickly agreed after realizing that my visit was for the purpose of education. I came on a Sunday, which is a day that the Center offers classes for children and adults. I did not know that these classes are open to non-Muslims as well. I was impressed by the inclusiveness of the mosque, especially in the fact that every student (regardless of their religious affiliation) learned Qur’anic Arabic, prayers, and general Islamic teachings touching upon different aspects of life. If I had more time and had planned to take one of these courses ahead of time, I would have. I learned that the Center is in the final stages of building a full-time Islamic school by seeing the final touch-up work on the building. Before coming to the mosque, I knew to respect the thought that a Muslim should wear clean, loose-fitting clothes that cover ankles and wrists. Respectful of this tradition, I approached the mosque in the morning. The doors leading up to the mosque were very large and constructed from a hard material. I noticed immediately that the mosque itself was very large and stood apart from the rest of the building. I understood why this might be because, throughout history and still today, mosques serve as both social and political centers for Muslims. The integration of religious and political life means that the same building serves two very essential functions, which was even more reason to be respectful when visiting the site. When I entered the mosque portion of the Center, I immediately noticed the shoe racks against the wall to my left and my right. I thought this was logical, given the need for worshippers to put away their shoes or slippers to pray. I am still unsure why specifically Muslims remove their shoes when they enter a mosque: whether it is because of hygienic reasons to protect the rugs in the prayer chamber or because it is holy ground and a sign of admiration for the surroundings Regardless, I removed my shoes and continued into the reception area of the mosque. I noticed also very classical vases and pottery that was symbolic of Islamic history. In some of these pots and vases were plants that seem to have come straight from the Middle East. I saw this as an acknowledgement of Islam’s long and storied history in the arts, which I recognized as overall very important the Center as far as it is concerned with promoting knowledge and awareness of Islamic history. Also in the reception area was the Lillah box, which collects charity given voluntarily. The Lillah represents more giving than the Zakah, which is obligatory giving. The proceeds from the Lillah ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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