The Crescent Report

April 14, 2009

MAHDI BRAY SPEAKS: America’s Socio-Political Mosques – IslamOnline Feature Article

Filed under: American-Politics, civil-rights, Islamophobia — Tags: , , , — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 11:56 pm

mahdi_bray_collage_648By Muhammed Qasim, IOL Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC (IOL) Sun. April 12, 2009 — In America mosques are much more than a place where Muslims perform their prayers.

They are rather centers considered the community’s spiritual home, cultural and social hub and political awareness center all in one.

“The basic functions of Islamic centers particularly in America are to accommodate the religious, spiritual, social and civic needs of its members,” Imam Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of MAS Freedom, told IslamOnline.net.

“In short, da`wah, education and community services.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali, a California-based writer and scholar, maintains that mosques and Islamic centers play a very important role for the American Muslim community.

“Many Islamic centers have spacious halls where community members can hold their social events,” he notes.

“Some Islamic centers have Islamic schools where Muslim kids study from kindergarten to high school.”

There is not accurate count of the number of mosques in the US, home to from six to seven million Muslims, but it is estimated at nearly 2,000 mosques nationwide.

The first mosque was reportedly built by Albanian Muslims in 1915 in Maine.

Currently, the America’s largest mosque is reportedly the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan, accommodating over 3,000 people.

Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan Chapter, contends that mosques in the US have much more responsibilities than those in Muslim countries.

“The basic role of the Islamic centers in America is not only to serve the spiritual needs of the community but to serve as a hub for socialization.”

He believes mosques play a key role in healing the historically deep socio-ethnic divides within the Muslim community.

“The community can become more unified as long as Islamic centers communicate with each other and avoid isolation based upon ethnic variations.”

Political

The mosques and Islamic centers also play a key role in raising political awareness within the Muslim community.

“As a Muslim activist I can not overemphasize the importance of the impact that Islamic centers, imams, and sermons can play in raising awareness among Muslims,” said Bray.

“In fact, Islamic centers are the most crucial component within the Islamic Community in providing this function.”

Being an imam himself, Sheikh Shaker Elsayed of Dar Al-Hijra mosque and Islamic center in Falls Church, Virginia, affirms that political awareness is a crucial part of his mosque’s activities.

“We have been extremely involved in the political process,” he told IOL.

“We are working with the Governor, Senators and Congress members so that to ask questions and inquire about issues on behalf of our community.”

During the recent presidential elections, mosques played an important role in mobilizing Muslims to register and vote.

Some 89 percent of mosques’ leaders believe Muslims should be more involved in the political process, according to a comprehensive study conducted by CAIR.

Walid, the Michigan CAIR leader, believes the political awareness role of mosques can be the weapon to battle Islamophobia, which has worsened in the US ever since the 9/11 attacks.

“The Islamic centers have a key role in creating awareness in all issues that affect life from the importance of education to the need for Muslims to be civically engaged in the broader society, which is the best way to counter Islamophobia.”

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