Saturday October 15th, Providence students went on an Avodah to visit two Islamic mosques in Los Angeles, CA. The purpose was to learn more about the religion of Islam as well as the presence of Islam in Southern California.
Students visited the Islamic Center of Southern California and the King Fahad Mosque. The Islamic Center is an independent organization that is enthusiastic not just about providing a place of worship for other Muslims, but also for engaging the community. Every Saturday, the Center organizes a food bank to provide for those in need. The Center has also established the New Horizon School System in Pasadena which is available for all children. The school is yet another way the Center seeks to embrace the community. Its purpose is to build a “grassroots American Muslim Community” starting with the children’s education so that the future generation is capable of building “a prosperous and just society” (islamctr.org).
The Islamic Center is considered to be liberal and progressive by the surrounding Muslim communities. The Center does not practice gender segregation which makes it one of the major gender-inclusive mosques in the United States. Women participate on the Board of Directors and are encouraged to participate in all other areas of mosque life (The Mosque in Morgantown).
The King Fahad Mosque was the second stop. The mosque was donated as a gift to the Muslim community of Southern California by Prince Abdulaziz Bin Fahad of Saudi Arabia in 1993 (King Fahad Mosque). At this location, students observed the afternoon call to prayer. This mosque was more conservative than the Islamic Center, so the female students wore scarves to cover their heads. Different rooms were also available so that men and women could pray separately.
Despite the varying degrees of progressivism and conservatism between these two mosques, the ultimate goal they both strive for is an American Muslim identity. They are eager to present the Islamic faith and demonstrate patriotism, especially after the events of September 11.
This Avodah certainly appeared to be an eye-opening experience for many of the Providence students. Chas Nagel, a junior, said that he was surprised at how relative the Muslims were since the Qur’an, the holy scriptures of Islam, has so many laws on different things. Emily De Boer, a sophomore, explained that she liked being able to ask Islamic people about their faith. It gave her a different perspective of Islam to see the individuals behind a religion she had only vaguely understood. This Avodah excursion provided the students of Providence Christian College a glimpse of Islam in America.
Amanullah, Shahed. “Pushing the Envelope Without Breaking It.” The Mosque In Morgantown. Web. 20 October 2011.
Islamic Center Of Southern California. The Islamic Center of Southern California, 2009. Web. 20 October 2011.
The King Fahad Mosque. The King Fahad Mosque, 2011. Web. 20 October 2011.