The LADO Group - Latino Muslims

In the name of Allah SWT

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The Latino Muslim Voice

The April-June 2004 newsletter features:

1. Quotes of the Month
2. "Salaat" By Hasan Rabani
3. "Teens: It Is Hard" By a Muslim teenager
4. "Latino Open House in New Orleans" By C.K. Harpole
5. "Al-Andalus (Andalusia), 2002" By Sharif
6. "The Virgin Mary in Islam" By Juan Galvan
7. "La Virgen María en Islam" Por Juan Galvan
8. "The Future Is For Islam" By Shaykh Muhammad Qutb
9. "Vida Musulmana en Estados Unidos"
10. "Common Questions About Mosques"

Quotes of the Month

"Nay - whoever submits his whole self, to God and is a doer of good - he will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear nor shall they grieve." - Qur'an 2:112.

"Say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned: 'Do ye (also) submit yourselves?' If they do, they are in right guidance, but if they turn back, thy duty is to convey the Message." - Quran 3:20.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "A time will come when the murderer will not know why he has committed the murder, and the victim will not know why he has been killed." - Muslim 1356.

Whenever the Prophet (pbuh) spoke a sentence (said a thing), he (pbuh) used to repeat it thrice so that the people could understand it properly from him and whenever he (pbuh) asked permission to enter, (he knocked the door) thrice with greeting. - Bukhari 1.95, narrated by Anas (ra).

"Under the American Constitution this Center, this place of worship is as welcome as could be any similar edifice of any religion. Americans would fight with all their strength for your right to have your own church and worship according to your own conscience." - President Dwight Eisenhower, at the opening of the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C, 1957.

Salaat

By Hasan Rabani

Salaat is a basic pillar of islam
It is mentioned again and again in the Quran
The importance of prayer is in seven hundred places
But in the mosque, do you see many young faces?
Praying in the mosque gives 27 times the reward
Pray with the intention that you’re pleasing your Lord
When you walk to the mosque, just remember within
You gain a reward and you’re losing a sin
For every step towards your destination

This is a blessing from Allah swt to his creation
The Quran has foretold, that before you are dead
‘say your prayers before your prayers are said’
our prophet saws said about those who miss prayer
fifteen punishments they'll have to bear
six in this life, three on passing away
three in the grave and three on judgement day
for missing fajr at the start of the day
the glow of the face is taken away
the punishment for missing the salaat of zohar
there will be no blessing from your income no more
for missing asr, the middle prayer of the day
the strength of the body is taken away
by missing maghrib, remember one thing
you will not be benefited by your offspring
for missing ishaa at the end of the day
the peace of your sleep will be taken away

While seeing elders pray at the mosque door
remember as a young person, your reward is 70 times more
read salaat punctually, read it with care
on judgement day, we will be asked about prayer
that’s the first question, so take this advice
salaat is the key to paradise
spread this word to muslim sisters and brothers
salaat will separate muslims from others
salaat is a blessing which Allah swt gave
it will intercede and protect us in the grave

When it comes eventually, to the day of rising
the believers body washed by wudu will be shining
for the believers who are regular in offering salaat
it becomes a light of guidance on the pul-siraat
don’t miss the prayer asr at any cost
it will be like your family and wealth is lost
the ayat-ul-kursi after fard, should be read
it will lead you to paradise (insha Allah) after you’re dead
not reading salaat will lead you to hell
surrounded by serpants in a deep well
read your salaat whilst still in your prime
and read the durood shareef in your spare time
you’ll get ten rewards, the Lord (insha Allah) will accept your pleas
and you’ll be closer to Allah swt by ten more degrees
so embrace islam with all your heart
and remember the key is reading salaat

Teens: It Is Hard

By a 15 year old Muslim teenager from Dallas, TX

It is hard,
So hard.
The stress,
The expectation,
The obligation:

"Uphold the family image"
"Uphold Islam"
"Make something of yourself"
"Be successful"
"Get better Grades"
"Prove to your teachers you can"
"Be an example to your siblings
    and to other Muslim women"
"You have more opportunities then I ever had"
"Why aren't you studying"
"Study harder"
"Do your homework"
"Listen to your teachers"
"What are they teaching you"
"You just have to work harder"
"You don't take school serious enough"
"You can be anything you want....
    anything at all......"

But, what do I want to be
What do I want to study
Can I please them all?

Can not be a failure
Can not fail
Can not fall.

Oh Allah, as the Prophet prayed for his cousin
Abdullah, please

"O Lord, make (Me) acquire a deep understanding of
the religion of
Islam and instruct
(Me) in the meaning and interpretation of things."

Grant me Patience,
Grant me strength,
Grant me knowledge

Let me be guided to the straight path
Choose a good career
Please my parents
Propogate Islam

Please Allah do not let me fail
Do not let me fall.

Latino Open House in New Orleans

By C.K. Harpole

The Latino Open House was held on Sunday, April 25, 2004 from 3:00PM to 5:00PM. It was one of the first events of its kind to take place in our area. The open house took place at Masjid Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. It was sponsored by Muslim American Society of New Orleans.

The Latino Muslims are a group that follows Ahl-sunnah wal-jamaat. Sister Jenny Yanez hosted the event with the help of the Islamic community. Her mother is from Spain but lived in Cuba for many years. Her father and stepfather are Cuban. Her grandparents were also mixed Spanish and Cuban. She and her sister were raised in Miami. Her mother, stepfather, sister, all reverted to Islam, albeit at different times. Alhamdulillah.

Sr. Jenny's presentationPrayer area

Sister Jenny's talk consisted of an in-depth Power Point presentation, which included basic information about Islam. What is Islam? Who are Muslims? She also discussed Tawheed, the oneness of Allah (SWT), using excerpts from Surah Mariam to describe Esa (AS). She also gave an overview of the Five Pillars. The presentation included various pictures of Latino Muslims in the United States praying, etc found at HispanicMuslims.com among other sites. The presentation was done totally in Spanish. Sister Jenny and other sisters did a great job.

Although we were prepared, we couldn't prepare for the weather. The open house went on as planned even though there was a tornado warning, a thunderstorm, and some flooding in the area. At one point, the lights went out for a few seconds. A few attendees arrived soaking wet; however, the event was a success and went on without any major setbacks. Alhamdullilah, looking on the bright side, the weather allowed us to speak one-on-one with our guests.

LatinosTalking about Islam

We gave away several Spanish Qurans. One gentleman told someone that he had been searching for a Spanish Quran for some time, and was happy to have finally received one. Many cultural and Islamic items were on display, and posters were everywhere. At the end of the presentation the guests were treated to nice tuna sandwiches, fruit and cheese trays, tres leches, chips and dips, and juices. The visitors were very nice, and open to Islam.

Spanish Quran

We consider the event to be a success even though the turnout was lower than expected. The weather played a part in the outcome. We advertised in two local community papers, one was "El Vocero" which is the largest bilingual paper in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. We also sent personal invitations in the mail. Word of mouth was most effective for us. New Orleans has a large Latino population, especially from Honduras.

Posters about IslamCultural display

We expected a larger turnout among the Latino women. Many brothers who are married to Muslim or nonMuslim Latinas didn't bring them to the event. Many new Muslims need to learn about Islam as much as the nonMuslims do. Perhaps when we have another Latino open house, more emphasis could be placed on personal involvement by bringing family members and friends to the open house. How to make future events relevant and important to them is a question to answer before next time, insha'Allah.

Cultural displayCultural display

We did get two very interested brothers who would not have otherwise found us. One Latina who is married to a Muslim came seemingly to please him. Jenny sat with her personally and talked to her about Maria (RA) because she believed praying to Maria (RA) was important. She discussed the virgin birth with her. "Would Mariam (RA) ask someone to pray to her or to pray to the Creator of this miracle?" The Latina began to get interested after being asked this question.

We received good feedback from our guests. They were very grateful and gave their e-mail addresses so that we may contact them in the future. I hope that all who participated receive great rewards for their efforts. Jazakum AllahuKhairan.

The Power Point presentation (10.7MB) is available online at www.nolashura.org. Then, downloads link -> presentations link. Or, you may download the file now.

Al-Andalus (Andalusia), 2002

By Sharif

Online under "On the Road"
http://apacheeagles.tripod.com/caravansaryofpeace/id10.html
www.caravansary.de.vu

Prophet Muhammad brought home to the Muslims in a famous hadith to travel for the sake of ´ilm (education, science) even if this journey takes us to China. Brother Bakr and I made a 10-day-trip to Andalusia in southern Spain; the Arabs gave it the name Al-Andalus.

After having had a nice flight from Dusseldorf to Seville alhamdulillah we looked for a tourist information center so that we could arm ourselves with city maps. As we are perfect backpack travelers, we already had lots of information from the internet about the Andalusia sightseeing, important places, history especially places of/with Islamic heritage, because we were two adventurous young men on the traces of the medieval Moors, the Andalusian Super Civilization, and wanted to widen our intellectual horizon.

Time had proceeded, and we had to look for a masjid in order not to miss Juma Prayer (Friday Prayer). As we didn't see the sign indicating the location of the mosque at a parking lot, I decided to ask the guy working on the parking lot and the salesmen in a store selling Christian articles (like crucifixes, statues of Mary etc.) and all pretended not to know where the mosque might be. It might be important to mention that this ominous mosque was just 20 meters from the store. So I don't know whether I had to hear the answer "No sé!" -I don't know!- just because of simple arrogance and ignorance or because of an anti-Islamic conspiracy on a profane level.

However, after Salatu Juma with Arab, African, Spanish, Azerbaijani Muslims (God knows from what other part of the world), we approached some brothers and explained that we are two students from Germany, that we got the address of the Mosque from the sisters from Berlin, who had visited the community a couple of days prior, and that we were looking for accommodation adequate for our financial situation. After some talks that we could not follow (as our Spanish skills are not that good), brother Mohammed finally invited us to his home. May Allah be pleased with him and his Spanish brother for accepting us in their house. Now that we had a place to sleep, we were ready to explore the city that gained popularity through Miguel de Cervantes's Carmen etc. Counter to the traditional way of visiting a city, the first sightseeing tour then direct visiting-by-walking, we counted on our sneakers and juvenile power and walked every corner of Seville Downtown/Old Town/Center visiting one marked spot of the map after the other within the next days.

One of the most prominent places surely is the world's third largest Cathedral located in historic Muslim-Jewish center Barrio Santa Cruz. In ancient times the Romans had built a building there, the Moors built the Main Mosque at the very place in the second half of the 12th century including a court and the 60-meters, or 2000-ft, minarah, named Giralda (that are still existent). Today this tower of the Cathedral is the symbol of the city. After the Reconquista by the Christians in 1248, the Mosque was transformed into a Cathedral, and in the 15-16th century the gothic Cathedral was added. There lies the tomb of Christopher Columbus. During the Renaissance and the Barock further constructions were added.

Right across the street are the Reales Alcazares. This Castle/Palace was probably built in the 9th century as a shield against the Normans. During Khalif Mohammed V's period a palace was added, the main part followed with the Christian Reconquista under King Pedro the Cruel. On the occasion of the alleged discovery of America through Columbus, the Casa de la Contratacion was built. On the backside facing the main street are the wonderful gardens with an all so typical Andalusian water supply system, fountains etc. The unforgettable smell of the flowers and trees were a tempting invitation for a nice walk and often made us do mental time travels to epochs long gone, trying to imagine how Seville must have flourished in its best times under Moorish rule.

But not only do the Palace Gardens offer such intense natural impact. Near these monuments, in front of the Plaza de Espana lies the Central Park of Seville, as I call it. The only difference to Manhattan is that here we can see palms and orange trees; a place where couples are having a romantic time among the flowers and birds singing, where 'sun worshippers' are lying on the lawn, where students poke their noses in the books under the shadows of high trees and where tourists from the cold north ask themselves what on earth took them to boring Westfalia in Germany. The Torre de Oro is worth being seen, too, as the Moors built it at the end of the 13th century as a watchtower at the end of a city wall ashore of the river Guadalquivir. The octagonal building is a marine museum today, before it was used as storage for the gold that had been imported from the Americas. From the Torre starts the above-mentioned sightseeing tour by bus. Visiting the numerous church towers that were minarets first helped us to get a vague impression of Muslim Seville. Among these former mosques/now churches are the Iglesia de Santa Catalina (neighboring 'our' mosque, see above), and the Iglesia de Omnium Sanctorum from the 14th century, the Iglesia de San Marcos, Iglesia del Salvador; as Muslim Seville was home to three cultures, one might want to see the former synagogue Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blanca, too.

We continued our trip on a Greyhound...excuse me...regular traveling bus to my favorite city of Andalusia: Granada. At the bus terminal, we encountered a Muslim-looking group, which turned out to be a Hispanic-American tourist group mainly from Los Angeles. We greeted each other (AsSalamu Alaykum) and similar to the procedure in Seville I asked the brothers and sisters for information on accommodation in Granada. The Hispanic brothers and sisters kindly invited us to accompany them to their hotel, where the friendly owner showed us some cheap pensions that would not let us be broke. What a coincidence or shall I say tawafuq? We met our Hispanic brothers and sisters several times during our walking, city exploration. So we decided to start the next morning with a Salatu Jamah (with the community) in their hotel.

The following day we went to the peak (when I say peak/highest point, I mean it) of our Granada stay: the Alhambra. We sold our tickets that we had bought in Seville in order not to wait too long in line with some tourists, because our brothers and sisters from the United States invited us to tour the Moorish monument. May Allah be pleased with them. The Alhambra (Arabic: red, because of the reddish ground) was built in the 14th century and practically evolved to a City during the blossoming time of the Nasrid-Dynasty with both military and private sections. The cedar woods ceilings, that represent the seven heavens, the marble pillars, the gardens, the walls with Qur'anic scriptures are very impressive.

Together with Brother Mario we separated from the group, and, being amazed at the architectural masterpiece, shifted back mentally to the times of the legendary Moorish ruling as we had done a few days before in Seville. We had a great time getting to know each other in a surrounding so fabulous with the enchanting atmosphere of calligraphies, gardens, comforting odors and colors by telling anecdotes and personal thoughts. Our Mexican Brother every once in a while said: "Let's pray two rakat for Peace!" or "Come on! Two rakat for this or that." So we searched for adequate spots where we could roll out our rugs. One time Mario and Bakr would pray, while I observed the observers. Another time the brother from L.A. was my Imam, while the third inspected the faces of passing tourists. Reactions ranged from pointing-at-us-with-an-index-finger while repeatedly looking back again at us to taking photographs, respectfully acknowledging us, and calling upon silence while passing. Hours of conversation passed on the tower at the west end of the palace overlooking the city in the valley, the surrounding hills, and the mountains far out.

Although this was my second visit to Granada, the first stay was by far not as educative. This time, we didn't solely learn about the historical-cultural aspects of Andalusia, but also about the Hispanic Ummah (Community) from our Latino brothers and sisters. May Allah be pleased with them.

Our third target was Cordoba. This city, too, I had visited before, and I must admit that I didn't grow to like more than on my first visit, in spite of the relatively increased background information on the city. Yet, this is not just a town.

In the 8th century the emirate was proclaimed, and in the 10th century the caliphate was. The Umayyad-Dynasty ceased around 1000 years ago. This city raised great personalities such as the Jewish Maimonides and the Muslim Ibn Rushd. There is no doubt that Cordoba is a must-see for every Andalusia traveler. The famous Mezquita from the 8th century with a 22.000m² is the world's greatest mosque. This mosque has more than 100 marble and granite pillars. The mosque's direction is toward Damascus rather than Mecca. The mosque's mihrab (prayer niche) is exocentric because the mosque is built westward due to the natural and architectural limits, the River Guadalquivir in the south and the Caliph's Palace in the east.

Indeed, the Mezquita has many reasons for being in the list of most unique buildings. In 1236 the Mezquita was transformed into a Cathedral after the Christians reconquered Cordoba. Today Christian masses still take place there; Muslims on the other hand are not allowed to perform their prayers there. Brother Mario had told us in Granada what we would experience in Cordoba. A brother who prefers being unnamed was determined to pray a few rakat in the Mezquita/Catedral. After making sure that there was no guard, he faced Mecca on his rug and started to perform salat when suddenly, out of the blue a guard rushed towards the 'delinquent.'

From the distance, I couldn't hear what the guard was saying, but I was able to take a picture of this interesting motive. We appreciate the guard's respect, because he did not interrupt the prayer violently. He didn't only wait the salah to be finished; he also calmly waited till the brother ended his Dua's. We left the Old Mosque/Cathedral, and visited the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (Palace of the Christian kings), where the Moorish caliph Boabdil (Abu Abdullah) was imprisoned, the Torre de Calahorra, an Arab fort on the counter side of the Roman bridge close to the Mezquita, where today is an interesting museum for Cordoba's history besides other places.

Apart from the historical attraction, I was deeply impacted by the result of our search for an accommodation. Brother Mario had handed us the phone number of a Cordoban brother. After the Juma Prayer in a picturesque mosque in the midst of a little park with a fountain in the center and white doves that are apparently famous in Andalusia, we approached the Imam and explained for the third time during our trip that we were looking for 'meager accommodation.' Because we were acquaintances of the Los Angeles brother, the Imam permitted us to stay in the mosque, may Allah be pleased with him. Again as in the other two cities before, we were allowed to learn that there is still true brotherhood among Muslims although this is the 21st century. Muslims do continue to try to practice in everyday life what the Prophet said in his famous last Khutba: "Every Muslim is a brother to a Muslim." We were allowed to see that this brotherly care doesn't necessarily have to be a debris of days long gone. May Allah let the Ummah be One Community again.

We returned to Seville, finally, where we met some Malaysian brothers and sisters who were students from England. After all the aid that we had received, the least we could do was take them to the same tourist information center where we had begun our voyage. Upon arriving at locked doors, we gave them our own map and some information. Brother Bakr and I intended to spend the last night at the airport terminal, but a policeman woke us up at about 1 a.m. because the terminal was about to be closed. With a twinkle, he told us we could stay in the elevator near the parking lot. We grabbed our luggage and slept in the elevator in our sleeping bags.

Peace be unto you! Sea la paz sobre ti!

The Virgin Mary in Islam

By Juan Galvan

Many people may be surprised that Muslims love Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the Quran, no woman is given more attention than Mary. Mary receives the most attention of any woman mentioned in the Quran even though all the Prophets with the exception of Adam had mothers. Of the Quran's 114 chapters, she is among the eight people who have a chapter named after them. The nineteenth chapter of the Quran is named after her, Mariam. Mariam means Mary in Arabic. The third chapter in the Quran is named after her father, Imran. Chapters Mariam and Imran are among the most beautiful chapters in the Quran. Mary (peace be upon her) is the only woman specifically named in the Quran. An authentic Haddith states that the Prophet said, "The superiority of 'Aisha to other ladies is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. meat and bread dish) to other meals. Many men reached the level of perfection, but no woman reached such a level except Mary, the daughter of Imran and Asia, the wife of Pharaoh." (Bukhari 4.643). Indeed, both Mary and Pharoah's wife are an example (Quran 66:11-12). The Virgin Mary plays a very significant role in Islam. She is an example and a sign for all people.

In the Quran, Mary's story begins while she is still in her mother's womb. The mother of Mary, said: "O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things." (Quran 3:35). She wanted the baby in her womb to serve only the Creator. When Mary was delivered, she said: "O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!" (Quran 3:36). She had expected her baby to be a male child who would grow up to be a scholar or religious leader. However, God had a better plan. God is the best of planners. Quran 3:36 continues "…and God knew best what she brought forth- 'And no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mariam, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from Satan, the Rejected.'" Mariam literally means "maidservant of God."

In Quran 3:37, God states that He accepted Mary as her mother had asked. He made Mary grow in purity and beauty. She was assigned to the care of a priest named Zacharias. This is interesting considering few women were given this opportunity. "Every time that he entered (her) chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: 'O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?' She said: 'From God. For God provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.'" (Quran 3:37). Upon hearing Mary's answer, "There did Zakariya pray to his Lord, saying: 'O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure: for Thou art He that heareth prayer!'" (Quran 3:38). Although his wife was barren and he was very old, God blesses Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth with John. John is known as "John the Baptist" in the Bible. Zacharias was skeptical after the angels announced John's birth. The response to his skepticism was "Doth God accomplish what He willeth" (Quran 3:40). John would become a noble and chaste Prophet as the angels had stated (Quran 3:39).

The Quran discusses Mary's miraculous pregnancy as well. "Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects." (Quran 19:16-17). After seeing the angel, she said: "I seek refuge from thee to (God) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear God." (Quran 19:18). The angel Gabriel responded: "Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a pure son." (Quran 19:19). Her next response is expected. She asked: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?" (Quran 19:20). The Angel Gabriel said: "So (it will be): thy Lord saith, 'That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us.' It is a matter (so) decreed." (Quran 19:21). Mary then becomes pregnant.

Jesus (peace be upon him) is a Prophet and a Messenger. A Messenger is a Prophet who is given revelation from God. Whereas the Torah was revealed to Moses, the Gospel was revealed to Jesus. Messengers are a mercy, guidance, and sign from God. "And God will teach him (Jesus) the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel, and (appoint him) as a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): 'I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God's leave. And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I bring the dead into life, by God's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe. (I have come to you) to attest the Torah which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you. I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear God, and obey me. It is God Who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a Way that is straight.'" (Quran 3:48-51). God appointed messengers to help us answer questions such as: What happens after I die? What's right and wrong? Does a supernatural world exist? What's the purpose of my creation? Jesus was calling people to the worship of only God. Only by God's leave was Jesus able to perform miracles. "When Jesus found unbelief on their (the disciples) part he said: 'Who will be my helpers to (the work of) God?" Said the disciples: "We are God's helpers: We believe in God, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.'" (Quran 3:52).

After conceiving Jesus, Mary went away with the baby to a distant place (Quran 19:22). "And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She cried (in her anguish): 'Ah! would that I had died before this! would that I had been a thing forgotten!'" (Quran 19:23). "But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): 'Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee. So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man, say, 'I have vowed a fast to (God) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.'" (Quran 19:24-26). Joseph, the magi, and manger are not mentioned in the Quran. God was Mary's only Provider. Muslims do not accept the virgin birth of Jesus as evidence of Jesus' divinity. "The similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: 'Be.' And he was." (Quran 3:59). Adam's creation was even more miraculous because he was born without father and mother.

When she brings the baby to her people, they said: "O Mary! truly a strange thing has thou brought! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!" (Quran 19:27-8). Mary then points to the baby. They said: "How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?" (Quran 19:29). Then a miracle occurs that is not mentioned in the Bible. In defense of his mother, Jesus said: "I am indeed a servant of God. He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; (He hath made me) kind to my mother, and not overbearing or unblest; So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!" (Quran 19:30-33). The virgin birth of Jesus was a sign. "And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples." (Quran 21:91).

All previous Prophets confirmed the oneness of God, Tawheed. Whereas the Holy Trinity is the fundamental concept of God in Christianity, Tawheed is the fundamental concept of God in Islam. God exists independent of religion. Muslims do not believe in the concept of Holy Trinity (Quran 5:73). God is not Jesus (Quran 5:72). On the Day of Judgment, when Jesus is asked if he had called people to worship him and his mother as two gods, Jesus will say: "Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden." (Quran 5:116). People should not worship any of God's creation, including Jesus and Mary. We must not assign any of God's creation His divine attributes and characteristics. "He is God the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful. All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise." (Qur'an 59:24).

Although God can do all things, He only does things that are consistent with His fundamental nature. Begetting a son is not consistent with God's magnificent nature (Quran 19:92, Quran 19:35). Consistent with His fundamental nature is forgiveness. Although Adam and Eve could no longer live in the Paradise, God forgave Adam and Eve for their sin after they sincerely repented (Quran 2:35-37). We are responsible for our own deeds and will not be punished for the deeds of another person (Quran 53:38-42). Therefore, Muslims reject the doctrine of original sin. Although Adam and Eve were punished, God would still be merciful by sending Guidance to mankind. "We said: 'Get down all of you from this place (the Paradise), then whenever there comes to you Guidance from Me, and whoever follows My Guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve.'" (Quran 2:38).

Another Prophet with a message similar to Jesus' would later be born in Arabia in the sixth century. He also called people to the worship of only God. Although unable to read and write, Muhammad (peace be upon him) would recite beautiful verses of the Quran as they were revealed to him. The Quran is a beautiful miracle, a sign, a mercy, a warner, and a guidance for all people. Muhammad is the last Prophet from a line of Prophets that included Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them). All Prophets were models for righteous living. Muhammad's Sunnah, his sayings, example, and traditions, is also considered revelation. His Sunnah is expressed in various books of Haddith. "Indeed in the Messenger of God you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) God and the Last Day, and remembers God much." (Quran 33:21).

When people hear the word "Islam," they usually think of the organized religion of Islam that began with the Prophet Muhammad. However in Arabic, the word Islam comes from the root "salema" which means peace, purity, submission, and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means peace and purity achieved by submitting to the will of God and obedience to His law. Muslims are those who submit. Muslims believe that all those who submitted to the will of God by following the divine revelation of previous Messengers were themselves Muslims. So coming from this understanding, Muslims believe that we are part of one continuing faith community with Jesus and Mary. "Behold! the angels said: 'O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations. O Mary! worship thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down.'" (Quran 3:42-43). Mary, Jesus, and the disciples were all "Muslims" because they submitted themselves to God.

God created all people to worship Him and to live life based on His teachings and guidance. "And hold fast, all together, by the Rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God's favor on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His Signs clear to you that ye may be guided." (Quran 3:103). "If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost." (Quran 3:85). We accomplish this by bearing witness to God's oneness and accepting His final revelation in our daily lives. "O ye who believe! Fear God as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam." (Quran 3:102). There is none worthy of worship but God, and Muhammad is His messenger.

End Note:
While writing about the Virgin Mary, I wanted to avoid as much confusion as possible among nonMuslims. My article was written with a nonMuslim audience in mind. Consequently, I used English terms and figures familiar to Christians rather than those in Arabic. For example, "Isa" means Jesus in Arabic, and "Yahya" means John in Arabic. Allah literally means "The God" in Arabic. When referring to God, Muslims prefer the term "Allah" to assert His oneness. I also avoided using terms of respectability commonly used among Muslims such as SWT, PBUH, SAWS, RA, and AS. I apologize if I have offended anyone.

La Virgen María en Islam

Por Juan Galvan

Mucha gente se sorprendería al ver el amor que los Musulmanes sienten por la Virgen María, la madre de Jesús. En el Corán, a ninguna otra mujer se le da más atención que a María. Ella recibe más atención que a todos los Profetas con la excepción de Adán. En los 114 capítúlos del Corán, María esta entre las ocho personas en tener un capítúlo a su nombre. El decimonoveno capítúlo del Corán se llama Mariam, en honor a la Virgen María. 'Mariam' significa María en Árabe. El tercer capítúlo del Corán se llama Amran, el cuál es el padre de María. Los capítúlos de Mariam y Amran son de los capítúlos más bellos de todo el Corán. María (que en paz descanse) es la única mujer específicamente nombrada en el Corán. Existe un Hadiz auténtico en el cuál el Profeta menciona que: "La superioridad de Aisha con respecto a otras mujeres es como la superioridad de Tharid (un platillo de pan y carne) con respecto a otros platillos. Muchos hombres alcanzan el nivel de perfección, pero ninguna mujer ha alcanzado ese nivel a excepción de María, hija de Amran y Asia, y la esposa del Faraón." (Bukhari 4.643). Verdaderamente, María y la esposa del Faraón son un verdadero ejemplo (Corán 6:11-12). La Virgen María posee un papel muy significativo en la religión del Islám. Ella es un ejemplo y una guía para la humanidad.

En el Corán, la historia de María comienza cuando ella todavía esta en el vientre de su madre. La madre de María dijo: "¡Señor! Yo te ofrezco en voto lo que hay en mi vientre. Aceptalo de mi. Tú eres ciertamente el Oyente y el Omnisciente." (Corán 3:35). Ella deseaba a ese bebé en su vientre solo para servir a su creador. Cuando dio a luz a María ella dijo: "Señor, yo he dado a luz a una hija.." (Corán 3:36). Ella esperaba tener a un varón quien al crecer sería un líder religioso. Sin embargo, Dios tenía para ella un plan mejor. Dios es el que mejor planea. "….y Dios sabía bien lo que ella había dado a luz. El varón no es como la niña. Yo la he llamado María y yo la coloco, asi como su descendencia, bajo Tú proteccion contra Satanas el expulsado." (Continuacion de Corán 3:36) María literalmente significa Servidora de Dios.

En el Corán 3:37, Dios confirma que el ha aceptado a María tal como su madre lo ha pedido. Dios ha hecho que María crezca en belleza y pureza. Fué asignada al cuidado de un Pastor de nombre Zacarías. Lo cuál es muy importante ya que muy pocas mujeres tienen esa gran oportúnidad. "….Cada vez que Zacarías entraba a verla en el santúario, encontraba cerca de ella alimentos. El dijo: ¡Oh María! ¿De donde te vienen esos alimentos? Ella respondio: Me vienen de Dios. Dios da favores a quien desea sin medida." (Corán 3:37). Al escuchar la respuesta de María, "Entonces Zacarías suplico a su Señor exclamando: ¡Señor Mio! Dame, de Tú parte, una descendencia excelente, porque Tú eres quien escucha los ruegos." (Corán 3:38) Aúnque su esposa era estéril y el era ya un viejo, Dios bendició a Zacarías y a su esposa Elizabeth con Juan. Juan es conocido en la Biblia como "Juan el Bautista." Zacarías estaba esceptico después de escuchar a los angeles anunciar el nacimiento de Juan. Como respuesta a su escepticismo: "Dios dijo: Es asi como Dios hace lo que le place." (Corán 3:40) "Juan será jefe, casto, profeta de la gente virtúosa." (Corán 3:39)

En el Corán se explica también el milagroso embarazo de María. "Menciona en el Corán la historia de María, cuando ella se retiro de su familia en un lugar hacia el Oriente. Ella puso un velo entre ella y ellos. Nosotros le enviamos Nuestro Espiritú, el angel Gabriel, en forma de un hombre perfecto." (Corán 19:16-17) Después de ver al angel, ella dijo: "Yo me refugio contra ti, donde el Misericordioso. Si tú eres piadoso (no te acerques a mi)." (Corán 19:18) El angel Gabriel respondio: "Yo soy un mensajero de tú Señor y vengo a anunciarte el don de un hijo puro." (Corán 19:19) Su siguiente respuesta es obvia. Ella pregunta: "¿Como podre tener un hijo, siendo que ningun hombre me ha tocado y yo no soy corrompida?" (Corán 19:20) El angel Gabriel le dijo: ¡Asi será! Tú Señor ha dicho: ¡Esto es facil! Y nosotros haremos de él un signo para las gentes y una misericordía de nuestra parte . Esto es algo que ya se ha decretado." (Corán 19:21) María después resulta embarazada.

Jesús (paz y bendiciones sean con el) es un Profeta y un Mensajero. Un mensajero es un Profeta al cuál se le ha dado una revelación de Dios. Por otro lado la Tora le fué revelado a Moisés, y el Evangelio fué revelado a Jesús. Los Mensajeros son una misericordía, una guía, y una señal de Dios. "Y Dios le enseñará (a Jesús) el Libro y la Sabiduría, la Tora, y el Evangelio. Y el será el mensajero para los hijos de Israel (y les dira): Yo vengo a vosotros con un signo por parte de vuestro Señor. Yo hare, para vosotros, de barro, la forma de un pájaro y soplare de el y con el permiso de Dios se convertirá en un pájaro. Y curo a los ciegos de nacimiento, a los leprosos y resucito a los muertos con permiso de Dios. Y os dire lo que vosotros coméis y lo que vosotros guardáis en vuestras casas. Todo esto es un signo para vosotros sí sois creyentes. Yo he venido a confirmaros la Tora que habéis recibido antes que yo y a permitiros algo de lo que os estaba prohibido. Yo he venido hasta vosotros con un signo de vuestro Señor. Temed a Dios y obedecedme. Dios es mi Señor y vuestro Señor. Adoradle. Ese es el sendero de la rectitúd." (Corán 3:48-51) Dios escoge a mensajeros para ayudarnos a resolver preguntas tales como: ¿Que sucede después de que muero? ¿Que esta bien y que esta mal? ¿Existe un mundo supernatúral? ¿Cuál es el propósito de mi creación? Jesús ha llamado a la gente para que vengan a un solo Dios. Solo por gracia de Dios, Jesús es capaz de conceder milagros. "Cuando Jesús presintió la incredulidad de ellos, de los judios, les dijo: ¿Quienes serán mis auxiliaries en el camino de Dios? Los apostoles respondieron: Nosotros somos los aliados de Dios. Nosotros creemos en Dios y que seas testigo que a El nos hemos sometido." (Corán 3:52)

Después de concebir a Jesús, María huyo a un lugar apartado (Corán 19:22) "Los dolores del parto la llevarón hacia el tronco de una palmera y dijo: ¡Que desgracia la mia! Si hubiese muerto antes de esto y hubiese sido olvidada completamente" (Corán 19:23) "Entonces una voz la llamo desde abajo de ella diciendo: No te aflijas. Tú Señor ha hecho correr bajo tús pies un riachuelo. Sacude hacia ti el tronco de la palmera que hara caer sobre ti dátiles frescos y maduros. Come pues y bebe y que se tranquilice tú ojo (deja de llorar), pero si tú ves a alguien di: He hecho un voto al Misericordioso de ayunar (ayunar en el sentido de no hablar con nadie) y hoy no hablare con ningun ser humano." (Corán 19:24-26) Jose, los Magos y el pesebre no se mencionan en el Corán. Dios fué el unico proveedor de María. Los Musulmanes no aceptan el nacimiento virgen de Jesús como una evidencia de la divinidad de Jesús. "Para Dios, Jesús es como Adán que creo del polvo y después le dijo: Se y el fué." (Corán 3:59) La creacion de Adán fué aún más milagrosa puesto que fué creado sin madre y sin padre.

Cuando María trae al bebé a su gente, ellos dicen: "¡Oh María! Tú has hecho una cosa extraña. ¡Oh hermana de Aaron! Tú padre no era un hombre de mal y tú madre no era una corrompida." (Corán 19:27-28) Después María señala al bebé. "Ellos dijeron: ¿Como hablaremos con un niño que aún esta en la cuna?" (Corán 19:29) Después un milagro ocurre, el cuál no es mencionado en la Biblia. En defensa de su madre, Jesús dice: "Yo soy un servidor de Dios. El me ha dado el Libro y me ha hecho profeta. El me ha hecho bendito donde me encuentre y me ha recomendado la oración y el Zakat³ mientras viva, y la bondad con mi madre. Y no me ha hecho violento ni desgraciado, y que la paz sea conmigo el día en que nací, el día en que muera, y el día en que resucite vivo." (Corán 19:30-33) El hecho que la virgen diera luz a Jesús fué una señal. "Y aquella que había preservado su castidad. Nosotros soplamos en ella Nuestro Espíritú, proveniente de Nosotros e hicimos de ella como de su hijo, un milagro para el universo." (Corán 21:91)

Todos los Profetas anteriores confirman la unidad de Dios (Tawhíd). Asi como la Santa Trinidad es fundamental como concepto de Dios en el Cristianismo, Tawhíd es la teoría fundamental de Dios en el Islám. Dios existe independientemente de cuálquier religión. Los Musulmanes no creen en el concepto de la Santa Trinidad (Corán 5:73). Dios no es Jesús (Corán 5:72). En el Día del Juicio, cuando a Jesús se le pregunte si ha llamado a venerarlo a él y a su madre como si fuéran dos Dioses, Jesús dira: "¡Gloria a Ti! ¿Como podría yo decir lo que no tengo derecho a decir? Sí lo hubiera dicho, ciertamente Tú lo sabrías, porque Tú sabes lo que hay en mi, y yo ignoro lo que hay en Ti. Solo Tú eres quien conoce lo oculto." (Corán 5:116) La gente no debería de venerar ninguna de las creaciones de Dios, incluyendo a Jesús y a María. No debemos de asignar a ninguna de las creaciones de Dios sus atributos y caracteristicas divinas. "El es Dios. El Creador, el que da comienzo de nada, es el Formador. De El son los más bellos nombres. Todo lo que hay en los Cielos y en la tierra le glorifica. Pues El es el Potente, el Sabio." (Corán 59:24)

Aúnque Dios puede hacer todas las cosas, El solo puede hacer las que sean consistentes con su Natúraleza fundamental. Engendrar a un hijo no es congruente con la Natúraleza magnifica de Dios (Corán 19:35,92). Algo compatible con su Natúraleza fundamental es el perdon. Aúnque Adán y Eva no pudieron seguir viviendo en el Paraíso, Dios los perdonó después de haberse arrepentido de su pecado (Corán 2:35-37). Nosotros los humanos somos los responsables de nuestros propios actos y no serémos castigados por las acciones de otra persona (Corán 53:38-42). Por lo tanto, los Musulmanes rechazan la doctrina del pecado original. Aún y aúnque Adán y Eva fuéron castigados, Dios es misericordioso y le manda a la humanidad guías para vivir. "Nosotros dijimos: Descended de aqui todos vosotros. Cuando yo os envié un guía, los que le sigan, estarán al abrigo de todo temor y desgracia." (Corán 2:38)

Otro Profeta, con un mensaje similar al de Jesús, nace después en Arabia en el Siglo VI. También el motivaba a la gente a adorar a un solo Dios. Aúnque el Profeta Mohamed (que la paz y bendiciones esten con el) no sabía ni leer ni escribir, pudo recitar hermosos versos del Corán tal y como le fuéron revelados. El Corán es un hermoso milagro, una señal, una misericordia, un aviso, una guía para la gente. Mohamed es el último Profeta de una lista de Profetas a los cuales incluye Noé, Abrahán, Moisés y Jesús (la paz y bendiciones sean con todos ellos). Todos los Profetas fuéron modelos para la gente vivir justa y rectamente. El Sunnah² del Profeta Mohamed, sus dichos, sus ejemplos, sus tradiciones son también consideradas como una revelación. Su Sunnah² esta escrita en varios libros de Hadiz¹. "Vosotros teneis en el Mensajero de Dios un ejemplo excelente de conducta para el que tenga esperanza en Dios y en el Día Final e invoque mucho a Dios." (Corán 33:21)

Cuando la gente escucha la palabra "Islám," por lo general piensa que es una religión organizada, que comenzo con el Profeta Mohamed. Sin embargo, en Árabe, la palabra Islám viene de la raiz "salema" que significa paz, pureza, sumision, y obediencia. En el sentido religioso, Islám significa paz y pureza alcanzada por la sumisión a los deseos de Dios y obediencia a su ley. Los Musulmanes son aquellos que se someten. Creen que todo ser que se someta a los designos de Dios siguiendo la revelación divina de los Mensajeros anteriores se les puede llamar Musulmanes. Partiendo de este concepto, los Musulmanes creen que los seres humanos somos la continuación de la fe de Jesús y María. "Acuerdate cuando los angeles dijeron: ¡Oh María! Dios te ha elegido y te ha purificado. Dios te ha escogido de entre todas las mujeres del mundo. ¡Oh María! Obedece a Tú Señor, prosternate e inclinate con los que se inclinan." (Corán 3:42-43) María, Jesús, y sus discípulos han sido todos Musulmanes porque se han sometido a Dios.

Dios creo a la gente para que le sirvan a El y para vivir la vida de acuerdo a sus enseñanzas y guías. "Asios todos a la cuerda de Dios. No os separéis. Acordaos del favor que Dios os concedió cuando eráis enemigos. Es El quien reconcilió vuestros corazones. Después por su gracia habeis llegado a ser humanos. Estabáis al borde de un abismo de fuego. Es El quien os ha salvado. Asi es como Dios os muestra sus signos para que seáis bien guiados." (Corán 3:103) "Aquel que desee otra religión que el Islám, no será aceptado por Dios en la vida futúra y será de los perdedores." (Corán 3:85) Lo podemos confirmar gracias a los que atestiguan que Dios solo es uno y aceptan su revelación final en nuestras vidas cotidíanas. "¡Oh Creyentes! Temed a Dios como se debe temed y no lleguéis a la muerte antes de ser Musulmanes." (Corán 3:102) No existe nada en el mundo que valga la pena venerar más que Dios, y Mohamed es su Mensajero.

Nota de Termino:
Al escribir a cerca de La Virgen María, quise evitar cuálquier tipo de confusión para los no-Musulmanes. Este artículo fué escrito y dirigido a una audiencia no-musulmana. Por consiguiente usé terminos en inglés y figuras familiares para los Cristianos en lugar de utilizar términos en Árabe. Por ejemplo "Isa" significa Jesús en Árabe; y "Yahya" significa Juan en Árabe. Al-lah significa literalmente "Dios" en Árabe. Cuando nos referimos a Dios, los Musulmanes prefieren utilizar el termino "Al-lah" parta remarcar su unidad. Tambien evité el uso de terminos e iniciales generalmente usados entre Musulmanes tales como SWT, PBUH, SAWS, RA, y AS. De antemano ofrezco una disculpa si ofendí a alguien con este escrito.

Traducido por Rocio Martinez-Mendoza

The Future Is For Islam

By Shaykh Muhammad Qutb

http://www.islaam.com/Article.aspx?id=317

The Islamic community had been left in ruins. It had been weakened and divided into small nations. The seeds of internal conflict had been planed and nurtured. Every effort had been made to draw society far away from the essence of religion, keeping people in ignorance and luring them with worldly incentives. Attempts to reform within an Islamic framework are still being suppressed. Religious practicing Muslims have become outcasts in their own society.

And yet it was the will of Allah, the Almighty, that this religion would survive - not only survive, but make a comeback. For at the same time that Islam is no longer "fashionable" in Muslim countries, people in the West itself are beginning to discover the truths of Islam, which Muslims have neglected. And those who have not yet discovered Islam have at least noticed the great spiritual famine that has taken hold of western culture.

They are now seeing before them the failure of the new freedom to bring satisfaction to the human soul. Mankind, in general, is in a state of worry, anxiety and despair. Before him is the failure of present political, social and economic systems to realize justice or to bring peace of mind to the human race. Man longs to believe in a purpose behind existence.

He is finally beginning to understand the real need for a belief in God, for nothing else can take place - not a belief of mere words and rituals or of spiritual disciplines that neglect human needs, but a religion which includes every aspect of humanity: the mind, the body and the soul. And there is only one religion on earth that includes and satisfies all of these... Islam.

In spite of the obvious difficulties which appear to us now, the obstacles will lessen as more and more people seek an improvement and turn back to reason and to God. And this time, when men awaken and search, they will find Islam.

How long will this take? It is not important. The reward for those who work towards that end is guaranteed by Him who created the heavens and the earth, and the result is in His hands. By the will Allah, Islam has survived its darkest hour. And by His will, it can again spread its light to every corner of the earth.

"And Allah will give victory to those who support Him. Certainly is Allah exalted in strength and in power." [Surah al-Hajj 22:30]

Vida Musulmana en Estados Unidos

http://usinfo.state.gov/espanol/muslim

La Oficina de Programas de Información Internacional
Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos

El Islam es una de las religiones de más rápido crecimiento en Estados Unidos. Según un estudio reciente, hay 1.209 mezquitas en este país y muchas más de la mitad de ellas se establecieron en los últimos 20 años. Entre el 17 y el 30 por ciento de los musulmanes estadounidenses son conversos.

La familia ocupa el lugar central tanto de la vida estadounidense tradicional como de la mayoría de los inmigrantes musulmanes que, generalmente, han llegado en fecha más reciente. El ingeniero Shahed Amanullah, quien vive en San Francisco, California, lo expresa así: "La mayor parte de los valores estadounidenses son muy congruentes con los valores islámicos, pues se centran en la familia, la fe, el trabajo arduo y la obligación de mejorarse a sí mismo y a la sociedad".

Este folleto es una breve introducción a un tema complejo, un intento de explorar con palabras e imágenes la extraordinaria gama y riqueza de las formas de vida de los musulmanes en Estados Unidos. Nuestro punto de partida será ese rasgo común de ambas culturas: la familia.

Muslim Life in America

http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/muslimlife

Bureau of International Information Programs
United States Department Of State

Islam is one of the fastest-growing religions in the United States today. According to one recent survey, there are 1,209 mosques in America, well over half founded in the last 20 years. Between 17 and 30 percent of American Muslims are converts to the faith.

At the center of both traditional American life and the lives of the generally more recent Muslim immigrants is the family. As Shahed Amanullah, an engineer who lives in San Franciso, California, puts it, " American values are, by and large, very consistent with Islamic values, with a focus on family, faith, hard work, and an obligation to better self and society."

This booklet is a brief introduction to a complex subject, an attempt to explore in words and images the extraordinary range and richness of the way American Muslims live. That point of cross-cultural commonality -- the family -- is where we begin.

Common Questions About Mosques

Q: What is a mosque?
A: A mosque is a public place of worship used by Muslims. The English word "mosque" is derived from its Arabic equivalent, masjid, which means "place of prostration." Suitably termed, because the Islamic prayer, or salat, includes prostrating oneself before God.

Q: How is a mosque used?
A: The Mosque plays a central role in the Muslim community primarily because it functions as the place where we may congregate to perform the required five daily prayers as well as the Friday Communal Prayers. In the United States, mosques may also accommodate fulltime and weekend Islamic schools, day care centers, adult and youth study groups, Qur’anic instruction, and Arabic classes. Community social events, weddings, dinners during Ramadan (the month of fasting), Eid holiday prayers and celebrations, youth activities, and funeral services are all hosted in mosques throughout the United States.

Q: Is a mosque a holy place?
A: A mosque is a place that is primarily dedicated for prayer. However, nothing is sacred about the building or the place itself. We may pray in our homes, offices, schools, or anywhere we find a clean surface.

Q: Do mosques welcome visitors?
A: Yes, mosques in the United States welcome visitors. Tours and educational seminars can be arranged at most facilities. It is always best to call mosque administrators to arrange a tour, before arrival, because they want to make sure your visit is informative and enjoyable.

Q: What are the distinctive features of a mosque?
A: The prayer hall in each mosque is oriented in the direction of Mecca, toward which Muslims worldwide face during prayers. In most cities in the United States, worshippers face northeast. Prayer halls are spacious and unfurnished in order to accommodate lines of worshippers standing, bowing, and prostrating in unison. Pews, chairs, altars or pulpits are not typical or permanent fixtures in the prayer hall. Members of the congregation usually sit on the floor, but chairs are available for those who want them. Mosques may accommodate men and women in the same prayer hall, but most mosques have two separate areas for men and women. Mosques vary in size from tiny storefronts serving a handful of worshippers to large Islamic community centers that can accommodate thousands.

Q: What else is in the prayer area?
A: All mosques have a niche that indicates the direction for prayer. Some mosques also have a pulpit to the right of the niche, which is used by the imam to deliver the Friday sermon.

Q: What about children in the prayer area?
A: Children are often present during prayers, whether participating, watching, or imitating the movements of older Muslims. Their presence continues the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, who always demonstrated tenderness and affection towards children and stressed the need to make them an integral part of the community.

Q: What might I hear during my visit?
A: You might hear us Muslims exchanging the Islamic greeting, "as-salaamu alaykum," which is an Arabic phrase meaning, "peace be with you" and responding with, "wa alaykum as-salaam" meaning, "and with you be peace." You might also hear the call to prayer or adhan, which is recited in Arabic and can be interpreted as follows:

God is most great.
I bear witness that nothing is worthy of worship but God.
I bear witness that Muhammad is a messenger of God.
Come to prayer. Come to success. God is most great.*
There is no deity worthy of worship but God.

*The preceding phrases are repeated more than once.

You might also hear the opening verses of the Qur’an, which constitute the most frequently recited chapter of the Qur’an. During the Islamic prayers we recite chapters or verses from the Holy Qur’an along with other phrases in Arabic. The Opening, or Al-Fatihah, can be interpreted as follows:

In the name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds.
The Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment.
You Alone we worship, and You Alone we ask for help.
Show us the straight path.
The path of those whom You have favored,
not of those who earn Your anger, nor those who go astray.”

Q: What about the rest of the building?
A: Many mosques have a minaret, the large tower used to recite the call to prayer five times each day. In the United Sates, the minaret is mainly decorative.

Facilities to perform ablution, or wudu, can be found in all mosques. Before we approach God in prayer we perform ablution by washing our hands, face, and feet. This serves as a way for us to purify and prepare ourselves to stand in prayer, both physically and psychologically. Wudu facilities range from washbasins to specially designed areas with built-in benches, floor drains and faucets.

Libraries are found in most mosques. Reading selections include various literature on theology, law, philosophy, as well as collections of the traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Copies of the Qur’an, Islam's revealed text, are always available to worshippers.

Works of Arabic calligraphy, mainly quotations from the Holy Qur’an, are used to decorate nearly every mosque and to incite contemplation of the revealed Word of God. Other common features found in the mosque are clocks or schedules displaying the times of the five daily prayers and large rugs or carpets covering the prayer hall floor.

Q: What customs are observed when visiting a mosque?
A: Visitors to mosques should conduct themselves as they would when visiting any religious institution. They should feel free to ask questions about the mosque, its purpose, architecture, and activities. Muslims are always pleased to answer any questions about our faith and customs.

Men and women customarily dress modestly when visiting a mosque. Examples of appropriate clothing may include loose-fitting shirts, blouses, pants/slacks or long skirts, and may we also suggest no shorts or sleeveless shirts. Typically, Muslim women wear a scarf at the mosque; however, guests and visitors should not feel obliged to do so. Since we require a clean area on which to pray, everyone removes his or her shoes prior to entering the prayer hall. Shoe racks are located near the prayer hall entrance.

You may want to call the Islamic center you plan to visit for more information.

Shahada
 

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