Jummah Prayer Service

Katherine "Kate" Iraheta

Mosque of the Muslim American Society Center: Charlotte, NC

  • One of Charlotte's most diverse Islamic Centers
  • "Masjid" is what most Muslims call a mosque
  • ELLs & Non-ELLs from 2 of my assigned schools (Northridge MS and Albemarle Rd MS) attend here
  • This is me inside the Masjid in between services

Why an Islamic prayer service?

  • BLE 511 Student Learning Outcome #7, “Identify key resources in their local area that can inform their practices with culturally and linguistically diverse populations.”
  • Christianity: Largest religious group represented amongst ELLs in district (my faith)
  • Isalm: steadily growing religious group represented amongst ELLs in district
  • Spanish: Most dominant Home Language for ELLs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (a language I speak & my husband represents)
  • Increasing non-Spanish language population: ELLs from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Saudia Arabia, Kenya, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, Malaysia, Senegal, and Lebanon are in my assigned schools
  • Something I had never perviously done

Imam John's Khutbah (Sermon)

These are the key application points that I learned from Masjid service taken from the message. At the time of my visit, the Imam was completing a series on "Arabization," or distinguishing which practices are faith-based and which are culturally-based.

Message's Main Points:

  • Immigrant Muslims in the U.S. have their respective cultural traits
  • Clarification of important faith-based tenets from the Qu'ran and the prophet Mohammed's examples that are often misinterpreted
  • Clarification of foreign cultural traditions that are mistakenly thought to be from the Qu'ran

My Connection: The Von Briesens

Elizabeth (mother), Noura, & Mohammed

  • Taught Noura & Mohammed
  • They prefer MAS over other masjids because of diverse & progressive nature
  • Multiple countries represented results in language of services in English
  • Due to heat wave & respect for Islamic women's dress, I bought a linen shirt & pants
  • Noura loaned me a hijab (other local mosques require a bonnet in addition to hijab)

Lunch after Jummah:

  • To fundraise for masjid, sisters cook and sell lunches for $5.00
  • Menu du jour: Rotisserie chicken, basmati rice, garden salad, and vegetarian moussaka -everything was delicious!
  • Von Briesens treated me (customary for Muslims who bright visitors)

Conversation during lunch:

  • Von Briesens frequently bring curious non-Muslims to Jummah & answer questions
  • Noura annoyed that they constantly do this and/or asked questions about their faith
  • Mohammed and Elizabeth feel honored to do so - if they do not actively represent Islam, who will do so in their place? Extremists? Hypocrites? The media?
  • Rose, a Colombian convert joined us & shared about being an airline hostess as a Muslim

Questions I asked about Muslim students:

1. How can public schools create a more inclusive environment for Muslim students?

Noura: The administration and/or teachers should not force students to go to the cafeteria during Ramadan. Practicing Muslim students should be allowed to go to the library as an option.

Mohammed: There should be a separate prayer room. It could be interfaith. There is no designated, tranquil space available for Muslim students to conduct their prayers. It is easy to expose students to bullying if they pray in odd places like I did at first in High School.

*Mohammed and I first met before I had him in class. He used to pray before cross country practice underneath the stairwell, next to my classroom. He took me up on my offer to pray in my room every afternoon while I stepped out to give him privacy.

2. What examples of ignorance have you experienced at school due to your faith?

Noura: She could not think of any.

Mohammed: On the first day of high school, he was waiting for his schedule, talking with some friends. A student approached his group to introduce himself, being new to Charlotte. The new student asked everyone for their names. After saying, "Mohammed," the new student apparently ran away in the opposite direction. Mohammed and his family still laugh about this.

Observations & Notes

1. Musalla (Sanctuary)

  • No shoes
  • No furniture (except Imam has a lectern & chair - elderly & ill may sit)
  • Men sat up front, facing Minbar (pulpit) & Qibla (Direction of Mecca - where Muslims face toward during prayer
  • Women in back; separated by movable foam blocks

*Noura shared that most mosques in Charlotte have the women in a separate room, watching the Jummah on Live TV or through plexiglass.

2. Etiquette

  • Majority came to service late
  • Tardy or not, completed prayers as Imam spoke
  • During announcements, not one person sat & listened with full attention
  • Imam very strict to time constraints & said during khutbah, "I have 5 minutes left," and "Now it's 1:30, so I will continue from here next week."
  • 85% of service in English; Qu'ran verses & prayers in Arabic

3. Zakat (Giving monetary donations)

  • No collection plate
  • Plexiglass box accessible to Brothers and Sisters before, during, & after service
  • No specific amount mentioned in Qu'ran
  • Most give +/- 2.5% of their earnings
  • Making change is acceptable with other brothers/sisters (one man asked me to do this for him)

Islam and Customs Khutbah

By: Imam John (Yahya) Ederer

Given on Friday, May 31, 2013 at 1pm

Unfortunately the sound did not record for the video

  • Not recommended for me to film or record the service
  • Took a few photos discretely
  • Seemed disrespectful to take too many

To recreate experience, I added two additional multimedia resources, representative of my visit:

  1. Sample call to prayer to represent Masjid uses on Fridays.
  2. You can also follow to the June 7th Sermon that was a continuation of the May 31st Sermon on the YouTube embedded video, below. This will show you what Imam John looks like, since he is an Oklahoma native, convert from Christianity to Islam.
Islam and America

Thanks for reading my cultural field trip poster!