Monday, August 18, 2008

Al Farook Masjid of Atlanta

August 18, 2008

Yesterday I enjoyed the privilege of attending the opening ceremonies for Al-Farook Masjid of Atlanta, formerly the Atlanta Mosque on 14th Street. Our own Louisa Merchant who oversees our refugee ministries formerly ran the day school associated with the mosque. A number of Charlie Ogburn’s partners have been instrumental in seeing the new mosque built and bit by bit we are establishing a network of relationships there that will help our goal of not only ‘learning about Islam’ but making Muslim friends.

The speakers stayed well on point each addressing their goals of being an Atlantan and loyally American institution. On speaker articulated a dream of seeing America move from being a Judao-Christian society to becoming a Judao-Christian-Islamic society. There was much talk of the respect paid in the Koran to the other faiths of the book, without much of the triumphalism that is often associated with that by Muslims. They see their role as helping Americans that American citizens like many of them follow their faith as patriotic Americans.

There is much that is attractive about Islam as they present it. They make the case that women are not oppressed as much as appears to be the case in American society. Many majority Islamic countries have had women as Presidents and Premiers and they point out that women successfully enter all societal professions. One prayer from an honored member asked that “every single man may find a wife and every single woman may find a husband in order that they may be complete.” Another speaker making a presentation on Islam stressed the Prophet’s emphasis on modesty and talked of how in his marriage his wife was a full partner and he did all his own laundry. The role and place of women in modern American Islam is something I’m hoping Louisa can help me understand more as it is clearly a) different than what I have assumed and b) subtle and complex.

Yesterday in church we asked God’s blessing on “our friends of the Al-Farook Masjid as they celebrate the opening of their new building.” Everything about the celebration and their hospitality suggests that the prayer (which raised a couple of eyebrows) was not misplaced.

1 comment:

Patty said...

I think it is so great that you went to the opening of the mosque. Working with many Muslims through Saturday School, I have found the families to be loving, kind, and hard-working. I hope that we as a church can develop a relationship with Al Farook Masjid--what a great witness of God's love for Muslims and Christians working togetber to better the people of our communities.