Have you ever wondered what kinds of “scary” activities are happening inside American mosques? Do you get goosebumps when you hear the words Islam, Muslim, or Mosque? If you answered, “yes” or even “maybe” to these questions, then you need to visit InsideAmericanMosques.com.
This website provides viewers with an intimate glimpse inside mosques by documentation through a series of pictures.
It also includes a look at the Muslims who come to worship and offer prayers in these spaces and the deep connection they have with their local mosques.
Due to the prevalence of Islamophobia, many people are misinformed regarding the activities that occur inside mosques and as a result, these peaceful places of worship are the target of horrific attacks and hatred.
Just to name a few recent instances, an Islamic Center in Houston, Texas was the target of arson while a mosque in Edmond, Oklahoma was pelted with raw bacon alongside its doorway. Previous hate-crimes include a mosque in Ontario which was vandalized when pigs were thrown and left on site, and a bottle filled with acid was thrown at a mosque in Illinois. Additionally, mosques receive frequent threats and a complete list of disheartening anti-mosque activity can be found here.
With hatred, bigotry, and Islamophobia on the rise, I wanted to put forth a personal effort to show the public that mosques are peaceful centers of worship where there is an emphasis on serving one’s community, pursuing knowledge, and welcoming people of all faiths. Mosques serve as community centers, Islamic schools, and donation centers for anyone in need and no house of worship deserves to be the target of such violent discrimination.
As a Muslim American, I can tell you that you should be afraid – only if you are frightened by smiling children or if you are terrified of dedicated individuals with a commitment to community service. You should be scared of mosques if you dislike institutions that embrace racial and ethnic diversity or if you’re petrified of people with impeccable (yet modest) fashion sense.
Additionally, if you shudder at the thought of fostering good community relations amongst people of all faiths and backgrounds, otherwise known as interfaith programming, then you should head for the hills because mosques LOVE to promote positive values by hosting community building exercises. By now, I hope it’s evident that the only scary fact about American mosques is the fun you are missing out on!
I can recall some of my greatest memories from the mosques I attended as a young girl and I continue to make these memories as I visit a new mosque each week and meet wonderful people along my way. Mosque culture is severely misunderstood by the public and unfortunately, the media exacerbates and incites the fear already prevalent in the mind of many who do not understand the essence of Islam.
With so many outlets bashing Islam, I feel there is a dire need to throw a wrench in the dangerous propagation of misinformation about Muslims by educating people with the truth. Although the prevalence of anti-mosque activity is troubling, it serves as my primary motivation to visit as many mosques I can in the state of Texas and, God willing, eventually in other states in an effort to document through pictures what really happens inside mosques. To effectively tell people that they should not be afraid nor should they direct enmity towards Islamic centers.
My photo-blog is dedicated to dismantling the negative images the media feeds to the public regarding Muslims and the religion of Islam. It is an attempt to address the fear-mongering tactics employed first, by violent organizations who abuse Islam to serve their corrupt agendas, and second, by individuals who perpetuate hatred towards peacefully practicing Muslims. The reality is that Muslim Americans are average citizens who value all lives and liberties as sacred. We are as large a part of the social fabric of this great nation as any other community and we honor our freedoms by contributing in meaningful ways to the society in which we live.
The challenges I have encountered thus far are simply that people often refuse my request to photograph them for inclusion on my blog. I explain that it is a part of my personal effort to educate others who may not personally know a Muslim or have any Muslim friends, but some people remain apprehensive. Although that is completely understandable, I have felt discouraged at times and questioned if God really wants me to continue pursuing it. However, I decided to remind myself that from that point forward, that whoever agrees to be photographed is the person that God thinks will make some kind of a difference. It serves as a reminder that I am not in control of even my own efforts to please God; rather, it is the All-Knowing who will facilitate my effort for me.
So, if you are not afraid of promoting acceptance, then please visit InsideAmericanMosques.com for photo posts every Friday as we provide you with an intimate glimpse inside these peaceful places of worship, God-willing.
[Hira Uddin works as a Mental Health Professional in the state of Texas. You can follow her on twitter: @hira_cane.]