A few more observations and explanations from the Imam.
A masjid is a Muslim place of worship, usually a specified building. Prayers, however, can be offered anywhere. In the masjid, there is carpeting and no statues. The Imam explained that mosques are modest structures and that the first mosques were made of clay and were covered with branches. Many mosques have domes and high minarets. The minarets conduct sound so that people can hear the call to prayer. The Islamic Society of the Niagara Frontier has a sound system, instead of a dome, for calling prayers.
During prayers, women and men are separate. "Women are separated from men to give privacy to women," the Imam explained.
There are many prophets in the Muslim faith, including Abraham, David, and Jesus. Muhammad was the last prophet, who was born in 570 and died in 632. The Prophet Muhammad was the founder of the Muslim faith.
Islam is not practiced only in the Middle East. In fact, the country that has the largest population of Muslims is Indonesia. That is because, with a population of almost 256 million people, Indonesia has the fourth biggest population in the world. The three countries with bigger populations are China, India, and the United States.
There are also many misconceptions concerning Islam and Muslims. The worst is that Muslims are violent people who believe that it is OK to kill civilians in a holy war. The Imam said that that killing people is not OK and that violent behavior does not represent Islam, just like people who bomb abortion clinics do not represent Christianity.
We were told by Yasmin, "Most of us came here for a better life here and to express our Muslim identity. The biggest problem is that people don't know the facts (about the Muslim faith). People who hate Muslims don't know any Muslims. You can ask questions. The Imam is available. We have a board, also called a council of trustees. We have great relations with our neighbors.
"The mosque is always open for visits."
For more information, check out the mosque's website: Islamic Society of the Niagara Frontier website.
And, last but not least, thank you so much to the Imam and to the members of the Islamic Society of the Niagara Frontier. Your hospitality went well beyond anything we ever imagined. I am so grateful. We were offered food, friendship, and education. We were given pamphlets explaining the Muslim faith, as well as English-language translations of the Quran. I have already started reading and will probably have loads of questions!
I am also grateful to Fahim Mojawalla, co-owner of the Island Ship Center with his wife Seema, and Father Earle King for making this visit possible.