Sunday, July 1, 2012

Minaret Less Mosques – Ban OR the Beginning of a Renaissance, Islam and the West,

Islam and the West
Minaret Less Mosques – Ban OR the Beginning of a Renaissance
By Syed B. Soharwardy

When I received the news that in Switzerland 57.5 percent of voters and 22 cantons (provinces) out of 26 cantons have voted to ban building of minarets on mosques, I was at a mosque in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am the Lead Imam at the Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre. It is also called Al Madinah Masjid (Mosque). I had just finished the prayer and a member of our congregation gave me the Swiss news. I smiled and asked the brother to come outside. When we came out of the mosque, I took him around the mosque and asked, do you see any minarets on this mosque? He said, “no”. I said, “this place does not even look like a mosque from outside”. He smiled. He knew what this minaret less mosque has achieved within five years of its existence that many mosques with minarets could not achieve.

Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre was established in 2005. It is located in a shopping mall. We purchased two shops and converted them into a mosque. If the sign outside the mosque is removed, no one would even know that this is a place of worship for Muslims. In less than five years our congregation grew from 27 people to almost 2000 people. We have more than 200 girls and boys learning Qur’an and Islamic teachings. In less than five years 23 non-Muslim Calgarians embraced Islam at the Al Madinah Islamic Centre. Every year hundreds of Calgarians; Christians, Jews, Atheists, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and others visit the Al Madinah Centre and take part in the Interfaith Dialogues. 99% of those who attend the interfaith activities at the Al Madinah Centre change their attitude about Islam and Muslims. Their misconceptions and misunderstandings about Islam are removed. They appreciate that someone has helped them in removing those fears and distrust of Muslims that the media tries to build every day. In Ramadan, every year for one month, more than 200 Muslims and non-Muslims eat together at the sunset time at the Al Madinah Mosque.

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