Albanian Islamic Center (CJ)

This profile was last updated in 2006

Research conducted by The University of Michigan-Dearborn Pluralism Project.

Description

The Albanian Islamic Center was founded in 1962, and the present mosque was built in that same year. The modest building constructed of brown bricks is easily recognized by its dome and minaret. In addition to a prayer room, the center has an office, social hall, kitchen, and classrooms. Classes are held for children on Saturdays to study the Qur’an in Arabic, and on Sundays to study the Qur’an and to learn Albanian language and culture.

Location

The site for the Albanian Islamic Center, in a middle-class residential suburb in a portion of Wayne County east of Detroit, was chosen because its central location for a large number of Muslims living in the area at the time. Most had come from Albania in the 1940s, and up until then had prayed at the Islamic Mosque of America, in Dearborn, Michigan. Once the Albanian Islamic Center was built, however, they began attending this mosque, since their language, cultural traditions, and some rituals differed from those of the Arab Muslims in Dearborn.

Membership

The size of the membership of the mosque is small, about 150 families. The membership has changed over the years in that more Gega Albanians than Tosk Albanians pray there now. In addition, there are Iranians, Palestinians, Maltese, Arabs, and Indians.

Types of Worship

Tosk Albanians, who are primarily from the southern regions of Albania, have resided in the United States since the 1800s, and are considered more “reformed” Muslims. This is possibly due to American cultural influences on them over the years. Women and men are allowed to pray in the same area of the mosque, and the Tosk consume alcohol on occasions. Most of the Gega Muslims, who are from the northern region of Albania, are more recent arrivals and have resided in the United States only since the 1970s. Similar to the Arab Muslims, they tend to reflect more traditional Islamic practices. The congregation has shifted from Tosk to Gega due to immigration patterns and the fact that the current imam is a Gega Albanian. Consequently, the more traditional patterns are now being put back in place.