This profile was last updated in 2006
Activities and Schedule
Friday prayer service, 1:00-2:00 p.m., community prayer begins at 1:50 p.m.
Sunday school, 10:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m., three 45-minute sessions plus a break.
Sunday Zuhr prayer, 1:30 p.m.
Eid-al-Fitr (festival of fast-breaking) at the end of the month of Ramadan (November 25, 2003).
Eid-al-Adha (festival of sacrifice) on the tenth day of the Islamic month Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar (February 12, 2003).
The Islamic Society of Greater Harrisburg (ISGH) was founded in the early 1970s. Its first meetings were held in the basements of community members’ homes. The first building of the ISGH, behind the Harrisburg East Mall, was a Christian Sunday school which the ISGH purchased and converted into a mosque. ISGH was in this location through the 1970s and into the 1980s. During the 1980s, more people came to the USA from the Middle East and South Asia. Shortly after its founding, the ISGH community experienced a cultural divide between the immigrants from India and Pakistan, and those from the Middle East. The Arab Muslims formed a separate community called the Masjid-as-Sabereen (Mosque of the patient/peaceful ones). The Indo-Pakistani Muslims continued as the ISGH community.
Worshippers at ISGH include American citizens and immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Africa. It is principally a community of immigrants and their American-born children, as well as a small number of Caucasian and African American converts. Languages include: Hindi, Arabic, English, Spanish, and other Indian sub-continent languages.
The center is a converted Catholic Church complex. The large prayer room, formerly the church sanctuary, is in the main building of the complex. In this same building there is a smaller prayer room, one eighth the size of the larger prayer room, and wudu stations.
Description of the Main Sanctuary
The main sanctuary gets its light from the stained glass windows and the cylindrical wrought-iron lanterns that cast a yellow light in the room. Its ceiling is vaulted in a pointed dome and is decorated with symmetrical eight point stars that line either side of the point in the dome. Stained-glass windows of a green and yellow hue line the length of the walls and display Arabic names of God with an artistic golden touch. The room resonates with subdued sea greens, blues, grays, pinks, corals, and gold leaf enhancements. The carpet has approximately sixteen inch-wide stripes in alternating light and dark sea green to provide direction toward Mecca for the worshippers in the Mosque. There is a balcony at the rear of the prayer room, which is also carpeted in the same manner as the main floor. The balcony, and the back left corner of the room that is sectioned off by a free-standing green curtain, are for women. (Mosques would not normally have stained glass windows but this mosque does because the windows remain from the building’s earlier use as a Catholic church. The areas where the Stations of the Cross were in the Catholic Church have been removed but their indentations are still present.)
Sunday School (every Sunday)
Friday Community Prayer, Salat-al-Jumma (every Friday), including a Sermon and possible reading from the Qur’an.
Celebrations for the Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr
Community Zuhr Prayer on Sundays at 1:30
Lectures and activities held by the local chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations
Weddings and Funerals
Jackie Biancolli, Deborah Tager, Courtney Mann, Erin McLean, Nicole Salemno (Prof. Shalom Staub, New American Religious Diversity, Dept. of Religion, Dickinson College)