Masjid Al-Ansar

This profile was last updated in 2005

History

Masjid Al-Ansar is one of the oldest mosques in South Florida. Together with Masjid Ibrahim, it is closely affiliated with a predominately African-American organization, Mosques Cares. Early in its history, the building for Masjid Al-Ansar was originally a church before it was purchased by Muslims in 1968. Demographics Most of the Muslims attending this mosque are African-American. Overall, participants support the leadership of Warith/Wallace Deen Muhammad, the son of the Nation of Islam leader, Elijah Muhammad. Qur’anic teaching and the Sunna (tradition) of the prophet Muhammad (saw) are followed. They avoid affiliating with any particular Islamic sect, such as Shia, Sunni or Ahmadiyah. Members also try to avoid divisive conversations about race and skin color. Not surprisingly, they try to welcome beliefs of as many Islamic groups as possible. For them, anything based on the Holy Qur’an and the sunna of the prophet Muhammad is acceptable. According to the leaders, Muslims should come from all races and nationalities. Islam is thus portrayed as a multi-racial religion because they believe all human beings are equal before God. In Friday prayer, there are about 200 people coming to this mosque. This group is diverse. In addition to African-Americans, people from the Middle East and others who are Hispanic, also frequently attend prayers. Many activities are offered. The Friday prayer and the five daily prayers are provided regularly. Others programs include an Islamic elementary school, a weekend school every Sunday for adults (classes in Islamic studies), food services for the homeless, family Ta’lim (lectures for Muslim families, men and women) and Ramadhan Programs. Furthermore, Eid al-Fithr and Eid al-Adha are conducted in a different area away from the mosque because of the large number of Muslims attending. Together with Muslims from the Masjid Ibrahim, this mosque usually conducts Eid in a football stadium. Every Friday, the women’s organization sells packaged dinners to the community as a fundraising venture. The mosque also hosts celebrations to welcome Muslims returning from the hajj (pilgrimage). Finally, a Muslim conference is held every three months. At this conference, they discuss any issues related to the Islamic community. Muslims involved in this conference are not only from this community but also from some other Muslim communities of Florida. Description This mosque, which lies in the Liberty City area, occupies about 112,500 square feet and their surrounding land is 450,000 square feet. The mosque has two floors. The first floor is an office and school and the second floor is for prayers. The floor of the mosque is covered by carpet, marked with many lines called saf which delineate the spaces for individuals during prayer. Some beautiful Qur’anic calligraphy is hung on the walls as decoration. During prayer, men and women are separated in different rooms. In addition, the mosque also has a playground for students and a large parking lot. Leadership Organizationally, this mosque has a syura, or Committee board, which consists of about ten people. This committee manages and organizes everything related to the mosque. It has the authority to decide the Imams, thus they are democratically selected. There is one Imam and two Imam Assistants. The Imam usually gives the sermon at Friday prayer; his assistants replace him if he is not available. Imams must be trusted by the community, have good morals, and be committed in love to the entire group. In order to be able to respond to any question from the community, Imans must be knowledgeable about Islam, especially about the Qur’an and the history of the prophet Muhammad. School This mosque also has a regular school which is called the Clara Muhammad School. The Board selectively chooses teachers for this school, who can be any qualified person who is committed to the mission of the school, including non-Muslims. However, the Board prefers to have Muslim teachers and those who know Arabic. Interestingly, the students attending this school are mostly non-Muslims and they are not required to convert to Islam. There are approximately 20 to 30 students. The subjects being studied at the Clara Muhammad School are basically the same as other public or private schools, plus Islamic studies. Members believe this school prepares children to be both more knowledgeable about Islam and better citizens, since Islam serves as a good guideline for life. The Impact of 9/11 According to the Imam, the programs and activities of the mosque are basically the same before and after 9/11. Their directive remains to practice what the Holy Qur’an says and follow the sunna (the prophet’s traditions). In their public talks, they try and avoid political issues and instead focus on the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunna. What happened on 9/11, therefore, did not have significant influence on the community. The Imam said, “…when people assume that Muslims are terrorists, they are reflecting ignorance; such people do not really know what Islam is.” Therefore, he believes responding to persons calling Muslims terrorists is basically a waste of time. The Islamic community of Masjid Al-Ansar was never scared by the stereotyping of Muslim as terrorists since, as it is mostly African-Americans, the community is confident it is a part of the American community. Interreligious Activity On the issue of their relationship to other religions, this community has a great deal of interreligious experience. The Imams actively participate in interfaith dialogue. According to the current Imam, the community should always be involved in interreligious dialogue, because that is what Warith D. Muhammad encouraged, and it is also the tradition of the prophet Muhammad.