Masjid An-Noor/The Islamic School of Miami

This profile was last updated in 2004

History

Masjid An-Noor was built in 1999, but Muslims affiliated to this mosque have conducted Sunday school since 1989. Later on, in 1994, the community established the Islamic School of Miami, Inc., which now conducts Sunday school, after school, and summer school programs, in order to provide an Islamic environment for families in Miami-Dade County. The community originally bought three acres at 14501 SW 120 Street, West Kendall, Miami. In 2000, the community also bought the building next to the land, which had been used for automobile emission inspections, and then they converted it to a mosque. The building is about 1,700 square feet, and the adjacent vacant lot on which this community will build a school, is about 130,684 square feet (three acres). The Community has a Board of Directors which administers the mosque, and also has a maintenance committee which looks after the premises, such as keeping it clean, providing utilities, and so forth. Mission When asked about the mosque’s mission, the Imam explained that the main mission of the mosque and of all Islamic centers includes: 1. To establish a local Islamic community (in West Kendall) 2. To perform da’wah [revealing the Messages of God], both to Muslims and non-Muslims.3. To establish a mosque, because a Muslim community cannot live without a mosque. This has been the special mandate of the center, to have a place to pray for Friday prayer, daily prayers and the Eid prayers. The da’wah to non-Muslims is not intended to convert them. The center sometimes invites non-Muslims to come to the mosque in order to gain a clearer image of Islam. This effort is made because after 9/11, Islam has been misunderstood and referred to with bias. The community also has activities to which it invites Muslims and non-Muslims together, such as family night every Friday. The Imam of the mosque is also frequently invited by churches and synagogues nearby to give lectures about Islam. Programs and Activities. 1. Religious services including daily prayers, Friday prayer, and Eid prayers.2. Ramadan Program (ifthar/breaking the fast, tarawih/night prayer, and Quran studies).3. Maintaining zakat, infaq and shadaqah (almsgiving and charity).4. Family night, conducted every Friday night. This program is arranged not only for Muslim families, but also for non-Muslim families.5. Guest lecturers.6. Sunday school.7. Summer School.8. Social services such as Islamic Marriage and Islamic Funerals. In addition to the activities stated above, the mosque continues the ongoing capital campaign to build a full elementary and high school of study which will combine Islamic studies and general studies. Membership and Affiliation About 400-500 Muslims usually come to Jum’ah prayer on Friday, and about 40-60 Muslims attend daily prayer. The estimated total membership of the community is between 2,000 and 2,500, based on the number who congregate for Eid prayer. Ethnically, most of the members are Indo-Pakistani or from the Middle East. Although the Imam emphasizes that the mosque does not follow any one Islamic school, in prayer most of members follow the Hanafi or Syafi’i legal school. However, the Imam emphasizes that the mosque does not discriminate among Muslims based on the school they follow. Sometimes a few Maliki followers, and even Shi’i Muslims from Iran, also participate in mosque activities. In terms of Muslim organizations in the United States, the Imam of the mosque stated that the mosque has a good relationship with many Muslim organizations such as ISNA, ICNA, AMANA, CAIR, and so forth. However, the Imam emphasized that the mosque does not affiliate with any one organization. In the word of the Imam: we work technically with everybody but we do not belong to anybody. We are a very independent organization. Imam and People in Charge of the Mosque The Imam of the mosque is Bilal Karakira, a Lebanese who has been in the United States for more than 10 years. The Imam is responsible for more than religious services and daily prayer. The Imam states that his biggest task is to unify the community. His second task is to educate the community about Islam, about what is halal (allowed) and what is haram (forbidden). Another task is taking care of the youth. The Imam plays a big role in the lives of youth, directing them to the right way. If the Imam does not direct them correctly they could get into drug abuse, adultery, and other bad things. The task of the Imam is, then, to attract young men and women and try to develop them in an Islamic way. Yet another job of the Imam is to solve the problems of the community. So people call the Imam about business disputes, divorce, marriage, family disputes, demanding resolution of the conflict, and so forth. In addition to the Imam, there are 28 people on the Sunday and Summer School Staff, which includes teachers, a librarian, and office personnel. About 215 students are currently enrolled from lower elementary through high school. The Impact of 9/11 and Interreligious Activities According to the Imam, the 9/11 tragedy did not significantly affect this community. They still have the same activities and they did not decrease or increase programming. Because media treatment of Islam was biased after 9/11, the community reached out to non-Muslims to explain to them that Islam is not a violent religion. This community has had no problem so far. It was true that there was an incident in June 2004: some people spray-painted over the name of the mosque on the sign outside. But, otherwise, the neighbors are pleasant. There has been no other destruction or damage to the building, and no attacks on personnel. Following 9/11, in order to support the community, the mosque invited some fellow Muslims from CAIR (Center for American-Islamic Relations) to give lectures. They had 6-7 lectures, especially about how to deal with the issues of 9/11, including how to support each other in the face of discrimination from the wider community and how to deal with non-Muslims. The community even got some support from Jewish rabbis and Christian priests who came to the mosque after 9/11.