Social World of Mosques
Mosques are buildings. They are also communities. In Detroit, where Muslims are a minority population, mosques have become alternative social worlds, where people can make and remake themselves as Muslims in a non-Muslim society. To thrive in this new milieu, Detroit mosques must provide more than prayer space. Large, vibrant mosques routinely include daycare facilities, private schools, basketball courts, libraries, media resource centers, banquet halls, and shiny industrial kitchens equipped to feed hundreds of guests at weddings, Muslim holiday celebrations, and community fundraisers. Even very small groups of Muslims, who meet in apartments and converted houses, have dreams of someday building a mosque with a social hall and classrooms where their children can study Islam. Detroit’s first mosques, built in the 1920s and 1930s, already had these features.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
Greater Detroit is home to over a dozen charter schools that teach Arabic, the language of the Qur’an. In some cases, these charter schools are informally affiliated with a mosque, from whom they lease their space. There are also five private Islamic schools, along with a constantly fluctuating number of “weekend schools,” where young Muslims are taught Arabic and other homeland languages as well as the history, principles, and practices of Islam. Evening lectures and Friday night forums have become popular among Muslim teens and young adults. Larger mosques offer “mainstream” forms of moral instruction, such as Boy and Girl Scout troops, athletics programs that emphasize “character development,” and summer camps for youth.