Mosques are holy places of worship for people who are adherents of the Islamic faith. The word mosque comes from the Arabic word Al-masjid. According to Islamic law, a structure or area which has been consecrated as a mosque will be a mosque forever until judgment day. The first mosques were built in the Arabian Peninsula as places for prayer and today are in many countries around the world. The architecture of traditional mosques usually features prayer halls, minarets, and domes. The holy man in charge of a mosque is called an imam. A mosque also serves as a place for settling disputes, charitable causes, information, and education.
History of Mosques in the US
The importance of mosques in the United States of America varies by region, and largely depends on the Muslim population in a given state. In 2017, there were 3.45 million Muslims in the United States making up about 1.1% of the total population. The first mosque in the US was in Biddeford, Maine, built by Albanian Muslims in 1915. The first purposely built mosque in the US is in Detroit, Michigan, built in 1921. The oldest, still functional, mosque in the US is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa built in 1934, while the oldest standing mosque in the US is in the Bronzeville area of Chicago built in 1922.
Ongoing Growth of Mosques In America
Mosques increased in number from about 1,209 in the year 2000 to about 2,106 in the year 2011. This is a 74% increase in a single decade. Most of the mosques in the United States are found along the Eastern Seaboard and Great Lakes. As of 2011, the state of New York contained the most mosques in the US with 257 closely followed by California with 246. Texas had 166, Florida 118, and Illinois and New Jersey both had 109. The largest mosque in the US is the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. In the West Coast, the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino, California, is the largest with 19,000 square feet of floor space. Garden Grove, California has the largest community of Muslim worshipers in the US with about 7,000 faithful.
The Political Role of Mosques in the US
Mosques have grown into places of importance politically at the turn of the century. Muslim leaders and imams have added tolerance and freedom of religion to their Islam sermons in mosques in the US since then. The English-speaking world has seen civic participation in many mosques due to the rise of the Islamic militants all over the world. Many political issues have been raised in sermons to calm the Muslim people. These changes have occurred more often in Muslim minority countries than in Muslim majority countries. To sum things up, the mosques in the US have become places where Muslims can come together more than ever before to learn and follow the precepts of Islam as taught by the prophet Mohammed.