UnMosqued is a documentary film which aims to highlight the growing need for reform in many of the mosques found in America. The purpose of the documentary is to engage a group of people who have been disconnected from their local mosque and explore the various reasons that have led to this sentiment. It is clear that many youth who are likely to be second or even third generation Americans have felt judged or unwelcome at a mosque. It may be the degree of friendliness or a lack of ownership that breeds this feeling. Masajid may not be doing enough to attract and retain the youth, which further alienates the future members of the community from using the mosque space for their spiritual growth.
UnMosqued aims to explore this growing unease with the masjid space and why it exists. One clear factor is the cultural divide that pervades the American Mosque landscape. According to The American-Mosque 2011 report, “3/4 of all mosques are dominated by one ethnic group. In most cases this one group is either South Asian, Arab, or African American,” (p.14). As Muslims become integrated within American society and grow up in a diverse multi-racial environment, it becomes increasingly uncomfortable to enter a mosque that is predominated by a certain culture. Millenials and Generation Xers do not have as strong of a relationship with their parents’ country of origin which exacerbates the discomfort they feel when entering ethnic-based masajid. Granted, these mosques have been formed in order to provide comfort and community to the large influx of Muslims that have come from diverse parts of the world to America. While it has successfully accomplished that goal, the catch 22 is that it will not sustain such comfort with future generations while on American soil.
We are indebted to the sacrifices the first generation of American Muslims provided us with, including the infrastructure and community organizing that was required to build our current mosques and Islamic schools. According to the American-Mosque 2011 report study, in a little over 30 years, they established over 2000 mosques all across the country, and today, only 10% of all Muslims in America attend these mosques. Sadly, most of the established mosques in America have created a large amount of confusion in the minds of the Millenials and the Generation Xers between what is a cultural practice and what is essential Islam.
The problem we are facing is a subtle one that very few people are aware of. Many Muslims enter the mosque and think that what we see and experience is normal and that this is how a mosque should be, while in reality, what we oftentimes experience in the mosque is nothing more than a cultural interpretation of Islam that does not take into account the American context. We hope the film will inspire people who are unmosqued to feel a sense of responsibility and to take the film to their communities, watch it with them, and have serious discussions as an effort to remedy the dire situation we find ourselves in. We hope the film will move the elder generation to make some needed changes in our mosques in order that we not lose the future generations of Muslims in America.