Why is the Islamic Cultural Center of NY so diverse?
The ICCNY is one of the most diverse communities in NYC, because it was built specifically for all Muslims. I understand that all mosques must be built for "all Muslims", but this center was founded by the Islamic World League, not just one country. From Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Senegal, Morocco, Bahrain, and so on. They all contributed to build it, even though Kuwait is takin almost 75% to support it. That is why you can see different ethnics or different people, from Africa, here, Bangladesh, from the Arabic, etc.
Why other mosques are so ethnically divided?
Most of the Masajid have been formed by a group of people who came from the same country. They collected contributions amongst them and they created a mosque to worship God, but really to serve their own community. A place where they can meet and pray 5 times a day, come together and teach their kids, bring all the community and spend the weekend there and pray Eid. This is why you can find many mosques that have a group of people who have the same nationality or same tribe. Most of the attendance of that mosque are from the same tribe and people.
Creating masajid by a particular group of people who came from the same country really helped to increase the number of masajid in New York City. If we say there is a big mosque in 96th street, lets all go pray there, not all the people are able to come here. But thinking of creating a msoque, or renting one in the as area where nearly 90% of these people who came from the same country, and is accessible to all of them, this helped to create many mosques. And it helped to spread Al-Islam and teach the kids the Ialamic values and morals. But in the future, my own point of view is, it will maybe be the same, because up to now, each of these groups are looking forward to purchasing an Islamic center, which will be an Islamic school, meeting hall, and a place to pray, and other places where they can meet for their social gatherings. Instead of renting a hall, they will have all these facilities in one building. Their communities are growing everyday.
Is there a tension between older and newer generation?
Yes, there definitely is.
Islam teaches us respect, and tells us what your duty/right towards your parents. This helps unite the older and newer generation. I know the father cannot be the same as me, he cannot have the same ideas. For me to change it, I must use wisdom, I cannot just come to him and tell him what you are doing is wrong, and false. This will upset him and he will not be ready to accept what I tell him. If I come with respect, logic, wisdom, etc, this will really help me.
This value still exists in the african community. Children respect their parents, and recognize the favor that their parents have done for them.They recognize that yes, after Allah, it is the parents that is the reason for them to be here. When you respect someone who is a wise person, you will own him. This is the method that we are using as Africans, which is why we do not have a large conflict between the old and young generation.The older generation knows that the newer generation is taking over. They are getting older, they are going one by one back to Allah, it is the new generation up and coming.
Describe the role of Women at 96th Mosque
The masjid is for all Muslims, man, women, and kids. Each of them have a role. Women have their own roles in the masjid, not to call athan, or deliver Khutbah, but the woman are also a part of the community. They are the ones who are taking care of the kids, they also clean the prayer room for the women, and also contribute money to support the masjid. We have 420 students at ICCNY weekend school, 90% of the teachers are women. And we are also training them to become more and more qualified to teach. Their minds are more open, as they are more ready to deal with kids than man. This is nature, because they bore them and took care of them, etc. We need to have weekend schools in the masajid to make the kids love the mosque. If the mosque is not a place to organize events for the kids, where the kids can come and spend their day. The mosque should not just be a place for worship, but a place where you can also have fun with the kids.
Should Mosques be involved with / raise awareness of politics overseas?
The masajid should keep clear from politics abroad. Example, the community that I lead, we always receive politicians, party leaders, etc that come to the mosque, but we always tell them when you come here, you be like any of the members of the mosque. We will allow you to greet the congregation, but you cannot talk about politics If you want to talk politics, you should rent a hall, and invite the people there. The mosque must be a place of worship, of teaching al-Islam, etc. But it is not supposed to be a place to discuss politics. This will lead to divisions. It must be free from politics. The Khateeb is not allowed to mentions any politics.