Jamila Jamal: Mosque Visit

When we visited the Islamic Center of Cleveland, I found that the mosque function and design reflect concepts of Islam based in the Qur’an. From the outside, the simple colors of the mosque display the idea that during time of prayer, everyone is equal regardless of social class and it invalidates material desires. When entering the mosque, there is an area to perform ablutions, which is a ritual that is associated with being pure during prayer. It allows each person to physically cleanse himself or herself as he or she prepares mentally to enter the mosque with a pure mind. While Islam states that each person is responsible for their individual actions and their own prayers, it is imperative to mention the concept of strength in numbers.

The carpet is a great example of this idea. The carpet has an individual section for each person to pray in, however, the there is no space between each individual prayer place. Each spot is right next to and right in front of or right behind another one. The idea of praying individually yet with a congregation reflects the concept of togetherness in Islam. When prayers are recited together, the benefit and power from them increases exponentially. This promotes coming together during prayer time in Islam. Additionally, as each mosque faces the Kaba, another idea could be that each sacred space of Muslims around the world faces the same direction and all the energy reaches this one spot. This spot functions as the most sacred space for Muslims around the world for centuries and exemplifies the importance of sacred space and Islamic spirituality.

The library on the second floor of the mosque, while not part of the prayer hall, still further elucidates Islamic spirituality. A place of learning in a place of prayer reminds the mosque-goers of the Qur’an’s first verses. “Recite!” These verses invoke spirituality through knowledge. Knowledge and its acquisition are very important in Islam

The architecture of the mosque reinforces concepts found in the Qur’an and Islamic spirituality. Inside the mosque, we found eight columns in an octagonal shape. This geometric shape is suggestive of the eight gates to heaven. Additionally, the dome in the center of the mosque can reflect the infinite ascension to Allah. When I first saw the dome, I actually thought of a Buddhist temple I had the fortune to visit when I was in Thailand. They had a similar concept, with the tallest tower representing nirvana, or the ascension to a higher state of mind and also pointing to God. Generally, the iconography of tall domes and towers represent the ‘way’ to God in many religious sacred spaces. This mosque seems to be constructed with a semiotic approach; it combines different aspects of calligraphy, geometric patterns, and color schemes within the architecture and interior design in order to echo some key aspects of Islam.