I attended the evening services of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston Mosque on Friday, February 27. As I drove up to the building, I noticed that it was gated and there were quite a few trespassing signs. On one particular gate, I noticed that there was a sign written in Arabic. The parking lot of the building was extremely small as was the building itself. I noticed that within the parking lot there were numerous cabs. The color of the mosque was beige. While the mosque was only a one-story building, it contained five pillars. On each pillar was a moon crescent similar to the moon crescent found on the Pakistani flag. The windows of the building were gated similar to the entrances and the parking lot of the building. There was only one main building where the services were held unlike the layout of other religious sites, such as the Broadway Baptist Church and synagogue I visited, which had separate buildings for religious education. Since the main entrance had a large gate, which was closed, I entered through the side entrance of the building. To the right of the side entrance was a washroom. I toured the inside of the washroom. It was extremely elegant, with shiny faucets at both waist level height and feet level height. The only drawback to the washroom was the smell. It had a particular unpleasant odor associated with it. After I placed my shoes on the shoe stand, I put on one of the many sandals made available in the mosque. I then proceeded into the washroom where I washed my feet first at the feet level sinks, which were located in the back of the washroom. Afterwards, I washed both my hands and my face at the waist level sinks. After drying off, I exited from the washroom and place the borrowed sandals back on the shoe stand. Next to the shoe stand was table that contained brochures as well as magazines. I noticed that there were magazines related to Kashmir on the table. Above this table was a message board. One particular flier that stuck out to me was a warning stating that permission from the Greater Houston Islamic society was required prior to any solicitation occurring at this location. The hall outside the service area, which contained the shoe stand and the message board, was tiled and had three large white tables. Around these tables were chairs made available for members of the congregation to socialize at after prayer services as well as for members to observe prayer services outside of the prayer hall.
Before the services began, many members of the congregation were already displaying signs that they were silently prayer. They did the typical gestures associated with Islamic prayer, which include the touching of the ear lobes while standing. Other members of the congregation were socializing with each other. Additionally, I noticed that the congregation was predominantly male with very few females present. Within the prayer hall, there were no benches and a few chairs made available for the elderly. I noticed that there were some books that were not the Quran located on a bookshelf on one of the sidewalls. Also, there was a small locked boxed embedded into the back wall that was labeled for charity, in both English and Arabic. There was ethnic diversity amongst the members of the congregation, which included Asian, African American, and various Middle Eastern members.
The services begun on their scheduled time, which was available on the website of the mosque. There was a prayer leader who prior to starting the services loudly recited Arabic prayers that contained the name Allah within them. Once the prayers started, all the members of the congregation lined up in a single line, which included single division segregating men and women. The services utilized a significant amount of hand gestures, which included going from a complete upright position to getting on ones knees and placing ones head face down on the floor. The language used during the prayer was Arabic rather than...
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