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Updating Mosques?

The Prophet's Mosque in Medina

The Prophet's Mosque in Medina

Among the most prominent symbols of Islam is the mosque. The dome and the minaret instantly come to mind when someone thinks of the Muslim place of worship. The designs that dominate the Islamic world tend to stem from Arabesque styles from the early periods of Islam. However, there have been calls to modernize mosque architecture to reflect the changes in the Muslim world. Those who make such calls argue that there is no such thing as “Islamic architecture” and that the only real requirement for a mosque is that it be clean and suitable for prayer. Others, though, contend that there must be something recognizably “Islamic” about the structure so that anyone who sees it associates it with Islam. Continue reading

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Latin America

Islam in Brazil

Maria Moreira, Islam For Today

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. However, in Latin America, and specifically in Brazil, this is not the case. Why? Maria Moreira, a Brazilian convert who teaches at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, examined the history and current state of the Muslim community in Latin America’s largest country. She found two main reasons for the low conversion rate.

The first is the lack of trust and understanding by Brazil’s Arab-Muslim community. The new converts were treated more as “intruders” to the community. They “have to fight alone against the criticism of his/her family, friends, the Brazilian society and worst: fight against the criticism of their own fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. The feeling of isolation leads some to abandon Islam after a while.” The second reason is the shortage of good books and other resources about Islam in the Portuguese language. “The other Latin people are Spanish speakers and can depend on good works translated to Spanish. However, Brazilians are the only Portuguese speakers among Latinos and this fact increases their difficulties.” Continue reading