By Kelly Williams
On October 7, mosques in Southern California scheduled an Open Mosque Day where non-Muslims could tour the mosques and talk with Muslims who attended the mosque. We assembled a team (that will remain anonymous for obvious reasons) to obtain first-hand reports at four mosques. One of the objectives of the mosque visits was to confirm the conclusions of a 2011 survey of 100 mosques published in the Middle East Quarterly that 81 percent of U.S. mosques display moderately violent to highly violent literature and that their practices showed strong compliance with Sharia Law. The reports below, therefore, address the evidence of rigorous enforcement of Sharia Law as well as other observations of interest to those who have wondered what actually goes on inside the mosques. What stands out is the stark contrast between the “look and feel” of a mosque as compared with an American church or synagogue.
Mosque: King Fahd Mosque, Culver City.
* Segregation of women in prayer. * Some men with beards. * Most women in hijabs/scarves. * Markers in carpet for prayer lines. * Some attendees bearded with head covering and wearing traditional garb.
Militant literature on sale or in library:
* Arabic books outnumbered English books about 4 to 1. * Authors included Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Ibn Taymiyah, Martin Lings, and Karen Armstrong. * Most of English Qurans were post-1970 translations.
Foreign influence in the Mosque:
*Could not identify mosque leader. Guides said the mosque was run by a rotating committee and numerous prayer leaders. * All inscriptions were in Arabic. *Mosque funded by Saudi Arabia, and past imams have been on the payroll of the Saudi Arabian Consulate of Los Angeles.
*Free Qurans available, but no visitor pamphlets were on display.
*Women separated from men for tours of mosque. *Women prayed in separate balcony area. *Most women wore hijabs or scarves.
*Worshipers were of all races and nationalities – no one race was predominant.
*Mosque website says it is a Sunni (traditional) mosque.
Male Team Member 1: The man who guided me around was from Afghanistan and had been in the U.S. for about 20 years. He denied any knowledge of former terrorists attending the mosque, and said they don’t keep membership rolls. He was very congenial, and I was convinced that he was not involved in the Islamist agenda. He did not read Arabic, however, and when I asked tough questions about Islam, he handed me off to Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.
One issue discussed was the condemnation of Christians and Jews in Surah 1 of the Quran. Mr. Syed was clearly very proficient in takiyya, using the reference books in the mosque’s own library, and then he quickly cut off the conversation and said he would continue the conversation via email.
Female Team Member 2: We ladies were first warmly greeted by Najat, a Moroccan woman, and Billie, a Burmese woman whose brother was also heavily involved in the mosque. I decided to get right to the point and challenged Billie (by now it seemed too intense for Najat, so she left) on Surah 4:34 (commanding men to beat their women). She was quick to defend that domestic violence occurs in all religions, and that she runs a shelter for abused Muslim women. I also challenged the segregated prayer areas and she pointed out that women prefer to pray their own way, and do not want to prostrate in front of men with their butts up. We also got into a bit of the life of Mohammad, who she said was the perfect man to emulate, and I pointed out that I was not convinced of that, since he married his daughter-in-law, and a 6-year-old (Aisha). She dismissed that, as the son was adopted and Aisha was betrothed. She seemed uncomfortable and kept telling me that I should speak with her brother as he has good explanations about these issues. I told her that it was obvious to me that she hadn’t read the Koran, and she said she can recite in Arabic, but doesn’t know the meaning. I told her it was important to know the meaning, as she may find that her prophet may not be as pure as she was lead to believe. We parted on friendly terms with her giving me her contact information.
Female Team Member 3: Welcoming atmosphere?Well, not really. We turned into the parking lot and waited while a young man took his time and strolled in front of the car with his face directed away from us. Forget about asking him where we should park. We were not worthy of his attention. No signage saying “visitors park here” or “stairway this way” or “welcome visitors. Please leave your shoes here.” We actually violated protocol accidentally by walking up the “no shoes” stairwell, not knowing any other way to get into the mosque.
No plates of cut up fruit or carafes of juice. There was some bottles of water, some coffee from Starbucks in cardboard dispensers, one meager plate of cookies or pastries. I didn’t want to eat from it in case that was all they had and the kids might go hungry. This was in complete contrast to church and synagogue open houses/hospitality hours and other events where if there isn’t homemade food, there is bakery food, and plenty of drinks on ice.
The ladies who greeted us were gracious and friendly. It was prayer time so we were hustled out to go upstairs with the women because the men had to begin their prayers. Upstairs in the women’s balcony it was hot and stuffy. The windows opening to the men’s main prayer room were mostly closed, but you could look down and observe. The windows toward the outside were frosted glass and were closed. The men got a fresh cool breeze from outside, upstairs we were sweltering. Not that anybody would pay attention to my opinion, but why not give the ladies the most appealing and comfortable spot and go upstairs like gentlemen?
I did notice while observing my team members challenge the hosts and hostess, that when they quoted passages from the Quran the immediate response was that it wasn’t true; that the interpretation was incorrect. The yellow-shirted man in the library (Shakeel Syed) wanted to stop team member 1 from talking then and there and put him off until a later time. Young boys were watching avidly as team member 1 pressed his points. It was a case of we want to educate and indoctrinate you, but you may not ask any questions because we don’t have the answers or we don’t like the answers and we don’t want to admit it in any case. Their host’s and hostess’s voices raised, all the while addressing us as “Brother” and “Sister” and being very sincere, in the case of the woman, offering to bring in her brother-in-law the imam to explain because she really didn’t know the Koran very well and the man because he would explain later. She really was sweating it. His voice got very tight. Both team members were asking pointed questions. My rabbi could have handled such challenges so much better than the Imam and the Muslima lady. In fact, so could his 14-year-old daughter.
Shakeel Syed assumed that I was team member 1’s wife. How odd, that there can be no single woman not connected to a male owner. Like, who is controlling the woman who is in the same room with you?
THE LIBRARY: Where are the tables and chairs for students to sit and read the books? A Muslima carried in some chairs for a group of elderly white ladies she was escorting around and lecturing to, and there were a few chairs and two desks in the back where a pair of bored teenage boys sat minding a couple of computer screens.
One of the male guides tried to distract me from recording the names and authors of the books by talking about the library. He pointed to all the collections on the opposite wall, how they were so beautiful. I had seen them earlier, of course. There was shelf after shelf of antiquated sets of volumes with matching bindings and gold script on the spines, but since all of them were in Arabic, I hadn’t explored them further. They were of all colors, which reminded me of encyclopedia sets. He told me that they got all their books from donors. What did it matter the beauty of the collections, if none of it compelled anyone to pick them up and enjoy them? And how could one read if there were no chairs to sit in and read? How many members of the mosque actually read Arabic?
SECURITY SYSTEM AND CAMERAS: I looked around the garage for security cameras when we parked and also looked around the ceilings while we walked around the mosque. I didn’t notice any. But later I spotted a big screen TV divided into about 20 squares showing all kinds of angles viewing inside the mosque. Such a lot of money on security for a building that is unlikely to be breached or damaged or vandalized, yet nothing in the library to encourage reading or study the way most libraries are outfitted.
Important Fact: Two of the 9/11 hijackers (Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar) and the soldier who killed fellow soldiers in Kuwait with hand grenades in March 2003 (Sgt. Hasan Karim Akbar) attended the King Fahd Mosque before their acts of terrorism. The mosque’s Imam Fahad al Thumairy, an employee of the Saudi Arabian Consulate, was deported in May 2003, for supporting terrorism. The mosque is supported by The Islamic Foundation of Shaikh ibn Taymiyyah (who died in prison in 1328), whose book “Answering Those Who Altered the Religion of Jesus Christ” is considered one of the most important Islamic books published in the United States.
Read the reports on the other 3 mosques at Front Page