<< About Islam: A peaceful faith

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Diverse people attended the mosque

Wearing a head scarf, Machiko Yasuda, 17, of Palos Verdes Peninsula High School joined other women for the prayer service at the Islamic Center of Southern California.
Photo by Dasha Tanner, 13,

Coming from an unreligious Japanese family, I didn’t really know what to expect from our mosque trip. I’d never attended a church or temple, so the idea of going to a place to pray was new to me. I’ve seen short clips on the news and photographs in newspapers of huge mosques overseas with hundreds of people, usually men, bowing and praying. Especially with the recent media focus on extreme Muslim terrorist groups, it seemed strict, cultlike and even intimidating. The fact that men and women pray separately seemed especially harsh. Whoever was making them pray seemed so strong—so powerful.

I was nervous that they might think we were disturbing their holy place, but instead I found the mosque to be very approachable. The Islamic Center was in a plain building right in the middle of a busy L.A. street near a Ralphs and small Korean restaurants. It was nice to see all the different people gathering—businessmen in suits, moms with their little girls maybe coming from home or school, young people, the elderly.

What amazed me the most about this mosque, though, was the diversity. There were people from different racial groups, speaking languages from all over the world. The diversity made me understand why Muslims, regardless of native country or language, follow the same customs all over the world. They read the Qur’an in Arabic, and pray in the same direction, facing Makkah (which is referred to as Mecca by English speakers). All the women wore scarves during services, too. I felt like everyone else, because I was wearing a scarf. These customs unite everyone, and I thought that was intriguing. I can see why that would make the religion stronger.

The speaker read from the Qur’an and talked about how the Prophet Mohammad wanted Muslims to be humble, truthful, grateful, optimistic and faithful to God. I don’t think he was preaching ideas unique to Islam, and that’s good. It shows how Islam isn’t as different compared to Christianity and Judaism as people think it is.
Machiko Yasuda, 17, Palos Verdes Peninsula HS

Men kneel in prayer in the men's area, which is decorated with ornate wooden carvings and calligraphy. As is traditional in Islamic mosques, the men and women attend services and pray in separate rooms.
Photo by Dasha Tanner, 13,

The sermon was uplifting

I was afraid that my parents would be nervous about my going to a mosque. After all, we’re Jewish, and most people think that Jews and Muslims don’t get along. But instead they were like, OK, go ahead. Since I go to a Catholic school, I have been to Christian services as well as Jewish services. There are some similarities between Catholic, Jewish and Islamic services. They all have a sermon and read from their holy scriptures.

I thought the sermon was uplifting. It was about being a role model: striving to be employee of the month as an example to others, helping others, helping your community. It was very peaceful as opposed to most people’s ideas of Islam. The people were listening intently, and very concentrated on prayer. I thought it was interesting to see a different point of view, a different culture.
Jennifer Golum, 15, Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks)

Would you like to visit this mosque?

At the Islamic Center of Southern California, visitors can attend services on Fridays at midday, meet with the religious director, or meet with the mosque’s youth group on Sundays. To arrange a visit from your school, church or synogogue, contact Religious Affairs Director Jihad Turk at turk@islamctr.org.