Center for Faith and Vocation

Masjid Al-Fajr

2846 Cold Spring Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Phone: (317) 923-2847
Fax: (317) 923-8511

Institutional History

The Masjid Al-Fajr Islamic Center of Greater Indianapolis was founded in 1971. Masjid Al-Fajr aims to develop Islamic character within Indianapolis both individually and throughout the Muslim community. Masjid Al-Fajr accomplishes this by serving the community through its contribution of education, literature, and public service. The masjid also achieves this through collaboration with many other Islamic organizations in North America.

The Masjid Al-Fajr is also open for a wide variety of services. These services not only include the typical daily salat  prayers, but also Ramadan extended prayers, and the Eid prayers, for the two Islamic holidays of Eid ul-Fitr  and Eid ul-Adha. The Masjid Al-Fajr also services a full-time Islamic school, the Madrasa-Tul-'Ilm (MTI) or School of Knowledge, and a weekend Islamic school, the Al-Ilm. The full-time school offers a full academic curriculum but it also emphasizes the development and application of Islamic moral values and character. The weekend school, however, complements an academic education through the study and discussion of Islamic history and the Qur'an, as well as the application of Islamic fundamentals and behaviors. The masjid  also has an extensive library with several types of Islamic media. 1

Demographics

At the Masjid Al-Fajr there are about 50 attendees at the jummah khutbah (Friday service). The congregation is primarily of Asian and Middle Eastern descent. The ages of the attendees vary from small children to full grown adults. Many of the attendees come with their immediate family members: spouse and children. The average family in attendance appeared to be from the lower middle class and attendees were employed in a variety of professions. There were also a small number of Euro-Americans at the congregation, many of whom were converts to Islam after many years of practicing a different faith.

Service Style

The Masjid Al-Fajr, visitors is a large facility with a round dome at the top, white marble, and large windows. Images of God and other important religious figures, such as Muhammad, Abraham or Jesus Christ, are not present, because Muslims fear that some may be led by such images to idolatry. People affiliated with the mosque sit on the carpet, while those who are not sit near the back of the facility. The Masjid Al-Fajr leadership will be happy to answer visitors' questions about the faith or about how their service is conducted. Guests who attend a Friday afternoon prayer service will hear the mosque's leader, known as an imam, give a message from the Qur'an, in English, for about 20 minutes. (During this time, people sit quietly and meditate on what is being said.) After the message is delivered, people will stand and face the direction of Mecca and another person, known as a muezzin, will call them to prayer, and the Imam will then lead them in prayer, in Arabic. 2Called salat, the prayer always has a set order, and is conducted in cycles (called rakat). Each cycle contains several poses: standing erect, bowing with one's hand on one's knees, kneeling with head up, and kneeling with one's forehead on the ground. These poses are accompanied by ritual phrases, among them the takbir (Allahu Akbar -"God is Great") and passages from the Qur'an. Depending on which of the five daily prayers they are conducting, Muslims will complete 2-4 of these cycles and will end by turning to their right and left and saying salaam ("Peace") to their neighbors. Each cycle takes a few minutes to complete.

After prayers are offered, the imam will come forward and share announcements with the people. Finally, after the service, people will mingle among one another and talk about prayer concerns, as well as life in general.

What to Expect

Anyone wishing to visit an Islamic mosque can expect to be warmly welcomed by the community of the mosque. One will find that many Muslims are excited to have the opportunity to educate others about their religion. For many Muslims, it seems that telling the story of their God and Prophet Muhammad is an act of faith in itself. For this reason, visiting an Islamic mosque can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience for those who wish to understand Islam through a first-hand experience.

The Al-Fajr community is very open to visitors and is enthusiastic about teaching people of all faiths about Islam and their beliefs. There are two important Arabic phrases that one can expect to hear repeated many times when visiting the Al-Fajr Masjid. As-Salaam Alaikum is one of these important phrases. The phrase means "Peace be unto you" (in Arabic). One will witness many members of the Al-Fajr community greeting each other with a firm handshake and these words. Many times even visitors will be greeted with these words. It is also important to note that the Al-Fajr community does not refer to their place of worship as a mosque but as a masjid. Mosque, in fact, is a French version of the word masjid ("place of kneeling") and is thus not commonly used by Muslims.

There are many preparations that must take place before one can actually enter the place of worship. There are rooms for both sexes to wash themselves to gain symbolic spiritual purity before entering the masjid. This is a requirement in the Islamic faith because one is supposed to be as close to pure as possible before entering. Upon entering the masjid, one will be asked to take off one's shoes and sit with members of one's own sex. The males occupy the front most region while the females are placed behind them. It is also important to sit facing towards Mecca, which all the members of the Al-Fajr community will be doing during prayer.

During the prayer services, it will be hard for visitors unfamiliar with the Arabic language to follow along, for the prayers are recited in their Arabic form as found in the Qur'an. A visitor will also notice that members of the mosque take different positions throughout the prayers- at one point they may bend over with their hand on knees, while at another time they may be standing or even prostrating in the direction of the qiblah. Visitors to the mosque were not directed as to how to participate in the service. Some, out of unfamiliarity, may feel more comfortable sitting quietly and respectfully during the service. Others may wish to participate in the prayers as best they can.

Sources

1Masjid al-Fajr Website. http://www.masjidalfajr.com/
2Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World's Religions: Tradition, Challenge, and Change. 4th Ed. New York: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2008