The Islamic Center
In 1988, the Islamic community in Evansville was given a piece of land at 1332 Lincoln Avenue next to Saint Benedict's Church. Today, "The House of Allah" is the place for worship for around 250 people. The mosque (from Arabic masjid, a place for bowing down), where the faithful gather for the five daily prayers, can have many architectural features. According to the Quran, mosques are to be kept simple, clean and only decorated with verses from the Quran. While designs and patters are acceptable, pictures of objects or people are not to be found in the mosque because Allah is the only creator. A very important feature of all mosques is the mihrab, a semicircular niche usually set into the qibla wall. The niche, a familiar Greco-Roman architectural feature, generally enclosed a statue. However, for Islamic architecture, its origin, purpose and meaning are still debated. The imam (prayer leader) of the mosque in Evansville said that the only purpose of the mihrab is to project the voice of the imam.
A special or great mosque ideally is large enough to accommodate the community's entire population. Although the mosque in Evansville can hold the entire community, it is not considered a special mosque. In some mosques, a screened area called the maqsura, an area generally reserved for the mosque's ruler or his representative, precedes the mihrab. Many of the special or great mosques have tall towers to call the faithful to prayer called minarets. Only the special or great mosques are large enough to support such features. The most important mosque of all mosques is the Great Mosque of Mecca. This mosque was built by the prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael after Abraham was told by God as a test to take and leave his wife, Hagar, and their son, Ishmael, in the desert. After Hagar had gone back and forth between mountains looking for water, Ishmael stomped his feet and mysteriously out of the ground came a spring of water which is still there today. The mosque in Mecca is where an average of 3 million Muslims travel for their pilgrimage annually. According to the Evansville imam, one prayer in the Great Mosque of Mecca is the equivalent to 100,000 prayers in an ordinary mosque, such as Evansville's. The second most important mosque to Muslims is the Mosque in Medina which Muhammad built. The third most important mosque is the Abraham Al sharif in Jerusalem, which was also built by Abraham. One prayer in the mosques in Medina and Jerusalem is worth 10,000 in an ordinary mosque.