Second in the What You Will See Inside series, What You Will See Inside a Mosque by Aisha Karen Khan, photos by Aaron Pepis, conducts readers on a tour of a Muslim house of worship, at the same time ably introducing the tenets of the faith. The first spread, for example, introduces the call to prayer, or adhan. While the main text explains the function of the adhan and outlines prayer rituals, a large photo shows a man performing the adhan, and sidebars include photos of a minaret and of prayer clocks. The photos, mostly inviting and appealing, issue a friendly overture to a non-Muslim audience. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Except for the small round dome instead of a steeple and the lack of cross, the mosque featured in this book looks like any small modern house of worship in an American suburb. Similarities like that throughout the slim volume helped take away the other-ness that has always been attached to Islam in America. The author is the principal of an Islamic school in New York's Hudson Valley, eager to impart every detail of her faith and the places where that faith is practiced publicly. The text reads a little too much like a formal guidebook but the photos are bright and elegant and the information is thorough and accurate. There are insets on each page to explain even more details, like the qibl— an often beautifully decorated indentation in the wall of every mosque that directs prayer toward Mecca—or the topee, the small cap often worn by Muslim men and boys. Young readers learn that men and women pray separately so that women will not have to worry about their modesty when they bend down, often touching their forehead to the floor. There are discussions of other Muslim requirements and traditions, feasts and beliefs. This is an excellent classroom book to be brought out and shared when any classmates are celebrating Muslim holidays or to provide a general understanding of this rapidly growing religion. 2003, SkyLight Paths Publishing,
Gr 3-6-Khan makes it clear that her statements represent those of a devout Muslim: "We call our faith Islam"; "As Muslims we believe in Allah, the Arabic name for God"; and so forth. Thus, her book manages the marvelous balancing act of being strictly doctrinaire without being exclusionary, offensive, or proselytizing. Her focus is on what happens inside a mosque, but, in describing the parts of this structure and the behavior of Muslims within it, she must necessarily explain the beliefs that dictate the building's forms and its manner of use. This excellent introduction includes basic information on the Qur'an, the qibla (the niche indicating the direction in which Mecca lies), and the Five Pillars of Islam. It also details features such as the "bathrooms" in which adherents perform wudu (washing certain body parts prior to worship), the requirements of and the reasoning behind "modest" dress, and the importance of education. Full-page photographs are supplemented by smaller photos with informative captions. Much more practical and methodical than so many brief introductions to Islam with a more historical focus, Inside a Mosque makes an excellent companion to David Macaulay's Mosque (Houghton, 2003), which adds a further sense of the cultural breadth and the past of Islam.-Coop Renner, Fairmeadows Elementary, Duncanville, TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
As a woman who has embraced Islam, Khan is eager to share her religion with North American children. With its handsome layout, consisting of two-page spreads with one large, clear photograph occupying one page and text and smaller photographs with detailed captions on the other, this introduction to the holy buildings used by the Islamic faithful offers enough detail to provide both an accurate picture of the characteristics of a contemporary mosque in the US and some insight into the Islamic religion itself. Using photos taken in two suburban mosques in New York, Khan describes the different areas of the buildings, including the ritual washing area, the prayer hall, the school rooms, the reading room or library, and the minaret or tower. She discusses some practices in the Middle East, South Asia, and other parts of the Muslim world, but also speaks about specific North American adaptations, such as having to go back to work on Friday after midday prayer. Succinct, but informative, this can be used by schools, families, and religious education groups to encourage some sorely needed tolerance in this time of international strife. (Nonfiction. 6-10)