A tall, mint green-colored building stands proud among an adjacent row of townhouses and apartment complexes. Speeding cars, honking horns and laughing and shouting students at a nearby school resonate throughout the community. Every Friday at 1 p.m., a man appears from the building and cries out in song, initiating the call for prayer.
The sidewalks are immediately crowded, and the streets are packed with hundreds of Muslims making their way to the Makkah Masjid Islamic Cultural Center in preparation for Salah. For many Muslims who live in North Philadelphia, this is a typical Friday.
The center is one of the primary institutions for worship in the Islamic community.
“Allah put us here as examples to follow. We are all children of God,” said Talibudin, a local resident who occasionally attends Makkah Masjid.
The center is operated by the Hyderabad House Inc., a nonprofit organization that has numerous locations and establishments throughout Pennsylvania. Brother Ahmed A. Ahmed is the founder and president of Hyderabad House, Inc.
Though the center is mainly frequented from local Muslims, several hundred members travel to worship at Makkah Masjid for the traditional congregational prayer.
The center provides facilities for Muslims to worship and allows them to teach Islam to whoever is interested. Located at 1319 W. Susquehanna Ave., the center is conveniently accessible for Muslim students from Temple, as they are able to pray and attend services on Fridays.
Talibudin said the Islamic faith has a profound impact on many individuals throughout the community and has strongly influenced their lives.
“It called me, and I couldn’t help but answer,” Talibudin said. “It was like a song in my heart. I heard the call and I went running. I’ve never looked back since.”
Khalid Blankinship, director of graduate studies in the religion department, has conducted Friday services at Makkah Masjid.
“There are five daily prayers starting at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and total darkness. On Fridays, noon prayer is replaced by congregational prayer,” Blankinship said.
Prayer is conducted daily throughout the week. On Fridays, congregational prayer includes a 30-minute sermon on Islam and Salah. Attendance for men is mandatory and optional for women.
Other nearby Islamic centers in Philadelphia include Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, located at 1501 Germantown Ave., Masjid Muhammad of Philadelphia, located at 414 E. Penn St. and the United Muslim Masjid, located at 810 S. 15th St.
“Islam gave me a value and it gave me a principle on how to grow,” Talibudin said. “It was the best thing for me. Everything in this life belongs to Allah. God calls each and every individual in the manner He sees fit.”
Taara Savage-El can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.