Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 28 March 2013.Phone: 404-874-7521
Activities and ScheduleWeekly Friday prayer service (Juma'ah), daily and wekly (mostly afternoon and evening) Qur'an, Hadith, and Islamic education for adults and children, weekend Qur'an, Hadith, and Islamic education for children; Da-un-Noor School for k through eighth grades; Dar-ul-Uloom for children ten years through adult, focuses on Islamic education especially in training Jurists; "24hr Muslim" program for young adult Muslim men (ages 12 through college); "24hr Muslimah" program for young adults Muslim women (ages 12 through college).
HistoryAl-Farooq was founded primarily by Pakistani and Arab Muslim immigrants beginning in the late 1970s. Before the Masjid was formed, area Muslims prayed at several other Masjids, or at home. According to most Muslims I have talked to, there is no such thing as a regular membership at a Masjid. Muslims may attend any Masjid for Juma'ah and people have traditionally moved from one location to another on a regular basis. Those who formed al-Farooq were Muslims who lived in the area around Georgia Tech for whom travel to other Masjids was a burden. Many participants at al-Farooq continue to come from Georgia Tech. In addition Muslims in the area have purchased several rental properties that are ofered to new immigrant Muslims at low rental rates. Many of these Muslims have llittle English language abilities and Masjid participants work to find these people jobs and ESL programs. The Masjid has a board of directors who early on purchased much of the adjoining property, including a number of houses which until recently the Masjid maintained as rental properties (for both Muslims and non-Muslims). When the Masjid was founded in 1980, around 100-200 people regularly attended Juma'ah prayers. Today over 1200 people attend Friday prayers, with the majority having to say prayers in the masjid basement and basement of the adjoining Dar-un-Noor Grade School. The Masjid is currently undergoing a $3.8 million expansion project which will include expanding the current prayer area (which according to the Masjid web page can currently hold 300 people, but in reality seems to hold only around 200), a new library, and facilities for youth activities such as soccer. Work began in the summer of 1999, although there has been little work done as of June 2000. This work is in addition to remodeling and expansion of the grade school. Imam Abdullah has been at al-Farooq for about ten years. He has an extensive Islamic education and is the director of the Dar-ul-Uloom school that trains people in basic levels of Islamic law. He is also a native of Pakistan. The Imam is very well thought of by Atlanta area Muslims, particularly for his excellent Arabic pronunciation. His sermons (Khutba) are very methodical and well planned, although less exciting that some Imams. His recitation of Qu'ran and Hadith however is sometimes quite moving, which is very important for the aesthetics of the Khubta. His ability as a reciter is cited as being responsible for the growth in attendance to the Juma'a, especially for transient congregants. One mane remarked that the Imam has "become an Arab," a great complement coming from an Arab immigrant. Several years ago there was a break between several regular members of the Masjid and Imam Abdullah. The break resulted in the formation of the new Masjid and Islamic school in East Metropolitan Atlanta (Lawrenceville Hwy and 285 Hwy). The break came about due to a disagreement over the concent of the Islamic education, with the break away group claiming that Imam Abdullah was too liberal (modernist) in orientation. The break, however, has not prevented al-Farooq from becoming the center of Islamic activities for the Atlanta area. The Masjid can frequently be seen on CNN and local news stations when reporters are looking for local Muslim reactions to national and international events. It has one of the largest education programs in the United States in Qur'an and Hadith, and beginning levels of Islamic instruction, especially law. Over the law few years it has also begun a successful da'wa (community outreach/conversion) program. This program works to heighten awareness of Islam for non-Muslims and to increase community and religious participation for Muslims. In 1998 the annual open house drew over 50 non-Muslims to the Masjid, a large number given the stigma that Islam has in the United States.
DemographicsThe Masjid does not have a regular congregation or membership. Numbers are approximate over a six month period. Attendees are about 30% South Asian, 24-30% Arab, 10-20% African American (sometimes as high as 30%), and the remaining are made up of Whites, Hispanics, Africans (sometimes as high as 10%), Indonesians and Malays, a growing number of Bosnians and Kosovars, Central Asians, and a very few Iranians.
DescriptionThe Masjid property is quite large (approximately 10 acres). The Masjid itself (before new construction) is a large square white two story building. The flat roof has been decorated with Arabesque art work. Windows and doorways are arched to give the building a Middle Eastern feel. The building itself seems to have been built before 1980, although I was unable to find anyone who knew what it was before the Masjid was dedicated. The main prayer area (the masjid itself) is a large rectangular room. The floor is carpeted and the rear third of the masjid can be partitioned (with a curtain) for women to use for prayer and instruction on non-Juma'ah occasions. (In December of 1999 I was advised the women will no longer be permitted to say prayers in the main prayer hall. The Imam now considers it improper for women to see men pray. This has been somewhat controversial and many women, and a few men, have decided to attend Juma'ah at other are masjids.) The mihrab (prayer niche) is an archway that appears to open into a small room (or maybe an alcove as there are no side wals). On the right side wall, towad the front of the room, there is hung a plaster cast of "al-Fatitha," or the opening surah of the Qur'an, which is also central to the ritual prayer. The prayer area is well lit with windows on the front and back of the room. After Juma'ah prayers a food stall is set up on the 14' street side of the building. The stall sells a variety of foods, usually chicken and deep-fried meat pastries. Only men are allowed to purchase the food so as to prevent mixing between men and women. However, husbands, brothers, and male friends purchase food for the women and carry it around to a fenced area toward the rear of the building where women congregate after prayers. The present Masjid building is surrounded by a small parking lot large enough for about 50 cars. To the east of the Masjid, behind a wooden fence, is a Halal market and Islamic bookstore. The selection of the bookstore is quite good and has become a place of discussion for Muslims interested in various aspects of piety and life. The grade school is situated behind the Masjid and is quite large. The school building is one story (and a basement) and is divided into classrooms situated on either side of a lone hallway. The classrooms are spacious and there is a prayer area in each room which is usually situated toward the front of the class. The Dar ul-Uloom school is situated on Masjid property well away from the main complex of buildings. It is housed in an old two-story red brick church.
Center ActivitiesThe Masjid is open seven days a week and is available for use for each of the five daily prayers. Evening school is held in both the masjid and the grade school, and on several occasions I have witnessed travelers and newcomers to the Atlanta area staying in the rear of the masjid until other accommodations can be found. The masjid area also hosts frequent halaquah, or discussion circles for Qur'anic recitation and general discussions about Islamic piety. The Masjid is also host to the two eids celebrations to which over 5000 people attend. The Masjid has organized an identification program for area Muslims. This program offers an "I am Muslim" sticker to be placed on drivers licenses. The State of Georgia has agreed to contact the Masjid in cases of death so that the Masjid can contact the next of kin and make arrangements of proper Muslim burial. The Masjid maintains a burial program that employs a number of people trained in the proper methods of preparing bodies of quick burial. As with many other area Masjids, al-Farooq has become increasingly active in encouraging Muslims to participate in the political process. I have been told that the Masjid has arranged a voter registration drive but I have been unable to confirm this.
OtherAl-Farooq has been very open to local schools and universities sending students in religious studies and Islamic studies courses to observe the activities of the Masjid. They conduct tours for classes if instructors make prior arrangements. Researcher: R. Kevin Jaques. Date: July 2000.