Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 27 August 2015.Phone: 713-779-1304
Project on Religion and the New ImmigrantsDr. Helen Rose Ebaugh has been researching religion and the new immigrants in the Houston area for a number of years, and this work is on-going. Dr. Ebaugh is a sociologist at the University of Houston. Her faculty profile reports that "recently Ebaugh has received two consecutive research grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts to study religion and the new immigrants in the United States. The results from the first grant that focused on the role of religious congregations in the incorporation of new immigrants is described in Religion and the New Immigrants: Adaptations and Continuities in New Immigrant Congregations (AltaMira Press, 2000). The subsequent research, which is still in progress, traces six of the immigrant congregations to their home countries in an attempt to trace the institutional, organizational and interpersonal influences between home and host religious communities. She routinely teaches courses at the University of Houston in the Sociology of World Religions and in Families Cross-Culturally."
Hoda Badr's Research on Al-Noor MosqueThe following research is taken from Hoda Badr's "Al-Noor Mosque: Strength Through Unity" in Helen Rose Ebaugh and Janet Saltzman Chafetz' Religion and the New Immigrants (Nen York: Altamira Press, 2000), pages 193-227. Badr's work is thorough, clear and nuanced. She begins her chapter with, "On the far north side of Houston, lying inconspicuously behind the trees, stands an imposing $1-million structure, the largest mosque in Texas – The Al-Noor Mosque (Mosque of Light) of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH). Built by community members with community funds, it stands as the proud symbol for Houston Muslims and mirrors the diverse and changing face of the Houston Muslim community, which has over 41 mosques and storefronts serving a population estimated to be over 60,000. Southwest Houston, the primary Muslim newcomer settlement area, is teeming with Muslim immigrant shops, businesses and restaurants. More established immigrants reside in north and northwest Houston, the site of this study.
Demographics"Al-Noor Mosque has...300 official members on its rooster, most of whom live within a 15-mile radius... The majority of those who attend...are Pakistani and Indian males over the age of 40 who have lived in Houston for 10 to 20 years" (Badr 196). Furthermore, "the northern zone in which Al-Noor is located is dominated by established immigrant Pakistanis and Indians. The majority of those who attend (Al-Noor)...are Pakistani and Indian males over the It is the largest and most dominant mosque in the citywide organization, which its members were instrumental in founding. While attempts have been made to include individuals from various ethnic groups on an administrative level, ethnic group members still tend to socialize with their own kind and this has especially marginalized Anglo female and African-American male converts. Within ISGH, inter-ethnic tensions have led to the wholesale departure of Arabs, and the exact role of the clergy within the organizational structure is still unclear. Women and second generation members are struggling to find their place within the mosque and ISGH. While special activities for youth and women are encouraged by the mosque administrative and social system. Assuming more active roles than their home-country counterparts, women confront an often unsupportive male leadership and traditional barriers that are increasingly defined as impractical and unnecessary. While many second-generation young adults are more knowledgeable about and committed to their religion (although not their ethnic culture), others are more ambivalent -- even hostile. Many young women confront issues concerning dress in their attempt to reconcile an Islamic identity with their desires to assimilate their American up-bringing and to build careers. Strength through unity, the explicit goal of ISGH and Al-Noor Mosque, is proving to be a challenging and difficult one to achieve" (Badr 227).
Activities and Schedule"Inside the mosque, men congregate on the first floor in the main prayer hall, a large root built to accommodate 500 people, with small windows and book shelves lining its walls" (Badr 194). "There is also a downstairs, auxiliary prayer room that accommodates about 200 people, and a second floor, which is the women's prayer area and extends as a balcony over half of the first floor. It accommodates about 200 to 300 people" (Badr 195).
Demographics"The Al-Noor Mosque provides a wide range of services to its members, including adult and child education classes throughout the week and on Sunday" (Badr 201). "A pot luck lunch is held every first Sunday of the month. Also, during Ramadan, the mosque sponsors a congregational Iftar every night" (Badr 214). The mosque is also a place for new immigrants to retain and develop their Islamic identity, some admitting that they have become more religious upon arriving in Houston (Badr 203). However, women are more limited in how their express their identities, especially in terms of leadership roles (Badr 217).
ConclusionHoda Badr concludes, "...the greatest challenge facing Houston Muslims is expanding the role of the mosque from a place of religious worship to a community center. By creating a citywide administrative structure which builds and oversees territorially based mosques, the Islamic Society of Greater Houston has been successful in bringing together large numbers of ethnically diverse Sunni Muslims to protect and strengthen the community of believers in a sometimes hostile and strange environment. The system provides a place where Muslims can transmit their beliefs and customs to the second generation, and a mechanism through which a network of Muslims across the city, state, and country can communicate and interact. However, its attempts to integrate various ethnic groups, women and converts has been only partially successful" (Badr 226-7).