Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 5 August 2002.Phone: 313-842-9000
Research Conducted by The University of Michigan-Dearborn Pluralism Project.
HistoryDuring the 1920s, Middle Eastern workers followed the Ford Motor Company from its Highland Park plant to a new facility, the Rouge Plant, in Dearborn's Southend. While the first mosque in metropolitan Detroit had been established in Higland Park, the need for a religious center in Dearborn became apparent to Ford Motor Company employees who lived near the Rouge Plant and wanted a place to practice Islam. Many of those involved in founding the new center were Sunni Muslims from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, and in addition to the men the center's Women's Society played an active role in the early years raising funds for the new building. By 1937, under the spiritual leadership of Imam Hussein Karoub, the ground floor of the building was completed. Further construction continued into the 1950s, adding a first-floor prayer hall, lecture hall, office, and a large dome. Following Imam Karoub's retirement, Sheikh Ahmed Mehanna, an Egyptian, became imam from 1959-1964.
MembersOver the years, the composition of the mosque has broadened considerably from the original Lebanese affiliates to include Iraqis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and white Americans. There are especially large numbers of Muslims from Yemen who have moved into the surrounding area and attend the mosque. In addition, African Americans from Detroit who want to live and raise their families in a more Muslim neighborhood have also settled in the area. Therefore, those attending the American Muslim Society are now a diverse group.
DescriptionThe building occupied by the American Muslim Society is an elongated vertical brick building with three floors. It is presently being enlarged. On the main floor of the building is a lobby, a kitchen and several bathrooms. On the upper level is the main prayer room and the imam's office. In the basement is the prayer room for women and several classrooms.
Surrounding AreaMuch of the neighborhood surrounding the center is an industrial area of Dearborn known as the "Southend." In it are located several industries including the Ford Rouge plant and the Dearborn Sausage Company. Despite the problems associated with air and noise pollution, there are residential streets and the area is home to a variety of Middle Eastern markets, restaurants, bakeries, and social service agencies.
Conflicts and AdaptationsThe history of the American Muslim Society exhibits much of the tension between recent immigrants and those who constitute the second and third generations in immigrant families. There have been significant differences in attitude and practice with respect to attending Friday prayer, fasting during Ramadan, and praying five times a day. As Muslims in Detroit became assimilated into American culture, the more recent immigrants attending the American Muslim Society have returned the center to a type of mosque associated with early Islam, therefore excluding many of the social functions (weddings, funerals, cultural events, and community activities) that had come to be associated with it and American religious centers in general.
ActivitiesIn addition to prayers, the center sponsors weekend lectures, classes on Islam, and instruction in the Arabic language. It is not involved in any interfaith activities.