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       The Islamic tradition begins with the prophet Muhammad, whom Muslims believe was the last in a long line of prophets sent by Allah to bring God's truth to humanity. These prophets included Abraham, Moses, and Jesus in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Since Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all share respect for the Torah, they are known together as people of the Book. The prophet Muhammad was born about 570 C.E. in modern day Saudi Arabia and in 610 C.E. began receiving the words of Allah (God) through revelations from the angel Gabriel. He was instructed to spread this message to all who would listen and continued to be given these words (later codified as the Qu'ran, or the primary holy scripture of Islam) until shortly before his death in 632 C.E. Muhammad is regarded as a model for the ideal person. His thoughts and actions are recorded in the Hadith-a blueprint for the application of the Qu'ran within daily life. Muslim faith consists of five core practices, or the Five Pillars of Islam. These acts are required of all Muslims and include: a brief expression of faith ("There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah"); prayer offered five times daily while facing the holy city of Mecca; fasting during the holy month of Ramadan; the hajj, or a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca (if possible); and the giving of alms to those in need. Today Islam is second only to Christianity in its number of worldwide followers and consists of two primary subgroups-Sunni (which comprise the vast majority of adherents) and Shia Muslims.
       Both the Qu'ran and the Hadith emphasize the connection between spirituality and health. Muslims believe that they are better able to withstand suffering if they possess a strong relationship with God, commit themselves to adhering to Qur'anic commandments, and model the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Acting upon these injunctions, Muslims were among the first in the world to build hospitals to insure more effective care for the sick. Taken in their entirety, the Five Pillars of Islam address all facets of health. The first and second Pillars provide the basic prayer necessary to foster and maintain spiritual health and guidelines for its use. Ablutions, or ritual cleansings, always accompany these prayers and thus prepare one's body for divine entreaty. The third Pillar, pilgrimage, is an event that is vital for one's religious development but also possesses many social components that inculcate a sense of a worldwide community of belief. The fourth Pillar entails an abstinence from eating, drinking, and smoking from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. This practice functions as a show of devotion, but also provides physical and mental restoration. Finally the fifth Pillar involves a charitable tithe offered to those in financial need and thus further unites spiritual and social health.
         In this section of the Gallery, you will find images from the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City (Missouri). The building is primarily constituted of prayer halls for men and women and thus demonstrates the importance of spiritual cultivation within Islam. Also pictured is a mihrab, or prayer nook, that indicates the direction of Mecca and signals the significance of that city for all Muslims, and a clock that indicates times for daily prayer. One can also see a site for ritual ablutions, which further indicates the necessity of bodily cleanliness when entering into a time of prayer. Finally, a few exterior shots display the society's minaret, or prayer tower. Through the verticality of this structure, Muslims are reminded of the integral link between submission of their will to Allah (which is the meaning of the word 'Islam') and overall well-being.

Islamic Center of Greater Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, 04, AK  

Clocks Indicating
Daily Prayer Times


Men's Prayer Hall

Mihrab Indicating Direction of Mecca


Minaret and Dome

Minaret Detail

Site for Ablutions
before Prayer

Women's Prayer Hall