Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Turkish vs. Moroccan

Two of the biggest immigrant groups in Holland are the Turks and the Moroccans, so they form the bulk of the Muslim population here. Inshallah I'll start looking for a mosque to start praying at soon, and one thing I know is that there are Turkish mosques and Moroccan mosques. Coming from Cairo, I find this separation strange. From what I know, there are mosques for Muslims - from anywhere. It's weird that here you have a Moroccan mosque and a Turkish mosque. Of course that doesn't mean they only allow Moroccans/Turks in, but I'm sure it's rare to find a Moroccan in a Turkish mosque.

I guess I should try and find a Moroccan mosque, since the imam would speak Arabic. That's another thing I need to check - do the imams speak Dutch or Arabic/Turkish? If they do the sermons in Dutch, a lot of older immigrants probably won't understand it (although if you move to Holland you should definitely learn the language). On the other hand if they do it in Arabic/Turkish, a lot of the younger Muslims won't understand it, since they've grown up speaking and knowing Dutch. So I wonder how they balance that here.

There are also usually cultural centres attached to mosques, which would be very interesting to check out. I wonder if they have classes and language lessons. I've been living by myself here in the Hague for 3 days now and I'm already really lonely! I can't imagine how hard Ramadan is going to be since I'll be having iftar by myself without my family for the first time ever. I really hope to meet lots of nice Muslims here. I feel like that would motivate me to become a better Muslim and it would also just feel nice to have people who understand why you pray 5 times a day or to break the fast with.

Inshallah I'll meet people soon.

What about where you guys live? Are mosques separated by nationality? Or are they multi-cultural? What language are the sermons in? Does this mean only certain segments of the Muslims population attend?


Sarah the Seeker said...

In Edinburgh the main mosque is multicultural with sermons in English, it's mainly Pakistanis that go but that's because most Muslims here are Pakistani.

There is a smaller one that has sermons in Bengali. So it tends to just be people from that community that go. I guess language is one of the reasons they would have separate mosques.

There is a Chinese church here, a German-speaking church, and an African church. With churches it's also about language in some cases, but also cultural aspects, since Christian worship styles are far more culturally diverse than Muslim.

The church I went to had a significant number of Chinese people, but I found they tended to stick together. They also seem to evangelise more to Chinese people.

It's a shame in a way that culture can divide people to some extent within the same religion, but inevitable I suppose.

I hope you make some friends there soon!

Bubbles said...

Well i used to live in Holland for some time. I was raised there. However both Morrocans and Turks are segregated. In every way possible. This is because of the diffrent languages they speak. Even in school the Turks had to go to a seperate room for this thing every week. So it's not only mosques and it is sad to think that both races have to go their own mosque to worship Allah (swt). Alhamdulilah i now live in United Kingdom and ALL races are mixed in mosques to come toghther to worhip. Oh and to answer your question it's best if you go a morrocan masjid, they do the Khutba in arabic nd sometimes in dutch jus maybe...


Jasmine said...

I really understand the racial divide: I think it's normal to want to hear a Khutba in your own language and it is probably this that seperates them rather than any opinions on race. Having said that, Turks have a long standing history of dislike of Arabs (I am turkish by the way and my best friend is Moroccan), with the Turks thinking themselves more "forward thinking" (because of Kemal Ataturk) and the moroccons on the other hand, disliking the turks for their secularist politics. In short: there's a lot for them to fight about, despite Moroccan and Turkish culture and countries being without a doubt the most similar in practice, food and culture in the Islamic world!

What was my point again? Oh yeah - Also in London, you get Somali mosques, Pakistani mosques and all other kinds of mosques - all havea slightly different practice, all seperated by language and I am always surprised when the Khutba(at my local mosque with a strong Turkish and Indian majority) is delivered in Arabic.

I would recommend sampling a few and choosing one where you are happy, regardless of the majority race / minority race in there and go with that one.

...I think I forgot my point again!
Thanks for reading my blab!
Peace be upon you, Jasmine xx

Stephanie said...

We have 2 main masjids here. The Pakistani/Desi/university student masjid and the Arab masjid (this is the one where most of the reverts go to and alot of other nationalities as well.) Both khutba's are in English. The Pakistani masjid is much more conservative. The Arab/American/multlicultural masjid is much larger and has many more community events.

Anonymous said...

The Mosque near me, in the U.S., is mostly Palestinian, but it is multicultural, Palestinians just happen to be the majority of Muslims where I am from.. Everything is done in English.

We have a bit of segregation also. The African American Muslims have their own Mosque, and the immigrant Muslims have their own. Whites go to either one. Both groups can be seen at either Mosque, but I am merely commenting on the majority.

CooL MuslimaH said...


Maybe its because of different madhabs??

I live in india and women firstly dont g to masjids..secondly we have no culture mixing..simply urdu speaking muslims so its quite obvious..the khutba is my bro told me in arabic only (though nobody knows arabic here)..he said that khutbah of juma is always in arabic and then u can give a talk in ur the imam here doesnt give that talk i guess...he just repeats the same khutba every jumah..( i got to know this just now and i found it quite strange!!)

~Cool Muslimah~

rahma said...

Wow, those are absolutely fabulous looking masjids! Ours here are often buildings that were built for other purposes and were later converted to masjids. The one where I attend jummah is the only one I know of that actually looks "mosque like" -

Here in the US, there is often only one masjid in town, and when there is more than one, it's often a division of salafi vs subcontinent and/or arab than a nationality thing.

Since I live in a bigger city, we do have quite a few more masjids here, so you can basically find anything you want. Majority pakistani? Got that. Majority somali? Got that. Majority african american? Got that too. But even at the places that may have been founded by particular ethnic groups, there is still a healthy mix of others.

re: khutbahs, most are in english. There are some that only have somali khutbahs, which I don't attend, and a few that give 2, one in arabic, and one in english.

As a euro-american convert, I don't really fit in anywhere, but I feel most at home at my african american masjid (the one I linked to above). Although we may not share the same ethnic group, we do share a culture and language, and that goes a long way towards comfort.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sarah - I think language is definitely one reason for separate mosques. But if the sermons are in Dutch then it shouldn't matter. I want to try and find that out. I know in the village my mum's family lives (about 2 hours away from here) the sermons are in Dutch but there's still a tendency to separate.

I hope I can make friends soon too =)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Bubbles - oh wow, where in Holland did you live? I didn't know that Moroccans and Turks were so separate from each other, I thought maybe they only had different mosques.
I'd love to hear more about your experience of being Muslim in Holland :)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Jasmine - yes, I think that's what I'll do - sample a few and then choose one, regardless of the majority. I'm sure they won't make other nationalities feel unwelcome, or at least I hope not.

The mosques in London sound nice. I would prefer a mixed mosque to a majority one but I guess that's because I don't really feel like I'm from one country.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Stephanie - you mentioned the Pakistani masjid being more conservative and that made me realize that's another possible reason for having separate mosques. Different nationalities have different levels of conservatism. I think a mosque with a Saudi majority might be more conservative than one with a Turkish majority. This could also work with age and other social factors. Young people may prefer one mosque while older people may prefer another.
I wonder though whether God wants this - or was every mosque meant to be for all Muslims?

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sarah Elizabeth - I think usually the majority depends on the majority group in the area. Here in Holland the majority are Moroccans and Turks so it's natural for them to be the majority at any mosque. But I wonder why they couldn't just go to the same mosque instead of building separate ones.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Cool Muslimah - why would the khutba be in Arabic if no one can understand it? It's kind of pointless. I heard that once they brought an imam to a mosque here and he spoke in Arabic even though no one could understand it. I find that weird.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Rahma - wow, your mosque looks really nice mashallah :)
It's nice to hear that even at mosques that have a majority there is still a healthy mix of other nationalities. That diversity is what makes anything special and interesting.

CooL MuslimaH said...

oh i dont know myself dear..will ask my father the logic behind this..

in middle east the masjids are divided on the basis of "shia" and "sunni".

So where are you basically from?? i'm quite curious..and i'm even surprised that there are masjids in Holland...forgive my ignorance..i dont know much about islam in europe...

take care
~Cool Muslimah~

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Cool Muslimah - My dad is Egyptian and my mum is from Holland. I grew up in Zambia, Southern Africa, then lived in Cairo for 5 years, and just moved to Holland =)

There are actually a lot of Muslims in Holland. Even I was surprised at how many there are. So that's why there are masjids (not a lot though).

Jaz said...

I agree with Sarah the Seeker, same in Glasgow my home city which is just a few miles away from Sarah's city. We have the biggest mosque (Glasgow Central) in the city with a very multicultural mix. Other smaller mosques are usually predominantly Pakistani/Bangladeshi.

struggling said...

"What about where you guys live? Are mosques separated by nationality? Or are they multi-cultural?"
It really depends, there are a few mosques here in greater Vancouver, one of them has a high convert majority. I've never been, but I've recently met a few people that go there. The two mosques in Burnaby (where I moved from) are mostly Arab mosques and one of them I found was not very welcoming. The other mosque I've been to is in Richmond they have a variety of people who attend, however they tend to segregate themselves into their own little cultural group ie the Asians with the Asians, Arabs with the Arabs.

"What language are the sermons in?"
Everytime I have been to a mosque here the sermons are done in English...well actually once I prayed Jummah at the airport and the sermon was done in Arabic, I had barely a vague idea about what was being talked about.

"Does this mean only certain segments of the Muslims population attend?"
I think the main thing keeping Muslims away from the mosque is the segregation and hypocritical behaviour that goes on with some people. Of course if I worked at the airport and praying Jummah there was my only option I might be discouraged, I mean there must be Muslims who work there that don't speak Arabic, what about them?

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Jaz - maybe it's the same here; maybe the big central mosques are more multicultural than the smaller neighbourhood ones. I'll try and find out.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Struggling - that makes a lot of sense; hypocritical behaviour on the part of Muslims probably does drive a lot of people away from mosques. A friend of mine told me a story about trying to pray in a mosque and not being allowed to (the women pushed her out of the line) because 1) she had her shoes next to her and 2) she was wearing glasses. I mean who does that?!

ellen557 said...

Mosques in Australia can be separated by nationality too. We have one that has an Iranian majority, one with a Pakistani majority, stacks with Arab majorities... yeah, you're basically right :) I do think a lot of it has to do with language but culture is a large part of it too. People tend to stick with what they're familiar with.

The way the language seems to go here is that prayers + 99% of duas are done in Arabic & then the general talk can be Arabic and then English afterwards, or just English. I think that no matter what language the majority speak, you'll still usually get an excerpt in Dutch.

And umm... re only certain Muslims attending, it's not really the case here in Sydney. I actually think a lot more attend because it starts becoming a cultural obligation rather than a religious thing.

CooL MuslimaH said...

jazakAllah khair...

mashAllah you've xperienced the life of Middle east, Africa and now that's great..

take care sistah..
rememberin your duas..

~Cool Muslimah~

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Cool Muslimah - thanks sweetie! Feel free to ask anything else =)

Bubbles said...

Yesh in my opinion it was always that way... but i lived in Tilburg, Amsterdam... Anything else you need to know or need help with just ask ukhtii...


G said...


I find this very interesting, do you think its because in addition to religion the immigrants are trying to preserve their national identity?

Maybe one group or the other don't accept the other group as "real" Muslims.

It would be very interesting for you to go to both and see the difference. I don't think that the Arabic language is an advantage of the Moroccan mosques. In my opinion Moroccan Arabic is the hardest to understand, especially for people from an Egyptian background.

However maybe they DO hold it in classical Arabic to make it more universal for Arab/Muslims. Although the distinction between the nationalities would go against that idea.

Here in Bahrain there is no differentiation in the mosques. It is pretty standard Arabic. However there is a large Egyptian population here and I notice they are sometimes more attracted to mosques with Egyptian imams and sheiks.

Update us about that! Also I do hope you make some good Muslim friends there. It's easier when you have a network. I know you will find friends because I know you have an amazing personality. Good luck with that!

Also if you don't find anyone to iftar with the first day I am willing to iftar together on webcam! (Although my iftar will probably be earlier). Maybe the gang can get on group video chat and we can all eat with you!

Don't worry :) You will have an amazing Ramadan!