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Islamic Institute of Orange County is an Islamic centre that was initially setup as a result of an Islamic community initiative to help render certain services to the residents of Southern California regardless of their religious orientation. There are Islamic services and functions like the daily prayers and weekly meetings where every Muslim is free to visit the place during the prayer times. Some of the activities in this place include the Friday prayers services, weekly family and personal counselling services, wedding and funeral ceremonies.
There are also Saturday classes for those children below 18 years and a full time Islamic school for Muslim students. In addition, there are other programs that are on-going in the place including the after school and the weekend programs. There are also daily activities like the Qur’an classes, Arabic classes for both the Muslims and non -Muslim students from California among others. Occasionally, there are weekly functions like speeches from guest speakers and discourses designed for the ladies. The centre is headed by Imam Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi. The place is always open for everyone five days in a week and anyone can walk into the place.
The place has been designed in an Islamic style and it is easier to tell the functional aspect of the place just from the design. It contains a very large beautiful mosque, multi-purpose guest rooms, relaxation areas and the library construction is still underway. The planning of the place has been done in such a way as to portray the Islamic culture. Planning of buildings has been done according to the ancient Islamic style with the inclusion of the open public space in the design where people can sit and share after prayers.
One most significant feature in the design of the place is that there are defined boundaries especially in the allocation of public places where areas for women have been set aside and secluded from those of men. Also, the general arrangement of the place into classes, resting rooms, mosque, courtyard and outdoor spaces clearly communicates the Islamicvalues.
There are also different forms of Islamic art and décor on the buildings that directly and vividly depict strong Muslim culture in the place. The inclusion of the drawings, Islamic calligraphy features andsymbols also communicate a lot concerning the place and its religious orientation. There is uniformity of the structural features like the shape of the doors and windows which are unique to the place when compared to the neighbourhood buildings.
The place is also defined by the incorporation of the Islamic monuments and sculptures that are only exceptional to the Islamic religion. The Islamic culture depicted by those visiting the place is very evident like the use of mats instead of chairs, removing shoes before entering the mosque among others.
I had a wonderful experience while at the place and enjoyed every bit of my being there. When I arrived at the place, the environment was completely different and the kind of structures found there made it distinct and very different from the surrounding areas characterised by tall modern buildings. It was a nice experience viewing the Islamic design features incorporated into the planning of the place. Every space had an attached function and there was order since the design defined everything.