African View Into Mosque

African View Into Mosque480
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One Essay Response

  1. buckleyh2 says:

    Pairing this photograph’s powerful image and descriptive title, a viewer can speculate Rachel Tanur’s portrayal of the power of visual perspectives in this piece of art. The photograph’s title, “African View Into Mosque”, acts as the only piece of objectivity that a viewer can comprehend from the image, as it exposes the objective truths of what is being shown, a view peering into a Mosque. The remnants of the photograph’s features are left to be deciphered, which, according to Althusser, is dependent on the interpellation of the viewer (Sturken 2009). This can be made up unknowingly by a collection of their personal experiences, social class, and educational opportunities (Fetzer 2003).
    Analyzing the run-down features of the building with pieces of garbage scattered just outside the window, this fragmented view of the Mosque suggests a negative or struggling atmosphere associated with and taking away from the practices occurring just visible through the window. Similar to this photographic angle that gives an incomplete view of this mosque, society continues to infer judgement about cultures and religions from a similarly fragmented viewpoint, created by the ideologies of society, transferred to each individual’s perspective based on their social identity, cultural differences, and privilege. This consideration lead me to the unrelenting question offered by this photograph: how do members of society infer details of an unfamiliar circumstance without taking into account their externally selective and broken view of this perspective? Consequently, I question how these unaware perspectives have led to the racial profiling, cultural divide, and the misunderstanding of Islamic culture across the world.
    As feminists may view Islamic practices, dress codes, and passages of the Qur’an to oppress Muslim women, a less judgmental view may be uncovered if these opinions were to be formed from “inside the Mosque”. Victoria J, Lee’s (2010) extensive study after being submerged in these practices, revealed Muslim women who were proud of their strict religious guidelines, citing their modest dress code requirements to be a way to desexualize their bodies and gain the respect of men, a concept that may first appear to be backwards according to standard feminist understandings and the notion of body shaming.
    Similarly, as the unpleasant remnants of garbage and chipped paint may stand out above the occurring religious practices in this photograph, the tragic events of 9/11 have left an irreparable scar on the image of Islamic faith. So much so, that through the racial discrimination by Americans in power and the distorted portrayal of Islamic culture in the media, the civil rights of Muslims continue to be questioned (Smith 2013). These unfair allegations can be attributed to false and biased perspectives, based on the understanding that society has predicated the insignificance of a culture that remains a reason of life to many.
    As we may think we can gain an accurate understanding of Islamic culture through research, knowledge, and our own observations, we must only approach these “understandings” as personal perspectives, and realize that a brief look through an open window cannot account for the entirety of a culture. We must not only see the view inside the Mosque, but realize that seeing the outside world from within the mosque is what can justly shape our perspectives.


    Fetzer, Joel S., and J. Christopher Soper. “The Roots of Public Attitudes toward State Accommodation of European Muslims' Religious Practices before and after September 11.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 42, no. 2, 2003, pp. 247–258. Retrieved November 20, 2017

    Lee, Victoria J. “The Mosque and Black Islam: Towards an Ethnographic Study of Islam in the Inner City.” Ethnography, vol. 11, no. 1, 2010, pp. 145–163. Retrieved November 20, 2017

    Smith, Jane I. “Islam in America.” The Journal of Religion, vol. 93, no. 1, 2013, pp. 77–87. Retrieved November 20, 2017

    Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.