30Mosques.com | Day 24: Masjid Khalifah

By Aman and Bassam

Tonight our journey learning about New York City’s rich Muslim roots led us to Masjid Khalifah in Brooklyn. Decades ago pioneers planted the seeds in hopes of developing a community. The people you meet now are the flowers that have blossomed from it.

This is one of the many temples that Malcom X and his then Nation of Islam congregants helped establish in the late 1950s. They passed by this dance club one day and saw it as an opportune place to build the temple. They knew a large dance hall would be adequate for what they were looking for, so it became known as Temple No. 7C.

The original name was Muhammad Mosque 7C. Each Nation of Islam mosque is called a Muhammad Mosque, followed by its number.

But it was around the 1970s when the mosque here began to break away from the Nation of Islam movement and follow mainstream Islam. That’s also around the time a man by the name of Abdul Muhsi Khalifah became an active member of the mosque.

One night, a lady from the congregation was being attacked a few blocks away. Abdul Muhsi Khalifah rescued her but was shot to death. The mosque then decided to name the place in his honor.


From there, the seeds kept on growing. Tonight we were joined by several people who have grown up in this mosque including our fashionista friend Nzinga Knight.

We were also joined by Solange DeSantis, a reporter for Religion News Service. She sat back and scribbled away in her notepad as other people at the mosque broke down the place’s history for Bassam and I. Solange said this was her first time visiting a mosque, she also fasted today.


Then the call to prayer came on the loudspeaker, signaling time to break our fast. We kept it old school: dates and water.

We then went upstairs into the main prayer room for Maghrib. One thing I really like about this mosque is how genuinely friendly everyone is. Anyone that walks by you here, its second nature for them to smile, say salams and shake your hand.


After the prayer, the Imam got on the microphone and introduced tonight’s visitors. Aside from Solange and us, there was also a Christian group visiting the mosque. The imam had Solange come to the microphone to share a few words as the congregation welcomed us.

After prayer, we put on our shoes and noticed there was also a full time Islamic school here all the way up to 8th grade.


If you wanted to measure the quality of the school, you need to look no further than the dining hall. Many of the youth at the mosque were tonight’s dinner volunteers. Especially the female youth. It goes without saying that women are the backbone of every Muslim community, but the women who helped tonight deserve some recognition.


While I was waiting in line, I was introduced to a tasty beverage with a simple recipe. Hawaiian Punch mixed with iced tea. Hawaiian Punch is a bit too sweet on its own for my liking, but mixed with iced tea it tastes incredible.

Ah yes, dinner. Which deserves another shout out to the volunteers who made it. Tonight on the menu was catfish, corn, teriyaki chicken, rice, green beans and salad.

After dinner, Nzinga took us into a nearby ballroom. This room is where the mosque holds many of its receptions, including the most crunk Eid celebration that I have ever heard of. This Eid, the mosque will be featuring live entertainment including a James Brown impersonator, martial arts demonstrations and the cha-cha dance line. A trifecta of awesomeness, the Ramadan Santa must have read about my dream Eid!


Essentially, we as Muslims believe in the same principles. But one thing I have gained from this journey is how each community reflects those principles in their own way. The end result is beautiful.

It reminds me of the analogy Dr. Umar Farooq Abdullah wrote in his famous piece “Islam and the Cultural Imperative.” He said Islam is something pure, like a river stream. We as Muslims are the bedrocks in that river. And when water flows over those rocks, it reflects the rocks’ characteristics.

Add to the fact that the people here are the flowers of the seeds planted from the mosque’s noble pioneers, and you’ll slowly start to realize how much Masjid Khalifah resembles a divine garden.

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