This reproduction of an antique astrolabe may be seen in the Museum’s Islamic Moorish Spain exhibit. The astrolabe originated in Greece and was introduced to the Islamic world during the eighth century. Astronomers and mapmakers used it to determine time of day or night and the location of celestial bodies.
The International Museum of Muslim Cultures is dedicated to educating the public about Islamic History and Culture.
The Museum also celebrates the contributions Muslims have made to the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi, the region, the nation, and the world. In educating the public about the diversity of the area's cultural and religious heritage, the Museum describes the Muslim experience and places it in context with other cultural and religious groups.
Through research and the collection, preservation, exhibition, and interpretation of objects that promote the understanding of Muslim culture, the Museum strives to facilitate multicultural and interfaith tolerance, reducing religious and racial bigotry and advancing religious and civic dialogue.
In December 2000 a group of Jackson, Mississippi, area Muslims identified the need for the development of a national museum to educate the public about Islamic history and culture and the contributions of Muslims to world civilization. The founders also sought to increase citizens’ understanding and appreciation of the richness of Mississippi’s diverse cultural and religious heritage and the role that Muslims have played in the state’s history and development.
Located in downtown Jackson's Arts District, the International Museum of Muslim Cultures (IMMC) is the first and only Islamic history museum in the country. The Museum opened in April 2001 with a major exhibition, Islamic Moorish Spain: Its Legacy to Europe and the West, that was featured concurrently with The Majesty of Spain, an international exhibition that ran for six months in Jackson at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion, less than a block away. The proximity and complementary theme helped contribute to the Museum’s attracting 2,000 visitors in its first month of operation.
IMMC, in its new location at the Mississippi Arts Center, is next door to the Russell C. Davis Planetarium, the Mississippi Museum of Art, Thalia Mara Hall (City Auditorium), the new telecommunications center, and within walking distance of the Old Capitol Museum, the War Memorial Building, and the Farish Street Historic District—all significant educational and cultural attractions in the heart of the capital city. This synergy has stimulated visits by tourists as well as school groups to the Museum and bodes well for the future. Since opening, the Museum has received some 27,000 local, national, and international visitors representing more than 40 states and 45 countries. The tragedy of September 11, 2001, coming only six months after the Museum’s opening, has had the dichotomous effect of increasing interest in educational programs about Islam while deterring some visitation.
The goals of the Museum are to educate the public about Islamic history and civilization and to help provide educational tools for teaching global consciousness, historical literacy, and multicultural appreciation. IMMC seeks to continue to grow as a cultural tourism destination and serve the community as an educational and research center as well as a repository for Islamic objects having cultural, artistic, aesthetic, and historical significance. Additionally, IMMC seeks to facilitate multicultural and interfaith understanding; reduce cultural, religious, and racial bigotry; and advance Mississippi and America's cultural, religious, and civic discussions to provide a better atmosphere for working together for the common good.
In the last five years IMMC has reached an important milestone. Under the leadership of a full-time executive director and board of directors chairman—two of the institution’s founders—and its board of directors, the Museum successfully transitioned from being a religious satellite institution to a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) independent museum with national impact.
The board of directors governs IMMC, with oversight and management responsibilities vested in the two founders, Emad Al-Turk and Okolo Rashid, who serve as board chairman and executive director/board secretary, respectively. Ms. Rashid manages the day-to-day operation of the Museum and will serve as the project director for The Legacy of Timbuktu.
Ms. Rashid holds a B.A. in economics from Tougaloo College and a Master’s in public policy/administration with specialty in community and economic development from Jackson State University. Before the Museum was founded, she owned her own firm, specializing in consulting and project administration with a focus on community development projects, including historic preservation, working primarily with inner city community and grassroots organizations. She has more than 20 years’ experience in community and organizational development.
Mr. Al-Turk holds a B.S. and M.S. in civil engineering from the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, respectively, and an M.B.A. from Millsaps College. Mr. Al-Turk was chief operating officer of Waggoner Engineering, Inc., a leading engineering firm in the southern region of the United States, for almost 15 years, where he was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the firm. He was also involved in planning, design, construction, administration, and overall project management and funding for well over $100 million in construction projects. He is an independent businessman in the Jackson, Mississippi area.
Building on the successes of five years of operation, the mounting of a one-half million dollar long-term exhibit in six months’ time, and the development of strong links to the academic community, business and community at-large, the Museum is preparing for an expansion. With its new move to the state of the arts Mississippi Arts Center, the Museum will offer a venue of considerable interest to Mississippi and the nation with the mounting of a newest exhibition, The Legacy of Timbuktu: Wonders of the Written Word.
For a list of Who's Who of the Museum Project team please follow this link
Traveling Exhibit Program
The Traveling Exhibit Program ("TEP") enables the exhibitions developed at IMMC to reach communities all over the world. By packaging the TEP exhibits for display through a select national and international network of partner facilities, IMMC seeks to foster dialogue between communities around the world to enrich all our lives and interactions.
More information about IMMC Traveling Exhibition Program coming soon.
The International Museum of Muslim Cultures
Mississippi Arts Center
201 East Pascagoula Street
Jackson, Mississippi 39201
This set of wooden steps, called a "minbar," is from northern Morocco and was probably used in a mosque in a small village. One of the most valuable artifacts in the Islamic Moorish Spain exhibit, it is approximately 200 years old.
LEGACY OF TIMBUKTU
"In the last millennium an important global legacy was uncovered—the literate culture of AFRICA!"
This legacy lives in the extraordinary richness of historical manuscripts that still survive.