Summer isn't the only time to go sightseeing or vacationing. Winter break offers you the opportunity to play tourist as well. Here are some places to check out in the coming weeks if you've got time off from work, school, or both.
1. The International Museum of Muslim cultures in Jackson, Mississippi
An antique astrolabe and an ancient Mimbar from North Africa are some of the artifacts you can currently find at America's first and only Muslim museum. Nestled in Jackson, Mississippi, its current exhibit shares Muslim Spain's legacy to Europe.
This is a great place to visit to get in touch with your Islamic roots. It's also a wonderful project to support.
2. The Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago
This museum boasts a pretty good collection of Quranic manuscripts dating from the second half of the first century of Hijra onwards. You'll find Makkan, Kufic and Maghribi scripts.
3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art - The Islamic Art Collection
This is the largest collection of Islamic arts in the US with nearly 12,000 objects. But the main Museum's galleries for Islamic art are temporarily closed for renovation, and restoration. But about 60 works are still being shown in a temporary installation on the south balcony overlooking the Museum's Great Hall.
4. The Honolulu Academy of Arts
When you think Hawaii, you think sun, sand, and surf, right? But if you're planning a trip to this popular vacation destination, visit the Honolulu Academy of Arts' Arts of the Islamic world gallery. The gallery's collection of Islamic art includes finely carved wooden doors and chests; woven objects such as garments, carpets, and other textiles; decorative objects such as tiles, plates, jars, ewers, bowls, and oil lamps made from metal, ceramic materials, glass, and stone; and works on paper such as folios and manuscripts from different parts of the Muslim world, including Uzbekistan and Persia.
5. Check out the children's museums
Children's museums can be found in most major cities across the country. They offer the chance to learn the art of museum hopping in a fun and interesting way.
For instance, the Dinosaur Expedition exhibit at the Chicago Children's Museum recreates the site of the 1997 expedition to the Sahara that unearthed Suchomimus, a never-before found species of fish-eating dinosaur, now on display at the museum.
6. Be a tourist in your own city
If going out of town is too much of a hassle or too expensive, go sightseeing in your own city. Visit your city's tourism or travel bureau to find out what's out there. Check out historic places, go on a bus or train tour, visit the tallest skyscraper or city hall.
This will give you an opportunity to become better acquainted with your city and give you a greater appreciation of how much great stuff there is to see and do right where you live.
7. Go Masjid hopping
Visit as many different Masjids as you can in your city. Plan to visit at least one a day. Make a point of praying at least one of the five daily prayers there, and if you're allowed to, take pictures. Later, you can use them to put together a scrapbook or upload them to a webpage about Masjids in your city.
8. Visit Temples and Churches
Learning about others faith and practices is a good way to build bridge. Call ahead and ask if you can schedule a visit to different places of worship. This will help you understand how people of other faiths worship God. Follow up the trip with a discussion during a family meeting.
Photo Attribution - Luiz Gadelha - Jr.http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Building_of_the_oriental_institute_chicago.jpg